Brazilian Diary - Wednesday 2nd June 2010

My body was still under the impression that 4am was a good time to wake, but at least it was getting easier to go back to sleep. After another couple of hours of repose I silently (well, softly) rose, washed & dressed, and headed out to enjoy the relative stillness of the morning hours. And to try to catch up on my diary entries, now lagging by a day and a half.

It was a cool and cloudy morning, pleasant from a Scottish perspective although probably arctic (or antarctic?) by Brazillian standards - it didn't seem to have tempted many of them out of their beds. The hotel staff, the only other people around, smiled at me as if to a potentially crazy person, and who's to say that they were wrong? Sometimes I think that it's part of a tourist's duties to provide eccentric entertainment for the locals, to simultaneously confirm that people are all the same under the skin and that the world is full of strangeness and wonder. The cleaning staff and I shared this ephemeral space, our common humanity acknowledged in a smile while we were all in some sense aliens there - temporary visitors serving the 'real' residents. The unfamiliar screeching of strange birds overhead somehow completed the scene in a way I couldn't explain, as if there was a Great Truth here that was just beyond my comprehension but that my soul could sense. A special way to start the day.

Followed by breakfast, of course. I met the rest of the band as we tucked in to the usual vast spread and we laid plans for the day, starting with a long overdue rehearsal.

It was good to play together again. Although we'd only been in Brazil for three days it seemed like we'd spent ages recovering from the journey and playing tourist and it was good to focus on what we had come here to do, and what had brought us together in the first place. After a sharing circle - our usual start to a band event where we each talk about how we are and what's going on for us - we started working our way through the set list for the evening's performance. There was the odd wrinkle and rusty moment, as was to be expected, but this was far outweighed by the joy of making music together again, having our very different contributions weave together to create something harmonious and whole.

With a very positive rehearsal behind us there was a growing sense of confidence and optimism about the evening's performance, and with a hearty lunch under our belts we settled into our free afternoon in a much more sanguine mood.

We returned to the hall to complete the sound check and set-up late in the afternoon. In theory this should have been just a confidence check of the settings and levels that had been sorted out earlier but after the problems with the monitors yesterday there was potentially a lot more work to be done. My post-rehearsal aplomb took a bit of a wobble but still carried me along, even if the sound system was barely functional we'd put on a good show.

Things had not miraculously improved overnight. Leon, our sound engineer, twiddled and adjusted various controls on the mixing desk but there was still virtually nothing coming through to us. Gloom was hovering in the shadows, waiting to pounce, when suddenly inspiration struck and I looked on the back of the mute monitors to find they had volume controls, each set very, very low. A quick adjustment and sound burst forth from them, bringing relief and joy in its wake. We quickly worked through all the microphones and instruments to make sure they were all coming through and with this confirmed we trooped off to dinner with something of a spring in our collective stride.