Caetano Veloso says there's no music mafia in Bahia

The songwriter plays songs from his latest disc at the Summer Festival in Salvador and makes comments on the new album and old "polemic" issues

Tom Cardoso
SALVADOR - In spite of not having oficially kicked off his new tour, Caetano Veloso decided to test the repertoire from his latest disc, Noites do Norte. Warmly welcomed by more than 40 thousand people who packed the festival site, the songwriter performed four of the new songs - Zera a Reza, Rock‘n’Raul, 13 de Maio and Noites do Norte, supported by a totally groovy percussion quartet.

There were plenty of old hits - Leãozinho, Desde Que o Samba É Samba, Tigresa, Sampa, Menino do Rio, Você É Linda, Nosso Estranho Amor, A Luz de Tieta, Não Enche and Sozinho. Caetano also did homage to the axé group Araketu, singing a medley with some of their hits. "I never expected to see the younger people in the audience singing along to old songs like Nosso Estranho Amor. I also enjoyed how Rock'n'Raul came out live", said the musician during a press conference right after the show.

In fact, the press conference interrupted Caetano's silent mode - he hadn't given interviews since the release of Noites do Norte -, who was willing to talk about assorted themes, such as his "problem" with rapper Marcelo D2. "I've said it and I'll say it again: what D2 did to me (he skipped a scheduled recording session) was not in accordance to his greatness as a musician."

Concerning the power displayed by the axé artists, who are regarded as gods by the audience at the Summer Festival, Caetano didn't seem surprised. "The music produced in Bahia, today, is prime quality. I reckon Xandy (Harmonia do Samba vocalist) is a great artist. As great is the É O Tchan! samba about the Recôncavo!", he praised.

The passion for the music that is currently being made in Bahia is so intense that Caetano is willing to record an axé music anthology. "I am very much into the movement that resulted in axé music (back in the 80s), represented by the likes of Luiz Caldas. Masterpieces were produced in that period".

Music mafia in Bahia
Because he so radically stands for everything that is produced in his homeland (he is currently in love with Rebeca Matta's new album, Garotas Boas Vão Pro Céu, Garotas Más Vão Pra Qualquer Lugar. Her music is distinctively upfront, following electronic tendencies), Caetano has sometimes been appointed as the main representative of the so-called máfia do dendê (or dendê mafia; dendê is a cooking oil typical of Bahia), which enables musicians from Bahia to take over the media and other MPB artists. "I hate any kind of mafia, but I love dendê. I don't know who came up with this term, but I guarantee you that the two words do not match. In fact, it is a silly accusation."

The awaited album with music by North-American composers should start being recorded soon. "I have picked over 50 songs. We'll see what's gonna be in it", said Caetano, who had to interrupt the press conference (which was barely beginning to get hot) so as to give an interview to the former É O Tchan! dancer and current TV host Carla Perez, who was just outside the door, anxiously blowing little kisses to Veloso while his wife, Paula Lavigne, watched carefully.