I was remembering that time I played with Hermeto Pascoal in Brasília in 2012. We talked backstage about the tunes I wanted to play. When I got to the stage, Hermeto says, “Let’s play one of your songs”. There’s a full house in Teatro Nacional Villa Lobos. I say, “You mean, let’s play one of YOUR songs”.
“No” he says. “One of yours, upbeat!”
I took a deep breath without a clue what I was supposed to do or play.
Hermeto makes a joke.. “He didn’t know what he was getting into!” I sure didn’t!
There’s a whole band there waiting for me..I survived Hermeto’s musical Boot Camp by just playing the first thing that comes into my head; a little groove, then the Turkey in the Straw, a fiddle tune.
As the band kicks in, I’m thinking to myself, “How the hell am I going to get myself out of this!!” Luckily I notice that I’m in the Key of D Major and Hermeto’s tune São Jorge is also in D. I make the transition, to my blessed relief, and Hermeto says, “Here’s a song by Hermeto”, drops the pandeiro and returns to his keyboards. The story would end there, but he wouldn’t let me leave the stage. After each song, I slowly retract off stage and he repeatedly calls me back! Where’s “Jet-ski” he said on the microphone. “Come back!”
He forgot my name.. In Portuguese, my name is Ted-gee, which rhymes.. I survived. When people ask me what it was like to play with Hermeto, this is the story I tell them.