(Not) blogging about Brazil

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Auditório Ibirapuera, Sao Paulo

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been in Brazil. First, in a town called Goiania, and then Sao Paulo.

I’m over here for Unconvention, which is a grassroots and independent music conference and event that started in Salford a couple of years ago, but which has expanded dramatically, and has now happened in all sorts of interesting places around the world.

We were going to go to Salvador as well, but that was cancelled so we’ve had a bit longer in each town, which has actually been brilliant (though I would have loved to get there as well).

I was one of five “internationals” that included Graham Massey from 808 State, Viv Albertine from The Slits, Pete Shelley from The Buzzcocks and Ruth Daniel, who organises Unconvention.

The food’s been amazing, the people exceptional, the music has been superb – and of course, the trip has been full of interesting conversations, late nights, concerts, art galleries, sightseeing, and lots of really fascinating panel sessions and presentations.

Goiania
The Mummies

Unconvention Goiania was part of the Goiania Noise Festival, and through the day, a series of bands recorded an album, which was produced and released all within that one day.

You can download the free album here.

Along the way, we hosted bilingual panels on the grassroots and independent music business (with simultaneous translation, which was brilliant).

A real highlight for me was to meet the members of Californian band The Mummies, who were really lovely guys – funny, softly spoken and polite grownups about my age, give or take – who put on costumes, go on stage and go absolutely bonkers. They play tight, shouty garage rock, and singer Trent Ruane throws himself about so much I was worried he’d sustain a serious injury any moment.

His wife Lisette, who had travelled with the band, appears pretty much resigned to that possibility.

What I loved most about them, I think, was that this was an occasional thing for them. These are guys with day jobs, with the possible exception of Russell the drummer – who seems to be in about a dozen different bands at once. It’s not an attempt at global stardom, but a bunch of ordinary people who play dressup, make raucous rock & roll and travel when the opportunity is too good to pass up, then return to their lives.

Sao Paulo
The Sao Paulo gang

In Sao Paulo, the event was held in the amazing Auditorio Ibirapuera.

I was on three panels through the day: the first, a general introductory session about the Unconvention philosophy of ‘Do It Together’ (as opposed to ‘Do It Yourself’); then, in the middle of the day, a conversation with film-maker and vagabond (in the best sense of the word) Vincent Moon; and finally around 9pm, I hosted a panel of punk legends.

Pete Shelley (Buzzcocks), Viv Albertine (The Slits), Redson (Cólera)

Viv Albertine and Pete Shelley were joined by Brazilian punk hero Redson from the band Cólera, and I talked to them about the history of punk music, its political context and its lessons for young musicians in 2010/11. Some really fascinating discussion and some interesting revelations.

Can’t wait until the video of that panel goes up on the Unconvention website.

Blogging it elsewhere
So much has happened here in Brazil that’s been noteworthy or just deserving of a photograph or two that I’ve decided to resurrect and refurbish my old Tumblr blog and use it for my travels.

I could, of course, simply blog here on my personal site – but it would mean there’d be days where I’d post a dozen times, and there are some people that get this via email – and… well, it would just seem like a bit much. It also feels like it would disrupt the ‘flow’ of this blog – and I sort of have it where I like it at the moment.

So I’ve renamed my Tumblr site Dubber’s not here right now – and it’s for ‘postcards’ from the places I happen to go. If you’re interested in that sort of thing (mostly photos – some video) then that’s the place to go.

You can, of course, simply add me on Flickr, Vimeo and YouTube to try and keep up with the sheer firehose of digital media I go around making and causing – but the Tumblr site is a more selective, curated presentation.

I have a couple of days left in Brazil – and tonight we’re off to a Buzzcocks concert… so there’ll be plenty more stuff up at Dubber’s not here right now over the next little while. But I’ll lay off about it here.

I do the same with projects. The Dubber and Clutch go to Jura thing a couple of weeks back was a good case in point…

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