Manila Bulletin – SEEING DOUBLE – Feb. 2008

Seeing Double (Yugel Losorata)

Believe it or not, two bands called Earth, Wind & Fire exist today and the better band is performing in the country next month.

It requires a lot of talent to continue on with the musical tradition of the revered Earth, Wind, and Fire. So iconic is this group, two separate bands that carry the same name and perform the great hits, exist. One features Philip Bailey at the helm, with three original members on board while the other has Al McKay leading the pack, with two original members with him on the fold. How did this happen and why, has not been clearly explained. But Filipino fans wouldn’t care less since one of them, The Earth Wind, and Fire Experience led by Al McKay, is about to play the Philippines and perform all those great hits.

A versatile performer who serves as the heart and soul of the EWF Experience, Al McKay is a guitarist, songwriter and producer. He is officially dubbed as a former member of Earth, Wind and Fire. He has valued contributions to some of the finest EWF tracks. Apart from performing EWF songs as leader of his ‘Experience’ act, he and his band also tours{s:r}around the world’s major jazz festivals.

The Manila Bulletin managed to get a hold on Cebu-based guitarist Bruce Conti and ask his opinion of Al McKay’s band. Conte was a member of the Tower of Power band and he’s set to join EWF Experience on one of its concerts in the country.

Here is a short Q&A on Bruce Conte who will guest perform with EWF, who loves the Philippines and is a true believer of EWF Experience.

There are two bands that carry the name of EWF. So tell us which is the better one.

For me the EWF Experience is the better lot. They have more showmanship and they don’t rely on prerecorded vocals. The other one makes use of pre-recorded tracks because the main vocalist, as far as I know, can’t hit the high notes anymore.

What should fans expect from the EWF Experience come showtime?

It’s going to be real exciting. They’ll hear all the EWF songs with that great sax sound.”

How would you describe Al McKay?

An extremely talented guy and a good friend.

Have you collaborated with Filipino musicians?

I played with Bamboo, Side A, Regine Velasquez and Ogie Alcasid. I guess Filipinos are musically good and soulful.

Are you staying in the Philippines for good?

Yes. I love the climate here, tropical. I have a girlfriend here as well.

Got any advise to give to Filipino guitarists, both professional and otherwise?

Keep practicing. Study music. The more you know how to play various roles as musicians, the better.

EWF Experience is set to play at Manila Hotel on March 4, Cebu Sports Center on March 5, Araneta Coliseum on March 11, and Clark Expo Angeles Pampanga on March 12.