Legendary guitarist, singer, and songwriter Lulu Santos can no longer bear to hear about the 50th anniversary of the bossa nova movement, an occasion that is being milked around the globe with an endless parade of concerts, documentaries, and special music releases. "Thank God I was never part of that," he said during a recent news conference in his native Rio de Janeiro. "The music I play is completely different from that."
Santos burst onto the Brazilian scene in the early '80s after the breakup of his prog-rock band Vímana, which enjoyed moderate success in the late '70s thanks to the popularity of bands such as Yes and Genesis in Brazil. His first single was "De Leve," a Portuguese-language version of the Beatles' "Get Back," with lyrics by Gilberto Gil and Rita Lee. Soon afterward, he found success as a songwriter with "Como Uma Onda," a Hawaiian-inspired ballad that has since been covered by Caetano Veloso and Brazilian funk pioneer Tim Maia. To this day, the tune is one of the sing-along staples of his live show.
While many of his '80s Brazilian rock contemporaries have either faded away or become revival acts, Santos remains current by embracing new sounds and technologies in his work. His sessions with hip underground DJs like Marcello "Memê" Mansur, who co-produced some of his recordings, started with 1995's Eu e Memê, Memê e Eu, featuring remixes of old hits and funk-based originals.
Santos does not come stateside very often since the 1990s. "Since 1992, I have traveled there 18 times, so I guess I have overused my welcome," he said. "So I have made the decision to only come when invited. I was there four years ago for a tour, and now I am going again."
Santos' stage setting is elaborate, including a large screen with videos specially created for the tour that plug his latest release, LongPlay. The set list includes several tunes from the new disc blended with fan favorites like "Tudo Bem," "O Ultimo Romantico," and "Adivinha O Que."
"I will be doing my regular show," Santos said, adding that he plans to make "the ground shake." Behind him will be his longtime band, which is rounded out by Milton Guedes (sax and harmonica), Dunga (bass), Xokolate (drums), and Hiroshi Mizutani (keyboards and programming), whom collectively might — at least temporarily — make you forget the sweet melodies of Jobim & Co.