Dust 'N D Attic

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By Susan Palmes-Dennis

The 'S' Factor

Saturday, April 12, 2014


I SAW them perform first at the Jam Morales concert and believe you me I kept asking myself why they are called Dust ’N D Attic.

One of the band members Christine Olarte explained that their name is a corruption of the phrase “dusting the attic.”

“Visualize your own attic which usually holds things not needed in the meantime but holds something dear to our hearts. Once revisited, these items become valuable again, its years dusted off, just like our music,” Christine said.

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She goes on and tells me more: “Think of a 40-something person digging into his/her old records that have been stored in boxes for decades in the attic. Sense his or her excitement as he or she plays the records again, letting the music flood through their beings with memorable past experiences. The memories come alive again,” Christine said.

I mused, is she really talking to me or to someone else? But then what Christine said makes perfect sense Dust ’N D Attic is composed of Rommel Olarte as the lead singer/rhythm and lead guitars, Ferdie Espiritu as drummer, Geoffrey Villarasa on bass and rhythm guitars, Jigs Yalong also on drums and percussions and Christine, Rommel's wife, on keyboards and guitar.

Innate love

“Everyone in the band sings,” Christine said. Dust N' D Attic will perform in the Nonoy Zuniga concert “Kumusta Ka” on April 19 here in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The band was formed two years ago from a shared love of music and since then they've been doing well.

“The innate human love for music was our common ground. It was something we checked off from our bucket list. Others were picking up from where we left off years back,” Christine said.

Aside from their music, they also bond through their families and friendship. Their repertoire spans diverse genres through different generations from the 50s to the millennium. Christine said they remain young at heart.

They practice once a week. “Otherwise, we are attending each other’s family events especially during birthdays, wedding anniversary celebrations, or the like. We usually end up performing,” Christine said.

Musical influence

When asked about their musical influences, Jigs Yalong cites the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Nirvana and other bands in the 90s as favorites.

“I always dream of playing with an orchestra or choir. I learned the guitar from reading Jingle magazine,” he said.

Jigs also tapped “gallons of milk and oil” in learning to play the drums. Geoffrey Villarasa said he was largely self-taught and learned how to play the instruments from the street boys and his brothers, with whom he jammed with frequently.

"I just can’t watch live bands and do nothing, so I formed a band at the age of 19. That's where it started. Without music is like fish out of water to me. To all Pinoys here, please support our music scene," Jigs said.

Ferdie Espiritu learned about music in his teen years watching live bands at the Shakey’s pizza joint. “It was just a couple of years ago where I got interested in playing drums. I guess it’s never too late if you really want to learn,” he said.

Christine, who was an Olarte before she married Rommel, said music runs deep in the Olarte family. She described her husband as being born "with a musical spoon in his mouth."

Gift for music

“Christine looks up to her dad for musical influence. Her father is called ‘The Singing Lawyer’ back home in Baguio City, Philippines,” she said.

Christine said her father would practice a few dozen songs and she recalled how she would be amazed at how crisp and clear her father's voice and guitar playing sounded.

Her dad would always keep his guitar close at hand, ready to belt out songs whenever an opportune occasion comes.

Christine said Rommel was a choir member in his early school years and he started off as a soprano before puberty lowered his voice to a tenor and then eventually to a baritone today.

Music lessons began in high school then Rommel studied under renowned vocal coaches of several conservatory of music universities.

To further hone his gift for music, Christine said Rommel joined vocal ensembles and later a group called Baguio Dissonants.

In 1987 Rommel presented his first solo recital and shortly after, brought honor to his home city when he emerged as a national champion for vocal solo in the 1988 National Music Competition for Young Artist (NAMCYA) at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Family life

“During travels, (Christine's father) always had a stack of cassette tapes so we could listen to his favorite songs from music icons such as The Beatles, Sting, Eric Clapton, and Bob Dylan,” Christine said.

Christine said she was known as “kid that tagged along” with her father up until the time that she jammed with her brothers in high school.

“In reality, I had difficulty advancing as I barely read music notes and rather depended heavily on quick sound and hand muscle memory,” she said.
When not performing, Geoffrey works as a nurse at Novant Health. He's married with two kids. Ferdie works as a Network Administrator and is married with two kids and two adorable grandchildren.

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Rommel and Christine have four teenage kids who take to their love of music. Jigs, who hails from Paco Manila, has a son and is still looking for his partner for life.

Rommel migrated to the US with his family in 2006 and resigned from the military. He's now the director of Home Care for Care Optima which provides in-home care services for seniors.

On kicking off their team two years ago, Dust N' D' Attic recruited a guy named Spikes who takes care of their tuning during gigs. Christine says Spike is an honorary band member.

Aside from the “Smile in Your Heart” concert of Jam Morales, Dust ‘N D Attic performed their first band gig at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) front act for Gabby Concepcion Concert. They also performed at the Dream Nightclub in Matthews, North Carolina.

They also held a charity concert for typhoon Yolanda victims at the Saloon Factory also here in Charlotte.

The band will perform covers of songs like “Noypi” by Bamboo, “Stars” by Simply Red, “Ticket to Ride” by The Beatles, “Happy” by Pharell Williams, “Ako'ysa 'Yo, Ika'y Akin” by IAxe, and “My Sharona” by the Knack on the Nonoy Zuniga concert.

The Nonoy Zuniga “Kumusta Ka” concert will be held at the UNCC McKnight Hall (Cone Center) 9201 University City Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28223.

The concert is produced by Core Visions Productions. Other performers in the concert are Rene Escarcha, Alexis Riley, Marissa Helbing, Glenda Mori and Chrystle Mactal.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on April 12, 2014.

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