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A fruitful concert

Rod GarciaBy Rod Garcia
I’m happy to report that the Alay concert at Harmony Hall for flood relief went quite well—artistically.
The singers/musicians were in their A-game. Super cool Jazzer Charmaine Clamor (who flew in from LA that same day) was amazing! She wowed the crowd with her beautiful voice and style. My sister had picked her up from the airport that afternoon, brought her straight to my house, then to the venue. Instead of resting after five hours of flight and two hours of travel on the road, Charmaine opted to go to the venue and practice with the ad hoc band I put together for her. Then she waited for the performance to start later that evening. Charmaine’s good nature, her sense of humor and musicality won everybody over immediately. She garnered a standing ovation that evening. She said she regretted not having enough time to chat, but I told her I might stop by LA before the year is up, maybe.
The other artists mesmerized the audience too, especially Nicki Gonzales and her brother Ira, who did a set in Brazilian samba, singing in Portuguese.
It was the first time I had met Charmaine. I’ve known Nicki for a long time.
My close friend, pop singer-songwriter Alfa, flew in from a prior gig at the University of Illinois. She had a bad cold that night, but managed to send some male hearts aflutter, it seems.
Local Filipino channel under Lito Serrano covered the event.
The rest of the performers did so well too—-most of whom sold all their CDs.
I let some singers from college (George Mason, University of Maryland, etc.) do some of the preliminary performances before the concert proper began; and they did so well they almost stole the show from the headliners. The kids were so excited, one of them using the words “this is awesome”—and asking when the next one will be.
The Philippine embassy dignitaries came (and were clearly impressed); and the Maryland Assemblywoman Kris Valderama came up the stage after the finale to thank everyone for selecting her jurisdiction as the site for the concert. She left a phone message in my house the next day saying how much she enjoyed the show and making special mention of how pleasantly “shocked” she was about 14-year old Rocky’s sax playing. My 19-year old daughter Jitter held her own, midst all the superstars around her. Rita Adkins, as a reporter from Philippine News, interviewed me onstage after the finale, and mentioned how she was so moved to tears by Jitter’s rendition of “Nasaan” (from my play, Hacienda). I could tell Rita was still teary-eyed, as she held her hand to her chest, smiling broadly.
Lots of folks to thank (including Manila Mail for giving free ad space for this event).
We had a post -concert meeting the other night. The PAFC accountants report a gross of about $7,000.00 at this point. I would have wanted to make more. PAFC is thinking we can sponsor next year’s event in the month of May, while dances and fundraisers have not yet inundated people’s schedules.
The finale of the show was a song called “Sana”— performed by everybody —Alfa and Tacoma Park songwriter Russ Arlotta on violin; Odie Sotomayor and Pong Velasquez of Lucky 28 on lead guitar; Rick Brigham on drums; Nicki Gonzales on congas; Ira Gonazales on rhythm guitar; Charmaine on lead vocals with my daughter Jitter; Rocky on sax; and with me on guitar. I wrote “Sana” a long time ago when I was still in law school; but it has become the theme song of this Alay series.
See you in the next concert!

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