By Marjorie Gorospe WHEN passion for music is entirely pure, it becomes your life: This statement describes Tal Kravitz’ dedication to music. He got into music when he was four years old. His passion and mastery of ethnic including Israeli music is enriched by his travels to different parts of the world. He has been to Africa, Papua New Guinea and other countries which have musical instruments and traditions that are in danger of extinction. They say a musician will never run out of inspiration. Kravitz can play and entertain you with almost anything he get his hands on. Kravitz plays piano, harp, guitar, a variety of bagpipes, African percussion instruments, among others. His favorite is the harp. Aside from collecting various instruments, Kravitz also studies the ethnic languages in countries where he goes. “It is connected with the soul of the music,” Kravitz says, as he plays “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan,” which he learned through the Internet. Years of traveling, Kravitz has learned more than music. “It is the stories of the people I encounter in my musical journey that inspires me,” he says. His exposure to different cultures has made him value life more. Kravitz says he won’t stop learning about music, despite his stature today. He says he will continue doing this until the end of his days. As I watched him perform before Israeli dignitaries, it was clear that this passion emanates from his music. If I were to define passion for music, it will be called “Tal Kravitz.”
November 2008 Archives
By Clarence Yu The Rolling Stones guitarist rumored to release an album of jazz and easy listening standards. HELL has just frozen over. The World’s most elegantly wasted human being, Keith Richards, is rumored to release an album of “soft music” containing standards by Hoagy Carmicheal, Fats Domino, Andy Williams, Judy Garland and Elvis Presley. The never before released tracks, recorded during various phases of his storied 40-odd year career, can be found on this music blog. As a personal fan of Richards, I have various outtakes and bootlegs of the said recordings, and they would indeed make a nice collection for release. For people who will think that Richards is pulling a Rod Stewart on them, think again. The Rolling Stones guitarist is no stranger to soft music -- he’s been recording various easy listening tunes since the days of “You Got The Silver” off 1968’s Let It Bleed, continuing with songs such as “Coming Down Again,” “Memory Motel,” “Slipping Away,” and most recently, “This Place Is Empty,” off 2005’s A Bigger Bang. Moreover, on his two solo efforts, Talk Is Cheap (1988) and Main Offender (1992), Richards has shown his softer side with the ballads “Make No Mistake” and “Hate It When You Leave.” It would be fun however to see public attention to the rumored album. While many of the tracks as I have heard them would probably need polishing and re-mixing, there is ample time to do so, as the Rolling Stones have scheduled their next album release for autumn of 2009, with their next world tour scheduled for 2010. Between now and then, I’m hoping that Keith should be able to release something substantial enough. Michael Buble and Josh Groban have nothing to fear though, as Richards’ voice as a crooner is an acquired taste, only for the most discriminating.
By Marjorie Gorospe Filipino indie rock group Menaya has some news. Having had its share of radio airplay, Menaya’s second album ominously titled, “The Worst News,” is by far delivering good news for the group. One of their songs “Safer” has topped the charts of NU Rock 107 for five weeks, while another song “Favorite Sin” is climbing, according to Brian Sombero, vocalist of the group. You can listen to theirs songs from their MySpace profile or view a music video of "Safe" on YouTube. Menaya is composed of Brian Sombero on the guitar and vocals, Hepe Lavador on Drums, Mike Bacalzo in guitars and Gil Olivar on Bass. The group’s major influences include Mafia, Myriads and The Stills, which are foreign acts playing different genres of indie, post-punk, alternative to heavy metal music, depending on your taste. Sombero could not say what sets the band apart from other local acts emerging from today’s generation of indie bands. However, he says indie (independent) rock means the opposite of mainstream. “This is our music and hopefully more people will embrace it,” he adds. Hepe Lavador adds: “We cannot deny that most Filipinos listen to foreign music but we should also try to listen to original pinoy music and realize that our own music is not that ordinary.” The group is happy where it is now. But it is hoping to break the international scene “one step at a time.” Menaya is already earning a name, as it was recently tapped to become frontact for local singer and performer Ogie Alcasid with the Idols. Alcasid’s concert is produced by The Underground Studio Inc, apparently owned by the Menaya vocalist Brian Sombero.
Guns ‘N Roses is learning. With its much-delayed album (still under the auspices of frontman Axl Rose) set to launch several hours from now in the US, it is giving people a taste of its music online. Based on what has been posted on MySpace, it is clear that the American hard rock band that gave us “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Paradise City,” and “Mr. Brownstone” is a different band. Streaming some of its songs on its official MySpace account, Guns ‘N Roses music is less edgy but is more refined than “Appetite for Destruction.” Of course, there are still traces of the old GNR sound in the “Street of Dreams,” a definite love song that brings back memories of "November Rain." Rose’s signature growl remains present, as well as the “oohs” and distinctive high-note wails that you can pick out even if he’s singing cover songs. “Chinese Democracy,” however, is clearly a departure from the shadows of the original GNR sound. Considering this album was reportedly started in 1999, the Slash and Izzy Stradlin’s signature guitar riffs and nasty rock and roll ad-libs are gone. Yes, the guitar work in this album is still impressive, but it just feels too manicured. GNR’s appeal back then was, as Rolling Stone’s writes, its “audacious, unhinged and uncompromising hard-rock” music that emerged from the scores of hard-rocking bands in the 80s. The first album was loaded with blood, sweat and tears. And, what about Axl’s angst, where did it go? Chinese Democracy comes more like a “happy rock” music produced for a generation of radio-friendly rock music listeners. Considering the album will be sold through Best Buy, GNR is perhaps trying to open up to a bigger market of teens and younger listeners who have only heard about GNR in Guitar Hero. As Rolling Stone’s puts it: “[But] here compressed into a convulsive single disc of supershred guitars, orchestral fanfares, hip-hop electronics, metallic tabernacle choirs and Axl Rose's still-virile, rusted-siren singing” is GNR’s Chinese Democracy. If you slap Bon Jovi’s voice in Chinese Democracy, this album can be mistaken as the New Jersey-born band. It’s that different. Perhaps one of the flaws of bands whose time has ended is trying to carry on an aging name that we fans have worshiped and loved. Perhaps it’s about time Axl lets go of the GNR and reinvent himself. To be fair, Chinese Democracy is not bad at all. In fact, if I discovered this band today, I would give it a second listen. But to those who have been head-banging to “Rocket Queen” and “Paradise City,” they would find themselves in a quandary. Where have the “Used to Love Her” and “Civil War” songs gone? Again, I refer to Rolling Stone’s conclusion. For all its worth, Chinese Democracy is not exactly a music produced by a band. It’s Axl Rose all over the place with different supporting characters.
Ever since the days of USA for Africa and Band Aid, music has become a vehicle for various causes. In the Philippines, MTV has been holding a music summit mainly geared towards protecting young people from the risk of acquiring human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). “Seemingly, there is a gap in bridging the message to the intended audience like the young people. The best way to reach them is through media and MTV,” says Dr. Jose Gerard Belimac, manager of AIDS & STI Prevention and Control Program of the Department of Health (DOH). Teresita Bagasao, Joint United Nations Programme for HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), says young people comprise 40 percent of the new infections globally. “That means on a daily basis, we receive reports of 6,000 new infections among young people,” adds Bagasao. “For as long as there is one new infection, we cannot be complacent,” Bagasao says. In the Philippines, the DOH reported a cumulative number of 3,515 cases as of October 2008, according to Belimac. Belimac says there is also a shifting trend in the mode of transmission of AIDS from heterosexual to homosexual based on the study conducted by the epidemiology center of the DOH. Aside from the mentioned modes, AIDS can also be passed through injecting drug users, blood transfusion, occupational exposure of health workers and mother to child, Belimac says. On December 1, 1988, the World Aids campaign began to call the attention of the people about HIV. Since then, December 1 has been declared as World Aids Day. This year, the call for the people is to “lead, empower and deliver.” Bagasao says each sector of the society should lead in information campaign that would later empower people to make better decisions. He also says policies on prevention and treatment should also be encouraged. “These are ways we can defeat the epidemic,” said Bagasao. On December 3, thirty-six bands will play for the MTV Staying Alive Music Summit 2008 at the SM Mall of Asia Concert grounds. Rico Blanco, musician and spokesperson of the music summit, acknowledges that music continues to have a big influence on young people. “It’s a responsibility to do whatever I can, to help educate people regarding HIV and AIDS,” adds Blanco, as he explains his participation in this year’s summit. The bands that have confirmed to perform during the summit are 6cyclemind, Bamboo, Callalily, Chicosci, Franco, Grayhoundz, Hale, Imago, The Itchyworms, Kamikazee, Kitchie Nadal, Kjwan, Markus Highway, Moonstar88, The Out of Body Special, Overtone, Paraluman, Pramita, Parokya ni Edgar, Pedicab, Pupil, Radioactive Sago Project, Rivermaya, Sandwich, Session Road, Silent Sanctuary, Sinosikat?, Slapshock, Soapdish, Spongecola, Sugargree, Taken By Cars, Typecast, Up Dharma Down, Urbandub and Wolfgang.
By Clarence Yu No, you did not read the title wrong. It is Kevin Costner, actor-director, with his band Modern West and their debut CD, “Untold Truths.” At the age of 53, Costner decides to go into his first album of all original songs, with long time band Modern West. Most might be surprised (like me) but after a little checking, Costner has not been a stranger to playing music, as he and his band have been playing live gigs for the past couple of years. The sound is all country/roots-rock with Costner on vocals. Surprisingly, for a shameless country music fan like me, I’m not that disappointed, nor am I elated. The songs on the album have little to do with what the title suggests, at least in a direct sense. “90 Miles an Hour” sounds a bit like Jacob Dylan’s “One Headlight,” and “Every Intention” sounds like a John Mellencamp song. The fire cracking country-rocker “Gotta Get Away (Song for Bud)” is one of the tracks that is quite unique. Most of the other tracks deal with tales of Americana and it’s heartland and the actor’s voice isn’t really that bad -- he sounds like he’s having a blast, and the band is superb. Overall, this album is not bad debut CD for a 53 year old actor who now officially joins the ranks of Kevin Bacon, Bruce Willis, Keanu Reeves as actor-musicians. It’s not as hip as today’s contemporary music by any standard (whatever that may be). I’m pretty sure this album will not do well commercially nor will it have a big chance of being released locally. But for easy listening, I wouldn’t mind keeping this on my player for a while. Just to give you an idea how Costner looks on stage singing, here's a video we found on YouTube:
By Clarence Yu Contributor OCTOBER 27, 1975: Bruce Springsteen, 25, appears simultaneously on the covers of Time and Newsweek and is heralded as “The future of Rock and Roll.” Around this time, a young man named Barack “Barry” Obama, 14, is attending High School in Hawaii’s Punahou School, destined to be the future President of the United States. October to November, 2008: Bruce Springsteen, 59, now known as “The Boss” worldwide, critically acclaimed and one of the biggest rock stars on the planet, speaks and plays at several rallies for Senator Barack Obama, 47, who is now the President-elect of the United States. I used to believe in what Keith Richards used to say about rock n’ roll and politics not being a good mix, that rock n’ roll should not be used as a tool to further anyone’s political agenda. After all, rock n’ roll has always been about good times. However, as an ardent Springsteen fan for many years now, I believe that the Boss is an exceptional exception to this rule, or at least Richard’s rules. So when comments over the Internet started to insinuate that Springsteen was “cashing in” on Obama’s celebrity, I got furious. In his four decade-long career, Springsteen has always been the embodiment of what America is supposed to stand for, even though many, including myself, don’t necessarily agree with his politics and his endorsements. The irony here is that casual fans who love him don’t really understand him. And this is also partially Springsteen’s fault. A good starting point to make is Springsteen’s greatest hit: “Born In The USA.” Released in 1984 at the height of Republican Reaganism, many saw it as a patriotic, fist-pumping anthem extolling the virtues of America and all the opportunities of being an American. Republicans and scores of politicians, including the Gipper (President Reagan) himself, took the song as their own in expressing their values and policies to the world. But a closer examination of the first two stanzas of the song reveals a deeper undertone to the sugar-coated music:
Born down in a dead man's town The first kick I took was when I hit the ground You end up like a dog that's been beat too much 'Til you spend half your life just covering up I got in a little hometown jam And so they put a rifle in my hands Sent me off to Vietnam To go and kill the yellow manThe song is apparently about a disgruntled Vietnam War veteran who could not even find a job in his own country after fighting this war. On its 2000 released, “18 Tracks,” which is a Springsteen CD of outtakes and jams, the song appears in its original, acoustic ballad form that highlights a haunting counterpoint to the re-recorded version that we all know today. Over the years, Springsteen has devoted his musical output to both commercial and personal projects in alternating fashion. At a point where he could have followed up his 1975 hit record “Born To Run,” which is the album that put him on the covers of Time and Newsweek, he instead opted to record “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” partly out of a record company dispute. But Darkness turned out to be what some critics hail as his magnum opus. From then on, the commercial-personal cycle has been on-going, keeping Springsteen in touch with his fan base and with the issues he so actively believes in. “USA” was followed by “Tunnel of Love,” my personal favorite, an album that talks about relationships and its failures (“Brilliant Disguise” is said to be about his doomed marriage to model Julianne Philips). “Streets of Philadelphia,” the theme song to the movie “Philadelphia,” won him an Oscar award for best song in a film. And 2002’s “The Rising,” an album which was entirely devoted to the September 11 NYC attacks, garnered him a Grammy for Best Rock Album. Other underrated but critically acclaimed albums by Springsteen include 1996’s “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” an examination of poverty across the American landscape and 2005’s “Devils and Dust,” an album devoted to the story of an American soldier stationed in Iraq. In my mind, Springsteen has been the only consistent artist to have spoken for the working class, the racial, social and economic divide and the “other side” of the American Dream. He has consistently refused offers from big name corporations to use his songs as themes and has tirelessly devoted much of his celebrity status to chosen causes. One of his more recent songs, “American Skin (41 shots),” off 2000’s “Live in New York City” CD was inspired by the death of an African American shot 41 times by a group of New York Police Officers. Though the song was never meant to be anti-police, it caused a controversy, leading to calls from the New York Police Department to ban Springsteen concerts. The song has a repeated chant of “41 shots” and is a haunting masterpiece and tribute to the power and emotion of rock music. So when Springsteen speaks, I listen. I don’t necessarily agree. But he has far more credibility than most politicos I know. President-elect Obama may have made a wise choice in Springsteen as his endorser. However, for Springsteen, it has been the culmination of his life’s work. Now, it is rumored that Springsteen’s latest album will be released on January 20, 2009 to coincide with Obama’s inauguration. For an artist who has so unselfishly given his talents and energy, he deserves this celebration as much as the new President does. Let’s just hope that the Boss does not fade away. As fellow rocker-folkie Neil Young once said, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” Young should know: he wrote a song about Obama in 2006.
By Erika Tapalla INQUIRER.net TAGUIG CITY, Philippines -- Thousands of Filipino fans spent their Sunday evening swinging their arms around and swaying to the live beats of American pop and R&B artists Chris Brown and Rihanna. With critically acclaimed music that has reigned in global music charts, Rihanna and Brown held a joint concert to screaming fans at the Global City open field at The Fort. The concert opened with dramatic lightshow and a countdown with Brown taking over the stage with an intense hip-hop dance and showmanship. Making a dramatic entrance, Brown was suspended upside down in midair and was slowly lowered down to the stage, head first. Masked and dressed in black gear, Brown's dancers immediately started dancing as a flash of light signaled the start of his set. Here are fans raving about Rihanna and Brown's concert. Brown is a Grammy-nominated American R&B pop singer-songwriter, dancer, music video director and actor. He made his recording debut at the age of 16. At 19, Brown has had major hits like “Run It," “Say Goodbye," “Kiss Kiss," “With You," “Forever," and “Superhuman." During the concert, Brown also performed a Michael Jackson medley, which progressed to a hip-hop dance turning the open field into one large outdoor club with people gyrating to the beat. Brown eventually slowed down and ended with songs, "With You," "No Air," and "Forever," thrilling female fans, as if he was serenading them. A display of fireworks followed after Brown’s set. After a 20-minute intermission, Rihanna, 20, took the stage with a pulsating heartbeat emanating from the large speakers on stage. As the heartbeat increased and the fans screaming for Rihanna’s name, she emerged from the center of the stage with her sexy dominatrix outfit complete with fishnet stockings and sharp boots. The fans went wild as she explodes into the song "Disturbia." Rihanna is known for her hits “Umbrella,” “Don’t Stop the Music," “Shut Up and Drive," “Hate That I Love You," “Unfaithful,” “SOS," “Pon de Replay," “Take A Bow,” and “Disturbia.” A Grammy-award winner, Rihanna has achieved five Billboard Hot 100 hits and has sold over 11 million albums worldwide. Her distinct voice and music with club music overtone explain how she could easily get thousands of Filipino fans dancing and singing song after song during the concert. To top that, her short dance routines, frequent poses and sprinkle of back bends have charmed and won the hearts of thousands of Filipinos who knew her songs by heart. Rihanna’s great rapport with the audience has seemingly hypnotized the crowd. As if no one cared that during her more sober songs, she could barely sustain high notes. For fans, it did not matter because at her budding age of 20 years, Rihanna was no less than breathtaking. Brown and Rihanna’s success only proved that age is but a number that marks one’s technical experience in a world seeping with adversaries, aridity and disenchantment. Diligence, passion and soul resonate amid the noise and the haste – it is as if both pop icons are saying “dream big,” “follow your heart” and "let's escape into the music." (Photos by Janie Octia, INQUIRER.net)
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines – Pop sensations Rihanna and Chris Brown arrived in Manila Saturday afternoon to prepare for a back-to-back concert at the Bonifacio Global City open field on Sunday. Arriving on two separate flights, Rihanna and Brown were met by journalists gathered at the arrival area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and later by screaming fans. Wearing black and carrying a black handbag and a video camera, Rihanna did not come with a large entourage. But screaming Filipino fans including airport personnel gave her a warm welcome. Rihanna, 20, is one of the biggest pop stars in the music industry. Among her biggest hits are "Don't Stop the Music," "Take a bow" and "Umbrella." Meanwhile, Chris Brown who arrived with some friends flanking him is a year younger than Rihanna and has already won awards for his R&B songs, which includes "Kiss, Kiss" and "With You." The two pop stars had a seven-city concert tour in Australia and New Zealand. Based on the reception at the airport, both artists are already generating a lot of excitement among fans in the Philippines.
Erwin Oliva INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines – There is now an ongoing trademark dispute over the name of the popular Filipino band Rivermaya, its manager Lizza Nakpil and lawyer of the band members told INQUIRER.net in separate interviews. Representing the Riverymaya band members, lawyer Patricia Alvarez confirmed that she filed an opposition to Nakpil’s application for the “Riverymaya” trademark with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Nakpil applied for the Rivermaya trademark with the IPO last July 7, online records of the government agency showed. Rivermaya drummer Mark Edward Escueta, however, also has a pending application for the same trademark, which he filed on October 10. “Lizza Nakpil has attempted to register the name. What she has is an application,” Alvarez said in a telephone interview. IPO rules allow any opposition to trademarks filed with the agency, Alvarez said. The band members formally opposed Nakpil’s trademark application for the “Rivermaya” name in October weeks after Escueta applied for the same trademark with the IPO. In the ongoing dispute, each party can use the trademark “at their own risk,” Alvarez said. In a separate interview, Nakpil said she has been applying for the Riverymaya name since 1994. Online records of the IPO, however, showed that she applied for the trademark in 1996 but was “abandoned.” Nakpil said the IPO published her Rivermaya trademark application on July 7, 2008 but acknowledged that “there’s a chance” trademark applications can be challenged. “There’s an ongoing opposition,” she said in a telephone interview. The Rivermaya band members, consisting of vocalist Jayson Fernandez, bassist Japs Sergio, guitarist Mike Elgar, and Escueta, announced late last month that they have parted ways with Nakpil for unknown reasons. Philippine Daily Inquirer sources claimed the group accused Nakpil of “unauthorized collection of royalties.” Nakpil had described the charge as “silly” and “funny.” “Unauthorized? I’m authorized. I’m the manager. I own the sound recordings. I’m the record label,” Nakpil told INQUIRER.net in an earlier interview. Alvarez claimed that Nakpil’s trademark application was also one of the reasons that led to the band losing trust and confidence with their long-time manager. Nakpil, though disheartened with the band members’ decision to disengage with her, maintained her right to Rivermaya, which she and film director Chito Roño created in 1993. “We conceptualized it, picked the members,” she said. “We put up the band,” Nakpil added, stressing Rivermaya has always been an “auditioned band.” Nakpil said she had always hired musicians to make the band, which had several roster changes through the years, and not the band hiring a manager to work for them. “Rivermaya is a different animal,” she said. Among the band’s former members include Bamboo Mañalac, Rico Blanco and Perf de Castro. Nakpil likened the decision to kick her out of the band to “drivers (in the Ferrari team) firing (team owner) Ferrari.” “It is quite amusing,” she said, recalling the band’s decision. Asked what led to the parting of ways, Nakpil replied, “We don’t share the same vision.” Nakpil said she looks forward to reviving the popularity of Rivermaya, which has been widely known for the hits “Ulan,” “214,” “Kisapmata,” “Hinahanap-hanap Kita,” “Liwanag sa Dilim,” and “You’ll be Safe Here” through its 15 years of existence. She said she continued to have faith in the band. “I always thought that Rivermaya was a great idea” she added. Escueta, for his part, asserted the band members’ claim to the Rivermaya name and stressed that they were working on the band’s next album without Nakpil. “We’re just gonna let our lawyers deal with the details (of the trademark dispute),” Escueta said in a text message to INQUIRER.net. “The important thing is that the people know that Lizza is no longer our agent and that Rivermaya is doing great, so many people have expressed their support and so many doors are opening up for us. Finally, wala nang tension [There’s no more tension]. We’ve already started work on our next album. We wish Lizza well with all her projects.” Nakpil, on the other hand, said it was Escueta who was set to leave the band with his contract expiring this month. “Mark (Escueta) has a strange attitude towards this. With his contract, he thinks he can take the name of the band with him,” Nakpil said in a previous interview. Because of the ongoing dispute, Nakpil insisted that Escueta, Fernandez, Sergio and Elgar cannot use the Rivermaya name if they decide to cut an album or perform onstage without her permission or supervision. She saw the legal dispute as a “weird situation.” “I’m sad over the issue on the Rivermaya name and that it has become a legal issue. The band should be more concerned with making music,” she said. She added: “I hate to think that the last chapter of Rivermaya is going to revolve over a silly trademark issue. Ayoko nito [I don’t like it]. I don’t want it to become absurd.” With additional report from Gerry Plaza.
By Clarence Yu Contributor BEING a club show band is a delicate act, and in most cases, we only see the performances of these bands, but we never get to know them in depth. In most situations, audiences like them for what they play on stage and, after awhile, start to slowly think no more of these bands than just mere entertainment. These bands, and their collective members usually play for a living, and it’s easy to discount the fact that they have their own lives, experience, frustrations, and most of all, opinions. Meet Shayne and Brown Union. Think of the real Rhythm and Blues, Pop, Motown and Funk. Hark back to Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Earth Wind and Fire and Angela Boefill. Led by lead vocalist Shayne, the band performs to standing crowds regularly at Aruba Metrowalk, Tropezz at Greenbelt, and the recently closed Bagaberde in Pasig. Rarely will you see such an excellent caliber of musicianship since the days of Music Hall in Greenhills in the 1990’s. Highlights of their set include cool renditions of 70’s and 80’s standards. “We usually play Top 40 music,” says male vocalist Tobey Padilla. “We call it ‘Chopsuey’ in short,” he adds. “Filipinos do love listening to sentimental and dance music of 70's and 80's and they never get tired of asking the same old song over and over again and we feel happy with it every time we sing those songs,” Shayne says. And just because they play Top 40 music doesn’t mean they are confined to this genre, at least in terms of influences. “I count Marty Friedman and Allan Holdsworth as my main influences,” mentions guitarist Erwin De La Cruz. Marty Friedman of the thrash metal band Megadeth? “Yes,” he confirms. On plans of making an album, “yes, but as of now, we are still waiting for a recording company that will recognize and believe in our talent,” says Rommel Bandiling, bass player and musical director. “We have our own compositions. We have a few and 3 of those are now being played in our gigs: ‘Wonderful life’, ‘I Love You’ and ‘Sadness.’” “We’ve gotten several offers to play abroad, but often turn them down because we just can’t give up on the Philippines,” drummer Ferdinand De Leon says. “It’s sad too that, unlike here in the Philippines, artists abroad get good support from their government,” adds keyboardist Arvin Martinez. “We're too focused on political issues here; instead of focusing and rebuilding a good nation and meeting the needs of every Filipino. We hope that one day, the government can support us in the arts and culture and music industry by bringing back our very own music like Kundiman, Sarswela, Balagtasan and stage plays like Florante at Laura and encourage all the composers to start writing their own songs again,” Bandiling adds. “Hopefully, people can come to see us and find that there is more than one dimension to this band,” says Shayne. Indeed, with influences ranging from the Jackson 5, to Kundiman, Shayne and Brown Union very much deserve your listening attention. Another Filipino show band I met is known as “First Five and a Half.” They are of a different breed of show bands in the country since they are more known to split your guts as you laugh through their whole tight set. Unlike any other show band I’ve seen before, this band will do something unexpected and totally improvised comedy on stage. The band boasts a wide range of knowledge in songs in their set lists, from rock, pop, AM music to OPM. From getting onstage in skirts, to starting the song with lead vocalist Arf running out into the street while singing, you’ll surely leave the bar with your sides splitting in laughter. “Our set list depends on the crowd that we examine before we start the gig. The repertoire is quite wide: we can play little bit from the 60s, 70s, most 80s, some 90s and contemporary music,” says drummer Edgar Manuel who counts Steve Gadd (drummer for Eric Clapton) as one of his influences. The band normally breaks out into improvised jams, much to the laughter and amusement of the crowd. “Anything goes with this group, spontaneously. It’s like inuman sa kanto....people respond more, they feel its not just a show,” chimes in bassist Kin Garcia. “And we try our best to make them feel part of us during the set,” says lead vocalist Arf Fausto. But this couldn’t possibly be what they want to do for the rest of their careers? “We have original material. Recording an album is easy nowadays,” says guitarist Bong Dimalanta. “What we want is a company that will support us, not just record us.” “We feel that there is a lot of hope in the air,” vocalist Ritci Austria adds. “The Filipino music industry is maturing: compared to before, OPM definitely has a lot more airtime and a following.” “But then, most of the hits are revives,” counters Manuel. “That’s why I stopped listening to the radio a few years ago and concentrated on the music I love: jazz and blues. As a serious musician, I hate the machine/programmed type of music…it’s so blunt.” This comment gets a blank stare from keyboardist Mike Abedin who is responsible for some of the keyboard sequencing on some of the songs the band does. Of course, you can tell it’s an inside joke. Aside from that, you can be sure that the musicianship is top par and is definitely worth a look-see. The band normally plays Mugen Bar at MetroWalk in Ortigas.
THEY’VE been sleeping for 6 years, but now Filipino iconic rock band Wolfgang returns with 'The Black Christmas Project' concert at the Eastwood City Central Plaza, Libis (near Ortigas Avenue) on Wednesday, December 10th at 7 p.m. The highly anticipated awakening by the band -- widely regarded as one the country's 'rock gods' -- is expected to showcase the band's signature onslaught of thick ferocious sound. They've known for precision riffs, emphatic beats, power-drenched vocals, colorful licks, driving ostinatos, occasionally jazz-styled bass lines and imaginative breaks merge with razor-sharp interplay of American-influenced hard rock, heavy metal, grunge and blues-rock music. Basti Artadi, Manuel Legarda, Mon Legaspi are joined by Francis Aquino at the year’s ultimate year-ender. The band's ability to infuse everything they do – be it power ballads, progressive rock songs, bluesy tunes or their harder-hitting material -- with strong melodic hooks has given this Filipino rock act a ticket to break into the American and Japanese market. Wolfgang is considered a Filipino heavy metal act to breach platinum records on home ground and receive more than 20 group and individual awards in the Philippines’ rock Valhalla. What can fans expect this time? Frontman Basti Artadi says, “Expect lots of singing, dancing, drinking and all-around head-banging because it's gonna be a hell of a party!” The concert is presented by No Fear, LevelUp, and Eastwood City, and tickets are now on sale at Ticketnet.
By Clarence Yu AC/DC fans, it’s time to rock again after eight years. Angus Young and company are back with the new album “Black Ice,” released last October in the United States. You can find a sample of one of their songs, titled "Rock 'N Roll Train" here. Their last release, “Stiff Upper Lip” was in 2000, and was met with their usual commercial success. In between then and now, the band was quite inactive with the exception of jamming onstage with the Rolling Stones in 2003, and releasing several box sets. “Rock N’ Roll Train,” the lead single off the album, is typical AC/DC: it lifts the hairs off your arm and immediately hypnotizes you with that 4/4 signature rock groove they’ve perfected since their inception in 1973. “Spoiling For A Fight” sounds a bit like “Moneytalks” off 1990’s Razor’s Edge, but less radio friendly and more ballsy. Indeed the whole album sounds like they’ve abandoned the commercial path they started taking with producer Bruce Fairbarn (rest in peace) in the 1990’s, in favor of the 1970’s-80s sound perfected by producer Robert “Mutt” Lange (also producer of Def Leppard, Bryan Adams, Shania Twain, to name a few). “Stormy MayDay” has Angus Young playing slide guitar, and “Rockin’ All The Way” is a mid-tempo 3-chord rocker reminiscent of all of their mid-tempo 3-chord rockers, except that somehow the magic of the band is that it always makes it sounds fresh and new. Lead vocalist Brian Johnson is in fine form throughout the album, and, according to a press release, cites Black Ice as “the best they’ve ever done, even better than Back On Black (1980).” I will probably agree on that momentarily. The band never sounds sluggish and the guitars are ruthless. The Internet is truly wonderful. Hard copy is not yet available in Manila (as of last week), but you can already find them somewhere in the ether. Wolfgang and Razorback, including the plethora of AC/DC fans in Manila have something to rejoice in, and for those who are tired of contemporary pneumatic avant garde hip rock and alt rock, and want a taste of the real thing, download or buy this as soon as you can. I’m calling the stores everyday.