Musicians Guto Piazza and Luana Matos talked to us about the Irish PUB scene and how the trajectory of a foreign musician is in this traditional Irish scene.
Ireland, so famous for its cliffs and green landscapes, also attracts countless tourists through the famous nightlife in the pubs. Pubs are one of the main places of socialization, music being a fundamental part of the culture, many of these places have live music.
A popular destination for birthday celebrations and bachelor parties, tourists know what atmosphere to expect when wandering through the streets of Temple Bar area, for example. The indoor environment, usually in the gloom, with beers on tap, has a characteristic musical style, which the public likes to listen to and sing along with.
In the last decades Ireland has seen an increase in the flow of immigrants, foreigners have brought much of their culture to the country and today it is possible to find Brazilian, Polish, Mexican parties and more. However, many artists are not limited to their own community and have an interest on joining the Irish Pub Scene.
Irish culture is very rich, it has a deep history and the people are welcoming, they seem to like to maintain traditions and pass them on from generation to generation. This transmission of culture happens a lot within the pubs that have a mixed audience, often the audience of different generations in the same environment.
As the singer Guto Piazza says: “In the pubs, they get together to watch sports, to celebrate festive dates, to play quiz, sing and even mourn the death of loved ones. Having contact with all these situations happening there in the same environment, with people of different ages, gives you an overview of the culture and behaviour of the Irish people”.
The space is receptive, but there is an interest in maintaining the style, many establishments reinforce the importance of this, as explains the singer Luana Matos who says that in certain places it is necessary for the artist to adapt and maintain the style to be part of this scene.
However, both singers explain that it is possible to insert their personality and personal style within the presentation, while keeping the focus on the music that the audience is there to watch, so all presentations have a certain individuality.
Luana and Guto are Brazilian musicians, with projects created for both foreigners and local audience, whether in private events or in pubs.
It is interesting to observe the mixture of culture that happens when an artist moves to a new country, as they not only learn the new culture as a spectator but also start to disseminate it.
It is to make us reflect on the possibilities that art and globalization bring us, that the two shared with us the point of view of people who come from outside but see from within this scene.
Music and Musicians
Although live music is the most characteristic point of the environment, it is important to note that it is not the folk/Celtic music, the one that gives rhythm to Irish dance, which draws the most attention. There are specific houses to watch these shows, but in most pubs these songs are not the focus on the playlist. The most played style, describing in a simplistic and generalized way, is pop rock.
The musicians said that there are some songs of Irish origin that at one time or another are a must-have in the playlist, like “Whiskey in the Jar” and “Galway Girl”, but that they share space with classic bands known worldwide as Beatles, The Strokes, David Bowie, Green Day and others.
If you do the famous pub crawl, visit a sequence of many pubs in the same night, you will probably hear different versions of Wonderwall or Valerie several times.
The media, the industry and globalization made it possible to disseminate various forms of art, mainly music; some styles became so popular that they not only influenced but merged with the original music of the country, in the case of Ireland, gaining so much space that it is considered a fundamental part of the country’s tourism.
According to them, the crowd does not make much distinction when interacting with musicians of different nationalities. Sometimes it happens that they are curious about Brazilian culture and even appreciate one or the other song, but Guto and Luana said that it is important to maintain the local style so that the audience really enjoys the performance.
“I believe that the type of interaction between customers in a pub and the foreign musician does not have a different dynamic than when the musician is Irish. Perhaps at this point, the interaction depends much more on the musician in this case, on the mastery of the language, on the song choice that is most popular among the audience here, or even on how much this musician knows about the culture of the place and its universe, and how they apply that on their show.” Guto Piazza.
But if the style is popular worldwide and there are singers everywhere, what makes the Irish pub so special?
Well, here comes in a little history, observation and speculation, but the pub comes from Public House that for centuries has been a meeting point and socialization for the community.
Where there is an audience, there is art. Music and several other forms of culture, such as literature, or Scéal (the art of storytelling), entered these spaces making them an important focus on cultural dissemination. Possibly even because of the constantly rainy weather in Ireland that makes it difficult to socialize in open spaces, such as parks, or at the barbecues that are so famous in other cultures.
“I see Irish people as great storytellers. The musicians here always tell stories, curiosities and jokes between songs, talking about characteristics from their daily lives, about what is said in the songs, some “internal jokes” about regions, etc.” says Guto Piazza.
As we can see, these establishments go beyond a place to drink and listen to music, the relaxed atmosphere has many characteristics of the local history, this is even a decoration theme for many of them. And since so much information is disseminated in a light and natural way, the interaction of different audiences and even different ages is common. Elsewhere in the world, such as Brazil for example, the public is more segregated, commented Guto.
Through this interaction, both the musicians and the audience end up learning more about the local customs, exchanging information and getting to know the culture in a different way from other places.
Luana told us that over the years she learned so much that today she is able to “read” the public and choose the best way to interact, hold people’s attention and offer quality entertainment, but she said that she had a hard time because when she was invited for her first performance to a non-Brazilian audience, she only had two weeks to prepare and learn all the new songs.
External influence and the future
The pandemic season aside, what we see in general is the number of people living abroad increasing. More and more people want to build a life abroad, often in places that make it possible to live by exercising the profession they love.
The number of foreign musicians in this scene is only expected to increase and the impact of this is ever more visible. It is important that the artists respect the culture and tradition of the country so that it does not disappear in the future, but as the singers said, it is possible to add, bring their own style and even a novelty or another to a gig while contributing to the scene strengthen.
In this way, live music in the pubs can only win when the stage is taken by foreign artists as well as local artists. In general, the Irish crowd seems to understand this.
Luana said that she had a gig of Brazilian songs in Newry for an audience that was rarely Brazilian, they accepted the novelty very well, especially because on other days they also enjoyed more local entertainment. This demonstrates that they understand well that it is possible to make room for the new without having to eliminate the traditional.
Furthermore, few people in this audience would have the chance to get to know Brazilian culture if it only remained in Brazil. As there are Irish pubs in Brazil and in different parts of the world carrying Irish culture for those who are unable to visit the country.
This mixture, this diaspora, adds a lot to the culture of countries that make room for it. Ireland seems to find the ideal measure between maintaining the local culture while adding external culture, so it is possible to see a future with a rich cultural scene where musicians, artists, and the spectators can only win.
• Cover Image by Hugo Vasconcelos.
Want to read more about Brazilians Musicians in the Irish scene? Check out our interview with Marcio Tarktarov: