Sunday, February 27, 2005

How many hours in a day?

It's Sunday morning and my head is spinning. On the kitchen counter is an almost empty box holding the last remains of what used to be a dozen doughnuts. I shudder at the thought of how many of these things I ate the day before at yesterday's Wakefield trailwork session. A pile of muddy clothes sits on my bathroom floor. Song lyrics and guitars are strewn across the living room. Yesterday was one of those "full" days where every hour seemed to be tied up doing something:

Wakefield: I woke up early in the morning to check the message boards for any last minute news on the trailwork. Then it's off with the sleepy wife and kid to go buy 3 dozen doughnuts for the trail volunteers. Off to my cousin Rose's to drop off the kid (thanks Rose and Lou!). Gina and I get to Wakefield at 9:00. By the time the work starts at 9:30 there are over 30 volunteers in the parking lot. Scud is there with the usual schwag, Cliff Bars, and good spirit. I'm glad to see some of my buddies who have chosen to be here instead of at other more fun "events" taking place that morning. After some instructions from IMBA rep Rich Edwards, we're off to work. Crews are sent to the race course hill and the powerline road for a day of gratifying hard labor. Snow and mud, cold, then hot. Anne from the Bike Lane shows up with a trunkload of pizzas for lunch (thanks Anne!). After a quick lunch, Gina and I are off to...

Ro-Ro's birthday: After cleaning up at home and a drive across town to pick up the kid from cousin Ro's, we drive into Arlington for Roel's 2nd b-day. Roel is my buddy Marlan's kid. Marlan and Leslie were our first buddies here in DC. Couldn't stay long, so after a second lunch it's off to...

Last practice session: We drive across town again to Rico and Badette's house for our last practice session before the big show that night. As we pull up to the house we realize it's almost 4:00. Forget the practice. It's off to...

Sound check: We get to G. Mason High School just as Angie Pepa is starting her sound check. She's only 15 but she's got major stage presence and can rock! Sort of like a young Alanis. I can see her going places. Next up it's us. I'm still hitting bad notes trying to harmonize with Badette's vocals on the first song. The second song goes a bit better and gets applause from the other musicians sitting around. Still, I'm nervous about those vocals. For the next 2 hours before the show, I'm practicing religiously. About 30 minutes before showtime it finally clicks. Perfection. We're ready.

Showtime! The house isn't full but there are about a hundred people there. It's an all acoustic concert. I sneak into the back row to watch. Angie opens the show drawing applause throughout her set. She gets the house really rockin with her closing number, a cover of "I will survive." Next up is Average Joe. They're everything but average. Lot's of good solid guitar playing with some quirky progressive/funky stuff that brought to mind... well never mind. They sounded like no one else. Even their cover of "Hotel California" had me thinking, "Damn, I've never heard it that way before." Can't wait for their CD. Next up were The Speaks. Well what can I say? They flat out rocked. They must have snuck an electric guitar onto the stage somehow beacuse it's hard to get that kind of intensity out of an acoustic set. After a brief intermission, Justin Moral hits the stage. She's 14 and she can sing. Mostly Broadway type ballads with an original Filipino composition to close her set. It was a good reprive from the adrenaline left over from The Speaks. Next up was Fractured Zone, the only group of all non-Filipino musicians. Good solid folk music that sounded like a good mix of Appalachia and James Taylor. Guitars, mandolin, harmonica: the peace and love vibe was working through the room. Then it was Rod Garcia's turn. Singer/songwiter/guitarist in the tradition of the 70s folk explosion of the Philippines. Socially conscious lyrics and simple but effective guitar playing: he was one of the main organizers of this benefit concert. Finally it was our turn. I'm bouncing off the walls with excitement. It's 10:00 by the time we walk onto the stage. We plug our guitars into the sound system and launch into the first song. I pluck a few chords and Rico launches into a banduria style riff that gets a roar from the crowd. After Badette's vocals kick in, Agos is officially groovin. It's a lot louder than during the sound check and the mics catch all the little nuances and flaws. Even with all that practicing, I still manage to hit a couple of bad notes on the backing vocals, but I catch myself and stop mid-phrase before I do too much damage (I hope). It's all a blur at this point. I remember jumping around the stage like a maniac having the time of my life, and being sad when it was over. I hope I get the chance to do this again (please Rico and Badette, forgive me for those sour notes!) and I'm still a bit freaked out about the whole thing. What really freaked me out though were the handful of people asking for autographs at the end. "I'm sorry," I remember thinking to myself, "but you must be confusing me with someone who doesn't suck. The Speaks are that-a-way!"


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