JRI, a local band from Mandaue City, Cebu, consists of two Filipinos and one American who are making waves with their original music as well as with their new takes on classic hits. On the Web site reverbnation.com (for music industry professionals to publicize themselves online), JRI was ranked as the number 1 band in the Philippines across the genres of music that Reverb Nation features. However, if one insists on specifying their music genre, they would say they play mainly rock, country and blues. They were even able to overtake Itchyworms in Reverb Nation’s rock charts for the Philippines.
JRI, which is pronounced “jury,” is the combined initials of band members Jesse “J-Dog” Boartfield (guitar), Rummel Camargo (bass guitar) and Ian Suano (drums). The three of them contribute vocals and have a combined musical experience of over thirty years in the business of making music. JRI bassist Rummel Camargo recently had his birthday in February the same day that Cebu was hit by an earthquake and aftershocks. The three formed the band only in November 2011, but already recorded nine original tunes and planned three more for an upcoming CD to be released nationwide in late July 2012.
You can find JRI playing on Saturday nights at J.C.’s Acoustic Lounge, although they are not strictly an acoustic band, on F. F. Cruz Street in Subangdaku, Mandaue, next to Toyota Cebu-Mandaue and in front of Cebu Doctors’ University, in the North Reclamation area. With their wireless guitars, JRI provides a highly energetic show to watch as much as listen to, and they encourage audience participation.
A couple of JRI’s standout original songs are “Melissa” and “Needing Me Now.” Freelance conga player and hand percussionist Dave Namerow, on Reverb Nation, said that “Melissa” is music with teeth, heart and soul. It has a way of cutting cleanly and crisply through genre clutter, having grooves that slice directly to the heart, with honest power. As for “Needing Me Now,” a listener liked it so much that he used lyrics from the song in a Facebook status update. In April 2012, JRI recorded two new songs, “Running Away” and “Starting Today” (though “Starting Today” was actually written back in March), and played at the eighth annual Kite Festival in Casay, Dalaguete. Other original songs from JRI are “Good Day (Maayo Gyud Ning Adlawa),” which they first performed publicly in February 2012, “American Dream” and “Call Across the Ocean.” For “Call Across the Ocean,” an OLP Double-Neck guitar was used, and the twelve string gave the verses a remarkable sound. Boartfield also likes using Guitar Master instruments.
About cover tunes, JRI guitarist and songwriter Jesse Boartfield’s standpoint is that covering every note of a song, in order to sound exactly like the original (like so many bands do, excluding tribute bands of course) might show lots of talent but no originality. Boartfield, who in March 2012 was voted number 10 in the world for Reverb Nation’s singer/songwriter category, would rather hear an original new sound to an old cover tune than a carbon copy of the original recording.
You may have noticed that many superstars in concert don’t even play their own songs exactly the way these songs were recorded. When a superstar band is able to exactly recreate their songs live, it’s fine because those are their songs. At a JRI show, they do many covers (especially since they also play at events like private wedding receptions, where one doesn’t expect to hear little-known original compositions being played), but none of their covers are exact copies. While some are similar to the original, some are totally different as the band explores new ways to play old songs. Boartfield is of the opinion that musicians should play from their hearts rather than from a book or a chart sheet, and he feels that musicians should maintain their creativity as much as they can. The majority of your audiences wouldn’t know it if you changed a few notes or if you didn’t. Taking a few chances could make you stand out from all the many others out there and let you keep rockin’ to your own kind of music. If you go to JRI’s channel on www.youtube.com/user/jessebo69 and view the band’s videos, you can see their live performances of songs from time-honored artists such as Air Supply, Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
You may contact the band’s manager, for such things as booking information, at telephone numbers (032)505-7671 and (0906)555-8617. The band’s label is JC Records Cebu. For more information about JRI, check them out on www.reverbnation.com/jrionline and the band’s own Web site www.wix.com/jrionline/home or you could Like them on www.facebook.com/jri.online or follow their Twitter account www.twitter.com/JRIonline if you feel like doing so. You may also send an e-mail message to the band via [email protected]