It’s called Rua das Pretas — a gathering of local and visiting musicians who have partnered with a historic Portuguese winery and aim to be known as a musicians’ travelling circus. The musicians say they are akin to a Portuguese version of the Buena Vista Social Club, a group of Cuban musicians who popularized traditional Cuban music and, with the aid of producer Ry Cooder, recorded a Grammy-winning album.
Brazilian musician Pierre Aderne, who has lived in Portugal since 2007 and once lived on a street named Rua das Pretas, leads the group of musicians. He is supported by famous Portugal winemaker Dirk Niepoort whose family’s wines have been produced in the country since 1842. A host of other Brazilian and Portuguese musicians play with Aderne, as well as New York-based singer-guitarist Brian Cullman.
More than 140 musicians have travelled to Portugal to play with local musicians at Rua das Pretas inside Príncipe Real Palace in Lisbon.
Aderne, who sings and plays guitar and percussion, estimates that more than 140 musicians — including artists from America, France, Cape Verde and other African countries — have travelled to the Palace of Principe Real during the past eighteen months to play with the Portugal-based musicians. Six to 15 musicians usually play at each session.
Aiming to celebrate Lusophone (Portuguese speaking) culture, the music they create blends bossa nova, fado, samba, blues, folk and jazz and is enjoyed by an audience of wine-toasting fellow artists, tourists and gipsies. Four Niepoort wines and wine by another Portuguese winemaker, Luis Cerdeira, are being promoted as part of the Rua das Pretas project. Corks include a download code to listen to the musicians’ songs.
“What makes the Palace of Principe Real so special for me is that audience and fellow artists are part of the same scene,” Aderne says. “Everyone is on stage — no microphones, no amplifiers — sharing a glass of wine and a few stories, playing unfinished songs and blending languages and cultures. I used to say that Rua Das Pretas is not a concert. It’s a party, a community.”
The music on the album and at the Rua das Pretas gatherings is a melting pot, Cullman says.
“It’s a United Nations of talents, cultures and languages,” he says. “There are samba players from Brazil; fado singers from Lisbon; bass players from the world of jazz; singers from Cape Verde; Americans like me who fell in love with the sea and the cool night air; dark Moorish gypsies running away from some forgotten crime; trumpet players who’ve lost their trumpet, and songwriter-guitarists from the beaches of Ipanema. But what we all have in common is a desire to create a musical world where we can all live together.”
“It’s good to book,” Cullman says, “but Lisbon is very open, very friendly, and I’ve never heard of someone showing up at the door and being turned away. Food and wine are part of the experience. There are Portuguese croquettes, cheese, prosciutto and bread, and no one leaves hungry. If you show up with your own food and wine, you better be prepared to share it with everyone.”
Dirk Niepoort creates special wines for the gatherings. “So no one goes thirsty,” Cullman says. “There are no rules, but, if you forget to toast the musicians at the end of an evening, your car will probably be towed away.”
Rua das Pretas crosses Avenida da Liberdade, one of the most famous and luxurious streets in Lisbon. Feel free to browse Portugal Homes’ properties in this exquisite avenue.
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