The hot sun has just set, and a full moon has taken to the sky, as Caique Vidal and Batuque take the stage. Under the electric yellow lights of the dance tent, your heartbeat is quickening to match the beat of the drum. Whether you’ve just taken your first samba lesson, or you’ve been dancing for years, you feel at home busting a move out on the dance floor. It’s moments like these that are what Caique Vidal and Batuque specialize in.
Caique Vidal, the Brazilian-born frontman, leads a ten piece band based in Durham, NC named Batuque (pronounced Ba-too-KEE). Caique brings the sounds of samba to life with the kind of passion that only comes with a life-long love of learning to play music. Vidal is the chief songwriter and, as such, the band’s songs focus heavily on the traditional Afro-Brazilian influences that drew him to music in the first place.
Caique brings the sounds of samba to life with the kind of passion that only comes with a life-long love of learning to play music. Yet, his beginnings were humble, having discovered percussion when he was brought along to his mother’s dance class.
“I kept annoying the drummer, asking him to play his drums. And he was like, you know what? Just take this cowbell, go to the corner, just stay there in the corner. He thought that I had rhythm, and he was like ‘yo, your kid is actually good!”
Vidal’s love of Afro-Brazilian music only blossomed from there. After seeing several children playing the Djembe, he began to branch out into learning more and more instruments. This passion led him to join Olodum Mirin, which was a traveling band focusing on the social, racial, economical. During his time as a percussionist in the group, Olodum Mirin was featured in Michael Jackson’s They Don’t Care About Us.
“I was one of the 300 people to play behind Michael Jackson. Of course, you cannot spot me even in slow motion, but it was a blessing to be a part of that group, to get that training… I was there with the process of making the beat for percussion, to the original track that Michael Jackson has, I was there and it was such a great experience.”
From there, Vidal became a dancer with a premiere Brazilian Afro-Brazilian group called Balé Folclórico da Bahia. As part of their ensemble, he ended up traveling the world, which became an invaluable opportunity to share his culture with a world that was eager to learn. Yet, with long hours of rehearsal and many weeks spent on tour, it was also a crash course in being a professional artist, which Vidal took to kindly.
After his time with Balé Folclórico da Bahia, Caique Vidal came to North Carolina, and immediately became interested in the local music scene. He attended many local performances to learn more about how the music scene worked in the region. It wasn’t long before he began teaching his own classes in Durham about Afro-Brazilian music and culture, which he still does today. It was through his teaching that he met the members of Batuque.
“Through those lessons, I started learning about all of the positions for music and performing, and when I say that it’s a big family, it is true… Members of the band will say, ‘Hey I have this friend who likes the band and he plays this, he plays that, he would like to come to one of the rehearsals.’ Most of the time, these people do not stay. I started the band with five people, and now we have doubled and that is how I met the folks that I have today… The people who stay just really appreciate the music and have a respect and I have mutual respect for them as well.”
Caique Vidal and Batuque have really made a name for themselves in Durham and however inadvertently, gotten involved in civic issues. The group began hosting open-air rehearsals in Durham Central Park, a move which became controversial after several noise complaints were filed by residents in neighboring apartments. After several months of complaints, the Durham City Council decided to move the city’s noise ordinance to 9 PM to allow Vidal, and any other artist, to use the space for practice and performance.
As far as Caique Vidal’s music, he draws significantly from his life and his culture for inspiration. For their song T.Y.S.M. (Thank You So Much), the song combined the energy of the group’s shows with a thank you to Vidal’s ancestors, who paved the way for artists like him to create traditional music.
“A lot of people were killed and pursued to make sure we can practice today, so that we could know Samba, so we could speak a little bit of the Agumba and play the African rhythms that we play today. Without these people in the past, we would not be able to exist today.”
Songs like T.Y.S.M. and the rest of Caique Vidal and Batuque’s first album will be played at the fall festival, as well as three new songs from the group’s next album. Vidal is also hoping to make this year’s performance bigger and better than ever, to create a night that the audience will not forget. One of those surprises may include a 20-30 piece percussion ensemble called Oxembe, but the logistics of that are still being worked out.
Caique Vidal and Batuque will visit Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival for the second time this fall. The band’s spring 2018 performance in the Dance Tent was very well received and festival organizers know Shakori fans appreciate local and World Music so it only made sense to bring them back.
Vidal said the experience of Shakori Hills is, “not just a music festival, it’s a place we go to share music with people, and people really get into it. It’s a carefree [place] where the main mission is to have fun. It’s really fun to me, I love it, I’m actually really happy to come back.”
Caique Vidal and Batuque’s music is available on all major streaming sites, and you can practice your samba at their live rehearsals every Monday night from 6:30-8:30 PM in Durham Central Park. Learn more about the band at www.caiquevidal.com.