Tag Archives: Yerba Buena

Kulintang August Nights

31 Aug Pistahan 2011
Kulintang in Concord, CA

Kulintang in Concord, CA

Time Out Bar & Grill, Concord, CA

After such a great result at last month’s Nightlife, I was eager to bring the kulintang to even more new places.  The Time Out Bar & Grill in Concord is just such a place.  The last time I brought kulintang to a Concord dive bar, an audience member very loudly exclaimed, “Let’s turn on the juke box!” in the middle of an exciting Binalig that I was playing.  Granted, my beats were not as big as they are lately, so I kept an open mind for this new audience.  I sure am glad I did, because the audience was really open to it, so open to it that they were jumping up and down with their drinks in the air!  Lots of great conversations followed, and a few Concord-ites outed themselves to me as Filipinos; and no, they had never seen kulintang before that moment.  Mission accomplished.

Pistahan 2011

Pistahan 2011 (photo by Brian Snowden)

Pistahan at Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco, CA

It’s that time of year!  Pistahan reclaims its title as one of the largest Filipino festivals in the Bay Area!  The parade had never been so large.  I would post pictures of the parade but I was a little busy playing kulintang music accompanied by big-calibre performers such as Lendl San Jose, Kristine Sinajon, and Melissa Martinez.  With Melissa, an experienced kulintang music and dance performer, as the informal dance instructor, we had an impromptu community dance that saw indigenous Filipino dance movements coming from excited Filipinos and non-Filipinos who came to claim their seats early.  There was definitely some magic in the air.

Nick’s Lounge in Berkeley, CA

Kulintang Happy Hour in Berkeley

Kulintang Happy Hour in Berkeley (photo by Esperanza Catubig)

Here is a picture where I am once again joined by Filipino-musician-extraordinaire Lendl San Jose.  This particular dive bar is Nick’s Lounge in Berkeley, where a group of Filipino film enthusiasts gathered at the invitation from actress Esperanza Catubig in support of her new independent film (where Catubig also get’s a Producer’s credit) called Nico’s Sampaguita.  The film, about a Filipino-American family set against the jazz music backdrop set in the Fillmore district of San Francisco.  There is a lot of excitement around this project; so much that an unexpected guest arrived: fellow kulintang player Judith Ferrer!  She did not expect to see a kulintang at the event, and I certainly did not expect another kulintang player to come in and drop two beautiful kulintang songs from memory.  Ang galing!

Judith is a fellow local kulintang player

Judith is a fellow local kulintang player


The Red, White, and Drums (and gongs)

13 Sep

Performing once again with Sambasia at the Yerba Buena Garden Neighborhood Fair in San Francisco is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Kulintang Electronica with Sambasia at Yerba Buena Gardens

Crossing musical borders with Sambasia SF.

I love Sambasia’s approach to music, treating it as something that is accessible to all people. As director Maseru Koga said to the crowd, “…this [music] is for everyone.”

This echoes something that Master K would often say to the audience.  “Kulintang music is for everyone,” announced into the mic with a warm smile to an open-minded audience entranced by the sound of the gongs from Mindanao.  It is this welcoming sentiment that empowered a few audience members (like myself six years ago) to feel like kulintang music is approachable and accessible.

Sambasia has grappled with this issue as an Asian-led Brazilian Samba Ensemble with a multi-cultural lineup based in Japantown of San Francisco.  What does it mean for Asians, or any other non-Brazilian people, to undertake the serious study of a traditional music?

According to their website, “SambAsia’s theme of One World Awareness, Building Cultural Bridges was born out of Jimmy Biala’s (SambAsia’s founder) observations of the separation that continues to exist between different areas of San Francisco despite the diversity of our city. We hope to convey a spirit of our own individual cultural pride while expressing the need for more communication and contact with each other as human beings, the acknowledgment of all possibilities.”

I was honored to be invited to attempt to build a cultural bridge from Cotabato to Rio de Janeiro with on-ramps coming from San Francisco.  Bringing these two percussive traditions together was both a challenge and a joy, and we showcased the result at the 2010 SF Carnaval parade!

Parangal tries the Kulintronica gongs

You've heard of carshare... what about gong-share?

The Yerba Buena Gardens Neighborhood Fair is a great gathering showcasing the diversity of San Francisco.  Kulintronica and Sambasia were representing for the Filipino-American contingent, joined also by old friends from Parangal.

In an interesting turn of events, we found it easier to share kulintang, and it was nice to hear my unique hybrid kulintang set in the hands of the Parangal musicians.

Beautiful pose during Pangalay dance by Parangal

Pangalay in San Francisco