The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Yearly Archives: 2010

DAY 25: (Danny) Hospitality, snacks and song are the mainstays of everyday life in The Philippines.

Also, Christmas decorations and songs start at the beginning of September and continue through the 6th of January. Easter preparations start soon after, then Saints’ days and festivals to carry you into Spring. By Summer, you’ll need a new bathing suit because the food is too good to pass up. And, you’ll have a bigger and better voice because all the festivities involve everyone singing Karaoke.

Filipinos are the second largest immigrant group in the United States after Mexicans and we’re lucky to have such a beautiful, cultural addition in our country. The family and extended family is ever present at holiday gatherings and because we were in Manila for Thanksgiving, the circle widened to include us.We played a Thanksgiving Day gala at the American Embassy for the Ambassador and his guests. The menu pared our music with great wine, and of course, a multiple-course Thanksgiving feast prepared by the Embassy’s chefs.It was amazing to play and tour the grounds of this historic building perched above Manila Bay. It was a piece of WWII history and the trial of the captured Japanese general was held in the ballroom in which we played.The embassy staff, Joe, Jomar and Jenny, took such great care of us.The Ambassador was from Queens, New York and was a New York Met fan so we got along immediately. We also were invited to the home of the Public Affairs Officer for Thanksgiving dinner. Our hosts, Rick and Pinky, graciously invited us over to their beautiful home where we dined with their extended family and friends including a top designer, an art historian, a model and the Southeast Asia NCAA champion basketball team. Everyone had a great time and the food was a mix of traditional Thanksgiving fare and local favorites.

Shopping is a big part of the culture in the city and malls are a source of pride and bragging rights.These malls are like small cities and if you make a wrong turn, you could end up in an alternate universe where everything looks almost the same. Some of the largest, award-winning mall designs are in Manila and the surrounding provinces so it was no surprise that our two main concerts were on mall stages.We played three Master Classes at St. Thomas, FEU and Loyola Universities. We loved working with the students and they treated us to some great performances. We’re looking forward to staying in touch with everyone and have been answering Facebook requests and mail daily.We enjoyed talking with everyone, taking pictures and signing CDs after the concerts.

I would love to come back someday and see more of the islands and the beaches where, I’m told, the sand is as white and fine as sugar.

I feel so blessed to have had this experience in The Philippines where I received multifaceted gifts: a sense of renewal, holiday spirit, family and the joy of song. As we moved through these countries (six in 30 days) at lightning speed, it was hard to process and put into words the emotions and events in real time. Now that I’m home and I slowly decompress, I know that out of the stillness will come a river of expression. I hope I can put that down in this living and ever expanding journal. For years, I’ve meditated and prayed about playing music around the world on instruments from around the world with people from around the world. And this trip has been a manifestation of those prayers.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Yearly Archives: 2010

DAY 25: (Danny) Hospitality, snacks and song are the mainstays of everyday life in The Philippines. Also, Christmas decorations and songs start at the beginning of September and continue through the 6th of January. Easter preparations start soon after,…

The Sabah Times – Malaysia

Yearly Archives: 2010

KOTA KINABALU: The Johnny Rodgers Band, a New York-based group that specialises in performing American pop, jazz and rock and roll, visits Sabah on the last leg of its tour of six countries in Southeast Asia.. ..The band’s playful and casual take on music entailed plenty of participation on the part of the audience, who more »

Shine On

Yearly Archives: 2010

DAY 27: (Brian) As soon as we drove into Phnom Penh from the airport, it felt like we were far from home – almost no signs of western culture or multinational corporate brands. I didn’t see a McDonald’s, KFC or an Exon sign anywhere. Just local, small businesses and food stalls mostly housed in old-style, French-built apartment buildings from the late 1950s and open-air street marts. There are crazy unspoken driving rules like “largest vehicle has right of way” at intersections where your driver would just push through a sea of thousands of young people and families on scooters and motorbikes, swerving every which way into any lane. It wasn’t uncommon to see up to five people on a bike with little children riding side saddle without helmets! I kept thinking how this city seemingly has no public safety laws whatsoever and my fears proved not unfounded in the terrible tragedy that immediately followed our departure.

Our time there, however, seemed magical. From the warmth and dignified respect we received from everyone we met from the incredible U.S. State Department staff and local employees to the student musicians we mentored and, of course, the warmth of the audiences in Kampong Chom and Phnom Penh.The children of Cambodia had a big effect on me as I am missing my own so much during this month away. There were so many I saw working during the school day, selling food (including bugs of all kinds), fruit, or dancing for tourists. We were told by locals that some go to school in the morning and some in the afternoon. I can only hope this is true because we saw so many young children in the country drive to Kampong Chom working and panhandling during the day with their even younger siblings on their backs. Makes me especially thankful on this Thanksgiving for my three healthy and happy kids: Holden, Liv and Max.

We did see happy kids with their caring parents and giggling school girls who gathered and seemed thoroughly entertained by just watching us set up and sound check.Our shows were magical as well and a true exchange of cultures as we jammed with local Gamelan master musicians, Pu Klaing the Cambodian rapper and pop star Meas Soksophea of Cambodia, incorporating their sounds and ours into a wonderful mélange of true “world music” at both of our two major shows. Not to mention the professional sound, lights and staging! It’s not every day one gets to perform on the double bass with pyrotechnics exploding all around!We had decided that on our last day in Cambodia – our day off – it was a must to go see this county’s wonder in Siem Reap, the 12th century temples of Ankgor Wat. Missing that would be like missing the pyramids of Egypt. Exhausted though we were, our excellent guide, Mony (he’d been guide to both Hillary and Bill Clinton on their visits there) made our visit informative. He took us to see the three best temples in our limited time. The scale and detail of the bas relief carvings and sculptures left us awestruck, each depicting different Hindu and Buddhist legends. Some were so modern looking and well preserved that it seemed as if they could have been done yesterday.We left Sunday for Manila, The Philippines, after playing the wonderful opening concert for the Water Festival in Phnom Penh on the Friday evening before. We could not have imagined the terrible tragedy that would unfold at the final day of the same festival on Monday. More than 400 people were crushed to death and more than 500 injured in an apparent stampede and panic as one of the city’s small bridges across the river swayed while overcrowded with festival revelers. Our deep condolences and prayers go out to the families of the men, women and children lost in this horrific event.It’s a terrible lesson about public safety that Phnom Penh has had to learn the hardest way, but I know that these unbelievably strong people and this fantastically rich culture on the cusp of a modern day renaissance will surely endure.

Shine On

Yearly Archives: 2010

DAY 27: (Brian) As soon as we drove into Phnom Penh from the airport, it felt like we were far from home – almost no signs of western culture or multinational corporate brands. I didn’t see a McDonald’s, KFC or an Exon sign anywhere. Just local, small …

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