By Contributing Reporter, Felicity Clarke
RIO DE JANEIRO – Outside the rain was pelted down relentlessly, but in the upstairs room at Cinemathéque in Botafogo last Monday night, rising samba star Márcio Local filled the packed space with the sunny soul funk sounds of his debut album, Mário Local Says Don Day Don Dree Don Don – Adventures in Samba Soul.
Together with a nine strong band including three percussionists and two brass players squeezed on the small stage, Local engaged the crowd in an intimate frenzied, celebration of his contemporary Rio sound.
Local was still on high from the album launch gig when the Rio Times caught up with him later that week at his Santa Teresa home. “The show was great”, beamed Local, “It’s my first album, a victory in a war I’ve been fighting because it’s very difficult to make something happen in Brazil. I’m very happy”.
The album launch in his native Rio follows a busy year of international touring including the US, Europe and Womad festival earning his blend of African roots, funk, soul and classic samba sensibilities widespread critical acclaim.
Born in Realengo in north Rio in 1976, Local has been playing music and songwriting since aged 14. Now a resident in Rio’s creative melting pot Santa Teresa, his response to the world around him in the city is the prime subject matter of his lyrics. “I write about day to day things, you know, life” he says.
The inspiration of Rio life and culture in particular is evidenced in the songs such as the title track’s references: “Salve o Sol/ E o Futebol/ Salve o Mar/ E o carnival/ Mas salve a cor e a beleza/ Carioca da gema” (Praise the Sun/ and soccer/ Praise the sea/ and Carnival/ praise the color and beauty/ of the Rio native).
While the passion and observation of his lyrics undoubtedly form a big part of his songs, Local believes his music transcends language barriers: “My music has been received as well abroad as it has here. Music crosses cultures and goes beyond language. It speaks to people through its sentiment and feeling”.
The crossover appeal is clear on the CD. Márcio Local Says Don Day Don Dree Don Don is a soulful album full of vibrant samba energy. Tracks such as ¨Preta Luxo¨ (¨Black Lady Luxury¨) and ¨Samba Sem Nemhum Problema¨ (Samba Without A Problem¨) surge with colorful beats, funky guitars and a jumping brass section all laid over with Local’s smooth yet raspy raw lounge voice. It’s a seductive summer sound that incorporates diverse influences, from Carioca legends Jorge Ben Jor and Banda Black Rio to the The Fugees and Bob Marley.
Following the CD launch and what has been hectic year Local intends to relax over the festive season and new year but hopes the new album is the beginning of a successful recording career. “I feel like the album is just the start of my work” he says, before picking up guitar and performing a song he’s working on at the moment, all gently swaying melody driven by a snappy guitar line. It ably shows, along with the addictive-listening first album and growing international fan base, that he’s probably not wrong.
Márcio Local Says Don Day Don Dree Don Don is available from CD outlets across the city including Lojas Americanas.