Almost immediately upon their return from Pakistan and Russia, Blended 328 undertook a second cultural diplomacy program for The Humpty Dumpty Institute. From July 2 to July 19 this amazing modern country band performed in Brazil and Paraguay. The intent of the program was to engage local communities with American Country music and bring American culture and values to Brazilian and Paraguayan audiences. The program had a special focus on youth using a concert/music festival format and included master classes at universities and other institutions. On July 2 Blended 328 arrived in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. The band spent its first two days working with participants at an English Immersion Program at Casa Thomas Jefferson. A highlight of their South American tour occurred on July 4 when the group performed at the official diplomatic reception at the United States Embassy celebrating the Independence Day. This was followed by a second Independence Day performance for the greater American community in Brazil on July 6.
July 7 was an important day for Blended 328 as they group focused on active cultural diplomacy by performing for almost two hours at the Cultural Center of Brasilia. Afterwards, the band members met with the audience to discuss themes in cross-cultural engagement of Brazil and the United States. The band’s final days in Brazil were dedicated to interacting with students. On July 9, they performed in front of 2,000 students at the University of Brasilia and afterwards discussed music, politics, and development with the students. On their final day, Blended 328 conducted a special program for students at Science Without Borders, which included both a performance and a discussion on the use of music to promote cross-cultural values.
On July 11, Blended 328 arrived in Asuncion, Paraguay. The next day started early with performances and interviews on two morning TV talk shows. In the afternoon, they made an appearance on Asuncion’s premiere jazz radio station Radio Urbana and held a concert at the Centro Cultural Paraguayo Americano. The group had another very intense day on July 13 when they traveled to Cateura, a slum area located on a garbage dump outside of Asuncion. In Cateura, Blended 328 served as true cultural diplomats as the band worked with the children who make musical instruments out of recycled trash. They also conducted a workshop that included a short performance followed by music lessons. The children performed “New York, New York” on their instruments made from recycled trash.
On July 15, Blended 328 traveled 250 miles by road to Ciudad Del Este where the band held a workshop for students of the Conservatorio de Hernandarias. The workshop consisted of a short performance by Blended 328 followed by a music lesson where the group explained the major forms of American music including country, jazz, rock, funk and blues. In the evening, Blended held a concert at the local Casino Acaray Hotel. On July 16, the group drove south to the city of Encarnacion, near the Argentine border, where the band worked with the students of Centro de Arte Municipal. An evening concert at the Hotel Carnaval was followed by a question and answer session. The group returned to Asuncion on July 17 and conducted an in-depth workshop at National Conservatory of Paraguay. The final event of the Brazil/Paraguay program took place on July 18, when Blended 328 performed live at EXPO Ruedo Central, one of the most important annual business expositions in South America.
Blended 328’s tour to Brazil and Paraguay was made possible by grant funding from U.S. Embassy Brasilia and U.S. Embassy Asuncion.