AMERICA, the band that produced such folk-rock driving songs like “Horse with No Name” and “Ventura Highway” and pop anthems such as “The Border” and “Daisy Jane,” are currently on their 50th anniversary world tour. When I learned that they were having a show in Hamilton, New Zealand where I reside, I made sure I was there.
On Nov. 24, Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley, the surviving members of the band that took the Grammy Award for Best New Artist of 1972, gave a thorough rendition of their most popular songs from their catalogue plus a few others that are rarely heard. The Filipino in me would have wanted to hear Cebu radio favorites, “Muskrat Love” and “All My Life” but I guess, these tunes weren’t in the radar of the Kiwi audience.
Bunnell has maintained his vocal timber; but Beckley, who delivers most of the ballads, has lost some of the brilliance in his renditions. The average of 100 shows each year for the past 50 years has taken its toll on these troubadours. Yet they continue to deliver and have added more rock flavor. Their guitar player, Steve Fekete, has given more grit and stage choreography to some of their songs. The harmony provided by the late Dan Peek may be missing; but the rest of the band have considerably filled that gap.
When I posted in my FB timeline a photo of the band’s performance, my friend Jeruel Roa commented that America “had two eras. The first one was their ‘Horse with No Name,’ ‘I Need You,’ etc. era when they still had Dan Peek. The second was when Peek left and Beckley and Bunnel still came up with gems like ‘You Can Do Magic,’ ‘Inspector Mills’ and their version of ‘Right Before My Eyes.’ Each era had its own charm.” I can only agree. That second era had the fifth Beatle, George Martin, as producer; though the latter’s contribution didn’t raise the band in the status equivalent to Crosby Stills Nash & Young or The Eagles. You could have mistaken the event as a senior citizens’ convention.
While we are amazed that artists like America, Rolling Stones, The Eagles, Paul McCartney and even Tony Bennett continue to tour, we are also saddened of others whose music genius were cut-short like Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and The Doors’ Jim Morrison. This week is a sad one for Cebu music as one of its bright young music producers, Brian Sacro, passed away. A few months ago, Brian suffered from a massive stroke. An expert bass guitar player, he set up Kalye Musika and helped a good number of musicians and bands in recording their original materials. Brian, we are grateful to your contribution and will continue with your mission to raise the standard of Cebu music. God should welcome you to His Kingdom with your music and your faith. To the Sacro family, our condolence.