haLf man haLf eLf is aLfie vera mella’s Winnipeg reincarnation of his university-days band Half Life Half Death back in the Philippines. Now consisting of an eclectic mix of classical, bluegrass, folk, new wave, and metal-influenced musicians: Jhun Villanueva (12-string guitar), Bertz Nicanor (drumkit), Christine Mazur (violin, cello), Pol Chua (acoustic bass), Dante Gomez (6-string guitar), Janice Bamforth (cajon), Dave Labovich (mandolin, banjo), Phoebe Man (taiko drum), and Doug Knight (bagpipe), the group that started as New Wave has evolved into a fusion of styles. haLf man haLf eLf joined forces on December 16 with two solo artists, punk/ska rocker Sid Strange and singer-songwriter Cassie Hatcher, and performed a fundraising show for Aqua Books at 274 Garry Street. Mella, a columnist and the associate editor of Filipino Journal, befriended the bookstore’s owner Kelly Hughes in 2006 when he first discovered Aqua Books at its former Notre Dame Avenue location. When the band learned that Hughes was seeking performers to help with fundraising events for his troubled “Cultural City Hall,” they agreed to do a concert to help out, since Hughes had supported up-and-coming artists through his programming over the years.
The concert was the last for haLf man haLf eLf before Mella with his family and violinist Christine Mazur head out to Metro Manila, Philippines, on January 14, for a vacation and to perform with Mella’s former band Half Life Half Death at a major reunion concert slated on February 3, at Club Phi at Metrowalk, in Pasig City. This will be Mella’s first visit home since he left the country in 2003 and Mazur’s first time to visit Asia and to perform in the Philippines.. In the Philippine Alternative music scene, Half Life Half Death is regarded as one of the pioneers of Filipino New Wave music, formed in 1988, released a solo album under Viva Records in 1994, gained a significant number of supporters since its formation, and disbanded in 2003 when Mella left the country to immigrate to Canada. Half Life Half Death’s Philippine reunion concert party—dubbed as The Evolution of New Wave—is produced primarily by Requiem Rising (music production based in Singapore) and Lilystars Records (Phil.). Supporting the event are The Camerawalls, The Gentle Isolation, and Your Imaginary Friends—three of the Philippines’ prime contemporary Indie Pop bands—and a host of deejays from Mode Zero, NoMixx Bar, and the WXB102 family who will be spinning classic and contemporary New Wave music—whom will include pioneering Philippine DJs George Frederick, Mike Timbol, and Chris Merto.