Local Arts

Can’t get enough of Rio? Here’s where to find Brazilian music in Charlotte

Reinaldo Brahn talks about Brazil's music

The Charlotte musician talks (and plays!) in this interview at Queens.
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The Charlotte musician talks (and plays!) in this interview at Queens.

Here are acts to follow and events to look for:

Reinaldo Brahn

He moved to Charlotte in 2007 and regularly brings a mix of popular Brazilian music, classic samba, bossa nova, and influential rhythmic baiao to area restaurants, bars, and festivals. He also brings a Brazilian twist to contemporary American songs.

Where to hear him: Brahn plays Poplar Street Café Tuesdays in August from 7 to 10 p.m., Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. at Reid’s South Park, Fridays from 8 to 11 p.m. at Ilios Noche on Park Road and Saturdays from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. at Ilios Noche on Providence. He also plays Dean and DeLucas Thursday, Aug. 25 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. www.reinaldobrahn.com


Guitarist Tony Arreaza helped kickstart the Latin rock movement in Charlotte in the early 2000s with the Spanish language rock group La Rua, smashing cultural boundaries and nurturing a small scene. He promoted local concerts and festivals through Carlotan Rock, bringing international talent who otherwise wouldn’t have made a tour stop in Charlotte. His new band UltimaNota, with members from Cuba, Venezuela, El Salvador and Mexico, takes a more traditional approach to Latin music with an eclectic base that includes bossa nova, salsa, merengue, Cuban, Bolero, and Cumbia while still connected contemporary pop-rock.

Where to hear it: UltimaNota plays monthly at A Piece of Havana (11126 S. Tryon St.) beginning Aug. 27. The band returns to Snug Harbor for Latin Night in Plaza Midwood Oct. 15, an event conceived as a way to bring Spanish-language music to audiences that might miss it elsewhere. It also performs at Parranda Navidena, a Venezuelan Christmas celebration held at Neighborhood Theatre last year on Dec. 10. www.ultimanota.com

Looking for Brazilian flavor in music around town? Listen to these bands play at Snug Harbor in January 2016.

Brazilian Fusion Dance Co.

This was a fixture at Cosmos Café before that venue closed in January. It continues to bring colorful Carnival to Charlotte. Wearing a rainbow of towering, vibrant feathered headpieces and sequined costumes and choreographed by Sao Paolo-native Andreia Walker, the dancers infuse benefit concerts and cultural festivals with excitement and movement.

Where to see it: The dance troupe will perform on Charlotte’s NBC affiliate Aug. 19 to celebrate the Olympics in Rio.

Latin American Festival

This takes Carolinians on a tour of Latin food, arts and culture with artists and cuisine from all over. Caique Vidal & Batuque represent the coastal state of Bahia with Afro-Brazilian music and folkloric dance. Other (non-Brazilian) acts include Grammy, Latin Grammy, and Billboard award-winning Nicaraguan singer-songwriter Luis Enrique, who ushered in the romantic salsa era in the late ’80s and ’90s and was crowned the Prince of Salsa; Grammy-winning Los Angeles-based Mexican-American world rock outfit La Santa Cecilia; and Venezuelan ska band Desorden Publico.

Where to find it: Noon to 8 p.m. Oct. 8 at SouthPark’s Symphony Park. Admission is $5; free for kids younger than 8; www.festivallatinoamericano.org.

A Night in Rio

Bringing a touch of Brazil to NoDa, this is a fun introduction to Latin culture for newbies and an annual chance for transplants to experience Carnival oceans away from home. It features live music, dance, arts and crafts, and food and kicks off with Salsa 101 lessons so you aren’t blindsided on the dance floor once the party starts.

Where to find it: Every February at Neighborhood Theatre (511 E. 36th St.). Mark your calendar now for the ninth annual – Feb. 18, 2017.

More to seek, with Latin American roots

Orquesta Mayor, a traditional salsa outfit, playing private events and festivals. www.orquestamayor.com

Indie quartet Patabamba – four Charlotte natives who turned their obsession with Latin rhythms and sounds into bilingual originals – completed a residency at Snug Harbor in July and will return to Evening Muse in December. https://patabamba.bandcamp.com

Bakalao Stars make what they call tropical rock, ska and reggae, which isn’t Brazilian, but the band is the longest-running Latin rock outfit in Charlotte and brings the party every time it plays.