Whoa, you really had to catch your breath and race to the Austin Convention Center to catch the major stories, speakerwise, at SXSW. Gilberto Gil took the stage Wednesday midafternoon to talk about tropicalia, new technology, and hip-hop initiatives Brazil has undertaken since he's become the country's Minister of Culture.
With a laptop firmly placed in his lap, the disarming Gil gamely tackled words thrown at him like "expediency" ("one of those Latin words," he mused) and discussed the cultural points program, which provides resources to hip-hop artists in Brazil, and his first encounter with the form in the US. "Someone gave me a Last Poets tape, and I said, what is that? It isn't music but it's music," he said.
Speaking of his home region of Bahia, he hailed the samba as an indian invention, adding that he loved all the musical forms that came out of the area. "We hardly can find anything that is not interesting in Bahia," said Gil. "By its nature Bahia music has a lot to do with spontaneity, easiness, energy, punch, the elegant body moving. It reflects all music in the area. For me, it is difficult to be critical. People complain that the music can be too popish but with Bahia's relation to African elements, traditional African drumming, chanting - I love Bahia music as a whole. I'm supposed to!"
Gil has weighed in on the tropicalia movement as a paintful thing for him, "All those elements are very painful for a quiet, peaceful nature," he confessed. "Tropicalistas had a lot of fight. We disagreed a lot. The tropicalia approach was about displacing, we were trying to provoke, a lot of displacement and deconstruction and emptying the land for new things. You gotta have a strong heart to face that."
You can see Gil for himself, touring with a gorg, intimate new album, Gil Luminoso (DRG), composed of solo guitar and voice, when he comes to the Bay on March 25 at Zellerbach Auditorium, Berk. and March 28 at Fox Theatre, Redwood City.