Solid. Raging. Colorful.

My tribute to Martyn Lloyd Basto

We would sneak out night.

Lloyd would later name our little secret group as the trinity. It’s silly that there would be sometimes more than three people in our huddles but it served as a code for when we will meet for such specific purposes. And it’s not even secret. Our girlfriends would know where we are and what we’re doing. We just wanted it to feel like it’s a secret.

This particular night was special. A storm just passed and a call for “trinity” went out. We usually would find a dimly lit place in the city: a dark cul-de-sac, or the farthest most spot in the Sta. Lucia parking lot, or behind an abandoned warehouse. Someplace quiet. This night we ended up roaming around the U.P campus. We had to weave around fallen acacia trees that the storm uprooted. I have never seen the place this deserted and it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

Matt, Lloyd and I ended up camping right in front of the College of Education building. We pulled out our folding chairs and set it up right out the middle of the road. We knew no one’s going to get past those fallen trees! That night we were listening to The Dears track “You and I are a Gang of Losers” and we were trying out some Indonesian kreteks (clove cigars). I remember all these clearly because Lloyd was pretty amped up that night. He was waxing eloquent about his favourite Beatles album, brandishing his new tattoo, and just being admirably talkative.

Lloyd could be sullen and elusive at times. But when he’s with you, he’s there. He’s present. He also had this way of listening: he would look at you at the precise moment you are about to get your point across. He probably didn’t realize it but he listens that intently.

I’ve had the privilege to share the stage with Lloyd countless times. I hold to the idea that there is a certain kind of intimacy when you’re making music with someone that no other activity could warrant or permit. Lloyd is a tremendous bass player. You could feel a part of his soul when he’s really into it. You see a glimpse of who he is when he is playing his art. Solid. Raging. Colorful. I could hear him playing right now. His low notes pounding. His grace notes uplifting.

The last time I saw him was during the last gig we set up before I had to leave for Canada. I knew I would be gone for a long time and I didn’t want to leave without playing with our ragtag band. The practice sessions were fun already. But the gig itself was immensely satisfying. I am beyond happy that it happened.

I knew exactly how we said goodbye. The humidity, the street lighting, the mood of the moment, the strong clasps of the hand, the delicate hugs. He said to me “Jason, magkikita na lang ulit tayo”.

And, my dear departed brother, I’m holding you to your word.