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Archive for the ‘music’ Category

The Jolly Roger’s Booty

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

pirates.jpgFive thousand miles east of the planet’s commercial capital New York City, in yesteryear’s global capital of Istanbul, Turkey, pirate music vendors freely peddle CDs packed with hundreds of MP3s to customers at rock bottom prices without a care in the world.

They are not preoccupied with the thought of being busted by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and the local police force certainly does not have the time, in Europe’s largest city, to deal with petty pirate vendors. Istanbul is a city famous for its bazaars filled with knock-off goods, and the music and movies sold here are no exception.

One of the interesting perspectives we’ve gained from our whirlwind trip around the globe is a broad survey of the pirated goods available in each of the countries that we’ve visited. (more…)

How David Hasselhoff brought down the Berlin Wall

Monday, April 14th, 2008

I will never forget the look that Ben, the German exchange student living with my family in high school, gave to Paul, a clever classmate, when he dropped the H-word: Hasselhoff. Though I didn’t get the joke at the time (beyond finding it amusing that my host brother was being mistaken for the Baywatch star), Ben’s eyes seemed to pierce Paul’s soul, silently commanding him to hold back on the Hasselhoff humor or face serious consequences. Since our stay in Germany, we’ve caught on that the Hasselhoff thing comes up a lot for Germans. Rumor has it that he’s “big,” as they say, in Germany.

“It happens every time I have visitors here,” revealed Ayla Kiran, our host in Berlin. “One of the first things they ask is ‘Is he really a star here?’ ” Denials or explanations must then be made to put the whole story into context, and, if all goes well, put it behind them.

See how David Hasselhoff brought down the Berlin Wall in this video from First Night 1990, less than two month’s after the fall of East Germany:

On behalf of Ben, and Ayla, and all Germans, it’s time to put the story out there and settle this once and for all. It’s true, David Hasselhoff does have a special place in the hearts of Germans. But it’s more complicated than that. Germany (and Austria and Switzerland) do deserve some blame for their lack of taste (or unique sense of humor, depending on how you look at it), but they were also a victim of history. (more…)

Old school samba: Velha Guarda da Mangueira

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

On Friday afternoon we visited the Velha Guarda da Mangueira at Mangueira headquarters in Zona Norte (North Zone) of Rio.  The Velha Guarda da Mangueira is a musical outfit comprised of the Mangueira samba school’s 10 most senior, well-respected members.  The group is legendary, and has performed throughout Brazil and Europe, for decades.  Join the in the musical revelries in today’s photo gallery.

Taking it to the street: samba with the Velha Guarda da Mangueira

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

It’s a sunny Friday afternoon in Zona Norte (North Zone), Rio de Janeiro. Thushan, Brian and I have just had the fortune of meeting the Velha Guarda da Mangueira, a samba outfit comprised of 10 of the most senior members of Rio’s Mangueira samba school.

I first saw the Velha Guarda perform in 2003 at a free show in Salvador, Brazil and the magical memories of that night – without question the best concert I’ve ever witnessed – have remained vivid in my mind.

This time around, however, our more personal visit to the Velha Guarda has turned out to be less than magical. Perhaps it was the lack of a typical audience participation that made the group appear flat during our brief private set. Or maybe old age has finally taken its toll on this group of master musicians.

Content to have met the group and visit them in their home rehearsal space we begin thanking the musicians and start preparing for our departure.

Then the question comes: “You wanna have a beer down on the corner?” asks Josimar. Not particularly in the mood to drink and anxious to get in some much needed beach time before the sun goes down I debate how I can respectfully decline his offer.

“Come on! Let’s go have one. Just one. Don’t worry, it won’t take long.” Josimar assures us.

“OK, but do you think we’ll make it back in time to catch the sunset on Ipanema?” I ask.

“Sure,” Josimar replies, “The sooner we drink this beer, the sooner you’ll make it to the beach.”

I give in and we head over to a tiny bar on the street. I assume that our party will consist of just Thushan, Brian, Josimar and I, but the bar owner quickly starts lining up plastic tables one after another, setting out chairs for a group of 15. (more…)

Samba Soul and stories from a Brazilian legend: a visit with Hyldon

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

I am standing on a street corner in Recreio, Zona Oeste, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Its just past three in the afternoon, and the streets, except for a light sea breeze, are devoid of life. It feels like a Florida retirement community—quiet, hot, stagnant. Mike rings the doorbell. We wait. Mike rings the doorbell again.

Finally, the crackle of a voice from the speaker phone, a pleasant female voice, but not the voice we came here to meet. Mike introduces himself, and moments later, out steps a very average-looking Brazilian man. Average height, average weight, mid-fifties, wearing shorts, a Brazilian national team soccer jersey, and Havaianas, a Brazilian brand of flip-flop that is the preferred footwear of the entire nation. He isn’t the archetypal heartthrob, but then again, he never was, it was his nice-guy persona, his every-man way of being, that made him so popular.

  • Hear two exclusive tracks from Hyldon’s upcoming album Soul Brasileiro, heard for the first time, here on LongJaunt: Rapaz de São Paulo” featuring a special guest appearance on electric guitar by Roberto Frejat of the Brazilian rock band Barão Vermelho and “Brazilian Samba Soul.”


Samba in Sao Paulo

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

This afternoon, we went to a local jam in São Paulo’s center, where we, and the rest of the happy crowd fell for the infectious beats of samba. Get your groove on in today’s photo gallery.

What’s it sound like? To hear two audio clips from the day’s festivities,  click here or here…

The mariachi bands of Plaza Garibaldi

Friday, January 4th, 2008

Forget the DJ and hire a mariachi band for your next party. Here in Mexico City, all you have to do is head to Plaza Garibaldi, where bands vie for gigs, play the latest in their repertoire, and talk shop. We spent the afternoon chatting with a few of these stylish musicians and got an earful. Find a band of your liking at Plaza Garibaldi…

Today we decided to check out Plaza Garibaldi just north of the Palacio de Bellas Artes. It’s the hang out for mariachi bands and other Mexican traditional music groups looking to get a gig at a local party. Instead of searching classified ads or yellow page listings, anyone hoping to liven up their wedding or quinceañera (sweet fifteen party for girls that is a tradition in Mexico) comes to the Plaza to find a suitable group.


About LongJaunt Equal parts lighthearted jaunt and in-depth journey, this intimately documented trip around the world has one goal: to bring you along for the ride.

Thushan Amarasiriwardena

, former Senior Multimedia Producer at The Boston Globe, has always loved telling a great story. Combining his eye for visual story telling and his technical background in computer science at North Carolina State University, Thushan has reported on business, sports and travel for The Globe. You can find his site here.

Michael Kurtz

, graduated with a degree in Ethnomusicology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His thesis research focused on the intersection of race and music in Northeastern Brazil. He worked previously as A&R and Production Coordinator for Putumayo World Music, an international music record label based in New York City. You can find his site here.

Brian Rogers

graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies, and has traveled extensively in Latin America.

Alicia Conway

is LongJaunt's home base chief and a Technical Producer for The Boston Globe. She joined and contributed with the team out in England, Kenya, Tanzania, The Netherlands and Thailand.