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.