February 25, 2007

'70s Music As You Like It

By: Dot Ramos Balasbas-Gancayco
The Philippine Star

At Nonoy Zuñiga's recent Valentine concerts at the Metrobar and the Celebrity Club, I was amazed at the way the audience, composed mainly of professionals aged 35 and above, reacted to his folk songs portion. Nonoy, who unknown to many started as a folk singer, was able, with only his nylon guitar as backup, to lead the audience of more than 500 people at each venue to sing their hearts out to '70s songs like Father and Son, Danny’s Song, Vincent, You’ve Got a Friend, Birthday Song, Love Song and I Won’t Last a Day Without You.

It was such a great feeling - singing without care with strangers you felt bonded with through the music of the likes of James Taylor, Cat Stevens and The Carpenters. It was as if we were all a family, because we knew all those songs by heart. We kept pleading for more.

And so afterwards, I asked myself, if there are so many people like me who had a longing for this kind of pure, soft music so relaxing and pleasant to the ears, there should be a place where people could go to, to listen to and savor those songs. Contrary to what some people think - that '70s artists are a dying breed - I believe that this is their moment!

Consumers of this demographic category - around my age, at the prime of their careers, with extra cash for nights out, now very much into school homecomings, barkada and org reunions - are actually looking for these '70s singers! People who had their most unforgettable experiences in grade school, high school or college in the '70s are yearning for things that trigger memories of those good old days. They just do not know where to go.

Luckily for us, My Bro's Mustache, owned by successful entrepreneurs Boy and Gigi Vinzon, houses these most talented artists. Now located in its new address at 68 Sct. Tuazon cor. Sct. Madriñan Sts., very near Timog Ave., QC, the new My Bro's Mustache venue has gone further. Boy, with the help of artist Mon Espia and Jojo Robles of the Manila Standard, has come up with an album entitled Restrung: Lumang Gitara, Bagong Kanta, featuring My Bro's Mustache artists, who include folk and rock icons and upcoming artists doing all new original songs.

I could not believe it when I saw the names of the artists Mon, Boy and Jojo put together in one album through blood, sweat and tears. I would like to mention all of them here plus a few important details about some of them:

• Florante. He is the artist behind the undying songs Handog (which my St. Joseph's College batch sang for our high school teachers on our Silver Anniversary Homecoming with matching tears in our eyes!), and Ako'y Isang Pinoy.

• Heber Bartolome . He composed Tayo'y Mga Pinoy, which taught us to be proud to be Filipinos.

• Joey "Pepe" Smith. Who does not know Pepe Smith of the Juan de la Cruz band fame? Regarded as the Philippines’ real and original Filipino Rock Star, he shook the Philippine rock music with his Himig Natin.

• Lolita Carbon. She of Asin fame and her deep, husky voice has been described by world jazz champion Mon David as "waring nagmumula sa lupa." Her contribution to this album is said to be, undoubtedly, the sexiest.

• Wally Gonzalez. He has been introduced as the "God of Guitar" and the "Father of Rock Guitar." Need I say more?

• Rannie Raymundo . This pop icon's rhythm comes from the heart. He unselfishly lent his talent as a drummer to a number of songs in the album.

• Noel Cabangon. He is said to be "The Voice of Life," "The Voice of Hope" who mesmerizes people when he sings on stage.

• Lester Demetillo. Now the head of the UP College of Music Guitar Dept., Prof. Lester is my son Jonjon's former guitar teacher. I would like to sincerely thank Prof. Lester for introducing me to My Bro's Mustache, where my balikbayan guests and in-laws Annie and Lito, had their grandest time going down memory lane.

• Susan Fernandez . Her meaningful songs have made her the "Voice of Women" with all her meaningful songs.

• Paul Galang. One of the most beautiful and unforgettable voices I have ever heard, he composed the song, Salamat Pepe, also in this album, as a tribute to Joey "Pepe" Smith and to all the gallant men and women of '70s Philippine rock.

• Chickoy Pura. The lead singer of the group The Jerks, whom I had the pleasure of having personally interviewed, humbly says he is very honored to be with music legends in this album. He feels very nostalgic working with folk singers of the '70s.

• Mon Espia. The brains behind the album, Mon's dedication to music is admirable and unwavering. Despite the odds, he attained his dream of putting all these outstanding artists together in one project. His composition, Caleb's Song, is one of my favorites as it speaks of a parent's great love for his child.

• Jesse Bartolome. He is one of the three talented brothers known as Banyuhay.

• Bobby Mondejar . He was with the group Hiyas, and seduces you with his song Let's Spend the Night.

• Albert de Pano is a former schoolmate at the Kamuning Elementary School. Albert plays the guitar and sings very well. He gives justice to every song he performs. There are also very beautiful contributions from Corky and Kiko, Hans and Reagan, Joniver, Rey and Ernel Mendoza.

This rare, unprecedented album entitled Restrung: Lumang Gitara contains 19 songs from 22 artists. It is worth a hundred times its price of P299.

Exclusively distributed at My Bro's Mustache (with contact number 0917-8948129), the album offer from big recording distributors allows it to reach the artists’ countless fans all over the country and abroad. The album will surely form part of the collection not only of those fond of the '70s but also of our children and grandchildren.

Thank you, Boy and Gigi, for giving these Philippine music industry giants a place they could call home. Mon, Boy, and Jojo, thank you for making this album happen. This means so much to all your featured artists and to us, their admirers.

With all the good reviews and the encouraging sales, all the stress, tension, pressure and hard work are now paying off. I am praying for the widest distribution! I am looking forward to a big concert at a big venue.

And to all artists included in the album, borrowing the words of Paul Galang in the last featured song, I say: Salamat, Pepe at sa inyong lahat sa inyong awitin. Salamat Pepe, at sa inyong lahat sa himig natin…sariling atin!

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