Face the music, man

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Pepe Smith, fellow  Pinoy Rock legends denounced rockfest ‘swindle’…and got results

Several Pinoy Rock legends who performed at the recent “Pepe Smith Rockfest” concert including Joey “Pepe” Smith himself went on social media to denounce what Pepe called “the great rock and roll swindle.”

In a viral Facebook video posted last Friday, June 8, Smith apologized to fans and fellow artists as he confirmed what Gary Perez formerly of Anak Bayan, Arnold Morales of the Urban Bandits and other musicians alleged in earlier posts: That their promised talent fee was either not paid (in the case of Perez) or was paid with a bouncing check from a closed account (in the case of Morales and others).

Smith, who said that even he was victimized and abandoned, pointed to his manager Mark de Leon, who was the producer and organizer of the concert, as the one responsible for the fiasco. De Leon left before the concert and has not been heard of since.

The “Pepe Smith Rockfest” took place last June 2 at the Amoranto Sports Complex in Quezon City. Despite boasting of over 70 performing bands identified with rock music and other related genres and sub-genres, the event was not a well-attended affair and failed to attract the anticipated throng of rock fans who normally troop to successful rock festivals like the “Pulp Summer Slam” series.

One of the first to publicly complain about non-payment of his talent fee was Perez, who, on Wednesday, June 6, posted this on his Facebook page [printed verbatim]: “this post is for the producer & organizers (amp productions) of the rockfest, pls. pay my balance you promised on the 31st of may, i’m suffering from deppresion for trusting you guyz, that money is for house payment, i don’t wanna be a homeless person again! tnxz po!”

The following day, Morales then made two cryptic posts. One was a photo of himself with Pepe captioned, “It’s only Rock n Roll. But…” followed by “Ano ang unang papasok sa iyong isip kapag nabalitaang TALBOG ANG CHEQUE? (What’s the first thing that comes to your mind if when you hear the term, bouncing check?).”

In the comments section of Morales’ post, it was then revealed that many of the concert’s performers were “paid” with a China Bank check that bounced because the account was already closed. In a subsequent post, Perez called on his fellow concert performers to file a suit against the organizers of the event.

Pearl Lleno, a member of the event’s organizing committee, said in an interview with Concept News Central that she and Arnie Sison “are the head organizers but more on the technical side like lining up of the bands and setting the time slots” and like Pepe, pointed to Mark de Leon as the producer of the rockfest.

“It was Mark who set the talent fees and we presented it to the artists if they are amenable to it or not…Arnie and I are not producers, we only worked for Mark,” Lleno said.

With regards to the bouncing check issue, Lleno said she thinks all the checks were signed by De Leon. “The issue is bouncing check and not neglect. We acted in good faith upon orders of Mark because we were made to believe that there is money for the payment [of the performers].”

Lleno claims that she and Sison are “quietly doing something to assist the artists” and added that she has messaged, texted and called the concerned performers.

Following Pepe’s apologetic video, Lleno posted this on her Facebook page, “As part of the organizing committee, we are doing our best to clean up this mess created by our producer and we will coordinate closely with the aggrieved parties to help claim what is due to them.

Right now we are trying to locate him so he could answer to this issue. Please bear with us.”

Another Pinoy Rock legend, Resty Fabunan of Maria Cafra, called on De Leon to face the music in a Facebook post Saturday, June 9.

“Mark de Leon, ito’y isang paglapastangan sa Pinoy Rock at sa sarili mong pagkatao.

Lumabas ka at harapin mo kami (Mark de Leon, this is a disrespectful act to Pinoy Rock as a whole and to your own person. Come out and face us).”

On June 13, the controversial producer resurfaced on social media.

Exactly 10 days after the “Pepe Smith Rockfest” and two days after he deactivated his Facebook page, De Leon returned to the social network site and posted his statement on the controversy, excerpts of which are the following:

“I just made the worst flop in PHIL. concert history. We never expected it to happen, for the last ten days I’ve been battling with stress and depression, but now I came to realize that I have to face the fact and responsibilities…To all the artist, suppliers , manpower and everything I am doing my best to gather funds to pay all my debts we’ll coordinate with you the soonest…AND SPECIALLY TO THE KING OF PINOY ROCK JOEY PEPE SMITH I’M SORRY I FAILED. I will do my best to recover…. Gagawin ko po sa abot ng aking makakaya na mabayaran kayo lahat. Pasensya na po.” Smith and the rest of the concerned artists including Resty Fabunan of Maria Cafra who earlier called on De Leon to face the music, have yet to post their reactions to De Leon’s although Perez was among those who “liked” it.

Pearl Lleno, a member of the event’s organizing committee who insists that she only worked for De Leon only on the technical aspects shared De Leon’s post and wrote, “Hope this will help extinguish the fire. We commend you for coming out in the open, bro.”

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