Album – Christmas in the City Volume II – Various Artists

Imagine yourself lying on a comfortable couch, covered with a warm blanket, and a hot drink.

This is what the album feels like. Comfortable and warm.

xmasinthecity vol. 2

Christmas in the City Vol. 2 is 11th Avenue’s second annual Christmas compilation album released on December 11, 2014. The 15-track record features San Francisco’s talented songwriters and musicians.

The record begins in a lively tune with Wesley Woo’s “Snowman”, featuring Rachel Schmitz. Wesley and Rachel’s voice complement the song’s cute love story. They sound lovely together and I hope they collaborate again in another project.

Allison Wonderband’s rendition of “Winter Wonderland” is fun and adorable. I found myself listening to the intro as she sings sans instruments, and then I found myself swaying to the music once the instruments started playing in the background.

The record has a few slow and relaxing songs that change the tone and feel of the album. Tracks such as Heather Nievera’s cover of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, Shawn Byron’s original, “I Wish That I Was Home on Christmas Morning”, and Craig Perry’s instrumental guitar cover of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” are good for slowing down after a long day of Christmas shopping and beating the holiday rush.

A Christmas playlist wouldn’t be complete without “Last Christmas” (covered by Manjali Light) and “The Christmas Song” (performed by Jeff Desira). I really like how the record transitioned from a lonely, nostalgic tone to these holiday staples. On the other hand, The Not Marys’ “Grey Christmas” and Tommy P.’s “Christmas Waltz” sing about what Christmas means to them.

One thing that I really like about the album is that it’s simple and not heavily produced. Its simplicity gives rawness and sincerity that makes you appreciate it as a listener.

The album reminds me of Christmas—the falling snow, fresh pine trees, a hot chocolate drink, and marshmallows. It captures the feeling of Christmas: the nights becoming colder, the snow falling outside, the carols you hear on the streets, and the beautiful lights in houses and streets.

Remember that feeling of happiness and excitement because Christmas is coming? This is what I felt like after listening to this record. When I listen to it, it reminds me that Christmas is being with your loved ones, it’s about being happy, and it’s about sharing.

When I listen to it again, I see myself on the couch, a blanket close to my reach, a hot chocolate on the table, and a book. On a warm, April Sunday morning. Because who says you can’t listen to Christmas songs anytime of the year?

Christmas in the City Vol. 2 is available in 11th Avenue’s Bandcamp page. To get a physical copy, visit their Facebook page or website.

Album: Fog – Tommy P

Fog Tommy P.

It’s appropriate for Tommy P. to name his debut album Fog when the record is inspired by San Francisco City.

The singer and songwriter started playing music since he was 16 years old. Due to his love of music, he and his friends founded 11th Avenue Records, an independent pop/folk/rock record label that supports and promotes independent artists.

Tommy P. grew up in Milpitas, California where he learned to play the drums, guitar, keyboard, and bass. He moved to San Francisco and started collaborating and performing with other artists in the community.

Before his debut album, he released an EP and a compilation album.

His first EP, Nowhere Now, was released in February 2013. In April 2013, he and a few friends released There Is A Light, a compilation album for Sing Out of Darkness Benefit, a benefit concert for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP) in San Francisco.

Tommy P. at the Sunday Night Mic at Saint Lukes Episcopal Church | photo by Mario Di Sandro

Tommy P. at the Sunday Night Mic at Saint Lukes Episcopal Church | photo by Mario Di Sandro

Nowhere Now is indie, acoustic, and homey. I can imagine myself listening to this song while driving on a Sunday or going on a roadtrip. It’s like watching a montage on a movie and the record plays in the background. It’s comfortable and it’s feel-good music.

Fog brings out emotions of being in San Francisco even if you’ve never been there. It starts off quietly, setting the mood with Tommy’s deep voice and an acoustic guitar. Then it becomes grander, like you’re being transported to a new world. The lovely violin piece doesn’t hurt and complements the dream-like music. It dies down gradually, and then catchy “Gravity” plays next. “Farallon Island” is the only track named after an actual place in San Francisco. “Farallon Island” sounds festive and makes you feel like you’re actually in Farallon Island, when he’s really reminiscing about the island.

The acoustic, drums, violin, and trumpet really set the mood in the entire album. It’s cliché, but I see this record playing as the rain heavily pours down and you can see raindrops on the glass on a dark and cold night. Tommy P. was able to portray the feelings of living in San Francisco through his sincere lyrics and honest emotions.

In this debut, Tommy P. has shown that he tries different things. After listening to Nowhere Now and Fog, I know he’ll continue to surprise the audience with new sounds and keep his sincerity.

Tommy P


Catch Tommy P. live! If you’re in San Francisco he’s performing September 20th in Bazaar Cafe with The Not Marys. You can also visit his website and Facebook page for updates, and follow him in soundcloud for new music.


(all photos are from Tommy P.’s Facebook page)

Album: Do Re Mi – Wesley Woo

You know those nights when you just want to listen to music and get lost in the lyrics? How about those nights when you’re feeling in love, or feeling out of love, and you just want to curl up in bed while listening to music?

Wesley Woo is one of those artists you listen to on those nights. Wesley’s debut album, Do Re Mi, is coming out this week.

Born and raised in San Francisco, California, the singer/songwriter is an upcoming artist in SF’s music scene. In 2013, the San Francisco native won “Best Song of the Year” at the West Coast Songwriters SF chapter. He has performed in several shows such as the Brick and Mortar, RAMA GO!Ohana Showcase, and Woodshed Showcase.

I completely support Asian Americans making a name for themselves in their hometown.  As a minority myself, I understand how difficult it is to live in dominant society as a minority.

So when I had the chance to listen to his album before the launch, I grabbed it.

11th Ave Band

At the RAMA GO!Ohana showcase at Solespace in Oakland. Left to right: Rei Otsuka, Wesley Woo, and Miguel Becerra. photography by Jason Lor.

Whenever I listen to songs for the first time, I make sure that I really listen. I don’t do my homework, I don’t organize my planner, and I don’t clean my room. In other words, I don’t multitask. I like focusing on this one single task: listen to music, internalize the music, understand the lyrics, and appreciate the arrangement. That’s where you see the beauty of the songs.

The first time I listened to the album, it took me a few songs to get in the moment. The second time I listened to it, that’s when I knew that I’ll keep coming back to listen to this album.

I know it’s not right to pick favourites, but I can’t help it. But just because I have favourites doesn’t mean that I won’t listen to the entire album. So my personal favourites are “Lost in You”, “Fall Again”, and “Half Past Fine”.

“Lost in You” is one of those songs where you just want to close your eyes and reminisce as you listen to Wesley’s voice. His single “Stay” comes second place in that category. “Fall Again” is a good album opener because it starts off slow, and then turns upbeat to introduce the next eight tracks. It took me a few times listening to “Half Past Fine” because it didn’t exactly had that effect on me that I was looking for. The lyrics really resonate though, especially when you’re at a point in your life where you feel like the universe is against you. It’s a good pick-me-up song.

If you’re in SF or somewhere near the SF area, go to his album launch this Friday, April 4th, at The Lost Church, San Francisco.

To get your advanced tickets at Wesley Woo’s debut album launch, get your advance tickets here. Visit his website, Wesley Woo Music, and like his Facebook page, Wesley Woo Music, for show dates and to buy his album.

Wesley Woo album launch

Meanwhile, listen to his single, “Stay”, to get a preview of the album.


Interviews with Joseph Vincent and Andrew Garcia

Driven, Winnipeg’s aftermarket car show, was held at the RBC Convention Centre on July 13, 2013. I was lucky enough to go to the show to ogle at the beautiful cars, watch performances by local talents, and spend a few minutes with Joseph Vincent and Andrew Garcia. This is the interview.

group photo

Andrew Garcia, Ron Cantiveros of Filipino Journal, me, and Joseph Vincent


Joseph Vincent and Andrew Garcia in Winnipeg

By Lora Quitane

YouTube artists Joseph Vincent and Andrew Garcia performed at Driven on July 13, Saturday. It’s their first-time in Winnipeg and Filipino Journal had a chance to speak to them.

Andrew Garcia is a YouTube artist and an American Idol Season 9 finalist. After Idol, he continued making collaborations with other YouTube artists. He is a member of YTF Legacy (Yesterday, Today, Forever) with Ryan Higa, Chester See, Victor Kim, D-Trix, and JR Aquino.

What made you join American Idol?

Before Idol, I did YouTube videos and the response was really good. My cousin told me to try a bigger scale. I wasn’t sure because I just wanted to do this for fun. He hit me up the night before the trials and told me to audition for American Idol. My friend was like, ‘Yeah, I’m going there tomorrow, do you want to come with me?’ and everything just worked out. I was like, ‘I had to do it.’ It’s like there was a path provided for me. So I did and it worked out great. I got a great deal of exposure and beautiful fans that keep supporting so I’m glad I did it.

Any advice to those who want to pursue their dreams?

If you love it, just do it. You’ll always go through something no matter what. As long as you have a little push and support, you could go a long way.

Any tours or new projects you’re working on?

I’m doing a west coast tour with Travis Garland. YouTuber Josh Golden and I are making the song that I sang [at the event]. Dumbfoundead and I are talking about doing another collab. I also want to do another collab with Joseph Vincent because I love him.

When is your Turbulence album coming out?

I reached a speed bump with that. The producer that I was working with was just swamped with his regular job. I’m not gonna take him away from making money and make it out of his living so I told him to do what he gotta do and I’ll figure out a way and now I’m working hard to get my album out.

What can you say about Winnipeg fans?

Fans are cool. I love them. And there are so many women out here. You guys are so beautiful here, I mean, what is going on? Winnipeg, I love you.


Joseph Vincent Encarnacion became popular from his YouTube videos. He has gone a long way from posting videos in 2008. He still makes videos in his bedroom; the difference is that his channel now has 350,000 plus subscribers with over 50 million views on YouTube. His first album, Blue Skies, was released in October 2012.

Who inspired you to start singing?

My dad got me my guitar when I was 15. He was the one who directed me to YouTube. He showed it to me and said, ‘If you wanna do this for a living, it’s a start.’ So I said, ‘Yeah, maybe.’ I wasn’t sure because I just got to college and I was trying to transition from high school to college at that time. So I posted a couple of videos, got a good response, and I just kept doing it for fun. And now, I’m in Winnipeg, playing a show.

How did you find the audience response?

It was awesome. I always get nervous before a show regardless of how long I’ve been doing it. It’s my first time here in Winnipeg and the fact that everyone was attentive, listening, and cheering was awesome.

You visited the Philippines in February for the Bayani Tour. How was it?

Gawad Kalinga and Seafood City put the whole tour together to bring Asian Americans back to the homeland. We grew up in America and we kind of lose sight of where we come from and it was eye-opening for me. If my parents didn’t move to America, my life would be insane. It would be so different. It made me thankful for what I have and thankful for what they’re doing.

Did you try balut?

No. AJ (Rafael) did though. He’s like, ‘Come on, do it!’, and I was like, ‘I can’t.’ I probably could eat the egg part, but the bird part, I don’t know. Maybe. I was just nauseous that day. Next time. But I had Jollibee—burger steak for days. It was delicious. And a lot of chicken tocino.

When is your next album coming out?

I’m working on a 5-song EP right now. I’m trying to think about what to call the EP and just waiting for the right time to start going into recording it—mostly pre-production stuff.

When are you coming back to Winnipeg?

I don’t know. When are you guys gonna have me back?