"You go on without me and I'll meet up with you later" Martin Lipp talks with new fadista Ana Bacalhau from the ensemble Deolinda. These days, fado is back in the forefront of Portugal's consciousness and the new perspective is embodied by the group Deolinda, who are embarked on their first U.S. tour in the Fall of 2010. The group does not play straight fado, which is often dark and stormy – the archetypal singer being the late Amalia Rodrigues, who performed in a black shawl as if in mourning, and seemed to shout down the fates. Other rising singers, such as Mariza, Dulce Pontes and Ana Moura, have broadened fado's dark palette, but stayed close to tradition. Deolinda has a more playful approach, but still has palpable affection and respect for the tradition. The group is named for a fictional young woman the members created; she loves fado and the group's songs are seen through her eyes as she watches contemporary Portugal go by. Lead singer Ana Bacalhau describes the girl Deolinda as "the sum of our four personalities." As flamenco has been to neighboring Spain, fado has been the national music of Portugal for decades, a melancholic but beautiful sound that rose up from the tavernas and maritime haunts of the lower classes, eventually gaining national acceptance and respect. However, during the years of Portugal's dictatorship, Bacalhau said, fado was promoted for "cultural propaganda" by the ruling regime. For that reason, many came to associate the music with the dictatorship, so that even when the regime was overthrown in the Carnation Revolution of 1974, the music was shunted aside. In recent years, a generation that only knew the dictatorship from history books began to rediscover the music. "We grew up listening to Pearl Jam and Nirvana," Bacalhau said, but these young Portuguese who "didn't have that prejudice….took our grandparents' records and started listening to them." Now the band can play at a summer festival with modern fadistas like Mariza and have an audience of 30-40,000. "It's becoming as popular as pop and rock," she said. "We sort of made peace with the musical form." The group started five years ago, said Bacalhau, "as everything starts in Portugal, over food." She and the brothers, Pedro da Silva Martins and Luis Jose Martins, had been playing in other bands, but knew each other and began discussing the idea of collaborating. After a lunch one day, she said, they fetched their instruments and tried a few songs on for size. "We just wanted to play the songs. We had this chemistry together – we didn't have to discuss it." The three soon added bass player José Pedro Leitão, now Bacalhau's husband, and when they began to try out their songs in clubs, there were met with an enthusiastic response. Their debut album, Cançao Ao Lado went double-platinum in Portugal and they began to sell out shows. "It caught us a bit by surprise," she said. Whereas traditional fado is typically played with a Portuguese guitar and perhaps another guitar and bass, Deolinda broadens the sound but does not electrify it. On the wonderful opening number, "Mal Por Mal," they mix a walking blues bassline with Bacalhau's strong fado-esque voice. The songs playful attitude toward fado is plain in the lyrics: in "Movimento Perpetuo Associativo" Bacalhau sings as two characters: One wants to seize the day and conquer the world: "Now we change things for the better/Now we have the strength to move forward." The other wants to hang back, maybe take a nap: "Not now, my belly hurts/not now, it's going to rain today." The chorus sings in a strong voice filled with resolution but repeats the line: "You go on without me and I'll meet up with you later." In "Garçonete Da Casa de Fado," a Brazilian waitress in a fado house laments "Nobody dances Fado! They just stay there and listen." The group's latest album, Dois Selos e um Carimbo, has been released in Portugal, already topping charts there, and will be released in the U.S. soon. Bacalhau said it's a continuation of the group's journey telling Deolinda's story, but playing with tradition in a few new ways. She said, "The thrill of it is to experiment." The band will tour in the Fall of 2010. You can find out when and where, as well as hear their music on MySpace http://www.myspace.com/deolindalisboa Cançao Ao Lado is available at Amazon http://www.cdroots.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B002C39T8C/rootsworldmagazi/