After a long day at the beach, my friends and I decided to put on our dancing shoes and split a cab. For only 3 realis, I had the experience of a lifetime. We walked down a cobblestone hill as we checked out the latest fashions, from mullets to beautiful floral dresses. Young and old were out and about, and the people were packed like sardines, something I have yet to experience at a jazz club in America.
The venue was outside and overlooking the water. The weather was breezy, people were friendly, and fried queijo was at the tip of your fingers.
I had previously asked my teacher if this was the type of jam session that I could play at, and he said he would see what he could do for me. I listened to the first couple songs and thought, “Hey, no big deal I got this.” So I went up to the line of musicians waiting to play. Everyone knew everyone and people were trading hugs and kisses on the cheek. We waited by this old VW bus that seemed to be out of service and there for decoration. People were hanging out inside, as well as adjusting the sound from there.
So I waited. I had a first class view of everything going on, and I figured, even if I didn’t get to play, I got a great seat. I saw a drummer who played with an unheard of groove, and dark curly hair to match. I saw a kid who looked no older than 18 switching instruments every song, and playing better than many seasoned 50 year olds I know. I saw timbale and pandera players who were funkier than James Brown. Needless to say my musical expectations were being filled. Before I knew it, my teacher came up and began to talk to the musicians he knew and ask if I could play a tune. Okay keep your cool, you can do this.
So, I waited, and I began to doubt myself, and others began to look at me with very questioning eyes. What is this girl doing here? She looks lost. Maybe we should help her? With my little Portuguese I introduced myself to some musicians and held up a conversation for as long as I could before I ran out of Portuguese and they ran out of English.
I finally got called up to play, after much anticipation. I was asked what I wanted to play, and I answered ,”whatever you want?” I am so bad at making decisions what is my problem? Finally we all decided on Cole Porter’s “Night and Day”. Before I had time to run off out of fear, the song was counted off and we began to play.
Immediately i felt a change. It’s hard to explain, as most things are when you go abroad, but the attitude was the biggest difference I felt. Everyone was just there to have a good time. All the musicians had gigantic smiles sweeping across their faces. I finished playing and was greeted with hugs and kisses from all the musicians, and invited back to play again. I also got introduced, “Gracie Clements from Washington, DC the White House!!!”. The crazy drummer handed me the mic and I said, “Obrigado, e Boa Noite!” (Thank you, and Goodnight!”). I left the stage with a new sense of myself and a new stage name to go back to the states with.