EVEN at a “ripe” 70 years of age, Joey “Pepe” Smith isn’t exactly going quietly into the night…
“I got some rock and roll left in me,” declared the Pinoy rock icon during the presser for his Rockfest on June 2 at the Amoranto Stadium.
Smith knows that his health concerns have left him unable to properly play the guitar, or even the drums.
“I can’t play like I used to, sing like I used to; but maybe there is someone in the audience who hasn’t watched me,” he admitted.
While he looks thinner than we last saw him, yet his indomitable spirit remains as strong as ever.
“So I will play with any band. I will play with my last ounce of strength,” an adamant Smith declared.
THE Pepe Smith Rockfest is the biggest outdoor rock festival organized in Philippine soil. The “sons” of Pepe Smith will number 74-bands strong.
Count them again: that’s seventy-four. The rocker’s manager, Mark De Leon, laughs at the “audacious” line-up. He refused to say Smith is “swinging for the fences” here.
“There is something, some band for everyone who will go,” de Leon postulated. “The music scene is alive and well. I think this will be the start of something.”If the Pepe Smith Rockfest is the match that lights the fire of a rock and roll renaissance, then so be it.
While Woodstock-style festivals were the norm during the 1960s all the way to the late 1980s, it isn’t the case nowadays—at least domestically. On the contrary, the band scene is thriving, and the country is experiencing revival of sorts as there are more clubs and “gigging” places than ever.
More bands are independently putting out albums not only digitally, but also in the traditional formats of vinyl, cassettes, and compact discs.
“I’ve got one more rock and roll yarn to tell,” Smith said last year during a show at the Handlebar in Makati. The aged rocker was referring to recording one more album.
He admitted that his last solo album, Idiosyncrasies, fell far below expectations music-wise. He asked for assurances that if he’d get down to making new music, there would be no interference in the creative process.
Songs in his head
WHEN this writer asked about the status of that unrecorded album (as this is seeing print, his Juan dela Cruz mate Mike Hanopol is spending time in the studio for a new album), Smith points to his head. “I got a lot of songs right in here,” he revealed. But even the icon knows that time is not on his side.
He conceded though, “In its time. In its time.”
The Pepe Smith Rockfest was initially slated in November 2017. But the elderly music icon’s health concerns forced organizers to postpone it. Now healthier, maybe he is right. Indeed, “in its time.”
The ageing rocker strummed his acoustic guitar for some television cameras just to show he can still “jam” with the younger lot.
JUST across Smith, his eldest daughter Queenie looks over, with equal parts concern and love. “As to why I am so looking forward to this is, I will get to perform with Papa,” said the younger Smith, who chose to embark on a career overseas.
Optimistic, she shared, “I hope he has a lot more shows in him not only for me, but for fans and bands that can be inspired everywhere.”
“There are a lot of reasons to go to the Pepe Smith Rockfest,” summed up de Leon. “Seventy-four plus, to be exact. We’ve got 74 really good bands. And we’ve got merchandise booths, a vape expo, an art exhibit, food booths, a tattoo competition, as well as showcases for music and motorcycles.”
Like a skilled marketing man, he ended with some good-ole sales pitch: “See Pepe Smith play, and the bands that will perform tributes. That’s a good way to spend your June 2.”