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Rogê brings Brazilian flavor to Flamingo Cantina

Deborah Sengupta

Editor’s note: This article was originally published July 28, 2014

Sixth Street was unusually quiet at 11 p.m. on Saturday night. Traffic heading Downtown was light. Crowds were entirely manageable. It felt like nobody was out, until you hit the doorway of Flamingo Cantina. There, an orderly line of well-dressed music fans, many of whom were speaking Portuguese, pressed into the already packed club to catch rising Brazilian star Rogê.

Before the show, the Rio de Janeiro-based singer and composer was effusive about Austin. “I love this place because there’s a lot of music in the air,” he said.

“This place is very special for me,” he went on to explain, “when I was a teenager, I started to play guitar and my idol was Stevie Ray Vaughan.” He grew up listening the blues rocker call out the name of his hometown on records. Now he has his own following in the city and it’s a surreal experience. “Life is crazy,” he said with a smile.

The singer, who was inspired to learn English listening to records by Vaughan, Stevie Wonder and other American artists, has a sound that blends R&B, funk and jazz with Brazilian samba. He’s been coming to town frequently over the last four years, making friends and steadily building a fan base. After a streak of regular South By Southwest appearances, he skipped the fest this year, caught up in committments related to the World Cup and timing his U.S. appearances to the release of his new album “Brenguelé” which dropped in June.

The moment he hit the stage at Flamingo the near-capacity crowd in the club went insane. Driven by complicated Brazilian poly-rhythms, Rogê’s six-piece band unwound expansive, irresistible jams. Backing his smooth voice with tasteful rhythm guitar, he was a gracious and charismatic host. Despite the fact that the temperature in the thick of the club was at least a swampy 15 degrees higher, the airy upstairs deck was sparsely populated throughout the show. The audience, who responded his banter in Portuguese with as much enthusiasm as his English chatter, had a very specific mission. They were there to dance. And dance they did, keeping an otherwise quiet night hot, hot, hot well into the early hours of Sunday morning.