Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Sandhouse Stompers at Doncaster Brewery

Last night Doncaster jazz musicians Mark Ellis, Stuart Garside, Paul Grady, Mark Kerrigan, Gareth Smith, Rowena Smith and myself played a dixieland jazz gig at Doncaster Brewery Tap to raise money for Favela Brass.

One of the beers on sale at the brewery is called "Sandhouse" and the band has become collectively known as the "Sandhouse Stompers". The brewery donated a pound for every pint of Sandhouse beer drunk and between that and the money people dropped into our donations box we raised £162.60 for the project. Thank you ever so much to the musicians, to the brewery and to everyone who came along and donated (and drank!) so generously.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Finnish Connection: Thank you Maria Gasolina!

Rio de Janeiro attracts musicians from all over the world, one of whom is Finnish drummer and percussionist Sami Kontola. Sami and I became friends whilst playing together in the house band at the Maze jazz club in the Tavares Bastos favela. Sami's friends in Finnish band Maria Gasolina recently toured Brazil and while they were here raised R$1,000 through the sale of CDs. Instead of keeping the money the band decided that they would like to use it to give something back to Brazil. When they mentioned this to Sami, he told them about Favela Brass, and the band then very kindly decided to donate the money us, to be used to design and print a set of uniforms for us to use in our performances (not least in Rio Carnaval 2015 at the end of February).

The band recorded a Christmas video message for the children at the project including a rendition of Tim Maia's classic "Que Beleza", which we showed to them at a recent rehearsal. Sami and Finnish film-maker friend Suvi Mononen
captured the response of the children in a short video, which includes a thank you message from older students Vinícius, Gabriella, Victor and Lorena followed by a quick impromptu performance of the same tune on brass instruments. The video has Finnish subtitles, but it's easy to get the gist:

Thank you ever so much to Maria Gasolina for the very generous donation and for the lovely Christmas video message. Thanks also to Sami for the hook-up and to Suvi for filming the video. All that remains now is to design and print some seriously funky Favela Brass T-shirts for the kids to wear at their upcoming shows - watch this space!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Thank you Brendan Doshi and Lucas Allen!

Last week two of our volunteer teachers, Brendan Doshi and Lucas Allen left us to return to the USA.

Brendan (first from left above), a professional Piano player from Chicago, was in Rio studying Brazilian music on a Fulbright Scholarship. Lucas Allen (below) was studying at Rio's PUC (Pontifical Catholic University) as part of his degree in International Relations at Boston College. Both played trumpet in high school and hence could help out with teaching keyboard-based instruments such as glockenspiel and melodica, and also with the brass instruments.

In addition to helping out giving lessons week in and week out the guys also supported me at my gigs in and around Rio and Brendan was, without doubt, the Curry Clube's #1 patron in the 5 months that he was at the project! We also had some great nights out after Friday's lessons - at the Pedra do Sal samba party and at the Maze jazz club in the Tavares Bastos favela, where Brendan regularly sat in on piano.

It's been a great pleasure getting to know Lucas and Brendan over the last few months. Favela Brass is still in its early days, but this was a exchange that definitely worked well - not only were Brendan and Lucas of great help during the lessons, but they also embraced the opportunity to learn about Brazilian music and rhythms during our percussion workshops.

Thank you Lucas and Brendan - have a great Christmas and come back to Brazil SOON!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

New Instruments!

Today Keith Alderson finished off repairing and servicing another batch of instruments to be taken out to Brazil and used in the project. As usual he charged only a token free, and also sold us a baritone horn for £30, much less than its real value.

Most of the instruments are ones that were donated by Longridge band this summer. However, the trumpet (bottom left) is a recent donation from Doncaster Music Service.

Many thanks to Keith, Longridge Band, and to Rona Gurnhill for arranging the donation of the trumpet from Doncaster Music Service.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Sallie Ashe Favela Brass Christmas Cards

It has to be said that these Christmas cards are much nicer in real life than in the images below. They were designed by Sallie Ashe (my Mum) and are available for £5 per pack of 10 (all proceeds to the Favela Brass Project). We'll be selling these in person in Doncaster over the Christmas period but we can post if anyone farther afield is interested (+£1 UK P+P). Either way, if you'd like some beautiful original Christmas cards by a local artist and to help a little music school in Brazil, please just get in touch, specifying which design you'd like (or a mix of the two).

Design 1

Design 2

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Curry Clube 5th Anniversary Party

On Sunday the 16th of November our (now monthly) culinary fundraiser, the Curry Clube, celebrated 5 years of existence with a special event which combined Indian food with a live samba band, comprising star students Victor Hugo, Vinícius and Gabriella alongside percussion teacher Mangueirinha, samba singer and cavaquinho player Thiago Torres and French singer/guitarist Paul Eduoardo Gardelle who does a roda de samba workshop with the children on Wednesdays.

Click the image below to see the rest of the photos:

Later on the children showed off their trumpet-playing skills as well:

Also present at the party were American journalists Nadia Sussman and Taylor Barnes, who wrote a very nice piece about us on an international food blog called Culinary Backstreets.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Thank You Rowena Smith!

Not content with donating umpteen brass instruments to the project earlier this year, Rowena (or "Hoeweena..." as every Brazilian insisted on pronouncing it) came out to help us with the project for six weeks during October and November. Despite not speaking Portuguese (sorry Rowena, should have given you more of a heads up about that one!) Rowena fitted right in and gave lessons on tenor horn, trombone and trumpet to the kids as well as playing a mean reco-reco (Brazilian scrapey percussion instrument) in the lessons of our percussion teacher, Mangueirinha. Here's Rowena playing trombone with the children at a public performance in the centre of Rio:

(Rowena with percussion teacher Mangueirinha)

Rowena inevitably also got roped into helping out with our fundraising curry club.

As well as helping out at the project, Rowena sat in with various bands around Rio, including The Baixada Jazz Big Band, the Fanfarrada orchestra, Orquestra Voadora, and at the classic samba party in Rio that happens on Friday nights at the Pedra do Sal. Here's Rowena sitting in with the Baixada Jazz Big Band (they were well impressed!)

Aside from her trombone-playing abilities, the children were also fascinated by Rowena's drawings of the wildlife in the favela:

To come to live in a favela in Rio de Janeiro at age 18 is extremely courageous, and we're all extremely glad that Rowena took the plunge. Hopefully to have experienced Brazilian music and culture at such an early age will be an experience that stays with her forever, just as to have met and have had lessons with a talented 18 year-old English trombone player will be something that the kids at the project won't forget in a hurry.

Thank you Rowena!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Favela Brass at Centro Cultural Carioca

On Saturday the children played at the Carioca Culture Centre in Rio city centre alongside the drumming group Balança mas Não Cai. It was the first time they had played outside the favela.

The trombone player is 18 year-old British musician Rowena Smith, who is living in the favela and teaching the children on a voluntary basis for the next six weeks.

Welcome to the project, Rowena!

(Click on the image above to see the other photos)

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Sandhouse Stompers Coast to Coast Stomp

Favela Brass is not the most conventionally funded charity in history. From our triple carnival party (Rio, New Orleans and Caribbean) at Liberty Grill in Doncaster, to our ongoing weekly curry club in the middle of a Brazilian favela - we like to do things a bit differently. Following on in this tradition, then, is the Sandhouse Stompers Coast to Coast Stomp.

Ever since a fundraising event at Doncaster Brewery, where the brewery kindly donated the proceeds of sales of their delicious Sand House beer to the project, our dixieland jazz band has become the Sand House Stompers. For 9 days in July next year this group of 6 musicians will be walking across the breadth of the North of the UK, from Morecambe to Whitby (170km), playing dixieland jazz at various points along the way, in order to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and Favela Brass.

Without further adieu, here's the description from the event's Facebook page:

"On 21st July 2015, 6 intrepid explorers, musicians, friends, aka The Sandhouse Stompers will be embarking upon an epic journey. From West coast to East coast, Morecambe to Whitby, over 9 days, this musical troupe will be walking, busking, grumbling, serenading, eating and drinking their way across the country. Why? Many reasons, but here’s the most important 2:

The Favela Brass Project and

MacMillan Cancer Support

We hope to raise as much money as possible for these two fantastic charities through sponsorship, musical performances and impromptu busking en-route, but we need your help! If you have any ideas of where we can perform (pubs, halls, galas, village greens, Bar Mitzvahs), can offer us a field to pitch our tents, can provide us with pies or frosty libations, we would love to hear from you. If you want to walk with us, play with us (stop sniggering Stretton!) or rattle some collection boxes for us you are more than welcome to join us.

Here is our planned route:

Tues 21st Morecambe

Wed 22nd Bentham

Thurs 23rd Settle

Fri 24th Grassington

Sat 25th Patley Bridge

Sun 26th Masham

Mon 27th Thirsk

Tues 28th Helmsley

Wed 29th Rosedale Abbey

Thurs 30th Whitby"

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Favela Brass in The Longridge News

The recent donation of instruments to the project by the Longridge Band has attracted the attention the Longridge News, who ran a nice piece about us and the Longridge band yesterday. Thanks again to Shelagh and Dave Richardson and Fred Little for arranging the donation of the instruments from the band and to Joanna Gavaghan for the article.

...loving that cheesy headline as well!

(click on image to enlarge)

Favela Brass: The Highlight of a Post-College South American Adventure

Before meeting Tom Ashe and becoming part of the Favela Brass project, I had only been in Rio de Janeiro for several months and was already starting to feel like my time in Brazil lacked substance. Although my social life was improving and English teaching work was finally rolling in after a frustrating pre-Carnaval job search, I felt unsatisfied. Aside from the occasional jam session, I wasn't doing enough with music, and artistic inspiration seemed hard to come by. I also wasn't doing any sort of volunteer work as I'd hoped.

Worsening this sense of dissatisfaction was my living situation. I had an insanely OCD landlord named Newton, who wrote notes on the walls when we didn't do the dishes or sweep the floor, and checked in on us at random hours to make sure we didn't have guests staying over free of charge. Not to mention, the 100-year old mattress I slept on, or lack there of, was giving me back pain. While I love the sandy coast, being a 5-minute walk from Ipanema beach was not enough to assuage my discontent.

My friend, Ben, coming to visit me from the states for several weeks was a significant turning point. His butting heads with my crazy landlord made me realize how ridiculous my living situation was. I became so fed up with the bickering and lack of sleep, I didn't care if I was only midway through the month's rent. I wanted out! And I wanted my friend to see something better than that nonsense.

Ever since meeting Tom at a Santo Scenarium big band concert, I had contemplated the idea of moving to his place and helping with his project. The problem was I had just paid for two months rent when we first met and the idea of living in a favela made me slightly uneasy, so I never seriously considered moving and fully dedicating myself to the project until this moment. But it suddenly seemed like the ideal move.

When I visited Tom's place to talk logistics, not only was I was relieved to see I'd finally sleep on a real mattress in a comfortably sized room and have all the necessary amenities, but also excited to learn about his plans for teaching the kids. We weren't going to just shove a trumpet in their faces and tell them to play. In fact, mastering a brass instrument was the final step. Instead, we were going to help them experience something that most children around Brazil do not: a well-rounded musical upbringing.

They'd have lessons on Mondays with Mangueirinha, a professional percussionist who's played with Seu Jorge and has years of experience teaching kids. They'd learn how to read music through figurenotes, an innovative and fun methodology that emphasizes shapes and words they already know to help them quickly decipher notes and rhythms. And they'd put this into practice on melodicas and mini-xylophones, which ease the transition to brass playing and give them a more visual understanding of music theory. My job would be the final step of introducing them to the trumpet. And after talking everything over with Tom during my visit, I immediately committed to the opportunity.

So on a Friday afternoon, Ben and I packed our bags, leaving my place without a word to hopefully the worst landlord I will ever have to endure. The journey to Peireirão (the favela where Tom lives) was more stressful than anticipated, but after an hour-long trek and difficulty finding a cab, we finally made it, overjoyed by the view and the start of a new chapter. After snapping a few photos of the incredible sight of Pão de Açúcar and all of praia Flamengo down below us, we passed out on our comfy new mattresses, finally catching up on much needed sleep. The excitement felt at the time would only be exceeded.

On the following Sunday, I received a warm welcome at the project's monthly fundraiser, known as Curry Club. This event entails Tom and co cooking up loads of delicious vegetarian curry and serving it with a side of trad jazz straight from New Orleans. That Sunday the curry was zesty and Tom's band, the BombarTrio, was swingin'! It was an honor to sit in with them and rip a few solos, as well as inspiring to meet the beautiful people from all over Rio and abroad that support the project. For one of his last nights visiting, Ben enjoyed himself too, chatting it up with newfound friends and chowing down on spicy food for the first time since back home. After a fulfilling night of music and socializing, I was excited to teach my first class the next day...

At around 6pm the following day, Tom leaned out the window with his trumpet and blew an emphatic horse race fanfare, as customary before every lesson to call the kids. Before I knew it, a nice crowd of about fifteen had shown up. I wasn't sure what to expect exactly, but I soon found myself in the kitchen helping Venicius and Victor, two of our most dedicated students, find their first notes. After some basic instruction and positive encouragement, they were getting a pretty good sound, especially Victor, despite it being his first day. By the end of the lesson, Victor could nearly play the entire B-flat major scale! I had goosebumps watching. And by day three, he and Venicius could play Cai Cai Balão together.

As more kids started coming, Tom and I decided on a rotation based on ability level, age, and dedication. This constantly evolved as more came into the fold. But the main idea is that those who attend lessons consistently get a chance to play trumpet, and if they show real interest, get to take it home to practice. All kids from the favela are welcome and always have the opportunity to play percussion, learn to read music, and even perform. In essence, we try to keep the door open while cultivating potential talent, which isn't hard to come by. However, the more qualified volunteers we have, the better able we are to maintain to the balance between getting every kid involved and enabling the more advanced to blossom.

We now have nearly thirty kids, of which 10-15 are coming consistently, and our most dedicated five are taking trumpets home to practice on. I did a mixture of private lessons and group rehearsals with the trumpet players, as well as new lessons for promising students. There are an additional five, who if they continue to come, will soon be able to take home a cornet and songbook, and hopefully join the top group. The ones that come less consistently still learn how to play percussion and participate in blocos (shows we do on the streets of the favela and the main futsal court).

The kids were truly a pleasure to work with, and I rarely had any problems with discipline. Even when a problem arose, it was resolved quickly because the students genuinely wanted to be there. The beautiful thing about the project is that no one is being forced to come. And those who come regularly are rewarded with more opportunities. Tom and I constantly joked that we were much less dedicated as music students growing up. Maybe its because we grew up too privileged to appreciate such educational opportunities, or maybe because it was too forced upon us, but whatever the reason, I was in constant awe of the kids we taught.

Unlike me at the age of 13/14, they even practice! For instance, one afternoon when I was heading out for a jog, Victor leaned out the window of his house with his trumpet and started playing Saints Go Marching In. Words couldn't describe the sense of pride I felt. In just two months, he learned all ten songs in the book and significantly improved his sound. His curiosity to learn was also impressive, as he drilled me with questions during our lessons and even tried to use his ear to figure out melodies.

It’s kids like Victor who make me believe in our project, who make me feel like Favela Brass provides something more than just a distraction from the drug trade or the typical social project song and dance circle. This is an opportunity for these kids to grow musically and see the fruits of their own labor. Many have tremendous potential to become musicians, but regardless, this is about showing them what they can accomplish when they put their mind to something, while giving them memories they will cherish as they grow older.

I was a little concerned about living in a favela. The one I lived near in Copacabana was ripe with tension. But Pereirao is a special community, one in which I felt much safer than in most parts of Rio. You are up in the hills of Santa Teresa, away from so much of the madness. And although there is a drug trade with traffickers on several corners, I rarely saw a gun or heard a shot. When I first moved in, I got questioned by the traffickers, but only to make sure I wasn’t a cop. Once they heard my gringo accent, their faces lightened up, and I never had a problem since. Beyond feeling safe, I became part of the community and spent much of the World Cup watching matches at the neighborhood restaurant. I got to celebrate with the locals, many being the parents of the kids we teach.

Before every Brazil game, we performed with the kids. We marched down the main street of the favela playing classic Brazilian and soccer tunes on percussion and brass, and then finished the show at the restaurant. This was the culmination of my time with the project. Seeing my students put what we’ve been working on into practice, the smiles on their faces, and the joy in the eyes of their parents are memories I will forever cherish.

I have just returned to the United States to do a master's program in Washington, DC, but there is nothing I want more than to know that the project will continue to prosper. If you're interested in volunteering or donating, please contact Tom through this website!

Here's a clip from my last lesson with our star students (Vinícius, Victor, Gabriela, and Tuany) on trumpet:

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Thank you and Farewell, Joe Epstein

After 4 months of teaching trumpet at the project (as well as helping lots with our events and the day-to-day running of the school), Californian volunteer Joe Epstein is now returning to the USA to study for his master's degree in International Relations at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

During his time here, Joe gave trumpet lessons to the children three times a week, with whom he became very popular. We really hope that Joe will be able to get back here at some point in the future to see the progress of the students who he started off on the trumpet, and teach them once again.

On Friday we had a leaving party at the project - click on the image below to see the full album:

Joe, we're extremely grateful for your help over the last 4 months, wish you all the very best at Georgetown and hope to see you back here again before too long.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Thank you to Longridge Band!

Just as the prospect of an Argentina vs Germany World Cup final threatened to send the entire Favela Brass team into a state of deep depression, we've received some fantastic news! Longridge band, one of the oldest brass bands in the UK (dating back to 1845) based in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire, has just made an extremely generous donation of brass instruments to the project:

We are very grateful indeed to Fred Little and Longridge Band for these instruments, which take us one step closer to our dream of creating a uniquely Brazilian youth brass band in our small favela (shanty-town) in Rio de Janeiro.

We'd also like to thank David and Shelagh Richardson (Shelagh on left in photos) ever so much for making the connection between the band and our project.

As well as the instruments, the band also donated a very smart set of unused uniforms:

It's very difficult to thank people adequately for donations of this generosity. I imagine that the best form of reward for the donors of these instruments would be to see them one day being played to a high standard by children who would never otherwise have had a chance to play a brass instrument. For that reason this donation is not just of great practical assistance, but is also an inspiration for us to do the very best we can in our work at the project.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Curry Clube is Back!!!

After 3 months off, tonight saw the return of our regular fundraiser, the Curry Clube, which involves people coming round to my house in the favela and eating home-cooked Indian food in return for a contribution to the project. We're looking to bring it back on a weekly basis - the only question now is whether to have it on Tuesday or Sunday nights...

(Click image to see all photos)

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Parade and Show Before Brasil vs Columbia Game

Thanks to Matthew Connelly for these photos (click the image to see the full album):

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Claire (3 years old)

Our youngest student, Claire, playing a Brazilian children's tune on the glockenspiel:

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Bringing together the Brass and Percussion

Another milestone for the project: at yesterday's rehearsal we put the brass and percussion together for the first time.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Interview on BBC Radio Leeds with Russell Walker

Yesterday I gave an interview on Russell Walker's show on BBC Radio Leeds about the Favela Brass project. Thanks very much to producer Munaza Rafiq and presenter Russell Walker for having me on the show.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Pre-match Parade in Favela Pereira da Silva before Brazil vs Mexico Game

Getting into the World Cup spirit, we're did a parade through our favela before the Brazil vs Mexico game yesterday:

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Thank You! (Sticker Fund Update)

Last month we launched our sticker fund, with the aim of selling 500 Favela Brass stickers at £3 a pop in order for us to buy a set of percussion instruments for the children.

Although we have already sold over 100 stickers, it seems that the initiative was most successful in raising awareness of the project, and as direct result of it we have received some extremely generous larger donations.

These donations came from Laura and John Kerr, David and Shelagh Richardson, Robert Fletcher and Carol Hauss, and have made it possible to buy the percussion instruments we need just in time for the World Cup. We bought the instruments on Tuesday and yesterday we were visited by Channel 5 news, who filmed the children playing on their new instruments for the first time.

We (staff and children) would like to say a huge thank you to our donors and to those who bought stickers. The kids are absolutely made up with the new instruments, and we're looking forward to giving them plenty of use during the World Cup!

The good thing is that we have now managed to buy nearly all of the percussion instruments that we need and still have more than 300 stickers to sell. We still have a long way to go in terms of sustainably funding the project, and more children are arriving all the time, so the revenue from further stickers sales will be vital in helping us to maintain, and hopefully improve our activities.

Again, thanks ever so much to our donors, those who bought stickers, and those who helped with the event at Doncaster Brewery. Bring on the World Cup!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

We've just sold our 100th Favela Brass sticker! Please buy your Favela Brass sticker on Ebay today and help us to reach our target of selling all 500 before the end of the World Cup.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Favela Brass Sticker Fund is Live!

We’ve benefitted from some extremely generous donations of brass instruments. However, at the moment we only have a very limited selection of smaller percussion instruments, and the children have now developed to point where we need a proper set of full-sized percussion instruments.

In order to raise the money that we need for the instruments, we've had 500 beautiful Favela Brass stickers printed and are now selling them for the princely sum of £3 each (or R$10 in Rio). The total price for all of the percussion instruments that we need is roughly £1,500 and we will buy instruments bit by bit as the cash comes in from sticker sales. In this way, once the stickers have all been sold, we will have the instruments that we need.

Our team will be selling stickers in person and at our events, and you can also buy them online via eBay. Stickers cost £3 plus 50p postage to the UK or £1 postage to any international address:

Anyone who buys a sticker will have their name included on our Favela Brass Sticker Fund wall of fame, and we'll post on the blog each time we manage to buy new instruments with the money raised from the stickers.

Thanks everyone!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Thank you Keith Alderson

Many of the instruments that are donated to the project in the UK need repairing before they can be taken over to Brazil and used. We are very lucky to have this work done by Doncaster's instrument repair specalist Keith Alderson. Keith repairs the instruments quickly, cost-effectively and to the highest standard, allowing us to make use of instruments which many times under other circumstances wouldn't have been worth the repair bill.

Not only that, Keith also donates instruments to the project, and has sold many other instruments to us at well below their market value. In addition to the cornet that he donated at Christmas, Keith has just donated 2 tenor horns and 4 clarinets to the project:

Due to Keith's generosity, one of the main challenges of the project, that of getting a set of wind instruments together, has been made much easier. Thank you Keith Alderson!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Thank you to Richard McGown

We have just received the very generous and timely donation of an Olds Ambassador trumpet from Richard McGown, an American who has taken a keen interest in the project. The trumpet dates from the late 1950s/early 1960s and is a very well-made instrument that plays great after all these years. We've lent it to student Vinícius (12) so he can practice at home. Vinícius has been showing a lot of promise on the trumpet and coming along to all of the lessons, even when it rains (a minor miracle in Rio!) so we thought he deserved to use it.

Thanks ever so much Richard, from us and from Vinícius, for giving an enthusiastic young trumpet player the chance to learn to play on the kind of instrument that he would sadly never normally have access to. We'll be documenting Vinicius's progress on this blog.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Thank you to Rowena Smith and Ridgewood School

Brass instruments are extremely expensive in Brazil, more than twice the price of instruments in the UK. A big part of the project, then, is getting hold of instruments for the children. All of the instruments in the project are second-hand instruments from the UK which were then either donated or bought cheap on eBay, and taken over by plane.

This Christmas we received a particularly generous donation of instruments from Ridgewood school in Doncaster. The donation came about when John Ellis, director of Doncaster Youth Jazz Association, mentioned the project at one of the band's rehearsals. Trombonist Rowena Smith, from Ridgewood School, immediately responded that Ridgewood school had some old instruments that had served their purpose at the school, and that might be available for donation. In the end, the school ended up donating 1 euphonium, 3 tenor horns, 1 trumpet, 1 trombone, a glockenspiel, 2 cymbals and 3 clarinets to the project. To buy those instruments in Brazil would be very expensive indeed.

In addition, Rowena also donated an extremely nice second-hand cornet.

Most of the instruments have now made their way to Brazil (thank you to Dave and Shelagh Richardson for helping with this), and the rest will be brought over by friends coming to Brazil for the World Cup. It's a very generous donation and one that will hopefully make a big difference in the lives of children who would otherwise be very unlikely ever to have the opportunity to play a wind instrument.

Thank you very much Rowena Smith and Ridgewood school!

Curry Clube

A principal source of funding for the project comes from an Indian food event called the Curry Clube. Perhaps a little explanation is in order...

I moved to Rio in 2008, having previously lived in Wembley, a predominantly Indian neighborhood of London, where I could always get a great curry. Rio doesn’t have much in the way of Indian food, and after a year the withdrawal
symptoms became too much to bear and I started learning how to cook my own curries via internet recipes. I began cooking for my housemates weekly, and then more friends started coming, then people that I didn’t know, so eventually I ended up charging. In 2013 I decided to up the prices a bit and use the profit from Curry Clube to fund Favela Brass.

We've done Curry Clube in various different configurations - with live jazz music, live samba music, at my house, at other peoples' houses, weekly, and monthly. At present Curry Clube happens at the same place as the Favela Brass music lessons (my house in the Pereirão favela) and we do it on Sunday evenings once a month. We're combining our curry with an informal live samba jam at the moment, and are trying to get the children playing at the event as much as possible.

To come to Curry Clube, you have to keep an eye on the Curry Clube facebook page for when the next event is. It's then just a matter of getting here:

Getting to Curry Clube, Part One:

The first thing is getting yourself to the entrance to our favela ("Pereirão") at Rua Almirante Alexandrino, 2023 (they always put the house number after the street number in Brazil). Two ways to do it:

1. Take a taxi. To help the taxi driver, Almirante Alexandrino 2023 is between ("entre") the "hospital do quarto centenário" and the "Largo da França" in the Santa Teresa district, near to the favela "Fallet" (pronounced "fa-letch").
2. Take a bus. Perhaps only an option for people who are living in Rio and have a bit of local knowledge. You take the 006 or 007 from Centro, Lapa or Santa Teresa and ask to get off at Fallet.

Getting to Curry Clube, Part Two:

Once at Almirante Alexandrino 2023, you walk up the ramp from the street, then when you come to the big set of gates with "Assunção Cenam" written on them at the top, you follow the path that goes past the gates and up to the right. You then continue on this path up, then down, and my house (casa 13) is on the right just after a small church "capela" on the right hand side. If all that sounds a bit complicated, you can also see the journey as a sequence of photos on facebook:

If in any doubt, once in the favela just ask any of the locals for "casa do Tom" and they'll point you in the right direction.

Curry clube was also recently featured on, Tom Le Mesurier's excellent blog all about what to do in Rio.