Unlike the urban MPB or Bossa Nova we generally associate with Brazil, music from that country's northeast, and particularly Pernambuco, has a rugged, rural heart.
Although she is originally from Sao Paulo, Renata Rosa seems to have been created especially for this kind of soul. There is a direct, joyful quality to her presentation, as if she is simply delighted to be singing for you, and she and her ensemble have an endless energy for performance. (I imagine they do get tired like most humans, but I didn't see any of that. Even when their flight was cancelled and then re-scheduled for the following day and they had to return to the festival, they passed the time jamming and performing.)
The complete band is not a trio, and on opening night, Ana Araujo on vocals and percussion, and Hugo Lins on bass rounded out the ensemble on the big stage. But I was unable to get a satisfactory shoot from the performance that night, so I was glad to catch her gig at the tiny Pikant Café, perched above the town's river. That is one of the beauties of the Forde festival, you can hear music in venues large and small all over the town and its environs, from concert halls, to classrooms and churches, even to mountain tops! This means that if you miss one show, you will likely be able to see the artist perform again. Indeed, Ms. Rosa said that of the many performances she gave, she thought the show at the Pikant was particularly strong, perhaps due to the proximity of the audience.
The place was jammed, both inside and on the outside deck, but I was able to score a chair in the corner and stand on it. Sorry about that backlight, and some moments when my footing got dicey....what can ya do. Pepe da Silva is playing a 10 stringed guitar, and Lucas dos Pazeres is on percussion. Everyone sings; indeed for me, it was the part singing that really drew me in, and I have to say the musicianship was mighty high all around.
Despite its traditional sound, the first song -- Corta o Pau -- is an original by Ms. Rosa. She wrote of it to me: "Its rhythm is called Coco de Roda. This composition has different influences such as indigenous vocal polyphonies, rabeca (traditional fiddle) played in the cavalo-marinho tradition (a kind of street performance) and the Viola (10 stringed guitar) played in the northeastern tradition.
The second Song -- Piau -- is her adaptation of a folk song. She writes, "It's rhythm is from our Afrobrazilian ritual called macumba."