The sonic and stylistic musical diversity one finds in Portugal has grown from long standing cultural traditions and also reflects the backgrounds of the many migrants that call the country home. On a world stage Portugal is known for its futebol players, but it really should be known for its musicians. I started playing music with my family growing up, and played clarinet starting in grade school, learning the guitar afterwards, which became my primary instrument. My study of music was grade school basic until I was able to learn from musicians and mestres in Portugal.
Arriving in Lisbon not really knowing anyone, I found that playing music was an extraordinary way to connect to the place. In 2005 I started one of the first open mic nights in Lisbon at the first Lisbon Irish bar. I quickly gave up on the concept when it was clear that musicians in town would rather just have a controlled jam session. The night brought in many of the city's working musicians, and through these connections of music and friendship, I was invited to join other projects and able to learn and further explore the country through music. Traveling throughout Portugal, and other parts of Europe and North America playing with these projects, there really is no better way of discovering a place. You often play shows as part of local traditional social and life-cycle events (Carnival, festas populares, New Year's eve celebrations, agricultural fairs, mercados, beach parties, city clubs, etc.) and you are treated as an invited guest of the communities where the shows are being held. Given the weird liminal space occupied by an unknown troubadour, people are eager to go a little crazy and share their lives with you. A decidedly different experience than rolling into a town as even a well-informed visitor. Shows are often sponsored by local community associations or local municipal governments and they often share their communities with you while hosting the band. What this means in practical terms is that you will almost always meet fascinating people and eat lots of really good food.
Guitarist with Farra Fanfarra
Farra Fanfarra from Sintra and Lisboa is one the most widely travelled of Portugal's many well known brass bands. The bands draw inspiration from global brass music and players' own individual musical formation and exploration. Many of these musicians have played in community-based music associations, including village filarmónica bands and in Portuguese music schools, and have travelled internationally in cultural exchanges.
Farra Fanfarra experiments creatively with world brass music traditions, animated performances, elaborate choreographies, and palhaçaria (street animations), with a set list developed from national folk brass music traditions in Portugal as well as Afro-beat, Balkan brass, Indian wedding music, jazz, and orchestral arrangements, along with songs from global pop music. Farra Fanfarra has represented Portugal in international shows and competitions—winning the Best International Band prizes at Haizetara in (Pays Basque) 2016 and at the reknowned Guča Trumpet Festival (Serbia) in 2018. Farra Fanfarra has also helped to develop brass music in Portugal by participating in and hosting gatherings of national and international brass bands.
I have been a member of the Portuguese chartered cultural association "Farra Fanfarra Associação Cultural" since 2010, and have been performing with the band since 2008. During this time, the band and the association have been an incredible school of music, performance and production. I have also worked as a member of the FFAC in the cultural association's many national and international cross associational global humanitarian and social equality projects held in Portugal, Europe, and North America.
To read an article I wrote about Farra Fanfarra and the birth and growth of the phenomenon of Fanfarra style bands in Portugal (in a book about community brass bands), click here:
Vrtlog (Dejan Petrovich)
J.J.D (Fela Kuti)
Live at Andanças
Guitarist, Vocalist, songwriter with King Mokadi
King Mokadi, founded by a group of players and friends in the Lisbon music scene, came together around a weekly show at Gilins, playing to a Cais do Sodré audience composed mostly of thieves, nefarious characters, and the bairro's many sex workers and their dates. A collective of musicians from disperse geographic locations including Portugal, North America, Holland, Cabo Verde, Italy, and France, the development of King Mokadi sound has been an experiment in combining diverse origins, approaches and sensibilities. From trad-folk balls to the urban dancehall, King Mokadi plays original compositions and mashups in eclectic styles, including balk beat, afro-groove, salsero, jazz, blues, rock, grindhouse funk and trad-baileapocaliptico dance music. Dance-balls, club sets & weddings are King Mokadi's realm.
Salto ao sol
Live at Casa de Alentejo
Wednesday night show Teaser
Live at Casa de Alentejo
Guitarist with Rosinha
Quim may be the GOAT, but Rosinha is my favorite of Portugal's Pimba Stars, playing the highly popular music—known for using lyrics that celebrate village and domestic life sung through broad, bawdy and smack on the nose sexual entendres. Rosinha has turned the form upside down however, reclaiming the sexualized lyrics (which are usually sung by men who talk about women in clownish, if often sexist and lascivious fashion) as a form of sex positive and body positive women's and LGBTQ+ empowerment. One of my musical highlights in Portugal, performing with Rosinha in her band. Viva a Rainha da Pimba!
é das gatas
Juntos à Tarde
Eu Quero Porco no Espito
Juntos à Tarde
When I first moved to Lisbon, my musical background was mostly in bluegrass, country and country blues, styles of music rarely heard in Portugal from local bands outside of novelty songs. Founded with ace Portuguese banjo player and European bluegrass proselytizer Andre Dal, The Campesinos was Lisbon's first ever touring bluegrass/country band. It was an adventure playing these sounds on Portugal's folk and club scene—often to largely confused audiences. Although fans of bluegrass in Portugal are few, they more than make up for it with their fervor for the Americana music. Similar to the spread of Celtic music, bluegrass has spread throughout the world. In Portugal, this has much to do with André Dal. The Campesinos did their part in Portugal. The performance of our version of Mitch Jayne's "Old Home Place" as part of the Sete Maravilhas do Mundo festival was the first by a bluegrass band on Portuguese television. The performances featured many well-known Portuguese folk and popular dance bands and was a first introduction to many of the musicians and friends who would open up Portugal to me and teach me about music in ways I never could have imagined when I moved here. The Old Home Place, no doubt about it.