Joey Ayala and Bagong Lumad Set To Do Live Recording Session in The 70's Bistro

Team Manila Concert Junkies
His music is ingrained in the in our country’s folk music and one of the foundations of Philippine Music, Joey Ayala, and the Bagong Lumad is set to do a live recording of the artist’s hits, or as‌ he said, “his comfortable and non-comfortable songs” for a vinyl release. The legend and the band will embark on recording the vinyl record live on July 20, 2023, and August 15, 2023, in one of the most well-known band spots in the metro, The 70s Bistro.

The artist sat down with the press and gave a sneak peek of what we should expect in the vinyl record, giving droplets of wisdom and another worthy reason the “National Artist” title also belongs to Joey Ayala.

On the musings of how the project started, the idea of playing in the bistro came while he was writing for a rock musical. “Speaking for myself as an artist, I sound better live than in the studio. Because I’m an empath, I get a lot of energy from the audience. That’s something you can’t replicate in the recording studio. One legacy I want to leave is I want to leave a good recording of me having fun, working with people, telling stories, as I am a frustrated stand-up comedian,” he said.

The artist further mentioned that he wants to capture the spirit of talking to someone during the session, and it has become a driving force to have a live recording. He added that the live recordings will capture a snapshot of what they are and it is “ fresh water from the river that came from a natural flow of the water. It will capture the raw music of an artist like me.” He also mentioned that he’s trying to convince July, the Bagong Lumad bassist, to get other artists in the recording session as the 70s Bistro has become one of the starting grounds of so many artists. “This is a cultural center, an underbelly underground cultural bistro. I think this place is an important place for an artist who is in the long tail of the comet.”

Joey Ayala explained the analogy of a Comet’s Tail from the music industry’s perspective. He said the comet’s head is the brightest of the entity, but there is more matter in the tail. As an analogy in popular culture, the popular media concentrates on the head as it is the brightest and most exposed, but all particles of the head come from the tail. And you cannot have stars without the tail. In connection, the 70s Bistro houses the comet’s tail, where much of the humble beginnings for independent music artists started without the heavy glare of popular culture, he mused.

The Bagong Lumad band, Tapati, and July, are also excited about the live recording and they also showed the same enthusiasm as Joey Ayala and how they are looking forward to interacting with the audience. On the subject of the band, Ayala also talked about how he met the Bagong Lumad and how Tapati has been listening to his music while she was still in her Mother’s womb. July is someone he “borrows” whenever he needed someone to play for him and they have been working steadily since.

When asked about what songs they will play, he said instead of the greatest hits, it will be the “comfortable hits.” He mentioned he realized the audience wants the formula that they’re used to. That’s why he calls his most well-known songs “comfortable hits.” Artists like Martin Nievera and Gary Valenciano have offered the same sentiments according to Ayala, wherein the audience doesn’t want a new type of music to be released, although being fresh ideas.

He hoped that the younger generation will like the material that they will perform live when he was asked if there are any uncertainties about having the young audience listen to his music. He teased that during the live recording, there will be about 2-5 songs he wrote that have never been studio recorded, so we’ll definitely be hearing music from Joey Ayala! He mentioned that there are songs he wrote during the pandemic, which are particularly dark-toned as the pandemic were dark times.

“The structures of my music are the same ones as Jazz music,” he said when asked if he has veered away or bent his music over the years. “Nakikibagay talaga ako sa mga katugtog ko. As a musician, you fill the songs up with your own expression, so we never really played a song the same way. There’s a lot of spontaneity during live sessions, and that’s one of the things I enjoy.” He talked about one of his songs and altering his lyrics to the song, “Magkabilaan” and how the warning aspect of the song got lost in translation because he was encouraged back then to remove the elements he wanted to show.

“Songs are dangerous, I think. The danger of art‌ in general is if something is well said, that something is immediately construed to be true. It holds true to any artist,” he concluded.

The press conference ended with the legend himself singing his “comfortable hits” like Maglakad, 1896 and Karaniwang Tao that seemed straight out of the cassettes. The way he played was an experience. It was extraordinary. He played with such controlled power and it sounded so delicious while he played the guitar that you can feel him taking you in the stories of his songs.

I’ve been listening to Sir Joey Ayala for as long as I can remember and his magic of lyrics and song composition has always been inspiring. It was almost a surreal experience seeing the legend play, despite the small audience. I’ve spent a lot of time covering concerts in coliseums. theaters and arenas, but there was nothing quite like Joey Ayala playing with the Bagong Lumad band, scatting, and improvising. There was something haunting and beautiful in the way he played, and his voice did not even change despite the years, even more, powerful and resounding in person.

One of the national treasures of the Philippine Music has showed that he hasn’t faded and no matter how many Comet’s heads came through the history of Filipino music, he remains to be one of the pillars of our music industry.

Words and Photos by Arielle Elep

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