photo by Richie Abrina

Binky Lampano and Lampano Alley

will play in Bistro 70s (Anonas St, Quezon City)

on August 22 (Wednesday).

Yahoooooooo! :))))) Vamos! Vamos!


by Howard Borja

BINKY LAMPANO IS one raspy-voiced belter, ’nuff said. In today’s scene where pop and retro-’70s groups dominate the live band scene, Binky and Lampano Alley are in a class of their own. While their club sets at 70’s Bistro, Mayric’s and Beck’s Bar are eclectic enough to include pop, rock and R&B tunes, the musicians play with distinctive bluesy flairs and flourishes while backing the front man’s Louis Armstrong-like vocals. Naturally, it is in their blues songs that the band is most at home. Here they draw from a rich repertoire ranging from traditional standards to contemporary urban blues and crossovers — from Muddy Waters, BB King, and John Lee Hooker to Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, and many others.

Formed in mid-’96, Lampano Alley’s bluesmen include harmonica player Tom “Tomcat” Colvin, a former history teacher at the snooty Choate School in the US and a retired ADB expat. Tom has a collection of 70-odd harmonicas. At first he thought he needed just one — until he learned about the different keys. Guitarist Edwin Vergara is a veteran of the late ’80’s band scene and is adept at many styles. Bassist Simon Tan has his hands full with his six-string bass, which he can coax to sing like a lead guitar. Drummer Jojo Lim, like Simon, is UP Conservatory trained and can lay down the beat with understatement and precision. One nice thing about the band is that they don’t play at constant high volumes to make an impact — they play on the full range of dynamics. Conversation is actually possible.

Tom and Binky formed the Newly Industrialized Combo in the early ’90s and it is considered the Philippines’ pioneering blues band. When Binky split for the US in 1993, he naturally gravitated towards the blues clubs in Los Angeles, where he had a chance to jam with the local bluesmen. The joke was, they’d search Binky’s scalp for kinky hairs because, by the way he sang, they’d swear he was black. When he returned to Manila after 3 years, even his Pinoy English had changed to Afro-American street jive. The sojourn did give him a sharper perspective on the blues and an itch for performing; thus, Lampano Alley was born.