Friday Night Shindig: The 60s live during PCR Instrumental Night
by rick olivares
The elevator at the Insula building along Timog Avenue is busy even if it’s after work hours on a busy Friday night, July 7. People continuously board and alight to the third floor where there’s an ongoing show. Some sling guitars, carry drumsticks, and lug some equipment while others are there to watch. Curiously, the band shirts that some wear aren’t of today’s iconic bands like U2 or Pearl Jam emblazoned in front.
Instead, they read: “The Ventures”. Or even… “The Shadows’. Ah, there’s something more familiar… “The Beatles” while one sports a shirt with “Zoso” in front. No doubt, he’s a Led Zeppelin fan (it isn’t actually a word but a symbol chosen by the band’s guitarist, Jimmy Page, to represent him for the English rockers’ fourth album).
It’s “Instrumental Night” at the Music Hub along Timog. The second show this year to be produced by Pinoy Classic Rockers or PCR, a group of that older demographic who were youngsters when rock and roll came into being. When the Beatles, James Dean, greasers and T-Birds captured their collective imagination and even shaped their lives. Many of them formed combos -- as bands were called back then – and they performed in shindigs – as parties were called.
“PCR is a group where we celebrate and share the things that we hold dear especially the music that we grew up listening to,” said the night’s host, Jun Lopez who also performed with one of the combos. “Earlier this year, we held our Classic Rock Night where bands performed songs from the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and others who idolized back in the day.”
Ten combos – as bands were called back then -- from the 1960s, influenced by those guitar rock instrumental or surf music from that age – are on deck tonight. There are those living legends from the Electromaniacs, the Minstrels, the Confederates, Acid, the Green Gang Boogie Band, and others.
One band was highly impressive. More so that they numbered only three while the other combos that evening featured at least four musicians and further to that, none of them are in their 50s (they are quite far from that magical number). That was the Rod Mijares Combo led by its guitarist whose name bears the band’s name.
Mijares has that old soul. He’s had it even as a youngster when he fell in love with his father’s music.
What was even more impressive was in their eight-tune set, seven were originals with only “Mr. Sandman” (initially performed by Vaughn Monroe and His Orchestra but popularized by the Chordettes) the cover song.
If the older folks sought to shake the younger Mijares’ (as well as those of his bandmates) hand, he was in turned star-struck. “Tumataas balahibo ko,” he said while watching the combos perform. “They are our band’s idols.”
Throughout the night, the various performers joke on stage about the good ole days and how they need to take a breather between songs. Most in the audience applaud vociferously, a few sing along. However, all are caught at many interludes, deep in thought. The songs, after all, are like a time machine, magically transporting back to a far more innocent and care free time.
“Performing,” said Lito Toribio with a raspy chuckle, “keeps us young.”
Toribio, still pounds the drums with the Electromaniacs, a combo that first gained prominence in 1960 backing up actor-musician Jose Mari Gonzales. Toribio is the only one left from the original line-up (as Emil Caballero still performing as well) replaced original bassist, Joey Gordon, early during the band’s career. The Electromaniacs put out a well-received album, “Lover’s Guitar” and were the first rock band to perform in what was then a newly-built Araneta Coliseum and the Rizal Theater in Makati.
That evening, the Electromaniacs (along with bandmates Bob Ramos, Jun Raymundo, and Jun Español) took the stage early and drew applause as befitting their legendary status.
In the band room behind the stage of the Music Hub, some of the night’s performers, already done with their sets, pose for photos. The Rod Mijares Combo stands next to the Electromaniacs. Lopez remarked, “It’s good to see the younger generation love the same music and keep it alive.”
“Well, we’re still here,” added Caballero who cribs Paul Simon, “still crazy after all these years.”
For sure and it’s a good kind of crazy. And now we’re all looking forward to the next show that PCR is setting up.
Author’s Note: For more information about the Pinoy Classic Rock group, check them out on Facebook “PCR Worldwide”.