Group answers questions about going international and its future
All-male pop/rock band Sponge Cola will be representing the Philippines in this year’s “Memphis in May” music festival to be held next month in Tennessee, United States. The quartet is the first performing group from the country to take part in the said annual gathering which began in 1977. This announcement came months after event organizers declared the Philippines as the “featured country” for the 2012 edition of “Memphis in May.”
Sponge Cola guitarist Armo Armavit acknowledged that the group is somehow nervous because their audience there will be predominantly Caucasians. “But I think it will be just like introducing Filipino food to a foreign friend,” Armavit added, in reference to their group’s effort to share their music to a new audience. The music group was discovered by organizers of “Memphis in May” through video-sharing site YouTube.
Answering queries about Sponge Cola spending less time in the country once they have more overseas opportunities, Yael Yuzon, the group’s lead vocalist said: “You don’t have to leave your country to go international.” Yuzon explained that although Sponge Cola may try to expand their reach to other countries, “(they) will always give importance to Filipino audiences.”
He stressed that recording artist will only have to travel when he or she is on tour. The four-man group addressed questions from members of the media and selected bloggers during a press conference in Tomas Morato, Quezon City last April 19.
Yael said their group intends to arrive early in Memphis in preparation for the coming music extravaganza to familiarize themselves with the state’s climate. He shared that he tries to sing while using the treadmill to train himself how to sing on “challenging situations.”
Aside from Sponge Cola, this year’s lineup of performers includes Evanescence (“Bring Me to Life” and “My Immortal”), rapper Pitbull, and Grammy-winning singer Alison Krauss and her group Union Station. Krauss is best remembered for her version of “When You Say Nothing at All.” Click this link to see the full list of festival performers.
According to Yael, their song list for the event includes “Tambay,” “Jeppney,” and “Nakapagtataka.” All artists will be given one hour each to perform during the music fest. Performances will be held at Memphis’ Tom Lee Park from May 5 to 6. The 25-acre park is located in the historic Beale Street, facing the Mississippi River. Tickets to the three-day affair are available at $75 or around P3200 each.
Memphis in May is a month-long event held in the said southern US state. Sponge Cola’s upcoming performance is part of the Beale Street Music Festival, one of Memphis in May’s four main events. The other three are the following: the International Week, The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, and the Sunset Symphony. The Beale music event serves as the opening salvo for the whole Memphis in May affair. The gathering attracts tens of thousands of spectators annually.
The International Week meanwhile focuses on the particular country chosen to be the featured one on a particular year. This aims to make students in the area of Memphis and nearby counties the opportunity to experience the customs and cultures of twelve different countries from around the world by the time they finish secondary. Asian countries that have been featured in this event are Japan (1977, 1986), China (1987), Thailand (1995), India (2000), and Korea (2003).
*The famous Bayanihan Dance Troupe will also take part in this year’s May in Memphis. The group, organizers say, “epitomizes the spirit of Filipino folkloric dance and traditions translated into the modern stage.”