Fado and Flowers

Lisbon Mural Photo

 Thanks to Mike Burns for reminding me that today is the anniversary of the Carnation Revolution in Portugal. Mike, a Freo muso and ethnomusicologist, is an exponent of Portugal’s emotional Fado music. On 25 April 1974, a relatively peaceful coup took place in Lisbon overthrowing one of the longest-running authoritarian regimes in Europe. Restaurant worker Celeste Caeiro gave carnations to the revolutionary soldiers who placed them in the muzzles of their guns, as people took to the street to celebrate the end of the dictatorship. It also spelled the end of the Portuguese Colonial War that was bankrupting the nation, with African territories gaining their independence.

While in Lisbon (I can’t believe it was only last month) we had to see a Fado show of course, and chose one at Pavilhão Chinês, a quirky bar and toy museum. The young singer Teresinha Landeiro was accompanied by a guitar and guitarra portuguesa player, both sporting skivvies, glasses and short beards, and sharing the same name. The evening was lovely! This ditty of Teresinha’s features scenes of Lisbon and quite a bit of kissing. Portugal’s most famous fadista, Amália Rodrigues, is depicted in many of Lisbon’s street murals such as the one I snapped above on Calçada da Glória.

However, my musical highlight of the city was going to the tiny Tejo Bar in the Alfama district. Its walls are lined with instruments and there are nightly open jam sessions. There is a beautiful tradition that instead of applauding via clapping, you show appreciation by rubbing your hands together, which really lets you “stay with the music” rather than it finishing in cacophony. Most of the lively tunes that night originated from Cape Verde, one of the Portuguese colonies to gain independence after the aforementioned revolution.

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