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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

SalinAwit continues conquest

Richard Merk is a man possessed. Those who know him will quickly attest to this. When he undertakes a project, he sticks to it come hell or high water till kingdom come.

An accomplished jazz singer after mom Annie Brazil recognized as the Queen of Jazz, Richard is the Prince of Jazz who stubbornly sticks to his Wednesday night sorties at Merk’s even when all other jazz joints have closed down.

Nowadays, however, Richard has adopted a new child, the SalinAwit baby, a 35-year-old adult courtesy of poet Pete Lacaba who has translated foreign classical songs into Tagalog. To date Pete has 130 SalinAwits.

Pete’s hobby soon turned into an advocacy and caught fire among music lovers who began singing his poetic translations in their own gigs. One such music lover was Richard who feels the need to rescue the marvelous concept from the dungeon and bring it into the light, he says. He proposed a SalinAwit sa Merks so the Makati crowd could appreciate what previously had almost exclusively been an alternative art form. Pete was not exactly comfortable with the idea. He must have felt it was like sleeping with the enemy, a case of indie vs. mainstream.

But Richard was insistent and of course he prevailed. The first Merk SalinAwit was last March 16 with Armida Siguion-Reyna, Gino Padilla, Suzy Unas, Ramon “Montet” Acoymo, Ricky Davao, Richard and Pete himself. The second was June 22 with Willie Nepomuceno, Cooky Chua, Mara Viola, lawyer Ferdie Topacio, Richard and Pete. And next will be today with Jacqui Magno, Raquel “Kelly” Villavicencio, Ricky, lawyer Ferdie, Richard and Pete. It is obvious how insistent Richard can get.

The lineup at Merk’s displays an interesting mix of newcomers, alternative performers, jazz singers, loyal enthusiasts absent from venues like the Conspiracy, SalinAwit’s base in Visayas Avenue. Raquel is an award-winning production designer, writer and now actress; jazz icon Jacqui is a former Circus Band member of the ‘70s. Both Kelly and Jacqui are participating in SalinAwit for the first time.

Lawyer Ferdie is not exactly a newcomer having had his own happy hour Thursdays set at Merk’s for sometime now. Ricky is the veteran, having started out with Pete, jamming in piano bars. Their pianist most of the time is the amazing Ferdie Borja who to us is the best accompanist in town, familiar with all the songs one could think of, and one who never ever tries to steal the thunder from the singer although he very well could.

Call Merk’s at 757-4720 to 21 for SalinAwit reservation or just go to Greenbelt 3, third level.

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