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Circus, New Minstrels reunite to take fans back to good times

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ROUSING SAMPLER FOR FRIENDS From left: Eugene, Ding, Hajji, Basil, Jacqui, Louie, Tillie, Joey, Pat, Chad, Ray-An. emmie g. velarde

Too briefly, the tent at Midas Hotel became a 1970s lounge/bar as members of Circus and New Minstrels—reunited to launch a series of shows—dished out a potent sampler for the media conference.

Dance, this small audience did, as it reveled in memories sparked by the engaging medley of hits gone by. Ah, those were the days—life wasn’t perfect, but there were all these songs to help cushion the bumps and falls, and the barbs of martial rule.

Evolved artists

“La La La Means I Love You,” “Ain’t No Woman,” “My Girl,” “Oh, Baby, Baby,” “When Will I See You Again,” “Up, Up and Away,” “MacArthur Park,” “September,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

And with the (well-remembered) voices to match! Joey Albert, Hajji Alejandro, Chad Borja, Pat Castillo, Ray-An Fuentes, Jacqui Magno, Ding Mercado, Tillie Moreno, Louie Reyes,  Basil Valdez and Eugene Villaluz.

They’re the stars of “The Circus Band and The New Minstrels Greatest Hits Reunion” concert on Friday, Sept. 20, at the Philippine International Convention Center; Sept. 26 at the University of Baguio; and Sept. 28 at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City—from Viva Live Inc. and Redstone Media Productions.

“It was a good time in my life,” Joey told the press people who were mostly old acquaintances as well. Thus the exchange was casual, warm, certainly fun, a fitting lead-up to that rousing sampler.

“We have evolved as artists,” Joey added, speaking for the group. “Even if the stories that the songs we will sing [in the concert] are not seen as new, our perspectives certainly are, because now we can draw from deeper experiences.”

Ding, who will be directing, said, “With new perspectives necessarily come new attitudes and behaviors. There is more joy in doing this now, because there’s no more of the old pressures that we had as young performers.”

Pat credited maturity. “We can even step out of ourselves when necessary,” she said, “and deliver the story or message of the song from the writer’s and composer’s points of view. That’s because it is easier to see how they meant their songs to be performed.”

Proud interpreter

Basil said he, in fact, considered himself as merely “a proud interpreter of songs by George Canseco and Gerry Paraiso. They’re both gone now; I am thankful that I have become an interpreter for God.”

A good illustration for “deeper experiences,” Hajji jested, was his signature hit, “Nakapagtataka.” He explained, tongue in cheek: “As we all know, it is a song of separation and heartbreak. When it became a hit, I had been separated only once. Well, that has since happened— again and again, so that when I sing it now, the emotions are certainly heightened.”

Freedom

Let alone more joy, as Ding has found, Jacqui said her singing at this point was fueled by a sense of freedom. “I sing for the sake of singing. It is who I am; it is utterly liberating.”

Eugene hoped members of the audience at the reunion concert would get to relive “their own stories of those times. We value ours.”

“It was wonderful being a band member,” Joey elaborated. “I hope younger singers experience that as well, so they will know what it’s like to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

‘All for Love’

The artists earlier put together a commemorative CD for the event, “All for Love: The Greatest Hits Reunion,” from Viva Records. The lineup consists of OPM hits, and should be able to stand on its own once the concert series is over. Each one is a choice cut, but from the time we first popped the CD in the player, we have been playing four tracks twice at every turn: “Kahit Na,” as interpreted by Chad; “Habang May Buhay,” Ray-An; “Let the Pain Remain,” Jacqui; and “Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas,” Basil.

(For concert tickets, call 9115555, or 4702222, 8919999, 7894723, 6877236.)


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