Archive for Razorback

Philippine Events: Rogue Magazine’s Black Tie Brawl Was A Knockout

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Events, Philippine News, Philippines Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2009 by South Arts Festival

For anyone who knows me – you know that I’m a jeans, t-shirt and sneakers kinda guy. I prefer to dress comfortably lest I be labeled as a metrosexual. Not that I have anything against metrosexuals, but I just enjoy the anonymity of regular citizen fashion as opposed to the semi-flashy casual-collared and leather-shoed wear.

However, I can dress for the occasion as need be, and do adhere to the strict dress codes, although my gift of gab and fine reputation does allow me to bend the rules to my favor at times – like say, getting into Establishment with a pair of sneakers when the place calls for more appropriate footwear.

Anywho – when Rogue Magazine’s Managing Director Katrina Tuason extended an invitation to attend the Black Tie Brawl at the Renaissance Hotel ballroom, she insisted that it’s strictly formal attire. She knew I loved my jeans and tee look, but she kept texting me constant reminders – “Don’t forget it’s formal, and you’re sitting on my table.” Aaaahh – the pressure to not embarrass my ‘date’.

I went deep into my closet to raise my formal wear from the dead, found my tux shirt, the bow tie (damn, I haven’t tied this in 10 years!) and brought out the sleek black Cashmere suit. The last time I donned a tuxedo was in the United States more than a decade ago. You hardly wear a tux in the Philippines, or maybe I just don’t get invited enough to parties where you could wear a tux. And well – the transformation from plain Joe to Joe Black was quite a change indeed.

“Wow, JJ! You look like James Bond.”

“Huh? James Bond? Excuse me, I’m Bruce Wayne. I’m a brat billionaire, and don’t need government to pay for my gadgets.”

I arrived an hour past the 7pm call time just right in time for the table seating. I doubled-down on the Maker’s Mark Kentucky bourbon whiskey to catch up, and eventually made my way to my seat beside Rogue Magazine Editor-in-Chief Jose Mari Ugarte, his lovely wife and ExcelAsia CEO Rita Trillo-Ugarte, Design Editor Miguel Mari and his better-half Managing Editor Carmela Lopa, photographer Mark Nicdao, Rogue covergirl Angel Locsin and her pretty friend, whose eyes left an impression, but sadly her name escapes me.

Our table was just right behind the judges and committee panel of executives from the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) and just an arm’s length away from the ring. Really up close and personal with the possibility of blood, sweat and tears splattering on the Mustard Crusted Beef Tenderloin in Whiskey Pepper Sauce. (Kudos, to Renaissance Hotel Restaurant Director Javi Berenguer-Testa)

Razorback opened the festivities with a rocking version of the Philippine National Anthem, followed by a rude awakening of Voodoo Who Do?. Then, the ring girls were introduced – Rogue cover girls Sanya Smith, Ornusssa Cadness and Rogue mannequin Mia Ayesa – and the heat factor in the Renaissance ballroom making things a little sweaty under the bow tie.

Without further delays – MC Boyet Sison gave the lowdown on the rules, and got the fights underway. Eight bloody bouts from Pinweight to Heavyweight with a main event Flyweight championship were listed on the card, organized by URCC big boss Alvin Aguilar.

Charlie Angel Kicks Alvin Ramirez At The Rogue Black Tie Brawl

Charlie Angel Kicks Alvin Ramirez At The Rogue Black Tie Brawl

Large quantities of Maker’s Mark makes it hard to remember who beat who right now, but there was a submission by rear-naked choke, there was a KO induced by a flying knee to the face, there was a TKO by strikes.

I do recall going 3-0 on my picks for the first three fight. I recall cheering on Charlie Angel to beat Alvin Ramirez, just because we had an Angel (Locsin) on our table and because if you added an S to his name, he would be Charlie’s Angels. Of course, the Angel won.

Then, the Kentucky bourbon hit hard when I got depressed when Bimbe Perez of my home gym Elorde MMA was outclassed and eventually submitted by Eric Kelly of Yaw Yan Ardigma. That kept me quiet from jeering (as opposed to cheering.)

The Flyweight championship main event went the full two ten-minute rounds, and even needed an extra five-minute tie breaker as challenger Jilmar “Stonecold” Tangayan of Cenojas MMA and Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon of Lakay Wushu went all-out toe-to-toe with URCC Flyweight champion Kevin Belingon eventually retaining his title.

The after party at Cinna Bar of the Renaisssance Hotel was equally festive. Single malt crazy with The Macallan. Got KOed myself when I hit the sack at dawn. (I don’t recall if the sack hit me back).

That same morning, the remnants of Bruce Wayne were ready for the dry-cleaners, and hopefully it wouldn’t take a decade to unearth again.

Oh wait – for sure, in next year’s Rogue’s Black Tie Brawl.

Philippine Music: Razorback 18th Year Anniversary Concert At 19 East!

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Events, Philippine Music, Philippine News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2008 by South Arts Festival

On a personal note, Razorback is one of my favorite Pinoy rock bands of all time alongside Wolfgang. 18 years ago, Razorback and Wolfgang were back-to-back performers at places like Kalye and Pep’s Alabang. Of course, it helped that most of them were all friends to begin with. I won’t even try to go into the history of it lest I screw it up.

Anyway, of course, Wolfgang is no longer around, but Razorback has continued on throughout the years. And when I considered doing a coffee table book about a rock band, I easily considered Razorback to be my first and only choice because they are probably the only band that can cross generations, having ben around for so many years and still continue to rock! Well, that project is still on hold pending further talks with Patrick Pulumbarit (Razorback’s manager) and Jay Ignacio, who I strongly felt should be the editor-in-chief of the book. But then, that’s a different story altogether.

Kevin Roy and Tirso Ripoll of Razorback

Kevin Roy and Tirso Ripoll of Razorback (photo by Josh Castro)

A memorable Razorback story that I had was in Baguio, circa 2003 or 2004. I had just driven a bus from Sagada, Mt. Province to pick up my car in Baguio City, preparing to drive home to Manila. It was around 7PM in the evening and I happened to pass by Nevada Square which was having an event for the Marlboro Adventure Team. I noticed the wall climbing facility and decided to drop by and see if my rock climbing buddies were the ones behind the event, and sure enough they were. I also found out that Razorback would be performing later that night.

I stayed, met up with the guys from Razorback, put myself on as the official Baguio groupie and took on the responsibility of handing out beers to the band while they performed on-stage. I had earlier told myself that I would drive home at 7PM to make it back to Manila by midnight, but I ended up party-ing it out with Razorback until they finished their gig at 2AM, and I remember telling them – “Sige, boys, uwi na ako ng BF Paranaque!” Well, not immediately. I managed to catch some much-needed rest at the Caltex station at the foot of Marcos Highway before continuing my journey at 6AM back to Manila. All I can say is – Razorback eh.

Anyway, Razorback will be celebrating their 18th year with a huge concert at 19 East in Sucat, just near home. Of course, that will surely be a spectacular concert, especially at 19 East which boasts of the best sound system and acoustics for any type of performance. 19 East is definitely a musicians haven for performance, and it’ll surely be great to listen to Razorback rock the house with their awesome songs. To the boys – Kevin Roy, Tirso Ripoll, Louie Talan, Brian Velasco and Manuel Legarda – I’m looking forward to hearing you guys again. And I will buy an 18th Anniversary Razorback T-shirt which will be available for that night only worth P250. Rock on!

Philippine Music: Spy Rocked The House At Handle Bar

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Events, Philippine Music, Philippine News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2008 by South Arts Festival
Cosmic Blah Blah Album Cover

Blast From The Past: Cosmic Blah Blah Album Cover

Spy, although based in the Philippines now, was originally formed in Paris, France, and had three musicians in their line-up: a French dreadhead bass player named Maurice Casanove, a funky white boy Austrian drummer Fritz aka Dr. Sticks Barth and a Pinoy rockstar icon guitarist called Sammy Asuncion. The trio specialized in a fusion of rock, jazz and reggae, or what I would classify as World Music. Someone just got the impression that they were a reggae band because they covered Bob Marley songs, but then when you listen to their own compositions – the bit of reggae is shown an exit to the window, and some jazz-rock, funky-delic something else takes place. Like I said – World Music.

The three recorded a couple of albums, and based themselves here in the Philippines where they would have regular gigs around Malate, especially at the Verve Room during Wednesday nights. Some of their albums include Cosmic Blah Blah, Spy By Spy, Reggae Man and I’m certain there are a few others that I just can’t recall at the moment.

Anyway, after several years in the Philippines, the dreadhead bass player Muarice Casanove eventually left, and then the band had no choice but to explore the possibilities of finding new band members. At one point – they brought in Paul Zialcita to perform percussions, Louie Talan of Razorback to do the bass chores, and once upon a time even Anabel Bosch became a vocalist for Spy.

Personally, I miss the old Spy, but then that’s the nature of music and bands. Someone goes away, and someone’s career has to continue on. Of course, Spy is still a fun band, and I remember being blown away by them every Wednesday nights at the Verve room in Malate – and on one of those days I stopped being a groupie, and ended up being friends with the band, especially Fritz “Dr. Sticks” Barth.

Fritz and myself have had so many memorable occasions together. We found our connection through Dom Um Romao during an unforgettable sunrise at Puerto Galera. I was drowning from Tanduay unleaded at 6am at White Beach, Puerto Galera, Fritz was having a manicure. Weeks later, I would bring the Dom Um Romao vinyl record, but with lack of a phonograph player (or a turntable), we turned to The Lobby at Malate to allow us to use their turntable set-ups during Monday nights.

Monday nights at The Lobby featured DJ Fritz and DJ JJ (yours truly!), bringing in a tray of hash brownies and a whole bunch of old vinyls like Weather Report, The Doors, Herbie Hancock, Lou Rawls, The Beatles, Cream, Les McCann, John Klemmer, Barry White, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan among others. We had Motown, Disco, Old School Jazz and Rock n’ Roll. ON VINYL!!! We weren’t pro deejays. It was more like – we played whatever we felt like it.

When Fritz says, “I don’t like this track!” he’ll skip the needle to the next track in the middle of the song along with the scratch and popcorn sound effects. “Sorry,” he says. No one notices. The brownies are kicking in, and everyone is finding a comfortable spot on the many couches.

Apart from our deejaying stint at The Lobby, Fritz was my happy hour buddy in Boracay. At that time, Fritz lived in Blossom’s, and I would make a frequent visit there from time to time to catch up on Boracay island gossip.

Back in Manila – I would be groupie to Fritz when he teamed up with DJ Danger Sanchez and Mon Mancio to form the tribal house percussion band Tribo Manila. Eventually, Fritz just recently headed back home to Austria to catch the festive atmosphere of Euro 2008, and when he got back he did bring me an authentic Euro 2008 souvenir cap. Yup, we’re tight. And if there was any reason for me to go to a Spy gig, then it would primarily be because Fritz would be there. The awesome music was just a bonus.

Well, throughout the years, Spy has been out of circulation. Sammy Asuncion got very busy with his own gigs, including a stint with Pinikpikan among other things. Louie Talan, who became the mainstay bassist of Spy to replace Maurice some time ago, has his plate full. After all, Louie Talan is one of the most revered and talented bassists in the country, and his expertise has him playing with the likes of Razorback, Cynthia Alexander, Kapatid and Pinikpikan.

Spy At Handle Bar (photo courtesy of Denise Manahan)

Spy At Handle Bar (photo courtesy of Denise Manahan)

Fast forward to a few nights ago at Handle Bar along Polaris St. in Makati City, and I was hoping to get together with the guys of Spy. I even called up Fritz Barth to ask him what time he was going to be there. Unfortunately, Fritz was surprised. Apparently, he doesn’t bang the drums anymore for Spy. For what reasons – I do not know. When I got to Handle Bar, it was a different Spy on stage.

Sammy Asuncion was present (as always), Louie Talan was on the bass. But then, there was a new drummer, there was a saxophone player and then there was Budet on percussions. Well, it was hard listening to them at first. I mean – don’t get me wrong – Sammy and Louie have a tight performance and they really know how to feed off each other on-stage, but then the fact that Dr. Sticks wasn’t around made it hard to watch. After all these years of getting used to the funky white boy behind the drumset at every Spy gig, it was just different.

Nevertheless, out of nostalgia, I stayed around and enjoyed the different flavor of the band, especially with the saxophone. There was tequila galore as usual, and they did play my favorite hits of theirs like Let’s Get High .

And while Spy may have been different, the crowd who usually pop up at any Spy gig was still a bit consistent. It was fun to see the familiar faces that used to hang out at Verve Room every Wednesdays and still doing time to keep in the loop to catch up with a Spy gig. In any case – here comes the society column part of this article.

I had great fun hanging with the likes of Lynn Sherman, Micki Poe, Piaget Martelino, Salim Assad, Maxine Eigenmann, Mooney Castillo, Martin Legarda, Gio Bacareza,  Rambie Lim, Nathalie Danks, John Besa and Chad Rialp.

Well, to quote a Spy song – “Let’s get high on the peaceful! Let’s get high on the wonderful!”

I still have to say – it isn’t the same without Dr. Sticks!