Clube da Esquina (Club on the Corner)

The blend that renewed Brazilian music

Silvio Essinger
The story begins in Belo Horizonte (capital of Minas Gerais, SE) in 1963. Singer/musician Milton Nascimento had just arrived from hometown Três Pontas, where he had been performing with pianist Wagner Tiso, and moved into a boarding house. The Borges brothers lived in the same building – there were 12 of them. Nascimento soon made friends with the family, and picked Márcio, one of the brothers, to write the lyrics for his first songs. Meanwhile, Márcio’s little brother, Lô, was taking harmony lessons from guitarist Toninho Horta and spending the rest of his time listening to The Beatles with Beto Guedes, another kid that had also come from the countryside. Together, they formed a band, The Beavers, totally inspired by the Liverpool quartet. And that was the embryo of the Clube da Esquina.

Milton Nascimento was the center of that emerging scene, singing in nightclubs and writing his songs, which led him to music festivals in 1966 and ‘67. His work was well accepted: in 1968, he made the album Courage in the U.S. with Eumir Deodato. Back in Minas, the group was growing with newcomers Flávio Venturini, Vermelho and Tavinho Moura. They would perform a series of shows called Fio da Navalha (Razor’s Edge) with Lô Borges, Beto Guedes and Toninho Horta.

Music, politics and alcohol
All they needed was a name. One day, on the corner of Divinópolis and Paraisópolis, Márcio came up with an idea: whenever someone would ask about the Borges brothers, their mother would say "of course, they’re on the corner, singing and playing guitar", so why not call it Clube da Esquina? What the members had in common was their middle-class background and great interest in culture and politics, and the will to privilege social themes over love themes.

In 1972, Milton Nascimento and Lô Borges recorded an album through EMI that showed the alchemy pursued by the group of musician: bossa nova, Beatles, tunes, choro, jazz, progressive rock, all mixed in with pop twists and poetic lyrics.

Songs like O Trem Azul (recorded by Tom Jobim in his final album, Antônio Brasileiro), Tudo o que Você Poderia Ser, Nada Será Como Antes and Cais are the milestones for the first consistent musical movement to arise in Brazil since Tropicália. Soon, the members of the club would be pursuing solo careers and releasing solo albums. Beto Guedes made A Página do Relâmpago Elétrico and Amor de Índio; Lô Borges made the critically acclaimed Lô Borges and Via Láctea. Flávio Venturini started progressive rock band O Terço, which would later switch to pop and change the name to 14 Bis.

New members
Wagner Tiso went for an instrumental career. In 1978, Milton Nascimento released the double album Clube da Esquina 2, with old and new partners. At that time, Milton and his friends had already inspired other musicians in the area, like the group Uakti, who made radical experiments with music, utilizing instruments that they created themselves.

Through the 80s, as a reaction to Clube da Esquina’s ideas, Belo Horizonte witnessed the birth of new rock bands that had nothing to do whatsoever with their counterparts: Sepultura, Skank, Pato Fu and Jota Quest. In 1996, Márcio Borges told the whole story in his book Os Sonhos Não Envelhecem – Histórias do Clube da Esquina.



Travessia – Milton Nascimento e Fernando Brant
Feira Moderna – Beto Guedes e Fernando Brant
O Trem Azul – Lô Borges e Ronaldo Bastos
Nascente – Flávio Venturini e Murilo Antunes
Um Girassol da Cor de Seu Cabelo – Lô e Márcio Borges
Nada Será como Antes – Milton Nascimento e Ronaldo Bastos
Nuvem Cigana – Lô Borges e Ronaldo Bastos
Cais – Milton Nascimento e Ronaldo Bastos
Cravo e Canela – Milton Nascimento e Ronaldo Bastos
Maria, Maria – Milton Nascimento e Fernando Brant
Caçador de Mim – Luís Carlos Sá e Sérgio Magrão