The new Ka Freddie’s Music Bar & Restaurant (Tomas Morato Avenue corner Kamuning, Quezon City) is only three months old. The bartender says it has been enjoying a full-house audience for the past few weeks—thanks to the controversy generated by news of the club’s owner, Freddie Aguilar, having a girlfriend, Jovie Albao, who, at 16, is 44 years younger than him.
Freddie himself performs at the club with his band Watawat every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
We take time to catch his gig on a Saturday, if only to find out whether having a new romance would benefit, in a creative way, the internationally renowned singer-songwriter.
The club, though small and dimly lit, exudes a cosmopolitan vibe with the presence of a few Caucasians. The foreigners, presumably long-time fans of Freddie, look intently at framed posters of past concerts and clippings from local and overseas publications covering the artist’s achievements. One such clipping is from Billboard magazine highlighting Freddie’s entry in the international music charts.
The cramped reception area, which has artist merchandise T-shirts for sale, leads into a billiard table and the club’s main room. Freddie is playing billiards with some guys when we arrive.
A folksinger, Arnel Mendoza, serves as opening act and plays covers of Jackson Browne, James Blunt, and Simon and Garfunkel hits. His choice of material is interesting, except that his rendition still harks back to the old plakado style which makes him sound like a clone. It doesn’t help that the audio system isn’t properly mixed and ends up muddling his voice.
He ends his four-song set with another cover, Freddie’s signature hit, Anak,” but in a mixed English-Tagalog version. We lose interest halfway through.
When Freddie and the band finally go onstage, we half-expect that Jovie is watching. True enough, she’s here, sitting at the head table fronting the stage, beside Tetay Aguilar, wife of Freddie’s son Jeriko, the band’s guitarist.
After warming up with an old original, “Himig,” Freddie proceeds to greet his audience by saying that he’s been sleepless for two days because the TV networks have not stopped requesting for more interviews regarding his love affair with a minor.
He repeats what he has said on TV, radio and the papers—that he’s really in love and has the blessings of Jovie’s parents. And then he asks Jovie herself to stand up to be recognized. She waves at the audience like a celebrity.
When the music resumes, one of the songs’ lyrics unwittingly relates to the public’s negative perception of Freddie’s romance: “Ako ang nasisisi, ako ang laging may kasalanan…”; while in another tune, it’s his turn to assert his right: “Ipaglalaban ko ang pag-ibig mo…”
While at it, Freddie is obviously performing like a rock star and enjoying it—grooving to the beat, fooling around with bassist Rey “Eggpie” de Castro, and egging on Jeriko to crank it up on lead guitar.
We want to hear “Anak,” still the only Filipino song to have penetrated the global music market since the 1970s, as well as “Magdalena,” one of Freddie’s other hits that has stood out for its lyricism.
But before we can shout them out our requests, Freddie and the band wind up their set, after only five songs! No encores, no nothing. Rock star, indeed.
The beer, by the way, costs P300 per bucket of five bottles.
One of the acts to look forward to at Ka Freddie’s is Resty Fabunan of Maria Cafra fame on Nov. 5.
Two big concerts that may spur you to go on a night out are OneRepublic Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum and Matchbox Twenty on Nov. 8 at SM Mall of Asia Arena.
We’ve seen OneRepublic perform a few years ago in Kuala Lumpur and we had fun. Matchbox Twenty should be interesting as well.