“Quilombolas” are descendants of slaves who escaped their slave plantations in Brazil. True to the spirit of their name, the Minneapolis band Quilombolas have a sense of defiance, and also a sense of freedom. The band’s style is passionate, satirical, and very entertaining. Blending Brazilian rhythms, hip-hop, Israeli melodies, and funk, Quilombolas create a unique sound with smart lyrics and a danceable beat. At Trocoderos on April 18, they had the place dancing and rocking out to their international groove.
Quilombolas started their set with “True America.” With two singers, two sets of drums (including one bongo set), and a keyboard that created a unique Latin American sound, the musicians laid it down with lyrics about what it means to be from “the Americas.” This song was both provocative and danceable, and included a pastiche of Bernstein’s “America” from West Side Story.
Their second song, “Lo Yisa Goy,” was in Hebrew, and contained some beautiful harmonies from the group’s tenor voices. The flow among the different influences informing the songs was seamless, and there was no beat missed as the music went from Brazil to Israel and back again—over a killer bass line. From the Hebrew lyrics of the second song they effortlessly moved into the bright, danceable song “Identity Theft,” which blended Spanish and Portuguese with the raw voices of Eric S.B’s deep baritone and Levitt8’s raw tenor.
For their last song, “Peace,” Quilombolas broke out the funkadelic groove, with a jam that had a sweet reggae influence. Percussionist Pappi U shone with his drumming and his rich singing. The audience was left wanting more, and I’ll be sure to check them out again—which won’t be hard to do. They play every first Wednesday of the month at the Blue Nile.
Sheila Regan is a theater artist based in Minneapolis. When not performing or writing, she serves as educational coordinator for Teatro del Pueblo.