Monday, 3 March 2014

The journey inside my head

Once I arrived, I was offered the choice of accommodation between a cheap hotel which would not have Internet and air conditioning but might have cockroaches, or an Arts Centre, yes that's right, an Arts Centre, with Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, a kitchen and a hot shower available whenever I want it. Gilmar, my host and organiser for the Brasilia leg of the tour, works in an Arts/Creative resource centre and he says he can make a bed up for me there.

As you can imagine, I chose the Arts/Resource centre and, as I have at this point only had two hours sleep, the first thing I am left to do is get some rest on a bed in the middle of a performance space. I am assured that no-one will be using the centre and that I can sleep for a bit, as the first rehearsal with my new band is set for 12 o'clock at night and will be for three hours. At this point it is around 6pm when I put my head gratefully on to my pillow. At half past nine I am woken up by Gilmar because there is someone coming in to use the performance space and anyway we need to go off to the rehearsal, But, I bleat, the rehearsal is not until 12 clock, "yes" says Gilmar "but it is a bit of a way", "Oh, ok", I say, and get up disorientated and confused, When we get to the studio, the rehearsal starts at 11am and is for two hours not three. The shifting landscape of expectation is something that I have been getting used to here, but at the moment my body is confused with my sleeping patterns and so I am drifting along with events as if in a dream.
I am anxious about the rehearsal; this will be the second time I have had to work with a band to be able to do the tour. The first band was a revelation and was so good it made my life a lot easier. I can't conceive that I would be lucky enough to strike gold a second time. I am disorientated and sleepy when we turn up at a strange rehearsal studio, in a strange town and I walk into the studio to meet the two musicians for the first time with whom I have make magic, NOW! I have to tell you that I am not in the mood. I just want to crawl back into bed.

The bassist and drummer are from a band called the Squints who are notable for having recorded their version of 'Kick Out The Tories' so it is safe to say they are fans. They want to start with 'Living With Unemployment'. The bottom line on this, is if the band are not up to scratch, I will pick the songs they can do the best and the rest I will do solo. The first number goes surprisingly well which is a bit of a relief and as we move through the repertoire they have been sent, it is evident that this is not going to be a car crash.
Uri Formiga, the drummer, is getting most of it right, but also getting some things very wrong and my guidance to him on what he should be doing is not having the desired effect. The songs also are too fast (or is it me just getting old and they have rehearsed to the younger me). I then suddenly realise that he is very nervous and is trying too hard, he's not relaxing into the music and his English is not as good as the bass player Caio Braga so when I try to explain to him what is needed with the drums and any one point, he's not fully understanding what I a trying to get him to do. So Caio steps into help and I let him take the lead on steering Uri and accentuate the positive with what Uri is doing really well to try to relax him a bit.
This seems to pay off, that and the fact that Gilmar has brought some nice cold beers in to help oil the gears of creativity.

By the end of the rehearsal I am happy that we have a working band for all the numbers apart from 'Newtown People" which they haven't rehearsed, making me feel that maybe they are having trouble with the reggae rhythms. I don't get to find out this night because we run out of time. We head on down to a street corner bar and have a few beers to celebrate kicking off rehearsals, we have another one tomorrow and I hope that during that, we can sooth out some rough edges and get ourselves a working band.

My first day in Brasilia was eat, sleep, wake, rehearse and then go back to sleep.
Once dropped off at the Arts Centre building Gilmar unlocks the shutters, rolls them up, I then step in, he says goodnight and then rolls them back down and locks up again. He will end my imprisonment in the morning.

I turn gratefully to my bed with the unsettling thought that if there was a fire here in the night, I would burn to death.

1 comment:

Thiago Andrade said...




"I turn gratefully to my bed with the unsettling thought that if there was a fire here in the night, I would burn to death."