Posted by: Steve Scherer | March 21, 2010

Geneseo B.P. – the Saturday story

This was the only day of the tour that we didn’t have a wake up call.  Everyone had the morning to do with what they wanted.  So after one last breakfast by the ocean, Allison and I took a walk around our neighborhood at Copacabana.  We wanted to find a few more souvenirs for ourselves and our family at home.  By 10:00 we were on the beach with many others from our group who wanted to savor the surf until the last possible minute.

The power of ocean waves is overwhelming.  There were many people on the beach that morning.  As I had told before, there had been a lot of rain in Rio before we arrived, this Saturday morning, some of the locals were catching up on some lost beach time.  There was an attitude of relaxation in this place.  Even though there are sure to be many tourists, most were Brazilians on their hometown beach.  So relaxed, so not worried, so able to appreciate where they live and their lifestyle.  So we adopted their attitude to the fullest extent of which we were capable.  As I stood slowly sipping the coconut milk through a straw from a freshly chopped coconut, I watched our band members accepting the therapy of the ocean and laughing, as they soaked up the Rio attitude and enjoyed the Brazilian way of life until the last possible moment.

For lunch, we went to the hotel restaurant for a feijuada, or feast.  The Brazilians have a feijuada once a week, which of course, is a style of cooking and eating.  By far, the two main components in the Brazilian food are meat and fruit.  They have fruit all day, at meals and as snacks.  Not only do they eat many different kinds of meat, but each kind is prepared many different ways.  On one side of the long table were 10 big black pots filled with “stews” of different cuts of different kinds of meat, steeping in sauces that bring brilliant combinations of flavor to the dish.  This gets draped over a bed of rice.  On the other side of the long table were many of the traditional Brazilian foods, and fruit, fruit, fruit.  Mango, papaya, passionfruit, different melons, and a dozen others I can’t remember.  They had truly given us a feast to remember.  Never have I seen such leavings!

Checked out of the hotel, packed to travel, in the performance uniform on the way to the last gig, there was a certain melancholy on the bus among the ensemble.  Everyone misses their loved ones, thinking and talking about them each day.  But no one wants to leave this place.  It takes a focused maturity to be happy about the experience we had, rather than being disappointed that we have to leave.  The final performance was at the botanical center in Rio.  As with most of our gigs on this tour, the performance was outside.  It would heighten the contrast of climates later, that this day had a cloudless sky, temperatures in the upper 90’s, humid, and no wind.  Remember, it is the end of  summer in Brazil.  So we were sweating bullets while we played one more wonderful performance, this time for a very literate and appreciative audience at the botanical center, who didn’t mind the heat at all.  To open the concert, we played the Brazilian national anthem for the last time.  Then among the other band favorites, we played all of the American patriotic music that we have played with a passion during this tour.  In a surprise programming move, Dr. Fansler called for the band’s final piece on the tour; The Stars and Stripes Forever, by John Philip Sousa.  Not only did we not perform it previously, we didn’t rehearse it at home before we left.  To the delight of the audience, Stars and Stripes was performed with passion and pride, and rehearsing it could not have improved on the importance of the meaning of that music, to that band at that moment.  The tour was over.

We went to the airport and moved skillfully through customs and security.  Then everyone spent a couple of hours using up the balance of their Brazilian currency on food and drink and gifts.  After another overnight flight and a transfer in Atlanta, we approached Chicago and were asked to put our trays and seat backs in the upright position.  This short flight was on a small plane that our group dominated.  It was humorous when the plane first peaked beneath the cloud cover, and we could see the snow on the ground, most of the plane just moaned loudly.  Brazil 2010 is now a collection of fond memories.  Memories of new friends, from Illinois and Brazil.  Of great music that we heard, and performed.  Of the profound effect of how tradition and history can be maintained in a musical culture, while still allowing for opportunity to make changes driven by new events.  Great music, great food, many laughs and much happiness.  This was an experience of a lifetime.  And it has been a privilege for me to be able to participate.

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Responses

  1. the trip sounded like it was amazing from beginning to end. it makes me hope that i will sometime in my life have an experience like that.

  2. Porque e tudo sobre o comer. HA!!! In Portugese!!!
    (Because it’s all about the eating.)
    Beat That j’all!

  3. awe… i wanted to say that it was all about eatin.

  4. because it is all about eating

  5. I’ll echo the VanMiddlesworths’ thanks to you for doing such an excellent job keeping us up on your adventures! As a parent it gave us great peace of mind to see & hear the group throughout your trip. We are so proud of all of you!
    Dave & Kathy Newell (Brian’s parents)

  6. thank you so much for taking us along on your journey. the posts were something we looked forward to everyday. you not only told about the interesting things the group did, but you have the ability to paint a picture with your words. thank you, Rachel’s mom & dad


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