In 2014 I found myself in Madeira, a small rocky Portuguese outcrop jutting out of the North Atlantic ocean 520 km west of Morocco. Famous for its fortified wine, spectacular views and multiple microclimates, it has long been a favoured holiday destination for Europeans keen to escape the chill, relax and soak up the sun. Probably the last thing I expected though was a cutting edge music program run high in a clifftop garden in the grounds of a swanky hotel in Ponta Do Sol – which is about 25 minutes from Madeira’s capital Funchal. These intimate outdoor concerts were really something special, and over the years I repeatedly returned, catching the likes of Dirty Beaches (review here), Emika (review here), Lonnie Holley, CTM (Ceacille Trier), Binkbeats and Connor Youngblood (review here) amongst numerous others. Unfortunately I wasn’t around for Thurston Moore, Juana Molina, Batida, Tanya Tagaq or Michael Rother’s performances.
The audience is a mix of hotel guests and locals, with the (at the time) ridiculously economical entry price of 5 Euros with a free drink card. So with Caipirinha in hand, seated on a beanbag on a beautiful grassy outcrop we would watch these incredible world class performers as the sun sets into the ocean. It couldn’t have been more idealic. This is what music was invented for. The curation is fascinating too, an intriguing mix of international, African and Portuguese performers across multiple genres – many looking for an opportunity to rest and recharge in the midst of a European tour. There were numerous discoveries here for me, though perhaps most profound was witnessing the strange and beautiful improvised genius of Lonnie Holley – who’s September tour of Australia has just been announced.
They’ve just announced this summer’s run of performances, which as usual looks really intriguing, with the likes of Cape Verde artist Kady, UK’s avant garde folk artist Joanne Robertson, The Irrepressibles (British musician Jamie Irrepressible), as well as Madeira’s own Dul and Nouk White, and Portuguese artists André Santos with Manuela Azevedo and SFISTIKATED with Ana Lua Caiano. It’s a program ripe for discovery, where you’re guaranteed to have at least one or two new worlds opened up to you.
You can find out more here.