Salvador da Bahia, Brazil Central
The Deep Guide to Brazil's Essentiality

Sprawled across broad equatorial latitudes, stoked and steamed and sensual in the widest sense of the word... limned in cadenced song...
its very name born in heat and embers, Brazil is a conundrum wrapped in a smile inside an irony.

There are, per the small-world phenomenon, six (or so) steps between Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock and Ry Cooder and you. Between every nightclub singer in Havana and you. Between every fiddle player in Donegal and every whirling dervish in Istanbul and every throat singer in Tuva and you. Between you and every musician and producer you've ever heard of...and millions you haven't.

The codex (Latin for book) allows people to create their own curated lists of recommending links, taking other people directly to musicians (and others) they believe should be heard. Among other things this system allows us the privilege of being able to take the advice of people in a position to know deeply what outsiders to their music can't.

Moreover, codexed people are universally interconnected, the connections following the mathematics and sociology behind the small world phenomenon. A logical consequence of this is that for the first time since man began making music over 30,000 years ago, ALL musicians and their music can potentially be found by everybody everywhere within the vicinity of planet Earth.

With all we've had, we haven't had that!

It's easy to be an integral part of this solution to a millenia-old conundrum. Set up a hyper-discoverable, world-wide-wired MusiCodex page absolutely free (from where you can also link out to your Spotify Artist Page, Facebook, Twitter, webpage, blog, download sites, etc.). Non-musicians welcome too.

All are. To a brave new music world, a musical democracy curated by the deepest, most subtle and powerful recommendation software ever devised: the collective human mind.

Thank you!

  Salvador Music
Sparrow Roberts

Who am I and why do I care about this?

I'm an American who's lived for the past twenty-two years in Bahia, Brazil, where I opened a record shop (Cana Brava Records) devoted to the primordial samba of the Bahian backlands and where I spend the time I can out in the small communities (fishing villages usually) where this music still exists.

"Sparrow" is the English-language version of what Brazilians call me...Pardal. David Dye was here last year and I organized a show for his World Café:

Given that there is fascinating music all over the world, and that there was no organized way of discovering that most of it even exists, I felt compelled to invent a way.

Before moving to Brazil I lived in New York city and "rescued" unpaid royalties for Led Zeppelin, Mongo Santamaria, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Philip Glass, the estate of Duke Ellington, Jim Hall, Ray Barretto, Airto Moreira, Astrud Gilberto, The Cadillacs (Earl Carroll), The Flamingos (Jake and Zeke Carey), among others.
Off Salvador's Beaten Track

Most visitors to Salvador get to know two areas: Pelourinho and Barra. Some will get up the the coast a bit to the praia (beach) of Piatã. But there's a whole lot more to Salvador than this. Here I'm going to talk about some areas where you'll be unlikely to see anybody but locals:

Beco de Gal -- You wanna samba? This is the place! A Salvador institution!

Lady Gal herself!

Tucked into a small alley (beco) is a very local place run by Gal (Maria das Graças da Silva Oswaldo), samba singer and afficionado extraordinaire.  The tunes (live) are top notch and the vibe is very chilled. Wednesday night is the big night here, the music starting around 10:30 or so and running until 3 a.m. (why Wednesday? that story's here). Getting on towards midnight the pace usually picks up and the dance "floor" is jammed with gyrating bodies (and they gyrate very well indeed!).

Note: Gal's place is now on the Dique de Tororó, Gal having been forced out of her beco. It's still an interesting place, but this place doesn't have the intimacy that Gal's "original" place had, nor the same magic.

Gettin' Down at the Beco

And while I'm on the subject of samba, there's also this place...

It's the football (soccer) field of the Esporte Clube Tejo (Tejo Sports Club) in the neighborhood of IAPI.  On Mondays, after the game is over and the sun has set... the samba begins.

Garcia -- [* Note: The outside pagodes described here have been prohibited by the prefeitura (city government). They had become too popular and the influx of people into the neighborhood was disturbing some of the local residents. This area nevertheless remains an interesting and lively place to go (for those so inclined, anyway) on Saturday nights.]

Garcia has two ends: The fim de linha (end of the line; the bus line, that is) end, and the Campo Grande end. The Campo Grande end is middle-class, while the fim de linha end is a bairro popular (working-class neighborhood) that cooks on Saturday and Sunday nights with pagode fundo de quintal. Pagode is a popular samba form, and "fundo de quintal" means "backyard". It's a style where the players sit around informally and play for themselves, their friends, and families. Two sides of the square in this part of the neighborhood have such bands, and the bands are surrounded by people dancing (get into the mix and you'll see some really good moves!) and having a general good time. This is Salvador at it's most fundamental. It's beautiful. Buteco de Farias is a restaurant on the square (Farias is the owner's last name, as in Rubens Farias) with great and inexpensive and very-typical-for-this-sort-of-area food. It's a simple place, but that's the beauty of it.

The music starts between 8 and 9:00 p.m. on Saturdays and 7 and 8:00 p.m. on Sundays. Saturdays wind up around 1:00 a.m. and Sundays an hour or so earlier. A cab from Campo Grande will cost you five reais or so (I'm guesstimating there), or you can get a bus (the sign on the front will say Fazenda Garcia; that's "Garcia Farm") at the bus stop on the street (Avenida Leovigildo Figueiras) to the right of Teatro Castro Alves (as you face the theater), across the street from the theater. That's also the best place to get a cab (getting a cab at the wrong spot will mean taking a huge spin around Campo Grande, and possibly several other blocks as well). Garcia is great, and it's a huge change from the usual tourist areas.

Ribeira -- Is a neighborhood or bairro (ba-EE-ho) on the bay side of the city, not too far from the Igreja (Church) de Bonfim on the peninsula of Itapagipe in the lower city (cidade baixa). It has a long stretch of beach and barracas and barzinhos (literally: little bars; this term is used to denote the simple unpretentious bars that Salvador is full of). Sunday is the big day, with seemingly endless streams of people eating, drinking, listening to music, dancing, and socializing. The view across the bay to islands and hills on the far side is lovely, and the boats on the water are usually moving under the power of either wind or human muscle (as opposed to waters off Barra).

Getting to Ribeira is easy by bus. Just take the Elevedor Lacerda in the Praça Municipal (very close to Pelourinho) down, get off, and walk to the bus stop directly in front of you. Buses going to Ribeira (with big signs on the front saying so) pass every several minutes. Ribeira is the end of the line. Now, getting back by bus can be a different matter; if you leave in the afternoon you'll probably be forced to battle your way onto the bus with hoardes of unruly kids. Once your on, any bus which passes through Comércio (or downtown, where the bottom of the Elevador Lacerda is located) will get you close to where you started out from. Or if you are feeling more gentil (and have some change in your pocket), you can take a taxi.

São Tomé -- Is another beach on the bay side. It's beyond the peninsula where Ribeira is located and, again, is the end of the line. You can get the bus at the same place you get the Ribeira bus, and getting back by bus is no problem (each way takes the better part of an hour). One of the interesting things about getting to São Tomé is getting there. The bus follows Avenida Suburbana, and the suburbs in Brazil, in great contrast to the U.S. or Europe, are where the have-nots live. These are favelas (shantytowns), scattered up in the hills like houses-of-cards, wherein reside the majority of Brazil's population. Most visitors to Salvador never see this and leave with a mistaken impression of Brazil's living standards.

Anyway, the beach at São Tomé is beautiful in its small-community way (in spite of a ship-loading pipeline located off to the beach's left) and on Sundays it's very lively. If one wishes to go a bit further, there is a long pier (you can't miss it) and from there you can get a boat to the island of Maré ("maré" means "tide"), about twenty minutes away. There's no pier in this area, so everybody jumps out into waist-deep water (in terms of the average adult) and wades up to the beach. It's fun! There are plenty of boats back; you just wade back out and jump on. More information on Maré is located in the "Islands in the Bay" section.

Disembarking at the Ilha (Island) of Maré

At Sete Portas: Some of the Primary Ingredients in Bahian Cooking

Sete Portas (Seven Doors)-- Is the smaller of Salvador's two primary "open air" markets, the larger being the Feira de São Joaquim, located down on the water just beyond the ferryboat terminal. Both are cornucopias of local life and color, with one very noticable difference -- the level of cleanliness. Sete Portas wins handily on this account. Both markets sell -- in addition to many other things -- fruits and vegetables from the interior, fresh fish, meats (and other animal parts; not for the squeamish), tobacco (in big, sausage-like rolls), a wide variety of medicinal leaves and roots, beads, statues, incense, and other items for use in candomblé ceremonies, handcrafted items (brought into São Joaquim from the little town of Maragogipinho on colorful sailboats which look like they could be pre-Phonecian), live chickens, and, at São Joaquim, live goats.

The ceramics in Salvador's feiras begin here, in Maragogipinho, along the Rio (River) Jaguaripe, close to Nazaré das Farinhas.

Lunch (almoço) at Sete Portas can be grand. Mocotó and sarapatel are popular, the latter being Bahian-style chitlins; the former made using cow legs as a base (these foods are remnants of the slave days, when the meat went to the "big house", leaving the leftovers to go to the senzalas). You can get stews (ensopadas) served up with great heapings of aipim (similar to manioc), or typical workingman's lunches of chicken or beef served with rice, beans, and salad, all in the most traditional of ambiences. Nothing will set you back more than the equivalent of several dollars, and if it's hot inside, well, the beer is cold.

Sete Portas is within walking distance of Pelourinho for the adventurous stroller (via Baixa dos Sapateiros), and it's even closer to Santo Antônio.


The MusiCodex: Crossroads of the Musical Universe

You are welcome to be a part of it!

A music recommendation site with a twist is on the air, this one born in Brazil's sizzling World Cup city of Salvador, Bahia -- a place drenched in music and brimming with world-class musicians, very few of whom are signed to major labels, or any labels at all.

The site was thus born of a need which no other site fulfills, and one which requires the deepest recommendation program on the planet (the human mind): A way in which musicians could channel people to other musicians and their music, and have others channel people to them. For instance one might go to the page of the great Airto Moreira, who's played with everybody from Cannonball Adderley to Miles Davis to Weather Report to Chick Corea and on...and see who HE recommends. And who the people he recommends recommend. And who they recommend. And on and on, forwards and backwards. Pathways with signposts; people welcome to follow those signposts or not, based upon what they think of the page they happen to be on; recommendations cascading near and far around the world, making it possible for the unknown and the relatively unknown and even the widely known to be heard by people who might otherwise never hear them.

And given that there are a lot of people who are not musicians but who nevertheless know a lot about music (journalists come to mind), the site is open to non-musicians as well. They can even be recommended!

So now there IS a way for those brilliant unsigned Brazilian musicians to be discovered by the world-at-large, and brilliant musicians everywhere...along the pathways of other brilliant (the definition left for each to define) musicians and knowledgeable people all over our planet.

This is Phase 1. Phase 2 will include an interactive radio unlike any that's ever existed.

by writer Ben Paris
The Good, the Bad, & the Beautiful
Apartment Rental Salvador: Alain!

Apartment Rental Salvador: Alain

An American in Brazil
A-Class Service & Communication!
Apartment Rental Salvador: Daniel!

Apartment Rental Salvador: Daniel

A San Francisco Native in Brazil
A-Class Service & Communication!
ALL Available Hotels
in Salvador!

All Hotels in Salvador

Much More Comfortable than
Sleeping on the Beach!
Home - Salvador Central

Home: Salvador Central

A Tour Guide to
Salvador & Environs

A Tour Guide to Salvador

Salvador, the City

Salvador & Its Spirit

A Short History of
Salvador da Bahia

A Short History of Salvador da Bahia

Carnival in Salvador

Carnival in Salvador

What Brazil Does Best...

Salvador's Music Site

The World Cup in Salvador

World Cup Salvador

Salvador's Old City: Pelourinho

Salvador's Old City

Salvador's Neighborhoods, Streets,
Praças & Byways

Salvador's Neighborhoods

Blood, Sweat, & Prayers: Salvador Sites
& History

Salvador Sites

Once Upon a Night in Brazil:
A Short History of
Brazilian Music

A History of Brazilian Music

Sweet Fields, Bitter Harvest:
The Music of Bahia

Music of Bahia

And the Whole Musical Planet!

Salvador's Music Site

About Us

About Us

The Sacred & the Profana: Festas


Food & Eating Out in Salvador

Food in Salvador

Drinking in Salvador

Drinking in Salvador

Salvador's Beach Scene

Salvador's Beaches

Islands in the Bay

Islands in the Bay

What's On in Salvador

What's On in Salvador

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Download GREAT
Brazilian Music

Download Great Brazilian Music

Ubiquitous Deities: Candomblé


Capoeira: Dance Like a Baryshnikov, Hit Like a Kalashnikov


Salvador's Afoxés & Blocos Afros

Salvador's Afoxe's & Blocos Afros

Percussion Classes in Salvador:
Heaviest Hands

Percussion Classes in Salvador

Brazilian Music
Workshops & Tours

Brazilian Music Workshops

Group Lodging in Salvador:
Professional & Student

Group Lodging in Salvador

Learning Portuguese:
Lessons & Classes

Learning Portuguese

Money Matters

Money Matters

Buying Property in Salvador

Buying Property in Salvador

S.O.S. Brazil: Volunteer Work

Volunteer Work

How to Avoid Being
Robbed & Cheated

How to Avoid Being Robbed & Cheated

Off Salvador's Beaten Track

Off Salvador's Beaten Track

How to Get Around:
Buses, Taxis, & Cars

How to Get Around

Black Market: Bahian Bazaar

Black Market

Outside of Salvador

Outside of Salvador

Other Voices

Other Voices

Kindred Spirits &
Fellow Travellers

Kindred Spirits

Fiction from Bahia

Fiction from Bahia

Dental Help in Salvador

Dental Help in Salvador

Current Weather & the Forecast

Current Weather

Apartment Rental Salvador: Alain!

Apartment Rental Salvador: Alain

Apartment Rental Salvador: Daniel!

Apartment Rental Salvador: Daniel

A Seaside Musical Guesthouse!

A Seaside Musical Guesthouse

An English-Owned Hotel!

An English-Owned Hotel

ALL Available Hotels
in Salvador!

All Hotels in Salvador