The people who came to watch the Tres Marias concert on September 4 at the Music Museum were treated to a rich musical experience, as it was a night of pure talent and delightful, if not wacky, performance from three of the country’s best singer/composers, namely Lolita
Carbon, Cooky Chua, and Bayang Barrios.
What makes this all-women trio unique is that even before forming themselves into a group, they already had successful careers both in the so-called alternative and mainstream music scenes.
The concert, produced by Curve Entertainment, featured each of the artist’s original songs that had endeared them to music fans, as well as, other Original Pilipino Music (OPM) classics.
These included Pinoy rock anthems such as Maria Cafra’s “Kamusta mga Kaibigan” to Celeste Legaspi’s “Tuliro.”
With music accompaniment by some of the country’s best session musicians, the group performed jazzed up OPM hits arranged by the musical director Mel Villana (with a little help from daughter Ria Villena-Osorio, who also plays keyboards for Bamboo).
Most notable were saxophone solos by local jazz great Michael Guevarra, especially in Lolita Carbon’s soulful rendition of “Tuliro.”
The show began with Tres Marias singing the National Anthem with almost bare accompaniment except for ethnic sounding instruments, then segued to Florante de Leon’s “Sana,” a song included in their debut CD.
A few lines of the song seemed tentative at the start, which may be due to less than ideal sound quality both on stage (we saw Cooky Chua signalling to the audio crew to turn up the volume of her monitor) and in the house.
The groups also performed other songs in their CD such as Gary Granada’s “Kung Ayaw Mo Na Sa Akin,” and Mike Villegas’ “Wika.”
Like their gigs in more intimate venues, the Tres Marias concert at the Music Museum gave their audience a glimpse into the passion and friendship behind the musical act.
While they bared their souls in each song, they also showed acceptance of—if not familiarity with—each other’s quirks during their banter, scripted or not.
Case in point was Lolita and Bayang nagging Cooky who was backstage for costume change to hurry up, saying, “Balik ka na Cooky. Naubusan na kami ng sasabihin!”
Only after the first few notes of their next song did they realize that Cooky missed a button on her blouse, leaving everyone in stitches. “Kahit umabot kami sa planetang Mars, ganito pa din kami!” Lolita mused.
But as the evening wore on, one realized that this was no ordinary concert. The stage was bursting with Filipino talent performed by ace musicians and world class performers.
CONCERT HIGHLIGHTS. One of most-applauded segments of the show was Tres Marias’ tribute to the legendary Pinoy folk-rock band ASIN, especially their rendition of “Himig ng Pag-ibig,” a song composed by Lolita Carbon. The re-harmonized piano chords by jazzman Joey “JQ” Quirino suited the song’s pensive mood so well.
Each of the Marias also did classic kundiman songs such as "Bulong-Bulungan" (Lolita), "Ikaw ang Iibigin" (Bayang) and "Kumpisal" (Cooky) which once again made one appreciate the singer and the song, even as Lolita seemed to be the one most comfortable with the genre.
It was refreshing to hear the group do a version of modern Filipino OPM love songs such “Bakit Ba Ganyan” (a song written by Vic Sotto), but this time with a blues shuffle feel.
After the song, Cooky asked Lolita, “Nadinig na ba ni Vic Sotto 'yang version mo?” implying that Bossing would have had second thoughts on his marriage plans if he did.
Lolita replied, “Bakit dun pa, dun na lang sa kuya.” “Type mo yon?” Cooky quickly reacted. But Bayang butted in and asked Lolita, “Si Val?” To which Lolita replied, “Si Val, si Val na walang malay…” quoting a line from a Vilma Santos movie.
It was apparent that none of these repartees were scripted. Ironically, it was in the delivery of their scripted lines that the trio fumbled.
The Tres Marias’ cover of “Ayoko na Sa ‘Yo” and “Panalangin” (featuring Cooky and Bayang on lead vocals, respectively), showcased how artists like Rey Valera and the Apo Hiking Society imbibed '70s rhythm and blues music to create modern kundiman pop songs, as it were.
At one point, the group called to the stage singer/composers Gary Granada and Noel Cabangon for special numbers. The two gentlemen are often invited by Tres Marias to perform during their gigs in smaller venues.
As if these were not enough, the trio did a medley of songs by the certified (and highly successful) 90s jologs and bakya band Aegis such as “Halik” by Bayang, “Basang-basa sa Ulan” by Cooky, and “Luha” by Lolita.
The three women sang “Isang Lahi” (a Regine Velasquez hit) and a medley of Tropical Depression numbers to bookend the night’s celebration of Filipino music.
The take away from the concert that night was that Tres Marias gave OPM a much needed boost as foreign acts dominate the local music entertainment scene.