Side A's original, current members team up for concert

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at Sep 21 2022 06:22 AM

The original and current members of Side A pose with special guest Clara Benin. Handout
The original and current members of Side A pose with special guest Clara Benin. Handout

MANILA -- There is really no secret in staying in the local entertainment scene for decades. “It’s all about the passion.”

That is what Side A’s original vocalist, Pido Lalimarmo, told ABS-CBN News. ”Follow your heart,” Lalimarmo added.

After more than three decades of respectively performing and doing music, Side A is still at it. The members have not given up on what they love to do.

Side A’s successful “Redux” online concert in January 2021 started with a mere Facebook post made by the group’s original vocalist, Rodel Gonzales. From there, the post led to the first reunion concert, where they relived their early days at Hyatt’s Calesa Bar.

The show featured the original Side A members, led by Gonzales, with vocalist and lead guitarist Lalimarmo, drummer Mar Dizon, bassist Joey Benin, keyboardist Naldy Gonzales and guitarist Kelly Badon.

The successful virtual concert even had a repeat, which happened in September last year.

Last April, Side A finally staged a live concert first in Silay, Negros Occidental, the home of Benin and his family. A two-night, full-house concert followed at 19 East Bar in Parañaque City.

“Before, when we did out of town shows, we even staged motorcades,” drummer Ernie Severino recalled. “That happened a lot of times. Nagtataka nga ako dahil hindi naman kami artista.”

Severino is with the second generation Side A. After original drummer Dizon left the group, he was first replaced by Benjie Mendez, who stayed for a year. Severino joined in 1991 and has been with the band for 31 years now.

Vocalist Joey Generoso left the group in 2015 and went solo. He was replaced by Yubs Esperat.

At 19 East, the second generation Side A – with Naldy Gonzales, Severino, Esperat, Lee Von Cailao and Ned Esguerra – was a special guest and performed with the original members.

This time, the original members and the second generation will share the stage back-to-back in “Side A: Then and Now,” on September 24 at Newport World Resorts. Only Badon, who is now based in the US, could not join.

Benin’s daughter, singer-songwriter Clara, will perform with Side A for the first time. Clara re-imagined a Side A original, “Tila,” penned by Cailao.

“Before I left the group, we did a demo of ‘Tila’,” Joey Benin shared. “Clara heard that. She was still in grade school at that time. She got the song and put it on her iPad. That song became her favorite.”

“It’s important to be true to yourself,” maintained Gonzales, Side A’s original vocalist. “To be an artist who has a hit song he doesn’t like personally, how will you like that genre, hindi pala ikaw ‘yun?

“What Clara did from the start, that’s her and the people accepted that. She did that. That’s artistry. That’s her music.”

Joey Benin recalled: “I remember there was a time Clara approached me and she wanted me to listen on a new song she composed. As a musician, in my mind, meron kaagad suggestions or comments and input.

“I was tempted to do that. Buti na lang, napigilan ko ang sarili ko. Otherwise naging pareho siya ng sound ng Side A. But I’m happy for her because she discovered her distinct sound. 

“Whenever she would ask me, ‘Paano ba ‘to, Tatay?’ I would say, ‘Mamaya na lang.’ I realized, tama lang that I didn’t give my inputs then. Nag-grow si Clara with her own music.”

Meanwhile, Clara is elated that she’s now performing in a Side A concert. “I feel very honored to be performing not just with my dad and his band,” she acknowledged. “I grew up listening to Side A. I grew up attending their concerts.

“Now, I get to not just be backstage, but be onstage with all of them. It’s very exciting. Their second reunion concert virtually, I guested there last year. Now, it’s going to be in front of a live audience. So, it’s going to be a whole new, different experience.”

Her dad made Clara appreciate music on a deeper level. “I remember whenever my dad would drive us to school then, he would always make up listen to music of The Beatles, Stevie Wonder. He would give us background and context of those songs.

“I would share my music with him and my insights on the songs I listen to. It was a very cool dynamic that we always shared each other’s music.”

Side A is also gearing up for a 2023 US tour. “It’s in the works,” Gonzales confirmed. “Ninety percent na ang naka line-up.”

Dizon interjected: “Not just US tour, world tour actually. Mangangarap ka lang, taasan mo na. Buong daigdig na.” 

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