|Posted by Manila Mail under Playing it by ear|
By Rod Garcia.
The other day, a feeling of uncertainty gnawed inside of me. With the Sendong flood relief concert coming right up, I still couldn ‘t find the strength in my hand to play guitar; and I wasn’t sure of my post-stroke voice.
But I had promised the powers-that-be (in PAFC): give me a venue, and I’ll give you a concert.
They got Catholic University of America.
The goal was to raise $8,000 for the flood victims in the Philippines.
With my physical limitations, I felt doomed.
That Saturday night’s concert told the story.
It didn’t lie.
At the end of the gig, people were coming up by the stage to thank me for it, ask for CDs or videos of the performance. I even got an email this morning from one who was so curious she googled me, got into my web site and ordered a CD of one of the songs. (And she’s not even Filipina.)
According to early tabulations, the concert and a previous Happy Hour fundraiser may have more than met the financial goal.
Several things contributed to that night’s musical success.
Several bands and musicians that I invited brought their A game: Ivy Rose, Tutubi, Trademark, Show Pow, Russ Arlotta. Local talent. But very good.
Although I’m just a singer-songwriter, I had my own band too. The players:
Nicole de las Alas. She’s an amazing singer. In the quiet time backstage before we were to come on, she confided in me.
She said,”I’m trying to match your daughter’s sweet style in the CD.”
I told her, “You have your own style; and it’s also very nice. We’re just lucky we found you right before this concert.”
A few people commented on her beautiful voice; but a few others (mostly men) told me last night “She’s so easy on the eyes.”
Odie Sotomayor and Russ Arlotta
They really came through as experts in the guitar work.
But it doesn’t stop there.
After the concert, two other guitar players approached me. Each separately offered to join my band. One was Pong Velasquez, a local professional session player in different recording studios in the area. People (mostly American musicians and singers ) pay him to play guitar for them when they record.
Another was Nestor de las Alas, (Nicole‘s dad!) He’s in his mid-60s but says he can still play very well. He was a session player in Manila for Vicar Records.
(I’m toying with the idea of having an ensemble of guitar players, even though I myself can’t play anymore. Isn’t that ironic?)
Last night was our first concert together in two years. He’s an extremely competent musician. Last night, my son did piano for the first measures of my song Nightingale, as I sang it. Then in the up-tempo portion when Nicole comes in, Rocky switched to sax without skipping a beat as the guitars and percussion set in. A very cool transition. On our ride home, Rocky noted with me how great it was to be performing together again.
A professor at George Mason University, but in a previous rumbunctious existence, a professional drummer in the south. He certainly has the chops. And he has a very soft heart for all things Filipino. He once told me,” I love the warmth of the people, the taste of the food, and the skill of the musicians.”
I surprised even myself that night. Without worrying about doing guitar, I could focus on my singing alone.
And shockingly, my voice did not falter. People commented favorably about my tight harmonies with Nicole.
A New Way of Thinking
So now, the paradigm has shifted. I don’t need to worry anymore about playing guitar in concerts. It seems the strokes had not affected my voice as badly as I thought. Though the doors had closed on my guitar playing (for now), doors have opened in other ways; and I will always be able to compose.
Hopefully, the $8,000 or so that the PAFC (Philippine American Foundation for Charities) raised in this project would help restore the damaged area and people of Mindanao.