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Philly2Philly.com Music Profile: PhillyBloco

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Yes, Philly has a world music scene.

And perhaps the largest act is PhillyBloco, a Brazilian-inspired 22-piece crew, made up of singers, dancers, string instruments, an accordion, PhillyBloco horns and 14 drummers.

Mike Stevens started PhillyBloco in 2007, after having taught Brazilian drum classes for several years in West Philadelphia. “From the very beginning I had 12-15 drummers who were coming to every class,” he says. “They were drummers in their own right already, learning Brazilian music. So, we started doing small performances together and suddenly it occurred to me: We could make a band out of this.”

Stevens, a South American music enthusiast, says he’s now been to Brazil a dozen times and the bloco style of music (which is more-less a South American rock band with a huge percussion section) has been warming his ears for over 13 years. He’s been studying the art for as long and what he’s put together here is essentially a wiley cover band, bloco-fying some of your favorite musicians.

PhillyBloco regularly covers Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Paul Simon  and Stevie Wonder. Mike calls Stevie Wonder’s hit “Superstition” the band’s signature performance piece. But most of the band’s music comes straight out of the United States’ southern neighbor. Two-thirds of their shows are sung in Portuguese.

The crowd has played at the Kimmel Center, the Bethlehem, PA’s Musikfest, Preston and Steve’s Camp Out For Hunger  and World Café Live, where they’ll be performing again this Saturday night.

“A lot of people are interested in the world music thing,” says Mike. “It has it’s own audience, but it’s also hard for new fans to understand it until they’ve seen it and heard it. We’re still in the process of getting it out to people who aren’t familiar with it and there’s no way to really describe it. It’s fun, sure. Fun to dance to, I can talk it up all day long, but until you see it, you really can’t describe it.”

Doors open at World Café Live at 8pm. The show is at the downstairs stage.

www.MySpace.com/Phillybloco

Videos:

Superstition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_HQe57i19Y

It's All Over Now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uixVZ8VQho

Smooth Criminal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7naQWNCuhw

Festa Para Um Rei: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4m6ZP40dak