Destination Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia.
Music performances during “Quarta da Paz” night, at Praça Tereza Batista.
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Wednesday 26 July, 19.30 pm.
Filhos de Gandhy
Suddenly, security personnel started to push us back, away from the stage, in order to clear space for the first performance. A group of men in blue and white robes entered the space. They were members of Filhos de Gandhy, very famous in Salvador and in Brazil. Tourists love to take pictures of themselves, together with members of this group. And not only because of their typical robes. I was not standing in the first rows, but I had enough space to take some pictures of them. They entered the stage, which was about half a meter higher. Now it was much easier to take pictures of them. Their music was great, I enjoyed it very much. For me, it was the first time to listen to their music. The lead singer was flanked by two dancers, who also had their parts to sing. In front of the state, the other members played their percussion instruments. They swayed back and forth with the music rhythm. They played for about half an hour, and they left they way as they had arrived. Again, space was cleared, allowing them to leave the square. We now had to wait for the following act.
Fortunately, the next band arrived quickly. Less than five minutes later, lightning fast when considering the Bahian Time, a man in his forties arrived on stage. He wore white clothes and glasses. The balding, little overweight man was the singer of Banda Mahatma. The first name of the famous Indian pacifist. He sang for ninety minutes. Reggae and pop songs, music of Bob Marley and UB40, among others. We enjoyed his show. I tried to take some pictures during his performance, and reviewed the results on the small LCD screen. Suddenly, I was touched on my shoulder. A young man stood behind me, with a much more professional camera that had a logo of some magazine. He stuck his thumb, as a kind of appreciation of my pictures, and he also commented that he liked the images. Always nice to receive such comments.
Mahathma was followed for the prime act of that night: Belchior, an artist of national fame. Many people were waiting for his performance, and also Carol is one of his fans. She stood in front of the stage, together with some of her close friends. I stood some meters behind, with others of our group, including two sisters. They were quite short, and therefore were nicknamed ‘baixinhas’, but in a friendly way. Two lovely girls. Thanks to their short length, they weren’t able to see what was happening on stage; therefore, I allowed them to have a look at the LCD screen, when I had taken another picture. I also tried to create some space for them, allowing them to dance the music. I stood at a strategic point, and was able to prevent people to push too much towards the girls. They were grateful that they could dance a bit. With time, more space was created, until they were also able to see the stage.
When Belchior appeared on stage, he was accompanied by loud applause, whistles, and screams. He was in plain clothes: jeans and a shirt. It was obvious that Belchoir had performed on stage for many years, he acted naturally as if he was born on stage. Despite his age and long career, she still can count on many older and younger fans. His style of music is Brazilian popular music, the so-called MPB. Most of his songs may be considered as evergreens. The organization awarded him a prize, and suddenly many digital cameras appeared and flashed. Then he started his show. He was handed his guitar and started to sing his repertoire. Songs that were sung loudly by the crowd. It was as if some of them entered some stage of a trance. Totally off this world, but united with his voice, his music. He only played for thirty minutes, and only returned for one extra song. This song was accompanied by the voices of the crowd. When he left, Banda Mahatma returned for a few more songs, until ten pm. The sounds of silence dominated then.
Carol got another surprise. Banda Mahatma was giving away some T-shirts with the logo of “Quarta da Paz”, and Carol was one of the lucky few who received a shirt. As if it was an early birthday present, because the following day was her birthday. She was the only one of our large group who had her birthday in Salvador. Carol beamed when she received the shirt, and I enjoyed this moment by taking a picture of her. She showed her beautiful face with radiant eyes and a very relaxed and happy facial expression. A rare moment of total spontaneity.
This night, we did not stay too long in Pelourinho, we all wanted to return to our pousada. We searched for some taxis and went to Barra. It was a tiresome but very successful day with two boat trips and a music night. The following day, there would be another intensive day. Just before midnight, we arrived at the pousada. Carol arrived a bit later, and we congratulated her with her birthday. According to Brazilian tradition, there were many hugs and kisses. The next day, we would visit Stella Maris Beach, and Carol would celebrate her birthday there. I already had such a birthday on a beach, on New Year’s Day. I was at Camburi Beach in Vitória at night, when my friends sang for me, amidst thousands who celebrated the new year. The following day, we enjoyed the beach in neighboring Vila Velha; an entire day with friends, music, drinks and the inevitable churrasco….
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom