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"San Miguel Band" lights up the night

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-12-04

Great music is the best way to describe the "San Miguel Band". Although they are not one of the island's more well known musical groups, they soon might be. Their music has a definite Latin influence, and ranges from mellow to get-up and dance. Their song list includes music from the Gypsy Kings, the Eagles, the Doobie Brothers, and some "oldies but goodies", along with many others. I caught the band at their current home turf of Pescederia, located in Chatan, near the Hambi Town shopping center.

The six-man group is very down to earth, and they love to play music. They are one of those groups you might find in some great bar along the Baja, with ocean breezes and frozen margaritas. Their on stage energy gives you a great feeling, which makes you want to sing along and tap your feet. Their sound is very clear with acoustic rhythms leading the way. Their vocals are outstanding, and they just look like one of those bands who enjoy performing.

The group first started out in 1993 as a duo with members Ramon Gonzales and Mario Ebarle playing acoustic serenades at the Alivila Resort. The band acquired most of its newer members this past year, and has also managed to acquire many new fans. Youngest member Jonathan Capistrano brings to the band his talented voice and acoustic rhythm guitar. "Mori" is the band's electric and acoustic guitarist, while Miguel lays down the beat on drums, and "Maeda" adds the Latin sounds of the congas. Original members Gonzales and Ebarle are the backbone of the group, with Gonzales singing vocals and playing bass, and Ebarle giving some sound performances on acoustic guitar and backup vocals.

The group likes to work their original style of play into many of their songs. They do a great rendition of "Listen to the Music" by the Doobie Brothers, and they get everyone really going with "Volare". "Our music is relaxing, but we can also really shake the crowd," said Gonzales.

Besides their weekly performances at Pescederia, the "San Miguel Band" was busy this past summer playing at many different events around Okinawa. They played at some of the outer islands, and also made their way to a performance up to Nagasaki in mainland Japan. The young band played to a packed field outdoors, in front of almost 2,000 people at the Manza Beach Resort. It was one of their most impressive concerts to date.

The band is currently playing mostly part-time, but would like to eventually make a CD with their own original tunes. They bring in the talent necessary to be successful, and they definitely blend well with each other, despite having only been together for a short time. Gonzales, who was born in Spain and grew up in the Philippines, started singing at the age of ten. Ebarle first learned the slide guitar when he was seven from his father in the Philippines, who is now eighty years old and still plays. Miguel has been a long time fan of rock-n-roll, and started the drums at age eighteen. "Mori", and "Maeda" have also been around instruments since they were children, and Capistrano, who was a former band member at Kentos, used to play with Marie Howell in the "Hit Paraders Band".

"We appreciate all our fans, especially those who come from so far away to hear us play," said Gonzales and Ebarle. The group plans on continuing to play good music and keep their goal of having fun.

If you would like to see the "San Miguel Band" live, you can catch them every Friday night from 7:30 pm until 10 pm at the Pescederia Bar and Restaurant. To get there, head south from the 7 Plex Movie Theater along Hambi's main road. Just before reaching the Hambi Town shopping center, keep an eye out for Pescederia's neon signs off to the right. The "San Miguel Band" also plays at weddings and parties. For more information, call Ramon Gonzales at 010-945-0538.

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