Chicago Trip Drawing to a Close….

The last couple of days have been hectic, just as the last couple of MaSamba peeps arrived, and the work started in earnest.

On Friday, we delivered a workshop up in Evanston with the Evanston Escola de Samba, in which we developed our old reliable – ‘Afro Bloc’ – the group got it together really quickly, and we were in danger of being put to shame by their great drumming!

Rehearsing with Orquestra de Samba for ther finale piece.

Saturday saw us travelling to the Irish American Heritage Centre to deliver a masterclass in Afro-Brasilian music. There were folks there from several local Latin bands, and again, the standard was really high, so we chose to put them through their paces with a pretty complicated arrangement of ‘Samba Duro’. All went well, and we had the whole thing down well within the two hours allocated. That didn’t stop us from remaining on a little longer, just to enjoy the pleasure of playing with some really lovely people.

Sarah demonstrating some snare patterns in the Masterclass at the Irish American Heritage Centre.

Simon and Ruth enjoying the opportunity to play with local musicians at the Irish American Heritage Center.

Yesterday (Sunday), was the big day, with our feature show back in the Irish American Heritage Centre, which, by the way, is an amazing space, and a great testament to the power of community action. Kevin, the Manager, made us feel really welcome, and although he was very busy, took some time to explain the history of the building, and the community that use the place – very interesting stuff!

Des preparing his bodhrán for the show at the Chicago Brasilian Music Festival.

The show itself was excellent, and in 3 parts for us. We started by accompanying the Evanston Escola in their performance, before we let rip with a short, but focused 40 minute set. This set was designed to complement the smooth grooves of Orquestra de Samba, who specialise in Chorinho, Bossa Nova, and gentle Sambas – really great stuff, and also really beautiful people.

The show went extremely well, for everyone, and the feedback to the MaSamba set was very, very positive. There were video cameras and still cameras in evidence, so hopefully, we will have some documentary evidence of the event pretty soon, and we” go ahead and post it up right here!

Afterwards, we were treated to a beautiful dinner at the Campagnola Restaurant in Evanston. This was the perfect environment to ‘de-compress’ after the gig, and to share stories and swap information with our U.S. drumming brethern. As well as de-briefing from the week, we also discussed the possibility of MaSamba returning to Chicago for future events. The goodwill was so strong that band members were even inventing spurious Irish ancestry to strengthen the case, with Felipe Fraga of Orquestra de Samba becoming Felipe O’Fraga for the evening!

Obviously, in the gaps between work, we got out and did some exploring, which is well worthwhile in such a great city – before we left last night, there were already some plans for a return visit in 2012, and we are definitely up for that!

Sarah, Simon, Ruth, Brian and Simeon, on the front steps of our Chicago home - if only we could stay there forever!

Brian and Jenni approaching 'The Bean' in Millennium Park - a really great piece of public art!

A shot of the the Chicago skyline at night, from Lake Michigan.

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About Simeon

Masamba Samba School is Ireland's premier Afro-Brasilian music and dance group.
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