Speaking the song

(On my playlist while writing: Fuseboxx’s Animated album.)

Last night, I visited two music places.
The first was the Wombworks studio, where producer Pat Tirano and I had a brief but somewhat wide-ranging discussion on things musical. A lot of what we discussed is off the record, of course, but suffice to say that I did learn that the frightfully short list of the Chapman stick’s users, past or present, in this country, included someone from one of the best heavy metal bands in town. He sold his Stick, unfortunately, or he would have caught on to what Abby Clutario was doing.

On that note, I went over to Freedom Bar just fifteen minutes before the show actually started. Abby and the Fuseboxx people played second that night, the first act being a singer-songwriter from Leyte whose work reminded me a bit of the early work of Davaoeno musician Joey Ayala. Tonight was one of their better performances, and the equipment really helped this time. For the first time, listeners could clearly hear the Chapman stick, whose seeming inaudibility was a frequent concern for some at live gigs. The amps helped, claims Abby.

I interviewed her and a number of people that night for a story I am doing on the Admit One production. For the first time, I was there at the end. But it dawned on me that I had been preparing for this for sixteen years now. It became clear that when Dicta License performed, closing the night, it was a Shirley Beans quasi-reunion. This was a band which lasted only a few years but whose legacy is pretty remarkable. “You don’t control the music,” Pat told me last night, “the music takes you.” And the music took my friends from high school in all sorts of directions. (Ciudad, the other rock band from my batch, lasted far longer intact–they are now 17 years old. Now figure out my age!)

One friend whom I have been persuading to go out and watch rock gigs was exploring the idea of a history of contemporary Philiipine music. I was told this would be an overwhelming task–there are plenty of great musicians outside of Manila. Just last month I saw a group of interesting jazz performers up in Baguio at the last Folk U gig there. Pat and I agree though that more people should be writing about music here. And those who are inclined need to think about a different approach. Perhaps we can revisit Eric Caruncho’s work of telling the stories of music and musicians and take on that task.

After all, if there is anything my background taught me, narrative is the way we make sense of time and the world we live in. I think that while there is room for the silences of wonder, we nevertheless have to speak about music. For as long as our horizons are expanded by our exposure to music around here, there is truly more to tell.


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