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StarBulletin.com

Filipino blues


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POSTED: Friday, June 26, 2009

For a colorful musical genre so closely related to black folks, the “;blues”; are all over the rainbow these days. Black, white and brown all over.

               

     

 

SUMMER OAHU BLUES BASH

        With Friends of Adam, Tell Mama, Northside Art and the Mixers, the Corey Funai Blues Band and Chris Vandercook with Mark Prados
       

» Where: Anna Bannana's, 2440 S. Beretania St.

       

» When: 4 p.m. Sunday

       

» Cost: $5

       

» Info: 946-5190 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

       

 

       

And as the Friends of Adam ask rhetorically on their Web site, Can three young Filipino men play the blues?

So well, apparently, that Friends of Adam are the only local blues band to play both of the now annual summer “;Blues Bashes”; at Anna Bannanas. This year, they'll join Tell Mama, the Corey Funai Blues Band, Northside Art and the Mixers, and Chris Vandercook with Mark Prados.

Young and Filipino are descriptors rarely used for blues bands, and, like anything blues-related, nothing came easy. When he was just starting out, FOA guitarist Clay Campania - the rest of the band are Ernie Ecraela on bass and Justin Incelda on drums - asked a friend to teach him some hot riffs. He had no idea what the blues sounded like.

“;I was never exposed to the blues. My parents didn't listen to that stuff,”; recalled Campania. “;Before we actually could get together, he gave me the 'Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Jimi Hendrix' to listen to (and) It absolutely blew me away.

“;After that I knew that the blues is what I wanted to play. It just felt good, and it felt right. While searching for more music on Jimi, that's when I found other bluesmen, and the different styles of blues that they played. From Texas blues, to Chicago blues, and eventually some Delta blues. I just pressed play to see if I could make the sounds that these blues greats were making.”;

They included Freddie King, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Robert Johnson, Elmore James, and “;recently I've been trying to catch up on Johnny Winter and Rory Gallgher.”;

A KALIHI kid, Campania has been singing since age 5.

“;You know, weddings and family parties and stuff. My parents didn't really push me to pursue music, but music was pretty much a part of my life since I was kid,”; he said. “;My parents weren't musicians, but my dad was the one who got me into performing, he comes to our shows every chance he gets.”;

Experimenting with various styles, Campania discovered Stevie-Ray-style Texas Blues fit his fingers. Then, aided by friend Jon Hart Campania stripped down his standard Mexico-manufactured Fender Stratocaster to the basics.

“;The only thing left of the original guitar is the body, minus the paint,”; said Campania. They added a fat rosewood neck to stretch bigger strings, plus rail pickups, getting that fat, buzzing-bee sustain famous west of the Pecos.

Technique. Gear. Next, gigs. Although the local club market is enough to make a bluesman blue, Campania is having a good time.

“;Island music is naturally going to be the dominant scene around here, but I've been pleasantly surprised at how many people here really like the blues,”; said Campania. “;There are people out there putting these semi-annual blues shows together, and all the other blues bands keeping the music alive. We've met some cool people, and play some killer shows and raging parties. I think that's all I can ask for playing the blues in Hawaii!

“;I can't say I really listen to anything else other than the blues these days. I'm no purist, so I'll take my blues in many forms outside of the traditional blues. I was so moved by the music that I couldn't really turn back. The blues is as real as it gets. It speaks from the soul. It is definitely best not to over think it. Just open up, let it out, and go for it.”;

Which means sometimes his fingers surprise him.

“;I'll listen to some audio recording and not remember doing some of the stuff I'm listening to. When you can get lost in what you're doing and just let everything come out, it's one of the best feelings,”; laughed Campania. “;It isn't just through singing lyrics that you get your message across. It's through your instrument too. That's what made these blues guitarists so great - the ability to make their guitar speak. Sometimes there are feelings that just can't be put into words, but your instrument can find a way to help you express them.”;

Check. Do you need a “;blues name”; to be a real bluesman?

“;If anybody out there could come up with a blues name for me I would really appreciate it. Thanks!”;