Vibrant and laid-back, Bahia in the northeast part of Brazil has been called the land of magic and land of the drums. Samba music was born here. Samba dancing, together with Capoeira, is a way of life. Many of Brazil’s most popular musicians, such as Gilberto Gil, Carlinho Brown, Caetano Veloso, Maria Bethânia and Margareth Menezes all came from Bahia.
Bahia’s rich musical tradition is what draws most visitors to Salvador. In the streets of Pelourinho (“Pelo”), Carnaval parties continue till sunrise. Tuesdays in Pelo are “Blessed Tuesdays,” where a party begins after the 6pm mass at the church of São Francisco. Vendors selling beers and caipiriñhas set up chairs and tables at the main square of Terreiro de Jesus, while revelers follow and dance with Afro-Bloco groups in the streets, and samba-reggae bands perform live in the plazas. The beating sound of the drums in Bahia is what I fondly remember from my first visit.
Admirably, local Afro-Bloco groups like Ilé Aiyé and Didá are always tirelessly applying for grants to fund social educational programs for poor children and teens and keep Salvador’s musical tradition alive.
For a taste of the sound of Bahia, here’s a video of Didá, an all-female percussion band that plays samba reggae. Didá performs every Friday evening at 9 at Praca Tereza Batista in Pelourinho, Salvador.
Filmed in August ’08 on the street outside Dida School of Music.