Oi, Rio!; More inclement weather; Sizzla now featuring all-you-can-eat shrimp.
Lapa District, Rio
I’m backstage at the massive Fundicao Progresso theater in Lapa, Rio’s equivallent of Bourbon Street, New Orleans. Most nights, Rio makes New Orleans look pretty tame, though a string of beads will only get you a kiss here in Brazil. The Carnaval floats are in storage now, but this town never loses its taste for a party. Ponto de Equilibrio is onstage right now, their hundreds of fans singing along with every lyric. Ponto is probably Brazil’s most popular reggae group, and I can vouch for their talent. It’s a packed house, even though the ticket price is too high for most people in this city.
Brazil has been rainy all week, but fans have been packing the shows drenched and happy. We had a safe journey from the beach city of Vitoria to Juiz de Fora, nestled in the mountains north of Rio despite the apocalyptic rainstorm that washed over our bus and threatened to collapse the roadway. As we drove through the deluge our driver struck a light pole which snapped back and shattered the window next to my head. That was enough to wake me up from my nap. I don’t have a perfect face, but let’s just say I’m glad I didn’t lose it, thanks to safety glass. Good morning Minas Gerais!
Sizzla: conscious artist?
I’m not the first to comment on this, but I couldn’t help but express my profound disappointment in Sizzla’s decision to perform for the birthday party of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. He was imported along with several thousand pounds of shrimp, lobster and expensive booze. Many people describe Sizzla as a conscious artist, but his actions cast this in doubt time and again. Mugabe’s lies are audacious but flimsy, a fact I realized when I was handed an expensively-produced propaganda flyer at the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival several years ago when his nepotistic land redistribution scheme instigated the terrible economic tailspin that transformed Zimbabwe from East Africa’s greatest hope to its greatest disappointment. Mugabe is a kleptocrat, it’s as simple as that, which makes Sizzla a hypocrite, at least in regards to this issue.
Robert Mugabe: "Let them eat lobster!"
What kind of consciousness is required to celebrate a thief and dictator? Well, there is always the consciousness of pride and avarice, and the allure of star treatment, which many successful musicians succumb to. Whatever the case, I was happy to see Bob Marley’s “Zimbabwe” on Groundation’s setlist for tonight, which just sold out. It should be mentioned that Bob was fooled by Mugabe as well, though this was way back in the eighties, when his true colors had not yet shown, and this fact gives me hope that Sizzla and the world will see the foolishness of supporting this traitor to his own people.
Sorry for those of you who couldn’t get into the concert tonight, but we’ve added a new show, and we’ll be back later this month performing with reggae legends Israel Vibration. Well, it’s time to hit the stage. Boa noite, cariocas!