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Up close with a guitar god, ‘regular guy’ Jun Lopito

The other night, I met one of the country's best guitar players, Jun Lopito.

I was elated. I couldn't believe it.

As I watched him play with Mr. Bones and the Boneyard Circus, I wondered what I’d ask him.

Several guitar licks later, I gathered my courage and called out, "Jun!"

He looked briefly at me and my friends. Then, I introduced myself.

But first, I had to ask my friends to take my photo with him. Couldn’t help it. I’m such a fanboy.

Teen prodigy

For those who don't know, Jun Lopito is a guitar god, just like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Keith Richards, all of whom he emulated.

Wolfgang’s Basti Artadi said as much to music writer Eric Cauncho in 1996. Manuel Legarda also sang his praises then, saying, “He’s not the best technically, but as a musician…he has the feel, and he knows how to use it.”

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The son of the television host Lopito, Jun was a teenage wunderkind, playing the blues and rock at age 17 with the likes of Joey Smith and the late great drummer Edmund Fortuno. He also played with rock icons like Sampaguita, the Jerks, Grace Nono, among many others.

He also formed the group Bodhisattvas and released an album.

Still playing the blues

Last year, he came out with an album called “Buddha Blues You,” an all-guitar album punctuated by Buddhist chants and the voice of his young baby daughter. You can listen to a few tracks here.

I first discovered his music back in the 90s. One of my guitar friends told me I had to hear this guy. I listened to a cassette tape (folks, there was such a recording device) featuring the country's various guitar players: Joel Mendez, Tirso Ripoll, Perf de Castro and, of course, Jun Lopito.

And thanks to a Jack Daniels event, I finally saw him play live!

Catching up

And I was just as lucky to have had a few words with him: "It's been a while… What's Jun been up to over the years?"

Jun said he had been busy taking care of his child Lazuli, his inspiration these days. Apart from that, he is now working on his third solo album called “Bodhi-3.”

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So I asked him what's keeping him from finishing the album. "Support and this," he said, referring to music events where Pinoy musicians like him are allowed to play their hearts out.

Last of the ‘dinosaurs’

"We're the last of the dinosaurs. We need more support," Jun added. In not so many words, Jun indicated that money was needed to bankroll the production of the album.

Which brought us to the current state of original Pinoy music, which an unfortunate young scribe last year declared was "dead" (and sparked debate among the music circles and in media).

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So I asked him, "Do you think original Pinoy music is dead?"

“No!” he said. Pinoy music is evolving and has even grown into sub-genres. He said that in the 70s, either you were disco or a jeproks (rocker), that was it.

It’s all about heart

Jun lamented that many joints these days "dictate" the music they want bands to play. I told him not all joints force bands to play music they don't like. But yes, music has to have some commercial value to sell to an audience.

Music has to come from the musician's heart (or feelings), he stressed.

In fact, he wants to revive "analog" music. He misses the days when music was not digital. Yes, digital has its advantages (think about music recording at home).

But perhaps Jun was talking about the rawness of his guitar music, which is a hallmark of blues and early rock and roll. The soul of his guitar needs to breathe and live. All the pyrotechnics would just come from his guitar.

NOT doing a Santana

He hinted that his third solo album would be a collaboration with a number of guests.

"Are you doing a Santana?"

“NO!” he replied.

We both laughed. Okay, he's not a big fan of the bearded guitarist who got Rob Thomas, Cee-Lo and Dave Matthews, among others, to work with him on all those commercial songs like “Smooth.”

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I am looking forward to listening to Jun Lupito again, live or recorded.

Finding his music, however, is another story.

"Everything's at home. Come by and we can listen to it," he offered and we both laughed again.

Can't get any more "analog" than that.

Editor's note:
The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed.

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