Queen City experiences: Davao indie-act insights

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Monday, February 3, 2014

MUSIC, they say, is a universal language. Sure music is easy to enjoy, but in its purest art form, is one that’s a challenge to promote. Striving artist musicians, try their best to get their materials heard in just about any place in any way possible. Getting one’s original music out in the open is definitely not that easy.

For the band Jad Montenegro, an opportunity to tour Cebu City came. So arrive they did as “tourists on a mission”—to play their brand of music that’s distinctly dreamy, innovative and melodically-interesting.

“We were brought to Cebu by Sandy Kiamko (franchise owner of Alberto’s Pizza, Davao).

Jad Montenegro Band
Jad Montenegro Band (Contributed photo/Jay Chiongbian Young)


He came to our second EP launch last year and approached us after the show, saying he liked our sound and he wanted us to play in Cebu early in January,” shared Jad Montenegro, the band’s vocalist and whose real name, the band’s label is derived from.

“Dave (guitarist) and I had a flight a day ahead on Jan. 9, so we played a two-piece acoustic set at Handuraw Pizza. Then the rest of the band arrived the next day and that night we played a full-piece acoustic set in Irie Gastropubliko. The following night, we played a full-band set of nine songs at The Outpost,” summarized the vocalist of the band’s weekend in Cebu.

Jad Montenegro from Davao City is composed of Jad Montenegro on guitar and vocals, Dave Ibao on guitar and backing vocals, Khuko Luzada on lead guitar, Pjoe Sabanpan on bass and Carlo Jose Garcia on drums and backing vocals. Indeed, the five-piece wowed local audiences with their own style of indie acoustic folk music.

Interesting to note, they played in Cebu at a time when everybody in town was in a festive mood. They were here the weekend before the Sinulog, and several activities were already on the roll. As visitors, they’ve had their own share of great (or wacky) Cebu moments.

“Pjoe and I saw Incredible Hulk join the fun run,” shared Khuko regarding a runner garbed in a costume of the popular “Avengers” member during the Cebu City Marathon.

“Ginabot!” Carlo exclaims, as to what he found “special” during the weekend trip. “It captured my heart and almost gave me a heart attack,” the drummer joked. “It captured everyone’s heart and stayed there most definitely,” Pjoe quipped. “Ginabot was great.

But I didn’t have the chance to try the spicy boneless lechon belly though,” regretted Khuko.

Jad was luckier speaking of the trademark Cebuano roasted delicacy.

“There’s no comparison to Cebu lechon—it’s the bomb,” stated Jad. “The boys stuffed themselves silly with ginabot!”

Jad went to Manila for college and there she also played as lead guitarist for several indie acts. When she came home to Davao after her studies, she began playing solo acoustic acts. One significant moment prior the band’s forming was when Jad performed at Durian Bar—one of the oldest and established rock bars in Davao—the owner approached and asked her if she would like to have a full band behind her music. She was then introduced to Dave and Pjoe.

A few years later and they’ve toured a bit of Manila and Cebu, definitely keeping it real with their style of music.

“Getting to travel to Manila in 2013 and Cebu in 2014 as a band was also a big step for us and we are really grateful for the opportunity,” Jad said.

Indeed the recent visit to Cebu proved to be a chance for the band to discover what audiences like in different parts in the country were.

“The Davao and Cebu music scenes are a little similar in the sense that they are discerning listeners. More than once we’ve been told that Cebuanos do not applaud if they don’t like the band, and that’s true for Davao City too. We think this is an environment that can really help hone a band and create better performers. However, we know that the Cebuano audience can also be warm, accommodating and friendly, and in Davao that is also the case. In Davao, everyone knows everybody else, and bands are generally very supportive of each other no matter what genre,” shares Jad.

“Cebuanos are really an awesome crowd. It felt really good playing in front of them.

We knew they were listening and that meant a lot to the band,” adds Carlo.

The group has also met some friends along the way and is thinking of inviting them to perform at Davao this year as well. “A bunch of my friends are bugging us to please bring Bethany to Davao because they’re all big fans,” shares Jad referring to the Cebuano alternative rock act. “Kaapin, please!” Pjoe gives a shout out to the Cagayan De Oro/Cebu-based experimental electronic duo.

Jad Montenegro has released two EPs under its belt: Fixed Points and Pendulums (2012) and Detours (2013).

“This year, we want to release fewer songs, so we can polish them more. Or we were thinking we would work on our older tracks, pretty them up and release a full-length album, but we keep coming up with new songs!” reveals Jad.

Would the band consider playing in Cebu again in the future?

“Most definitely,” everyone replies.

“I can see a lot of support being given to the indie bands and artists in Cebu.

Although indie bands in Davao also have their share of support, I can say that in the Cebu scene; the crowd is open to what they hear and see on stage. We can also hear Cebuano songs being played on radio stations showing us how much support the indie artists in Cebu are getting,” says Carlo. For more about the band, check out facebook.com/jadmontenegromusic.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 04, 2014.


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