The feels in 3D
Mariah Reodica (The Philippine Star) - January 21, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – It’s not often that you get to see three of the country’s finest singer-songwriters sitting in a small coffee shop, singing to people on a lazy sunny afternoon. They were brimming with excitement for the anniversary show of one of the gig circuit’s most attended series, called “Damá: Danao, Dancel, Dumas.”

At each 3D show, you’ll see the household names Johnoy Danao, the lyrical balladeer and Awit Award recipient, along with Ebe Dancel, formerly of Sugarfree, singing his soaring, heart-wrenching anthems. Both are masters of songcraft, their songs well known across the nation. With them is Bullet Dumas, the youngest of the lineup; His music career rose ever since he met Ebe at the Elements Music Camp five years ago, with his unmistakable way of singing and playing guitar that has been noted by respected musicians from Joey Ayala to Ryan Cayabyab. The three of them have been touring around Metro Manila, even going as far as Singapore, to sing their hearts out.

All of their songs resonate with love and loss, but they express it in unique ways. As Johnoy says, “Ang pagkakatulad lang naming ay may dala-dala kaming gitara at kinakanta namin ang mga kanta namin.” One of them may sing tenderly about telephone conversations until dawn, while the other will play their song to the rhythm of a heartbeat. They all play their sets solo, with their songs stripped down to the barest necessities. Sometimes that’s just what it takes to appreciate a familiar song in a new way.

Maraming pumunta sa shows naming na nahuhuli ko silang nakapikit, tapos nakikinig lang,” says Ebe. It’s that intimate, and each songwriter gets to play a long set, including the hits and the cult favorites. Sometimes, Ebe even foregoes singing through a microphone, steps into the crowd and serenades everyone from the center of the audience. What makes each 3D show special, whether it’s in a small bar or on a big stage, is that every single person in the crowd is all ears. No chatter or rowdy conversations interrupt the show. There’s a mutually understood sense of respect — not necessarily solemnity, but genuine appreciation for the music.

However, what makes their anniversary show “Dama” different is that they’ll be performing with The Manila String Machine, along with a grand piano. They have special, different arrangements for these songs that you won’t see at a normal bar. To Bullet, this is one of his biggest gigs, and his first as a headliner on a stage this large. Johnoy and Ebe have played on large stages numerous times in the past, but to them, it’s not about the numbers.

Ayoko i-quantify ang experience in a sense na malaki ang venue,” said Johnoy. “Para sa akin, everything is big, kahit kaunti ang tao.” Though The Music Museum may be a grand venue, what really matters, regardless of fame, is the connection between who’s onstage and who’s in the audience.

“It doesn’t matter how many people show up, how many lights go on. Just play each show as if it were your last,” said Ebe. It’s a lesson that many musicians, especially the ones that last, keep close to heart. However, at one year strong, for Bullet, Ebe, and Johnoy, “Dama” is just the beginning.

*  *  *

Johnoy Danao, Ebe Dancel and Bullet Dumas will hold their self-titled gig series’ first anniversary concert, “Damá: Danao, Dancel, Dumas,” at the Music Museum on Feb. 19 with The Manila String Machine. For ticket inquires, contact Milley Habito at 0917-5480402.

ACIRC AS JOHNOY ATILDE AWIT AWARD BULLET DUMAS DANAO DANCEL EBE EBE DANCEL JOHNOY DANAO MANILA STRING MACHINE
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