Matuto brings mix of roots music

Band brings the push and pull between the Latin syncopations of Brazilian roots and the folk traditions of the American South

Matuto performs March 8 at the Harrison Memorial Hall.

Born out of New York’s vibrant musical scene, Matuto bring a mix of American roots and Brazilian music in Harrison Memorial Hall on Saturday, March 8 at 8 p.m.

The name Matuto comes from a slang Portuguese expression meaning ‘country boy’ and the group draws inspiration both from the Brazilian music that band leaders Clay Ross and Rob Curto studied and from the American roots music they grew up with.

Drawing on Northeastern Brazil’s folkloric rhythms like forró, maracatu, or coco, and on deep Americana — from bluegrass to spirituals to swampy Louisiana jams — Matuto uses unexpected Pan-American sonic sympathies to craft appealing, rootsy, yet philosophical tales of love, self-discovery, nostalgia, and true peace.

“Matuto performs a type of music not yet well known in North America but is perhaps the most popular music in Northeastern Brazil,” said Harrison Festival artistic director Andy Hillhouse. “The groove of Forró music resembles Cajun music in many ways and is infectious in its danceability.”

The band features guitar, accordion, bass, drums, and various Brazilian percussion instruments: the alfaia (a large, wooden, rope-tuned bass drum), the pandeiro (a Brazilian tambourine), the berimbau (a single-string on a bow struck with a small stick), and the agogô (a pair of small, pitched metal bells) as well as brings together some of the best musicians working across NYC’s diverse jazz, roots and world music scenes, like Brazilian percussionist Zé Mauricio, drummer Chris Berry, and bassist Mike Lavalle.

“Matuto is unique in their tendency to fuse forró with Appalachian music, a surprising blend that works well,” said Hillhouse. “Bringing Matuto to Harrison is part of an overall vision to introduce Brazilian styles outside of the bossa nova and samba music that people normally associate with Brazil.”

Matuto welds these many influences into a uniquely danceable soundscape. On stage, the instruments swirl together, bobbing in and out, whirling around the tension at the core of Matuto’s music: the push and pull between the Latin syncopations of Brazilian roots music and the folk traditions of the American South. It’s Bluegrass meets Brazil. An unlikely combination on paper, but not in person. On the dance floor it just feels right.

Tickets for Matuto, March 8 are $22 at, or by phone at 604.796.3664 the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison and Agassiz Shoppers Drug Mart on Pioneer Ave.


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