Monday, October 15, 2012

Continuing My Handpan Journey

It's been quite a number of months since I got that oh-so-large crate containing my first handpan from Chris of Bali Steel.  Since then, Chris and company were gracious enough to sell me a second handpan without me having to wait at the end of the queue for another year.  I heard that demand for even their handpans is growing and the wait is longer than a year now.

I have largely been immersed in hand percussions; gigging heavily with my three bands, SunDownMuse, J.O.E. (The JR Oca Experience), and Jack Versus the Crab.  Between work and gigs, I haven't really found the time and inspiration to give my two handpans some love and explore their soundscapes.  Oddly enough, I've stopped playing Diablo 3 for a while along with disengaging myself in certain unhealthy/expensive activities.  This gave me the time to focus on my handpans a little more.  I've made a total of 4 videos playing simple compositions of my own.  Two which, I will share with you today.

I can't, by any stretch, consider myself a handpan musician quite yet.  I watch videos from the likes of many great handpan players.  There are quite a few of them out there. Manu DelagoDaniel WaplesColin FoulkeDavid Kuckhermann, and David Swarup are but just a few that I follow online these days.  Watching their videos just makes me cringe at how inexperienced I am with my own handpans.  And as I have with percussions, I end up inventing a style of playing that is not really the norm with handpans.

I do find solace in a small handpan community in forums.  They are a very warm and hospitable community regardless of handpan skill level.  They continually remind me that handpans really do not have an established way of how to play it.  That I am still free to explore and find my own sound and melodies.

That handpan community praised me for being the first in the Philippines that has sprouted up online with handpans.  I relish that fact everyday.  So in order to stay ahead of the pack here in Manila.  I am slightly pressuring myself to be gig ready soon.  The owner of this place in Malate called "TheBar@1951", known to most as "Penguin", has already invited me twice to jam at this bar with the likes of Noli Aurillo and Brujo Ritmo.  I've been declining his invitations only because I feel I need to get better at handpan playing.  I plan to debut my handpan playing at The Keg, Fort Strip, where my SunDownMuse bandmate Gigo and I have been playing acoustic sets.  Next month, I'm hoping to have practiced enough to play a few compositions of mine in front of a crowd at The Keg.  I'm not quite sure how people will react to my playing.  But I suppose, the first time will be very telling.

I ordered David Kuckhermann/Colin Foulke's handpan tutorial DVD a few weeks ago.  And I'm expecting it to arrive some time soon.  Just watching one of the teaser videos of the tutorial DVD, I was already able to pick up the pattern that David was teaching.  I was excited at the fact that I was able to pick it up easily.  My next handpan video will contain that pattern along with other patterns that I have derived from it.  I will post it on my YouTube channel soon.

So practicing, learning, and hopefully eventually gigging with my handpans.  I've never done a solo gig ever.  But I might as well give it a shot.  This has been one of the only sources of happiness I have these days, especially when I'm alone with my thoughts.  But I'm excited to find out where all this takes me.

And the journey continues...


Saturday, October 13, 2012

My Fête de la Musique 2012 Experience

Here I am at home recuperating from yet another booze-a-reffic gig with SunDownMuse at Blackbird.  While I'm contemplating on whether or not to go out tonight, I'll just continue highlighting gigs of note.

This particular post is of my gig with J.O.E. (The JR Oca Experience) at the Blues/Soul stage at Fête de la Musique last June 23, 2012.

That afternoon, I was actually with my SunDownMuse bandmates at Tago Bar for a band photoshoot.  That band really didn't have any decent band photos.  So we took that opportunity to take a few courtesy of our drummer Andrew.  Of course he needed help since he has to be in the photos with the rest of the band.

After taking composed pictures around Tago Bar, Andrew had one final shot in mind before calling it a day.  It needed to be a night shot which actually made me nervous.  My call time with J.O.E. at Heckel and Jeckel, Makati was actually pretty early (around 7:00PM).  So waiting for the sun to set  so we can take the photo would get really close to my call time.  Tago Bar isn't near Makati at all.  But for the sake of the band, I stayed and just hoped that I wouldn't be late for my set at Fête.  Briggs and Gigo told me that they'll drive me all the way to Makati just to ease my anxiety.  It was nice of them to offer me a ride considering I brought all my percs gear.  They said they would stay and watch my set as well.  Once the sun set and we took a few snaps, below is one of the resulting shots that Andrew envisioned.

As soon as we were done, we finished off the remaining food we ordered from Tago and sped off to Makati.  It was well past 7:00PM.  So I was a bit worried.  Upon arriving at Heckel and Jeckel, my needless concern was a waste of energy.  I had forgotten that these music festival are never on time.  So much to that fact that my J.O.E. bandmates were all not even at the venue yet.  Two of my bandmates actually had sets at other stages and would just be following after.

(Pictures for the rest of this post are courtesy of Nicole Lacierda and Erwin Rentutar)

Heckel and Jeckel was bustling with people.  I was surprised to run into a number of acquaintances that night.  My good friend Joseph popped in to show his usual support for my gigs.  An officemate brought his wife and a friend from the States to watch my gig as well.  My SunDownMuse bandmates have never seen me play for my other bands.  So the fact that some of them came along to watch made the night that much more fun.

The only remote disappointment I had at the gig was the fact that J.O.E. didn't have a roadie to help us with our gear.  In a crowded bar it was just a little difficult to keep my gear in one place without getting in people's way.

Below is a video of our last song for the set.

Englishman in New York/Come Together (Cover Mashup)

The crowd's energy prior to our set was waning for some reason.  I suppose it was the tone of the soul grooves of the two bands prior to us.  We seemed to have breathed life back into the crowd during our short 3 song set.  Cheers, screams, and shouts filled the venue.  As always, my bandmate JR just loves embarrassing me onstage by calling me whatever nickname his mind can conjure.  That night, he came up with the nickname "The Flash" for some odd reason.  That just came out of the blue and had no relevance with anything whatsoever.  LOL!

After we played our set and was busy hauling our gear off the stage, I was surprised that even I got a lot of high fives and hugs from random people.  By the time I walked back to my SunDownMuse bandmates, I was greeted with the same praises.

We stayed for a while and I had to speed off with my J.O.E. bandmates to TheBar@1951 in Malate because we had to play set there that night as well.  By the time we got there Butch, the bar owner, already had the 2nd band for the night start playing.  We were supposed to be the 1st band.  So it was too late for us to play a set.  Most of us agreed to head back to the festivities at Fete.  But Joseph and I ended up just heading back to my place to hang out.

Multiple band activities, good friends, music, fun times...  Looking forward to next year's Fête de la Musique!


Monday, October 8, 2012

John Butler Trio Dedication To A Friend

A friend and bandmate got emotionally hard hit recently.  His feelings went a little farther than he should've allowed it to progress.  I can't help but feel for him.  My iPod played this John Butler Trio song randomly while I was working today.  So I felt it to be appropriate to dedicate the song to my friend.

What You Want
by John Butler Trio

What you want to say
Wait till you get home
I'm sick of communicating
Over the telephone

Tell me how you feel
For I am lonely too
Need you to know
I'm just as cold and numb as you

But I could fly away
Or I could be no one
And you could be the sunshine
Falling over the mountains

Or you could come to stay
You could come right home
Don't see why I have to
Live this life all alone

I know there is a way
To make up for old mistakes
I know what's happening
Is for a reason