hings have been heating up for Marco Castillo recently — in more ways than one.
The singer-songwriter took part in the prestigious Festival de Viña del Mar 2015 in Chile in February. On his return, the 51-year-old River Park South resident told The Lance he had a trip to remember at the televised event, which showcased performers from around the world.
The festival is massively popular in Latin America and is broadcast to more than 100 million viewers. Castillo was among the six finalists in the folkloric category of the competition and was short-listed from more than 1,100 songs in that category.
"I was amazed by the whole production. The arena was packed with 20,000 people," said Castillo, who hails from Brazil and moved to Winnipeg nine years ago.
"I did well. I think I did my job. There is choreography with each act and a huge screen that shows graphics to each song. It was an awesome experience. It was an amazing spectacle, everyone was so professional and there was a great camaraderie among the performers," Castillo said.
Despite Castillo’s awe, there was one little hitch that had him sweating just before the first of his two appearances onstage.
"Because it was a live production, I was waiting in the wings for about 90 minutes before I went onstage. Just before I was about to go on, the artist who was on before me handed me the earpiece and said it wasn’t working because all she could hear was static. The technician said I’d be fine, but he did change it at the very last minute. However, this made me very nervous," Castillo said.
"The second night I was more relaxed and I performed better, but the judges actually gave me a lower mark. My friend filmed this and the audience booed when they gave me the mark. But I wasn’t mad, as I was just happy to be performing at such a huge festival and getting the exposure. The crowd was very receptive. Once onstage, everything goes by so fast, but it’s an amazing feeling. You feel like a star. I think it’s every artist’s dream to perform at that level."
After his Chilean adventure, Castillo spent a week in his native Brazil and, along with a bass player (an old university friend), drummer and percussionist, played a gig at the famous Beco das Garrafas club in Rio.
"It’s where the bossa nova started in the ’60s. I was honoured to have played at the club," he said.
Returning to his homeland also reunited Castillo with the searing Brazilian heat. The day he left Winnipeg for Chile it was -37C.
"It’s so humid, you can’t do anything. You can’t even think," he said.
Inspired by his travels, Castillo is currently writing new songs, "psychologically preparing" to go back into the studio and preparing for the summer festival circuit. He is also looking to tutor more budding musicians — of all ages and skill levels — on a one-on-one basis.
Castillo released the album Zabelê in 2014. For more information, go online at www.marcocastillo.ca