Saturday, February 21, 2009

Naga-licious Birthday Weekend

It's the weekend once again, finally. It was a long and hard work week. And I'm glad I got through it fine. But I think last weekend had something to do with how I got through this week better than usual.

Last weekend was my birthday weekend. I went with Briggs, my bandmate, to Naga. Briggs and Frennie running a bar in Naga called Wharf Galley Rock Cafe. I've always dreamed of putting up a bar of my own. But Briggs and Frennie successfully did just that. They hired Julianne to play at Wharf for Valentines. So I tagged along with Briggs on a long road trip so I can go watch it.

The trip going to Naga was fun. Briggs and I left at around 12:00AM Saturday morning/Friday night. Just enjoying music from both mine and Briggs' iPod made the long trip bearable.

Fast forwarding to that Saturday late afternoon, I grabbed my darbuka and headed with Briggs over to Wharf. Briggs brought a guitar as well in the hopes that we can get to jam after Julianne's set later in the night.

The place was empty with just Frennie and the Wharf staff busy making preparations for tonight. It's obvious that the Valentine's decor for the night had a woman's touch. There were rose petals everywhere; from the bathroom to the stage where Julianne will be performing.

Since there isn't any people around, Briggs and I decided to just jam a few songs as "quasi-practice" for jamming later in the night. The gear has definitely much improved since the last time I was in Wharf. Briggs did a good job investing in the right gear to elevate the level of the sound.

After jamming and a sumptuous Tenderloin Tips dinner, I started drinking that early on. And I mean drinking (LOL!). I was waiting for this trip all week. So I ended up taking out all my work stress and frustration out on alcohol (and then some ;-p).

A local Naga band played first that night. A good friend of ours, Brent, was doing the drum work for the band. He's also the organizer of a lot of events in Wharf. Basically, him and Frennie were the ones who brought Julianne over to perform.

To be honest, I didn't know at first whether I liked or disliked the local Naga band's music. All their songs were cover songs from a very wide selection of genres. I felt the vocals lacked a little "umph". But the "angry chick" undertone in the vocals warmed up to my ears soon enough. I was impressed with their bassist, Pete. "Poste" is apparently not in Pete's vocabulary, as he was doing all these funk fills in between chords all the time. But he pulled it off quite nicely.

Julianne and her crew started playing. I was so floored at how melodic and tight they were as a band that I forgot to start recording using my iPod recorder. I was able to start recording mid-way through their 1st song though.

Julianne definitely has a strong Jill Scott influence in her vocal style. But her accompanied guitar playing just blew me away. She had a full compliment band, with a bassist, lead guitarist (Kakoy), drummer, flute player, and even a percussionist. The percussionist, affectionately called by Julianne as Big Daddy Dave, wielded a larger darbuka than what I had. I was dying with envy that he has a larger one than mine. Hindi naman pataasan ng ihi or anything like that. I really wanted a larger darbuka but just couldn't find one around.

Apparently, my iPod recording conked out at the butt end of Julianne's set. So there is a portion of her set at the end that I wasn't able to record. That was most unfortunate. But I did get a good chunk of their 45 minute set.

I became even more of a fan after watching Julianne's set that I went over, bought a copy of her album, and asked her to sign it for me. I know, cheesy fan-dom. Hey, it's my birthday I can trip out on anything I want to. And cheap thrills was definitely in the list of "keeping it simple" options for the weekend.

Briggs and I jammed after Julianne's set. At first it started off with just us two playing SunDownMuse songs and some covers we both knew. There were just a few people left by then. Which suited Briggs and I just fine. But for those who were still there. They were surprisingly attentive. And it so happens these are some of the same local people that have watching many a SunDownMuse gig in Naga in the past.

Pete, the bass player from the first band, and Brent joined us soon after. Pete was a little shy. Although, he really had no reason to be. It's not like we're rockstars or something.

To my surprise, Kakoy and the Julianne drummer soon joined us to jam. Briggs stepped off the stage so that Kakoy can play guitar. Kakoy is so damn good. I was feeling insecure being on the same stage as him. But by then, I just went with it and had fun given that I went past counting how much I've had to drink for the night. LOL!

The next day, I woke up with a general fatique from the copius amounts of alcohol and other substances that I consumed the night before. Surprisingly, I was just tired and not hung over. Food in Naga is always good. I got a treat for lunch at Frennie's brother's club called "JAQ". His club is surprisingly very nice when you get inside. The floor was checkered black and white. There are large 50 inch LCD screens hung everywhere. And the tables, and chairs seemed well thought-out. They even have an aquarium in the men's portion of the unisex bathroom. Briggs joked that the fish would gravitate towards a guy while peeing depending on how small a guy's dick is. Good thing the fish were not drawn to me when I took a piss then (LOL!). The food there was great; from the pasta, the grilled pork chops, right down to the crepe desert.

I was so stuffed by the time we left Jack's club. We dropped Frennie back at her place. Briggs and I bought some drinks and snacks from a store. Then we started our long drive home. Dennis, Briggs' trusted driver/buhat boy/jester, drove for us the entire trip. That guy is so cool. I always find it hilarious when he would try to mack on some chick, like the cash registrar girl at Wharf, and pass it off as nothing. LOL!

On our way home, we almost got into a major accident. The road along Quirino had many portions that were under construction. It rained for a bit so those portions were muddy and slippery. Although Briggs' Tucson did fine, a bus from far behind us came screeching down fast and barely hit us. Instead, the bus driver swerved right at the last minute and crashed into the ditch on the side of the road. I was on the right side of Briggs' Tucson. So I had a close-up view of the bus barely missing us, about a waist in distance. The bus plowed into the ditch on the side of the road. It almost tipped to its side actually. The people in the bus seemed to be fine. Probably just jostled a little. Bus drivers, geez. They're always in a hurry. To think there were children on board that bus. Dennis sped off as soon as we hit a concrete portion of the road.

We parked at some gasoline station and took a look at how much mud the bus splashed on us. It made Briggs' Tucson seem like some off-road vehicle that was driving in and around mount Pinatubo on a rainy day. We later had the car washed down. Otherwise, all that mud would just harden and stick to the car, making it difficult to wash off later.

After a while, I calmed down from the ordeal and tried to enjoy the rest of the trip home. I arrived at my appartment later that Sunday night, not really sure as to how I felt about the trip.

Overall it was a fantastic trip. Despite it being a Valentines weekend, I was able to successfully have fun with no girl involved. That near-fatality shook me up bad. But I'm just relieved I got through that unscathed.

I'll probably would want to go back to Naga again some time. Just hope it doesn't rain on that damn road again. Either that or I take the plane instead. LOL!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Keeping It Simple...

I've been on edge with work lately. Looks like I might've bitten off more than I chew with my new promotion. People around me seem to be increasingly opinionative and complaintative, without any notion of actually doing any form of action to work towards resolution of issues. Superiors have been getting more and more illogical in their ranting and grilling sessions. But I still try to remain professional and continue acting as the universal referree to all these marauding people.

All the stress and frustration has accumulated to the point that I had my first cluster headache attack in the middle of the night a few days ago. It's been 2 days since then. And although I haven't had another attack since, I feel this slight headache looming and lingering around. I'm scared actually. I hope this isn't the beginning of my 1-2 month run of pain.

I didn't start this post to rant really. I wanted to blog about all the little things that I'm trying in order to relax and cope with all the stress. So my apologies if this post started off a little negative.

Thursday last week, I finally got to jam with my band, SunDownMuse, after 2-3 months of band inactivity. Our drummer and lead guitarist were both extremely busy the past few months with their freelancing and recital projects. Apparently, Briggs send a rough recording of new songs that were going to practice at our jam. I didn't see it in my email, so I didn't exactly know what to expect from the jam when we started. Easiest place to get together and jam was Pipeline Studios in Jupiter Street, Makati, as usual, since the majority of us work somewhere in Makati.

To my surprise, the plan for the jam was to practice new songs instead of kicking the rust of playing our usual originals. This was the first time that we actually jammed new original songs with this particular band line-up. So the UP Music members had a chance to inject their knowledge and experience into these new songs for a change. The songs came out different from our usual 70s rock/funk vibe. It felt weird at first. But I soon cozied up to the the two songs we jammed, particularly the second song.

I was actually happy enough to just see and hang with my bandmates again. I missed these guys a lot the past few months. And I was happy enough to just road test my darbuka. I'm getting comfortable playing my new baby. Something tells me my darbuka will make its way to gigs often these days. It certainly is much smaller and lighter to carry around than two large congas. But of course, you really can't beat the cool look factor of congas on stage. It makes me look like some awesome percussionist even though I'm really not. LOL!

This week at work has been tough again. I just love the way people try to run you under the bus in front of you superiors just to save their own skin. But I'm a tank in the office. And I still manage to defend myself and push forward with what I need to do.

But that jam with my band last week really showed me that I can simplify things to just making music with people, and laugh once again. Perhaps I should look to hang out with non-office people for a change. Just so I have a break from all the difficulty and hardship.

My birthday is coming up (and no, I won't tell you when my birthday is or hold old I am), and I'm looking forward to going with Briggs and Islaw to Naga this weekend. Music lovers in Naga so appreciate SunDownMuse and its members. So this will be a weekend filled with jamming, enjoying other people's music, booze, and ehem... and then some. ;-)

Julianne is going to be playing at Wharf Galley Rock Cafe in Naga this weekend as well. So perhaps I can sneak in a jam with her or even just a picture. That girl is so good. From her sultry soul vocal chords, to her Ani Di Franco-esque style of guitar playing.

So here's to making things simple. And on the advent on my birthday, I can't think of a better way to celebrate it. I hope this weekend purges a lot of the stress that contributed to my cluster headache attack two days ago. I certainly hope this will help me recover. Wish me luck.