I’ve always been fascinated by venues in the States that create an almost sacred space for artists and encourage the audience to “meet” the people behind their songs and the true meaning behind their lyrics and songwriting.  Venues such as the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta, and The Bitter End in NYC are some of the best examples of such places, each of them relentless in their support for songwriters throughout the years.

Inspired by such listening room experiences, Team 22Tango discussed the desire to come up with a similar listening room experience in Cebu several times over the last 5 years.  Cebu is a tough crowd to crack, and introducing original songs from singer-songwriters both new and old is never a cakewalk.  After years of lukewarm responses every time a pitch for such an event was made, we are excited to finally see this idea come to life.

The event dubbed, “Cuppa Folk”, kicked off with the Abaca Group’s recently opened Abaca Baking Company at the Crossroads, Cebu.  Our #shhhh policy — a policy we’ve started that requests absolute silence from the audience while a performer is playing was implemented.  The event kicked off with singer-songwriter Ella Melendez treating us to a glimpse of her newly written songs about life, love and loneliness.

Singer-songwriter Ella Melendez

Singer-songwriter Ella Melendez


There’s a lot to be said about mustering up the courage to articulate the stories behind every song.  It’s one thing to just play a song in front of a live audience.  But it’s another thing to be able to share the songwriting process and the ideas behind the song.   As Jessica McYorker confessed, “I’m usually not good in talking about the stories behind my songs..”   Most songwriters would probably agree.  Revealing stories behind one’s original songs for the first time feels like baring one’s soul to a group of strangers.  Despite this, Jessica generously played a set of unreleased originals, introducing every song with stories about the inspiration behind each one.

Piano-playing songwriter Jessica McYorker

Piano-playing songwriter Jessica McYorker


The show ended with a set from the Wonggoys.  The Wonggoys’ live shows are usually filled with a fun, chill and laid back vibe.  Their performance on the Cuppa Folk stage, however, showed a rare display of raw and honest emotions, with the brothers wearing their hearts on their sleeves with every original song they sung.  They  shared stories behind original songs such as HD, Post No Bill and Chase The Girl or Rule The World.  A perfect end to a debut effort and certainly reinforced what Cuppa Folk is all about.

Bill, Gabe & Kyle of the Wonggoys

Bill, Gabe & Kyle of the Wonggoys


Coffee.  Stories.  Music.  And the #shhhhpolicy.  A tall order for Cebuanos used to chatting while listening to live music, but nevertheless a movement worth starting and encouraging each and every gig.  At least we think so.

We are grateful for the like-minded people who have shown us (so far) that they think so too.

Join us for another cuppa at the Abaca Baking Co on April 30. Details here


Authored by Anne Muntuerto

Photos by Nina Alcoseba 

Special thanks to the Abaca Group and A List Events, PR & Advertising.  


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