Ebe Dancel on first solo concert, challenges after leaving Sugarfree
Come February 29, 2020, Ebe Dancel as he finally holds his first solo concert at the Metrotent in Pasig City. It marks and celebrates his two decades in the local music industry.
Philstar.com/EC Toledo
Ebe Dancel on first solo concert, challenges after leaving Sugarfree
Euden Valdez (Philstar.com) - December 3, 2019 - 3:08pm

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino rockstar Ebe Dancel’s guitar strap snapped in the middle of his set during a recent gig in Makati City.

Albeit a minor mishap, it could be frustrating to experience live on stage, especially for a musician who is serious about his craft.

But as a cliche goes, the show must go on and Dancel has been doing so in the last 20 years.

The show went on for the singer-songwriter when his longtime alternative rock band Sugarfree disbanded eight years ago. He went solo and almost slowly but surely made a name for himself in the industry.

Come February 29, 2020, the show continues for Dancel as he finally holds his first solo concert at the Metrotent in Pasig City. It marks and celebrates his two decades in the local music industry.

So how do 12 years in a band compare to eight years of solo career?

Dancel answered that responsibilities didn’t really change. He still needed to play the guitar, to write songs and to sing. What differed was that as a solo performer, he couldn’t hide from the security blanket of a band.

“I became more self-aware, I guess, of what was going on around me, what I wanted for myself. So I started going back to simple pleasures, small bars. But I think the better songs I really wrote after Sugarfree,” he noted.

When Ebe Dancel went solo, he became more self-aware and started going back to simple pleasures like playing in smaller venues.
Philstar.com/EC Toledo

On both musical milestones, he also proved one thing: Whenever he goes solo, he never really does it alone.

In a past interview with this author for the launch of his first solo album, Dancel recognized the support he got from family and friends in the industry. In an exclusive interview for this story, he confirmed to this author that it remained the same for his solo concert.

“I’m bringing a whole army with me to the concert. There’s going to be 35 musicians from The Manila String Machine. With myself and a keyboard player, and three bandmates, that’s around 40. At a time, 40 people on stage,” he told Philstar.com.

Helming the concert are Paolo Valenciano and Chino David, creative director and musical director, respectively, whom the musician described as a pleasure to work with. “There’s no ego. Only friendship, I love it,” he enthused.

When asked about the dynamics of playing with a full orchestra, the solo artist admitted it’s a lot to digest, but he’s still up for the challenge.

“When I play with my band or even Sugarfree, it was always very free-flowing. We did whatever we wanted to do, change up the set, play the songs faster, play the songs slower. Sang, did not sing. But with The Manila String Machine, there’s an actual arrangement. You have to stick to your 1, 2, 3, 4. And it’s challenging for me that way because I’ve always been a free-willing kind of guy,” he shared.

In return, he got to learn something, like hearing a new instrument for the first time and realizing it can sound good with his song.

This couldn’t be more true for Dancel, who continues to learn from music 20 years and counting.

When music taught Dancel discipline, he also learned to take care of himself better by eating healthier, becoming more fit and active, and even hiring a vocal coach.
Philstar.com/EC Toledo

First and foremost, he learned discipline. “Back in the day kasi, I would smoke and drink before, during and after my set. I would sleep at seven in the morning, wake up at three in the afternoon. Everything affects my voice. Singers need to sleep. If you don’t sleep, wala kang boses. Sometimes it’s as simple as that,” he recalled.

Because of this, he now takes care of himself better by eating healthier, becoming more fit and active, and even hiring a vocal coach.

Most of all, music taught him gratitude. “It’s also gratitude because parang every time I’m on stage, I feel like everyone’s singing along. That feeling never gets old,” he said.

In his first solo concert, Dancel will play to give thanks.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to be until music came. I think this is my way of saying thank you to the fans, to my God, to my family and to everyone who has kept me going throughout the years."

Tickets to Ebe Dancel with The Manila String Machine have been sold out. For updates about the event, like Ebe Dancel on Facebook, and follow @ebedancel in Twitter and Instagram.

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