The Return of Rock N’ Roll: Fete de la Musique Philippines 2017

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Rock N’ Roll has been with us for years. It has always been the standard of rebel music. It has also evolved and reimagined so many times. It has an enduring characteristic that distinguishes it from other Genres. And yet describing it is so difficult. But when you hear it, you just know. This article is about 3 things. 1. Glance at the past. 2. Review its evolution, and thirdly, its Return. Although I am not attempting to present and accurate timeline, rather I’m presenting observations from my perspective of what makes Rock N Roll Music, Rock N Roll Music. This is also not an attempt to accurately dissect its anatomy.

Let’s start from the 50’s and 60’s from rockabilly, and gospel type of Rock N’ Roll. Chuck Berry, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Richie Valence etc. Their Rock N roll had that flavour of blues, with an up-beat rhythm. Not much for head banging, but it is great for making people dance to music other than disco. They also had their share of ballads such as Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Lucky Old Son” that had a feel for gospel progressions. Some songs were “Blues” enough to recognize the Blues Scale but not so Blues that you can call it the blues. A good example is Ray Price’s song “Crazy Arms” written by Ralf Money at the “honky-Tonk Era”. That was also considered “Country Music”.  At that time, it was again made famous by Jerry Lee Lewis but with a Jerry Lee Twist. A more Rock N Roll variety. Of course you also have Elvis Presley that always mixed country, honky-tonk and Gospel. Another great variety of Rock N Roll is Richie Valence the fore father of Chicano Rock. At First Rock N’ Roll Stars were mainly known as singular artists or Duo’s. Like The Everly Brothers. At times, they would be marketed or branded like “Buddy Holly and the Crickets”. This type of format would eventually overlap with a new generation of Rock N Rollers like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Beach boys. Some of the Rock N Roll solo artists still persisted like Roy Orbison, who at that time also played as front act for the Beatles. These acts brought a special characteristic to the Rock N Roll evolution where soon Rock N Roll will be known as a group or a brotherhood they call it simply as a Band. At this point, the bluesy flavour is still there with a colourful variety of Jazz, Spanish guitar, the California surf rock, blues grass and more. Mind you that while all this is happening, political and even religious dogmas persisted in a more conservative setting and because of these, many from the music business tried to water wash “Rock N’ Roll” attempting to take away it’s ruggedness and rawness. But through adversity, “Rock N Roll” evolved again. Bands like Cream, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, The Doors came into play, retaining most if not all the characteristics of their predecessors making Rock N’ Roll rougher, less conventionally danceable, but also making it more psychedelic. Some bands would revert to classic genres like The Eagles a more Country Rock Style would also make a comeback. Amazingly at this time, the Beatles persisted, still trend setting standard and evolving, having side projects that would be a new benchmark for future artists. (Side note 1: Rock N Roll bands also trend set fashion as well.) Rock N Roll would soon take another form. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, AC/DC and Deep Purple would rise to prominence being forefathers of Metal and Progressive Music.  Eventually Aerosmith. Instrumental Rock bands would also come into prominence, not that it hasn’t before, Instrumental bands have always been with Rock N Roll from the start although started with a common ancestry and eventually evolve. Another great variety is the more “Operatic Rock N’ Roll” in the form of Freddie Mercury and Brian May. The band called Queen contributed tremendous diversity and new approaches to RnR. At this point, MTV was born. Now more than ever, live performances had to step up having a wider audience and more visibility. (SIDE NOTE 2: New Rock N’ Roll Solo Artists would has also been flourishing even before MTV. Artists like Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel that is more commonly associated with Pop music but deep roots from Rock N Roll.) Soon we will welcome the era of the Big Haired Bands. The attempted of the Mainstream. Most really started as full-fledged Rugged Rock N Roll bands following and some following similar gimmicks of acts like KISS, Black Sabbath, Alice Copper and David Bowe but minus the Rawness and more of the glam also called glitter rock. Although criticized in the future for over doing it, they have also come up with memorable anthems. Most prominently Def Leppard, Poison, Bon Jovi, Warrant and more. Over lapping or brewing at this time in the underground are the angrier rougher Metallica, Skid row, The Cult and Guns N’ Roses will soon rise. A new era of Rock N’ Roll bands that would refine and create and some might argue branch away from Rock N’ Roll in the form of Hard Rock and Metal. The Metallica/Guns and Roses era would dominate the Rock world for years until the mid-90’s setting new standards of Rock N Roll and would open listening options for enthusiasts but would soon clash the Seattle scene. Although this is open to discussion in my perspective “Grunge” I do consider as another variety of Rock N Roll. I know that some 90’s bands do not consider that their accurate genre, but for the sake of simplicity, I’ll go for it. Most “Grunge” artists during interviews would usually state bands like the Beatles, Neil Young, or Led Zeppelin as their influence as they take the world and the MTV world by storm and would be known as the official Generation X Music. Most known are Pearl Jam, Sound Garden, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains and Nirvana. Some would even argue that the 90’s is the best era since the 70’s. (Side note number 3: at This Time Metal also took different and interesting forms like Pantera and White Zombie. The Pop alternative also started to take shape like Gin Blossoms, Lemon heads, and more.) Soon the music industry would again try to water wash Rock N Roll and came in Post-Grunge bands that just didn’t set as “Authentic” to most Gen X listeners. A great band worth mentioning is the Black Crowes which probably the most pure and untouched bands in terms of musical integrity, they managed to live through the Metallica/Guns N Roses time up to the 2000’s “New Metal” era The Black Crowes played Rock N Roll, Blues, Country even Motown and Soul eventual. Sadly, around mid 2000, the Mainstream Rock Scene was virtually void of Rock N’ Roll. 

In the Philippines, setting New Rock, Pop-Rock OPM, Soul and “Indie” mainly occupied the “Band Scene”. Rock N’ Roll and a few other Genre’s has taken a step back (Not by desire) like Hard Rock, Grunge, Thrash Metal even Hip-Hop. Come 2014, I stared to notice a change. The first change I noticed was that Hip-Hop  and Old School Hip-Hop were blending pretty well with the new. Radio segments dedicated to it has returned, Classic Metal has also been making a return. They also have a Radio Segment. You will find more college kids playing Metallica and Megadeath even more. Since the topic is Rock N’ Roll, the question here now is “What is the new Shape of today’s Rock N Roll?” I’ve been to numerous Rock N’ Roll or Classic Rock themed productions and sure, as a Rock N Roll guy myself, I enjoyed it. But the audience has grown stale. It is still fun but people knew more now about the Song “Narda” than “Day Tripper” (I know it’s weird contrasting a local song to a foreign one) But this holds true. It seemed for a while Rock N’ Roll was nowhere to be found (‘Cept of course in RJ Radio). Soon I started watching the “New Scene” productions that mainly catered to the usual modern band music. Here, I stared to notice bands that have the Rock N Roll vibe and they are good. They have been slowly been re-introducing Rock N Roll to the new. Naming a few would be the band May. Though not immediately recognizable as Rock N roll, and looks can be deceiving because of their age (Young) but they do play their songs with a noticeable Rock N’ Roll approach. The instrumentation combines modern pop rock with Bluesy leads, and the singer shifts from melodic mid tones to screaming vocals. Just the way a Rock N Roll Band would. Next, you have Gin Rum N’ Truth, a surprisingly great combination of Classic Rock, Hard Rock, and Grunge. Most bands I watch that try to attempt this just seems de focused and confusing, but Gin Rum N’ Truth pulled it off impressively, also noting that the classic “Page and Plant” tandem or “Keith and Mick” is evident in their performances. Another band is Hey Moonshine. Ala Black Crowes Vibe focusing on Soulful Blues and Rock N’ Roll. Their band is themed around peace and love and socio political anthems. The “Hippie 60’ 70” is back with soulful blues riffs and rugged vocals. Hey Moonshine knows how to deliver that Rock N’ Roll groove. Another band is Black Wolf Gypsies, a 3-piece high energy, Rock N Roll/Hard Rock band. They are like the Guns N Roses/JETs Love child but with fewer members. Their songs are soulful and catchyand ranges from a straight up in your face RnR to Groovy all out jams. Plus stage antics that will leave you at the edge of your seat. One of the last bands I’ll mention for now is Whiskey Version. Another 3-piece group. They are a playful cover band that recently started playing originals. The band is a three-way orgy between the Beatles, Clapton, and Oasis. They shift from groovy John Lennon songs to America covers. Summing all this up, Rock N Roll is here. These bands have been making such a buzz in the underground, they are impossible not to notice. And for the past weeks, I have been hearing them on the radio.

Check this photo of Gin Rum N’ Truth.

Surprisingly great and good news sometimes do come up on Facebook. This year’s Fete de la Musique has a Rock N Roll Stage! One of the most buzzed about and anticipated stage. It is hard to imagine with this line up the Rock N Roll stage is only a pocket stage. From the years of Void and then suddenly this! And for a good reason. Great independent bands have been flourishing in the underground and they are giving Rock N Roll the noise it deserves. Not really a surprise but headlining the event is the Great Razorback and Kjwan at June 17 at the Roadhouse Manila bay.

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The Return of Rock N’ Roll: Fete de la Musique Philippines 2017 The Return of Rock N’ Roll: Fete de la Musique Philippines 2017 Reviewed by Newsinfo Learn on June 17, 2017 Rating: 5

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