The blues takes spotlight in Davao
Yep, it has spread far south. The second Davao Blues Festival was successfully staged recently, marking the unmistakable spread of the genre’s local renaissance to the southernmost parts of the country.
A collaboration of the Davao Blues Society, the League of Musicians and Artists of Davao and leading blues bands in the area, the fest was held on consecutive nights at Soundbox Bar along Legazpi Street and Taboan in Matina Town Square.
Top homegrown bands, encouraged to form following the latest resurgence of blues-based music that started in Manila four years ago, took part in this year’s event, spearheaded by blues and blues-rock heavies The Southerners Blues Band (TSBB), DavBlues, Ayos Sapatos, Silver Street and The Don.
Davao blues night club regular TSBB served as fest centerpiece. Fronted by vocalist-guitarist-bandleader Romeo Caballero (a.k.a. Blues Warrior)—brandishing a white 10-gallon hat—and with lead guitarist Bong Labao, bassist Edgardo Echavez and drummer Allan Algarme, the group offered engaging versions of staples such as “Sweet Home Chicago,” “Hard Luck Blues” and “Further On Up the Road.”
A highlight on each of the two nights featured the crowd-pleasing New Orleans and California-based musician and Hollywood choreographer Eddie Baytos joining TSBB on vocals, accordion, keyboards and washboard on a selection of southern blues rockers, including the rock ’n’ roll stomper, “Got My Red Beans Cooking.”
Davaoeña Annieza Lee’s rendition of New Orleans soul queen Irma Thomas’ “It’s Raining” was an added cherry.
The last couple of years have seen a marked growth in the number of blues festivals in the region, notably in Davao and neighboring Digos and Gen. Santos cities.
Organizers deemed this year’s event a success, noting the large turnout.
“We’ve been building a blues community here little by little since the first Davao Blues fest,” said Caballero, a key organizer. “More, and bigger, events are in the pipeline, including one this August to coincide with the city’s Kadayawan festivities,” he announced.
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