Today I played my first Samba gig with the Oldham branch of Meninos do Morumbi, as part of this year's Oldham Carnival. Meninos are a Brazilian group from São Paulo in Brazil, and at the moment three of their teachers, Eraldo, Sivuca and Adriana are over in the UK teaching a group in Oldham, set up by Leon and Ian, that I've been going to since the beginning of the year. Meninos do Morumbi in Brazil is a quite remarkable organization. Set up by Flavio Pimenta it 1996, it provides training in Samba and other styles of music to 4,000 kids between the ages of 7 and 18 in São Paulo, as well as a wide range of other activities. The association is largely run by the kids themselves, and provides over 1,000 meals a day for the kids, for example.
As well as switching bands I've also switched from playing Surdo (and hiding at the back of the group) to playing Tamborim (and being on display at the very front!), and I don't mind admitting it's proving to be a real stretch for me. Not only is the Tamborim played fast, it also has some fiendishly long and complicated patterns, plus we have to move around doing some dance steps and play the instrument everywhere from down by our knees to up over our heads - as we are at the front and have the smallest and lightest instruments we have to provide a bit of visual spectacle as well as volume ;-) It's taking me a while to get the hang of it, but I'm really enjoying the challenge. Anyway, here are a couple of photos of us playing in Oldham town centre - I'm second from the left in the red top.
We are playing again tomorrow in Oldham - first taking part in a parade and later on we will be playing a set on our own. It should be a good day, as long as the weather stays fine! If anyone fancies having a go themselves, it's a really friendly crowd and everyone is welcome, especially kids - my youngest son Mark (8) has started going, as well as James, and there are lots of other kids there too. Not only is there percussion training, there's also dance, and best of all it is completely free! Rehearsals are at every Monday at 6:15pm in The Gallery in Oldham, next to Sainsbury's.