Teenage trio revives the blues
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Guitarist Paul Marney Leobrera is 17, while bassist Spencer Reymonte and drummer Darwin John Quinto are both 18. Together they play in a group called Bleu Rascals—one of the most promising young blues bands in the city. Thursday night at Chrome Bar & Lounge at The Fort Strip in Global City, Taguig, the band left a small crowd dumbfounded by talent rarely seen in teenagers.
Even the blues is a musical style not normally appreciated by kids, at least in these parts. Bleu Rascals is a fine exception, and the way it breathes fire to this African-American folk idiom is something that transcends race, borders and electric guitar brands.
Some of its repertoire at Chrome were by turns fast and mid-tempo, and celebrated the good and simple life: Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and Buddy Guy’s “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” But the mood turned whimsical and psychedelic in Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing”—with Paul squeezing out notes that moaned and drawled like a couple in ecstasy.
It didn’t sound like Paul was imitating Hendrix; it was more of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s version. Yet it would be wrong to conclude that Paul was a copycat, since there were solo parts in which he floated and soared from his own heartfelt version.
It didn’t matter, either, whether Paul was using a Fender or a Gibson, because the sound of his guitar crying and pleading was nevertheless compelling in John Mayer’s “Gravity.”
Unlikely but credible
That, in essence, is what defines the blues—sorrow, even desperation that gripped the lives of the black slaves who first wrote and sang them. When Paul did his own take on a traditional blues number, “Everyday I Have the Blues,” he looked very unlikely, but sounded credible enough.
Spencer and Darwin provided the music’s crucial backbone. The rhythmic patterns could be tricky, and Darwin missed a beat at one point.
Songs by The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Eric Clapton came in succession; apparently Bleu Rascals did its own research and showed its blues artist preferences with pride.
What about originals? “Meron na po,” Paul told the Inquirer in a postgig chat. “Kaya lang isa pa lang,” Spencer added with a bit of embarrassment.
But why the blues? “Nagustuhan ko po kasi nang mapakinggan ko nung nag-aaral pa ko mag-gitara,” Paul recalled. “Nung una kasi Joe Satriani ang inaaral ko, pero mas may puso ang blues, so nag-research ako.”
He formed Bleu Rascals with Spencer and Darwin in high school at New Era College in Quezon City. Paul is now studying to be a dentist at Centro Escolar University.
Hopefully, getting used to drills and saving people’s teeth later won’t pose a problem for the budding guitar hero. Pocholo Concepcion
Recent Stories:Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.