Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Port of Joy

After the phenomenal concert(s) at Teatro do Paiol, the next morning the Dellas had a workshop masterclass at a music conservatory. I had been there with Keola and company prior, and really liked the space. It is an old historic building but with a more modernist inside. The Dellas spoke about the history of bluegrass, and the history of the band. They spoke about their home states and their connection to music, as well as performing and going into the structure of the music.

After the conservatory class, we headed out to the airport to head to Porto Alegre. We did it in a roundabout fashion, heading north to Sao Paulo so we could head south to Porto Alegre. We did so because the CAS Ceszar was worried that both Curitiba and Porto Alegre have smaller airports, and since it is winter we might get stuck. So we used TAM which didn't have a direct flight but went via Sao Paolo and had many more flights per day if we got stuck.

So we went north to head south, and arrived later in the evening to Porto Alegre. We checked in, and had dinner and drinks in a microbrew pub.

The next day, Friday, we had a busy day. We went to the Binational Center where Keola had previously performed, and we had a masterclass with music students from the Department of Music at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. It was a blast. The music students loved the bluegrass, and had a grand time jamming with the Dellas, and sharing their own choro music. After the masterclass, the Dellas rehearsed with their collaboration partners for the evening event.

After lunch, the Dellas were introduced to the U.S. Ambassador to Brazil. The ambassador had wanted to see the Dellas perform, and so she made the trip to Porto Alegre for an (early) July 4th reception that the Dellas were performing in. The Dellas got to meet the Ambassador and chat for a bit before heading back to the theater to give a presentation and performance for the Ambassador and 70 English Language Access students. They had a great time performing and speaking with the English students about music and American life.

After the program, we had a big reception for an early 4th of July party. It was a black tie affair with the Ambassador. After the speeches, the Brazilian band performed the Brazilian national anthem in a Samba style, then the Dellas performed the US national anthem in their own amazing style. Then the bands jammed for some collaboration on bluegrass and Brazilian music. Following the short set, the Dellas went out to the gala and were feted by the crowd. I was underdressed for the event so I stayed back in the dressing room and hung out there.

Saturday was a rest day, and Camilla with the US Consulate was able to get us VIP passes to attend the FIFA Fan Fest to watch the Brazil match. The Dellas went shopping for Brazil swag, and got decked out in yellow for the match. Unfortunately, the weather was awful, but we were under an enclosure so we snacked on salgados and had some beers while we watched a REALLY close game. The upstairs enclosure had a max number, and since it was raining everyone wanted up. We were up, but couldn't go down to use the bathroom.

Finally at halftime, a few of us went downstairs to watch from below. It ended up being a lot more fun, as there were more people cheering and yelling. The game went down to the wire, and ended on penalty kicks (which I hate). It was one of the most intense sporting moments I have ever been a part of. Everyone's hearts were thumping as the penalty kicks were taken, and were chanting the names of the players. When Brazil finally won, the place ERUPTED. It was incredible.

After the game, we headed back to the hotel. A few of us went out for dinner at a traditional Gaucho churraco place that I went the year prior with Keola. We feasted on the endless slices of meat, the delicious picanha, entrecote and other wonderful cuts of meat brought on metal spikes and cut on the table.

And there was a show of gaucho music and dance. There was a gaucho doing tricks with a bollo, twirling it around and smacking it on the ground. He called Celia up on stage and started doing bollo tricks around her head, twirling the rock rope around her face and brushing her hair around with the lassos. The Consulate staff and I were holding out collective breath as this was going down. But she escaped unharmed, and it was quite a show and incredible dinner.

Meanwhile, Kimber and Courtney went out with the musicians and had an incredible cultural experience in their own right. One of the collab musician's father was performing with the most famous accordion player in Brazil. They had a show at a private club, and Courtney and Kimber got to hang with the musicians and also see a capoirea set. Then they had some homecooked feijoada that came from local ingredients, and they ended up in the Bohemian quarter of Porto Alegre till late in the night.

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