Tony Memmel signing a student’s guitar
The day started early. After a quick breakfast of tropical, fresh pineapple and papaya, and some of the best coffee I’ve ever had, the band got into the van and we were driven to our morning event; a performance at a local hospital called IMIP.
It was a sunny and humid morning. After navigating the crowded, narrow streets of the city, we pulled up to the hospital. Our performance was scheduled to be in an outdoor courtyard. An hour before the show began, most seats were filled, and because of the heat, I asked a member of our team if I should address the crowd and let them know we wouldn’t be starting for a while. He said, “oh, they know what time the show starts, they’re just very excited to hear and see you.” I have been continually overwhelmed by the eagerness and enthusiasm of the audiences we’ve met here.
After participating in a number of interviews with local journalists, we had the opportunity to meet the United States Consulate General in Recife, Richard Reiter, as well as the president of the hospital. Both were in the front row for the concert.
Tony Memmel and His Band with the Occupational Therapy Team at IMIP hospital
The concert was special. The patients and staff clapped, danced, and sang along to our songs. At the end of the event, there was a question and answer time, but it turned into a long series of compliments from the crowd. The people said they were filled with such joy to have heard us, and to have met us. It was a powerful, and overwhelming experience. We then did an extended meet-and-greet, signed autographs, took selfies, and talked at length with the occupational therapy team.
Tony Memmel and His Band with JCPM Students
We could have stayed all day, but the nature of being on tour is that you’re always moving forward. Our second concert was equally special. It was both a dialog and performance with and for JCPM Institute of Social Commitment, which works with young people aged 16-24 to raise youth employment potential, expand general knowledge, encourage reading, and provide behavioral guidance. They were a fantastic group with detailed and heartfelt questions about music, art, and overcoming challenges. It was our second event using headphones for simultaneous translation. I found myself being constantly grateful to the team of interpreters who’ve made these interactions as special as they have been.
After we performed, a number of the students felt inspired to share some of their music with us. They took turns singing popular songs in Portuguese. The purpose of our mission is cultural exchange – Building bridges through music and art. It’s a joy to watch events like these organically unfold. Powerful.
Tony Memmel and His Band autographed 2016 American Music Abroad Tour shirt
Tony Memmel and His Band stage at Rio Mar mall
In the evening, we played a concert on a beautiful stage at Rio Mar Mall. It is an enormous and popular hangout; a place the locals are very proud of. The show went well. We were especially glad to see familiar faces from other events we’d done this week, people who wanted to come to see us for a second time. After the show, a number of people came up to take photos with us, and to speak with us in English.
It’s hard to believe tomorrow is our last day in Recife. Our days are moving fast. We have two events tomorrow. I look forward to sharing with you about our concert and conversation about innovative guitar techniques at the Frevo (a local music and dance form) museum.