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The Road to Ubatuba
Music and lyrics by Peter King

Ubatuba is a beautiful old beach town in Brazil, in the state of Sao Paulo. I started writing this song in a notebook on my first trip to that complex and fascinating country. Brazil boasts magical music, a mellifluous language (Portuguese, not Spanish) and people who tend to be warm, present in the moment and comfortable in their skins.

On my second trip there about two years later, I picked up with this song where I had left off. This time I was able to visualize the outline — the story I was trying to tell — and to compose a few bars of the melody in my head. When I got back to Pittsburgh, I made quick work of it, writing the music at home in Aspinwall, and finishing the lyrics one night at Tazzo D’Oro coffee house in Highland Park.

At first, the working title of this CD was “Goin’ Down Swingin’.” But “The Road to Ubatuba” was one title I knew I had never seen on any book or CD or DVD. Of course, later I found out I was wrong. A guy at a Borders in the Boston airport was doing a database search for my CD and discovered a 1997 jazz/Brazilian music CD called “Ubatuba” by the late Kimson Plaut, an American keyboardist. It's sweet — check it out. And I'll bet there are at least a few more recordings titled “Ubatuba” by Brazilian musicians relatively unknown in the U.S.

Nevertheless, the CD title “The Road to Ubatuba” was a little mysterious, and it just kind of sang to me, so we went with it. Besides, many of the songs on the disc are about travel, about having come a long way — either on the road or in the heart:

On the road to Ubatuba
Where it rises and it bends
Until you cross the highest mountain
And the ocean never ends
Islands shimmer in the sunlight
In quiet bays white sails unfurl
On the road to Ubatuba
With my two Brazilian buddies
And a crazy German girl

On the road to Ubatuba
Singin’ Yankee rock ‘n’ roll
There’s a fire in the jungle
There’s a fire in my soul
A few hours up the coast is Rio
Maybe in a couple of days we’ll go
On the road to Ubatuba
Far from all my friends and family
With these folks I hardly know

On the road to Ubatuba
Where the purple flowers spill
The past is just a wisp of fog
The future hides behind a hill
I am only passing through this life
I’m a tourist in the world
On the road to Ubatuba
With my two Brazilian buddies
And a crazy German girl

Peter’s travel articles to Brazil
In my other life as a journalist, I have written several travel articles about Brazil for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The title track of my CD The Road to Ubatuba has its prose counterpart in a section of  “An Invitation to Parati” below. It describes the drive east from the interior of Sao Paulo state over the coastal mountains to Brazil’s awe-inspiring Atlantic Ocean beaches. If you’ve been there, you’ll already know. If not, you should go.

Also, please be sure to check out the artful and evocative photos, shot by the one and only Janice Vance …
These three articles describe a trip to Parati, Brazil that I took in November 2004:

An invitation to Parati: On Brazil's southeastern coast, town extends warm welcome

Like a breeze in the trees, Brazilian music sways the soul

If You Go: Parati, Brazil

These two are from trips to Rio and Ouro Preto that I took in November 2002:

Saturday Diary: Music and money make a jangling noise when Rio's sambistas go by

Ouro Preto is Brazil's crown jewel

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"Dancing on a Long Leash" has been "unleashed"

"King has brought a fresh approach to the city’s singer-songwriter scene, with an accessible style that encompasses blues, jazz and Brazilian rhythms.”
Beaver County Times

Singer-songwriter Peter King takes meaningful walk on 'Leash' -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Fall Releases ... I can't stop listening to -- Barb S., WYEP-FM Sunday Mix Host
MP3 Monday: Peter King -- Pittsburgh City Paper


“Dancing on a Long Leash” further demonstrates guitarist and singer Peter King's knack for writing moody, melodic, intelligent tunes that venture into the crossroads where blues and jazz meet the singer-songwriter tradition.

Produced by King and Doug Wilkin of Wilkin Audio, the new CD follows the success of “The Road to Ubatuba,” which was named a “notable release” of 2006 by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The 12 songs on “Dancing on a Long Leash” range from the upbeat shuffle “That's My Girl” (written for the composer's wife) to the samba-influenced “Don't Play That Song” to an artfully reworked version of Van Morrison's “Brown Eyed Girl.”

“Number One in Liechstentein” (humor alert) tells the story of a delusional unknown who takes the stage at an open mike and proclaims his genius.

“Connoisseur of Lawns” contains the phrase “dancing on a long leash,” from which the CD takes its title. The song is about the composer's black lab/golden retriever, but it's not a children's song – and it's not just about a dog.

"That song and the CD's title, 'Dancing on a Long Leash,' took shape on the many late nights I would walk with Ollie through the streets of Aspinwall, O'Hara and Fox Chapel, just across the river from Pittsburgh" King says. "Walking your dog is ordinary, right? But on a quiet summer evening with a thousand stars in the sky, I felt magic in everything. I tried to express what is essentially inexpressible through music."

That magic was conjured up with the help of many of Pittsburgh's best musicians: harmonica ace Marc Reisman (Joe Grushecky, Ernie Hawkins, Bill Toms), clarinetist Lou Schreiber (Five Guys Named Moe), keyboardist Max Leake (Roger Humphries), bassist Mark Perna (Leslie Smith, Don Aliquo Sr.), drummer Mark Weakland and percussionist Jeff Berman (both frequent guests with The Newlanders, whose Doug Wilkin co-produced “Long Leash”), singers Heather Kropf and Autumn Ayers and more.

“I've traveled enough to say with conviction that, for a relatively small city, Pittsburgh is bubbling over with good music in the jazz, blues and singer-songwriter genres,” King remarks. “I'm fortunate to have been able to learn from and tap into that deep pool of Pittsburgh talent.”

“Dancing on a Long Leash” was unleashed with a CD release party featuring many guest artists at Pittsburgh's prestigious Club Cafe on Nov. 6, 2009. It's available at CD Baby, iTunes and other digital distribution sites.