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The Sizzling Spring Festival in Morro de São Paulo, Brazil

  • Fabiana Massoquette
  • 19 July 2011

Morro de São Paulo is a wonderful island in the northeast of Brazil, just south of the city of Salvador. As if there weren’t enough good reasons to visit – luscious beaches, postcard sunsets, natural pools ideal for diving, verdant landscapes and non-stop nightlife – a new annual music festival now completes the appeal: from September 3rd to 7th, the Festival da Primavera (Spring Festival) draws crowds with live music from local and national bands.

This year (2011) will to be the second annual Festival da Primavera, following the smashing success of last year’s first annual event. The island attracted international and Brazilian visitors alike, and Morro de São Paulo hotels filled to capactiy! The festival was launched in 2010 to commemorate the municipality of Cairu’s 400th anniversary. September is the month of Cairu’s patron saint, Nossa Senhora da Luz.

In other words, the community of Morro de São Paulo found the perfect excuse for a mega-celebration. The municipality invested 500,000 Brazilian reals in the festival last year. Around 10,000 people were estimated to have attended the concerts each night. This year, an even bigger count of tourists is expected.

Festival da Primavera (Spring Festival), Morro de São Paulo, Brazil

Folk art, costume and performances add local colour to the spectacular Festival da Primavera in Morro de São Paulo, Brazil. Photo courtesy of Rota Tropical

Anticipating the 2011 Festival Sensations

The Spring Festival takes place on the public beaches of Morro de São Paulo, and admission is free for everyone. Can you imagine great live music on a Brazilian beach setting? It’s espetacular! The festival combines the best of local artists with important national performers. On the main stage, several major music artists perform each night over the course of five nights. In addition to the headlining bands, locals perform capoeira and roda de samba in the streets, converting the whole village into an outdoor theatre of local culture and live performance.

For the 2011 edition of the Festival da Primavera, Vanessa da Matta, Capital Inicial and Jau Peri are the confirmed headliners, each notable for a distinct music style. Vanessa da Mata became famous in 2002, when she released her first CD, the self-titled Vanessa da Mata. To date, she has produced an additional three studio albums, one live album, and an EP (extended play), all of which have met with huge success. As she is a gifted songwriter, she usually sings her own material, like one of her biggest hits, “Boa Sorte,” a breezy duet she recorded with American singer-songwriter Ben Harper. Most of her songs combine the romance of a ballad with the danceable beat of a Top-40 pop song.

Capital Inicial broke into the Brazilian rock-and-roll spotlight in the 1980s. The band’s members received formal training as musicians before launching their rock careers, giving their music and lyrics a notable touch of sophistication and literacy.

The 2011 festival’s third major headliner is Jau Peri, also known simply as Jau, a brilliant Afro-Brazilian composer from Bahia, where many local singers have covered his songs. Jau’s music career began with the Olodum group, a band that has featured American legends such as Michael Jackson and Paul Simon as guests. Jau always wrote the lyrics, earning himself a number of awards. His music expresses influences of Afro-Brazilian culture and Afro-style drums.

Brazilian rock star Nando Reis, Morro de São Paulo, Brazil

More than 20 years into his musical career, Nando Reis captivates Brazilian audiences more than ever with his mature songwriting and wistful lyrics. Photo courtesy of Rota Tropical

Highlights of the 2010 Festival da Primavera

In 2010, the Spring Festival showcased some high-profile Brazilians singers. One of them was Nando Reis. He first became famous with Titãs, a rock group of the 1980s that is still rocking today. Reis was in the group for 20 years, until 2002, at which time he decided to focus on his solo career. Today, his style is best described as soft rock and ballad. His brilliance shines through in the soulful lyrics of his songs, which other Brazilian musicians often choose to cover.

The other nationally recognised singer that came to the Festival da Primavera in 2010 was Maria Gadú. She first reached the national music spotlight in 2009. Ever since, her sweet voice has been a familiar one on Brazilian radio all over the country.

Morro de São Paulo’s very own Vivendo do Ocio, a rock group that has achieved widespread fame, came home to Morro to play at the first festival. For the local residents and the musicians themselves, it was exciting to share their music in the place they grew up. The band’s name, Vivendo do Ocio, means ‘living in idleness’. They chose this because band-members Luca and Jajá, now 23 and 24 years old, spent long leisurely afternoons playing at home as a hobby. It was from these afternoons that the idea to form a band was born. Although they have moved on, the guys still call Morro de São Paulo home and return on vacation.

Nowadays the members of the band are Luca (bass and voice), Davide (guitar), Jajá (voice and guitar) and Diego (drums). The guys were influenced by international bands like The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, and The Clash, as well as Brazilian bands like Barão Vermelho, Raul Seixas and Los Hermanos. They play rock and roll dotted with the occasional sweet ballad. Davide defines their style as a mix of rock with influences of dance and punk, so its  not surprising when they experiment with fusing elements of Brit Rock with classic Brazilian rhythms from Bahia. The lyrics cover the usual boy-band themes of love, alcohol and girls, appealing especially to an adolescent audience.

Rock band Vivendo do Ocio from Morro de São Paulo, Brazil

Jajá, vocalist and guitarist for rock band Vivendo do Ocio, remembers a time when he and Luca would just jam for fun at home in Morro de São Paolo, Brazil. Now, the band has toured nationally and even in Europe. Photo courtesy of vivendodoocio.com

Vivendo do Ocio achieved international stardom on tour in Europe in August 2010. They played in London on national Brazilian Day and the Netherlands during the Festival International de la Music. In 2011, they returned to Europe, where they performed in the Italia Wave Love Festival.

To see the guys in their native habitat, though, watch the video clip of the song “Terra virar mente”, which was produced in Morro de São Paulo on a beach called Quinta Praia (Fifth beach).

This year’s Festival da Primavera will be held from September 3 to 7, 2011. Don’t miss out! The city fills up, so be sure to book your hotel in advance with Rota Tropical, the whl.travel local connection in Morro de São Paulo, Brazil.

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Fabiana Massoquette

Fabiana Massoquette is from Brazil and her background is in journalism. She lived in Europe for almost four years, during which time she completed two masters degrees and fell in love with travel. Nowadays, she lives on the beautiful Morro de São Paulo island of Brazil and works with Rota Tropical, a tourism agency that also operates in Salvador and Itacaré.
Fabiana Massoquette
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Brazil, festivals & events, fine arts, islands, local knowledge, music, personal experience, South America, whl.travel,

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