Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Preview of Brasil Summerfest 2011: July 24-30

Get ready, New York! July 24th marks the kick off to the first annual Brasil Summerfest. Our city's international music scene won't be the same after this week-long celebration of Brazilian beats and rhythms at venues all over Manhattan. 

Brasil Summerfest is the brainchild of Petrit Pula, President/A&R at Nublu Records. Before starting at Nublu five years ago, Petrit knew some about Brazil's musical diversity through his DJing, but working at an international record label exposed Petrit to a wide range of Brazilian music and gave him the opportunity to network with artists. “Brazil is so rich musically,” Petrit explained in an interview. And once he developed this consciousness, he noticed Brazil's absence from the long list of New York's annual music festivals. "There are lots of festivals," Petrit noted, citing week long commemorations of culture like Celebrate México Now, and Festival Sud de France. "Brazil should have one, too."

So a few years ago, he pitched the idea to his friend and colleague Erika Elliott, Artistic Director for New York's ever popular SummerStage program. She wasn't immediately sold, but a trip to a music festival in Recife, changed that. Petrit and Erika, along with other representatives from North American record labels and festivals traveled to the Recife's Feira de Música in 2009. It was Erika’s first trip to Brazil and the deciding factor in her agreeing to join forces with Petrit in realizing his vision back at home. A year and a half later, we are days away from a historic dose of Brazilian creativity.

Petrit reassured me that Brasil Summerfest will be different than Brazilian Day. I personally enjoy this annual celebration of Brazilian independence that draws revelers from New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire onto 6th Ave in Little Brazil, where they proudly raise their voka-filled water bottles in the name of their native land. Still, I see how some people, even those interested in Brazilian culture, might steer clear of that event. Petrit explained that "Brasil Summerfest is more about educating people and getting them to know what [Brazilian Music] is." He give an example from Nublu's club in the East village. "Most of the people who come to Nublu aren’t Brazilian, but now they know what Forró is and keep coming back for more every Wednesday night."

But why only now is a week-long celebration dedicated exclusively to Brazilian music coming to New York? I often think about the fact that a significant  number of Spanish-speaking, Latin pop and hip hop performers, like Shakira, Enrique Iglesias, and Ricky Martin, have achieved wide-spread recognition in North America, but contemporary Brazilian artists from the same musical genres, like Ivete and Claudia Leite, aren't anywhere close to becoming household names.

I asked Petrit if he has any insights into the matter. Like many to whom I've posed this question, he cites language as a barrier. Far fewer North Americans speak Portuguese than speak Spanish. And while the Spanish-speaking artists I mentioned above have numerous English language songs, both of us were hard pressed to think of a English language Brazilian hit. But beyond the obvious, Petrit made an excellent observation. “Any [artist] that would get huge here would have to show the colors of Brazil somehow. Every country in the world has Rock bands." This theory makes sense, and it gives new meaning to the line up he and Erika have put together for Brasil Summerfest.

There's no question that contemporary Brazilian artists who've had relative success in the U.S., like Seu Jorge and Bebel Gilberto, are inspired by the native beats and rhythms of Samba and Bossa Nova. But Brazilian rocker, Pitty, even with a ranking in the top 100 most influential Brazilians, is unknown in North America and touring in the U.S. for the first time ever this month with hip hop artist, Marcelo D2. I'm personally stoked that I'll be part of a crowd welcoming Pitty to one of her first shows in North America. Even if she proves to be a rocker just like the rest, firsts are significant.

If Rock isn't your jam, no worries. Brasil Summerfest is packed with back-to-back shows that will give attendees a thorough sampling of all types of Brazilian aural experiences.  From Forró and Samba-punk, to folkloric and electronic junk, Brasil Summerfest has it all.

Check out Brasil Summerfest's website for complete information on each show and for bios of each artist:

Sunday, July 24: Marcelo D2 with Pitty / Central Park SummerStage / Free
Monday, July 25: Forró in the Dark / City Winery / $10
Tuesday, July 26: Brothers of Brazil / Bowery Electric / $10
Wednesday, July 27: Jorge Continentino's Pifanology with Loop B / Nublu / $10
Thursday, July 28: Davi Vieira's Hip Hop Axe / Nublu / $10
Friday, July 29: DJ NUTS Dance Party / Drom / $10
Saturday, July 30: Percussivo Mundo Novo / S.O.B.s / $10

1 comment:

  1. Correction: Forró in the Dark is playing on Tuesday, July 26 and Brothers of Brazil is playing on Wednesday, July 27, the same night at Pifanology. There are not shows on Monday, July 25th.