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Foreign faces in Pinoy bands

Blue Way

Foreign faces in Pinoy bands

Yugel Losorata (The Philippine Star) - December 27, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Two band acts having a pure foreigner in their line-up recently released original albums, indicating some new twist in the way local groups present themselves.

First is blues band Blue Way whose first single is the timely titled Simbang Gabi written by vocalist and band leader Ace Agamata. The five-piece group has Australian Paul Matcott on drums, steadily pounding his kit and feeling at home in Manila. He used to be a music teacher back in his native land before falling in love and marrying a Filipina, and settling here in 2010.

Paul has good words to say playing with Filipino bandmates. He shared, “They’re the kind of guys you can just sit down and have a beer with. They’re very easygoing.”

Blue Way’s album is called Shades of Blue, the cover of which incidentally features Paul in the middle and seated on his drum stool — in action. It contains tracks that by titles alone sound very much bluesy, like Romansa Blues and Long-legged Woman. During the band’s recent launch at blues bar RoundHouse in Manila Bay area, the group jammed with Cooky Chua to the delight of the crowd in attendance.

The band has guitarist Nathan Manansala providing the bluesy riffs, Stephen Lachica giving the necessary groove and saxophonist Josh del Mundo the romantic sonic touch.

Ace, a lawyer by profession, explained, “The way we approached our songs is from a blues perspective. You’ll see na parang kundiman yung melody and structure nung mga kanta namin.”

There’s a reason why Blue Way wants to reach the masa and in essence it is selfless. “The musicians in the local blues scene are really talented. If these artists will be able to bring their songs to the masa, then maybe the genre will become more popular.”

Wild Tortillas

Here’s a band that takes the journey not just to make a name but also to give its chosen genre a lift. It was in 2014 that Ace, Nathan and Stephen began playing together. Paul and Josh, whose accent obviously shows he had his formative years somewhere else, came on board much later.

Paul’s take on being part of Blue Way is reflected in the way he sees Pinoys in general. “Filipinos are friendly so I found the transition from my hometown of Victoria to here easy to make.”

And then there’s Raoul and the Wild Tortillas which just came off with an album interestingly called Tribute to the Philippines. The band is led by Swiss diplomat Raoul Imbach, with the Wild Tortillas comprising of pure Pinoy talents. The singing diplomat, as he is dubbed by music critics who have covered him in his previous outings, has spent the last three years playing with Filipinos.

He wrote songs that clearly pay homage to the brown race, with titles like It’s More Fun In The Philippines and Binibini. He and the Tortillas rendered their version of Freddie Aguilar’s Anak to loud applauses during their recent album launch.

“This album is eclectic, with wild selection of things,” shared Raoul who’s been singing since he was five. “I dedicate this to the Filipino people and all the friends I made during the past three years living in this extraordinary country.”

Raoul is backed by a quintet of Filipino musicians, namely, Jaime Vilas (bass), Rennie Vargas (drums), Victor Lim (keyboard), Roderick Manubay (guitar) and Ferdinand Salamat (percussion).

Versatile and jovial, Raoul’s track record shows he teaches Latin dances, had been a chef in Bolivia, and acknowledged in Vietnam as Father of Salsa. For one thing, he does music not for money but for charity.

He said, “I love to be on stage. I do old rock and Latin and I love the fact that people appreciate my effort in singing in Tagalog.”

Amusingly, many of the titles in the album are in Filipino, such as Babae, Huli Ka Na, Durog Na Puso and Pagmamahal Sa ‘Yo.

Raoul and The Wild Tortillas will perform at Rizal Park on Jan. 7.

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