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Concert for Flood Relief

Rod GarciaBy Rod Garcia

With the devastating flood that has hit Manila recently, the “Alay” concert set for Oct. 25 in Harmony Hall has taken on special meaning and purpose, now specifically focused on funding flood relief efforts. Gawad Kalinga and Feed The Hungry, with the help of The Philippine Foundation for Charities, will benefit from the concert.

I’m proud of the people in these organizations. They are effective, humble, and above all, sincere.
But I have to make mention too of my musician friends who are volunteering their time and talent for this concert. Many of them are giving up paying gigs that weekend just to join in this show.

One of them is Charmaine Clamor—-L.A.- based FilAm jazz singer and popularize-r of “Jazzipino” – a music movement that beautifully and skillfully blends ostensibly incompatible genres: traditional Filipino songs and old school jazz. A recent recipient of Filipinas Magazine’s artist of the year award, and top 5 in American jazz billboa rd, Charmaine found the time to email me a few weeks ago asking about my medical condition and wondering if the Oct. 25 concert is still on. As I told her it is, she immediately offered to help. So on Oct. 25, Charmaine is flying all the way from LA and will do a set in the concert —- for free! Her jazz renditions are a must-hear.
It’s a similar story with the other artists. For example, the *Nicki Gonzales Band -*which plays in local hotels —- has the distinction of being voted the Best Pop Group of 2001 by the Washington Area Music Association, which also gave Nicki the award for Jazz Vocalist of 2002 and “Latin Vocalist of 1999 —- albeit she’s Pinay and not Hispanic.
When I asked Nicki what she wanted in return for doing me this favor, her emailed response was simply and jokingly “Can you have a piece of lumpia in the back stage?”
My close friend Alfa is a singer-songwriter from New York—-very popular among the Greenwich Village/NYU crowd. She’s doing a concert of her own at the University of Illinois, after which the college will fly her to Maryland for the Harmony Hall gig. I’ve conscripted my daughter to pick her up at BWI. As a musician, Alfa can do it all—- she composes catchy tunes, plays bluesy guitar, coaxes sweetness from her violin, and accompanies herself in piano, while singing in a beautifully lilting alto. You should watch her to believe it. Quite amazing.
If you play or like guitar, you will really appreciate Lucky 28—-two sizzling hot FilAm guitarists who also sing and write their own songs. Pong Velasquez and Odie Sotomayor are local boys who play the music bars, and have come up with a new CD—-of original adult alternative pop.
Finally, my friend, Russ Arlotta, and I met almost two decades ago when we were both at the Prince George’s County Attorneys office. Neither of us knew we were more than boring trial and tax lawyers but actually true blue musicians. One night, a few years ago, we found each other playing at Takoma Park’s Savory Café and the rest is history—— culminating with Russ lugging his Martin acoustic guitar with me and the rest of my band on a concert tour of Hawaii, Manila and Bohol. He had a blast (despite the death defying ride in a motor tricycle through rapidly moving traffic that ignored lanes and stop-lights in the Ermita area). He is a singer-songwriter of beautiful poem-songs. Strange that soulfulness should come from a lawyer. But life is full of miracles.
If you care for exciting jazz and acoustic sounds, you will enjoy the Sunday evening at Harmony Hall, while knowing you helped relieve the misery and suffering that Ondoy and Pepeng have caused.

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