ESR MONTHLY A music capsule delivered by ESR
A music capsule delivered by ESR
How's everyone holding up?
Pretty much everywhere is still under lockdown although we've got something to look forward to: some countries are easing restrictions, the vaccines are slowly being distributed and a comeback to the dancefloors has been scheduled in some places. Hang tight, we'll get there.
This month we invited Rod Krieger a Brazilian living in Portugal who's always delighted us with his never-ending musical knowledge and a passion for story-telling.
About the Editor
Rod Krieger is a prolific multi-instrumentalist originally from Porto Alegre who left Brazil to make Lisbon his home back in 2019. He was the bass player at Cachorro Grande for 15 years while they recorded five studio albums and kept a strong touring schedule both on their own and opening for big foreign acts touring all over Brazil.
He's now living just outside of Lisbon, taking care of a home-studio where he creates his own music and helps others putting their ideas into songs.
The Curse of the Golden Guitar
The Brazilian band Os Mutantes is one of the most musically creative bands ever. Related or unrelated, they also used to make their own instruments.
Cláudio César Dias Baptista, third brother of Mutantes’ Arnaldo and Sérgio, is to blame for that, since he was their own Gyro Gearloose.
This story started when Cláudio’s friend, Raphael Villardi, challenged him to make the best guitar ever. The instrument got its shape from that of a Gibson ES-335, a semi-hollowbody electric guitar, but what made it really interesting was the fact that the inner solder joints and some of its parts are gold-plated, therefore making the guitar producing a very unique sound.
While working on the guitar, Cláudio built a working prototype of the instrument so it could be tested and fine-tuned to perfection which would end up as good as the final model of the guitar and it eventually fell into the hands of Cláudio’s brother, Sérgio Dias, who was the guitar player of Os Mutantes at the time.
Behind the guitar, there's a little plate engraved with the following text in Portuguese, here roughly translated into English:
“May all those who disrespect the integrity of this instrument, those who try or manage to possess it unlawfully, those who build or try to build a copy of it, but its rightful creator, that is, those who fail to hold the position of mere passive observers regarding it, be chased by the Evil forces until they belong to such forces completely and eternally. And may this instrument return to its rightful owner, as appointed by him who built it”.
Funny story: the guitar was in facto stolen and sold on the black market once but the buyer gave it back to the Mutantes after reading that text.
In addition to the Golden Guitar, Cláudio César has built several other instruments and amplifiers. Nowadays, collectors and connoisseurs are still on the hunt for those artworks.
If you would like to learn more about how those instruments sound like, all you gotta do is delve into the full discography of OS MUTANTES, one of the greatest bands ever.
Rolling Stones and Beer Cans in Brazil
Back in the 1960s, several foreign artists, among them the Rolling Stones, traveled to Brazil, where they could screw things up completely while staying off the radar. Mick and Keith arrived in the country by the end of 1968. Not much later, they stirred up some trouble as they ended up in a farm in the small town of Matão, nearly 300km (190 miles) from São Paulo city.
Their tomfoolery lasted for about two weeks. Obviously, the whole town stopped to see them. After all, they were considered “aliens” by the locals. The band members arrived there extremely dirty and wearing tunics. A resident even mistook them for bums, until they started speaking in English. What drew most of the attention, however, was their beer cans, which were never seen before in the country.
Needless to say, it didn’t take long for some fans to camp in front of the farm, and they were astonished with the number of fireworks let off by the band. Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull, accompanied by her son, were also staying with Mick and Keith.
During their stay in Brazil, they visited some terreiros (temples of the Afro-Brazilian religion Umbanda) and also learned about Brazilian rhythms and instruments. The song Country Honk, which later became the classic hit Honky Tonk Women, was written during that trip.
I am hooked on every phase of The Rolling Stones’ career, but I will stick to that period and recommend you watch one of my favorite movies ever, Sympathy for the Devil, by Jean-Luc Godard.
Poison in a Can
In the late 1980s, a ship named Solana Star was traveling from Australia to Miami, with a planned stop in Brazil. The ship, however, was loaded with 22 metric tons of marijuana and, after an anonymous report, the crew decided to throw it all away in the sea. That was enough to bring clouds of joy to stoners in Brazil, especially those in Rio de Janeiro, where most of the load resurfaced.
It didn’t take long for the cans to wash ashore on several beaches. After learning about it by word of mouth, people would wait eagerly for the product to arrive. The prestigious singer Tim Maia hired a few motorboats to search for the much-talked-about cans, each of which contained about 1.5kg (53oz) of weed.
Some potheads were even said to have lost their lives in the sea, looking for the so-called “gift of Neptune” or “gift of Iemanjá” (the orisha of the ocean in Afro-Brazilian religions).
Brazil was just out of the military dictatorship at the time, and it was hard to get some fine weed. But, as the cans kept on arriving, people realized that there was such a thing as “prime marijuana”, and that they could have better, high-quality trips. Some reports state that the quality of marijuana in Brazil improved after the episode.
There are a number of sites and videos out there about this crazy story, but my tip to those who want to dig further is the documentary The Summer of the Cans (Verão da Lata), by Tocha Alves and Haná Vaisman.
Aaand that's a wrap. We hope you enjoyed this edition full of music, pop culture and interesting stories from Brazil.
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Stay safe and enjoy the music,
East Side Radio