Alfonso Velez
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Alfonso Velez

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Rock Alternative

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Nov
22
Alfonso Velez @ Southpaw

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Oct
21
Alfonso Velez @ Rock N Roll Hotel

Washington, District of Columbia, USA

Washington, District of Columbia, USA

Oct
18
Alfonso Velez @ Rockwood Music Hall

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

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Press


Running a daily music blog has its downside: sometimes there’s absolutely no time for it. Thankfully, there’s the ever-more-popular trend where albums just get shorter and shorter. Today we have Alfonso Velez to thank for putting out a four-song release simply titled AV. He may play under his own name, but he’s a rock tunesmith, not a folkie. And he’s a damn good one. The first track, Criminal, is period-perfect goth-pop: brisk new wave rhythm, syncopated drums, minor-key soul/pop guitars, murky early 80s Cure atmospherics. It’s a kiss-off song, Velez’ moody voice lingering on the vowels.

An ominously funereal bell-like guitar figure over a steady midtempo pulse kicks off The Need to Know, a creepy, Lynchian minor key blues. “If you feel something creeping up your neck, check check check check check,” Velez intones. Miles, a gorgeous, majestically crescendoing art-rock anthem, takes the vibe ten years forward into 90s Britrock, like the Verve but a thousand times more tuneful. Velez bends his voice with even more of a nod to Richard Ashcroft on the last song, A Riot. You can hear the whole thing here. - New York Music Daily


The singer/songwriter recently chatted with Examiner in a little getting-to-know-you session and answered our ‘Fun Five.’ Here’s what the musician had to say:

Examiner: What’s your ‘go to’ album for inspiration or relaxation?

Alfonso Velez: My go to album is really an old mix tape of my favorites. An actual casette with songs from works by Stravinsky, Serge Gainsbourg, Portishead, Beck, Nina Simone, Phillip Glass and Ray Charles.

Examiner: (NICE music picks!) Where do you do most of your songwriting?

Alfonso Velez: I write in my head. I spin the songs, phrases, lyrics round and round until they make sense and are tangible. Then, when they're ready, I write in the bathroom, on the floor. I am conscious of how that sounds, but there's something really soothing about the cold tiles. I always write on the floor and usually very early in the morning.

Examiner: Do you have any writing rituals, or routines?

Alfonso Velez: That's a really good question and the answer is yes. There's only one pen I use to write. I've been using it for a very long time. It's a fountain pen and I only use Waterman's Havana Brown ink on 11x17 paper.

Examiner: What’s next music/album/tour wise?

Alfonso Velez: I can't go into details at the moment on album or tour, except to say that mid-fall will get very busy with recordings and that I should get a frequent flyer mileage card.

Examiner: What’s a fun fact that no one knows about you?

Alfonso Velez: I speak four languages. It's only a fun fact when you're bartering at The Arbat in Moscow or trying to get ballet tickets in Paris.

Examiner would like to extend a great big THANK YOU to Alfonso for being such a good sport. Be sure to check out the links at the bottom of the article for more information on the super-gifted musician.

Here’s where you can catch Alfonso Velez LIVE this weekend:

When: SATURDAY August 20th (TOMORROW!)

Time: 10pm

Place: Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 1)

Cost: FREE!

Head on out to 196 Allen Street, and bring some friends!

Alfonso Velez on the web:



Continue reading on Examiner.com Musician Alfonso Velez chats with Examiner about his 8/20 Rockwood show - New York folk arts | Examiner.com - The Examiner


Heartbreak, romance and elegance. Those are the tools of New York-based singer songwriter Alfonso Velez. To listen to his new self-titled record is to hear a number of influences mixing into one. There’s a Paul Simon softness and love of phrase, like in the gorgeous “Barcelona Birds”: “Barcelona birds are flying overhead / Cutting through the hues of blues, yellows and the reds … / I’ve been following the streets, the long and winding streets / Where shadows dance on walls, and women play in sheets.” Songwriting doesn’t get much stronger than that. It’s not just the sweet end-rhymes that make it beautiful, but rather how we get to see the world through Velez’ soft gaze. And what a view it is, as he catalogs a day of walking around, set to acoustic guitar strumming and a whirl of violin. There’s a bit of The Beatles in his music too, like in the piano-based “Funny”, a melodic track with warm strings about a cosmic journey to the end of time. The lone rock out, “Words”, shows Velez’s and his band’s dexterity. A distorted bass surprises amid his cascading vocal flights and super-charged bluesy piano chords and guitar. But the real gem is the Elliott Smith-like “Yer Blue Hair” about trying to get over a woman who has left and is with another man. The atmospheric guitar feels like a pained contortion of reverb. It’s stunning and moving. Velez caps it off with another awe-inspiring piece of songwriting, “I feel just like a Russian bear / All tangled up in your blue hair / I don’t know why I hold on so / Come on baby, let me go.” Apparently, “Russian Bear” is a nickname he was given in high school having arrived in the U.S. by way of Moscow. “Shadow Waltz” is a romantic and drowsy lullaby, Velez’s vocals unfolding with the utmost gentility. This is an album with endless charm. You can listen to and download his latest record for free at his bandcamp page. – David D. Robbins Jr. - Their Bated Breath Blog


I suppose as editor of this publication, I could rig our rating system and increase the amount that a great album can receive. In fairness, I won’t, but it’s safe to say that former DC resident Alfonso Velez’ “Make it Plain” would be off the charts. This is one of the best CDs I’ve heard in a long time. Not a bad track here. Alfonso takes his troubadour stylings and pairs it with a full band, including keys and horns. The sound is seducing and refreshing. His voice is crisp, clear and complimented by the added instrumentation. In another universe, Velez could be one of those “voices of a generation” types. But we’re in this universe, and what we have is a flawless, timely effort. Key tracks: “Isabelle’s Jinx,” “Eye of the Hurricane,” “End of the World Blues,” “U Street Regalia,” “Dear John,” and “Marionette.” — Robert Fulton, Editor in Chief - On Tap Magazine


Listeners write in on WNYC blog...


- Sound Check


It wasn’t quite amateur night at Rockwood Music Hall on New York City’s Lower East Side. For the Manhattan-based/Washington, D.C.-bred musician Alfonso Velez, it was a well-rehearsed event full of surprises and topped with a touch of class. Velez and his band delved into a catalogue of heartache and performed all new material from the forthcoming record he’s dubbed Russian Bear. It was a nickname he was pegged with in high school as a Moscow export living in the U.S., and yet the non-Russian, Hispanic/Cuban nomad has lived in almost as many cities around the world as he has put out albums (nearly on par with Ryan Adams).

The set began with the rhythmic and tribal-like drum lines and swirling snares of percussionist and sound engineer Alex DeTurk. Velez chimed in with an almost twangy storytelling croon akin to a young Jeff Buckley as he described the adverse effects of staying in on a weekend night, which can apparently do wonders for the mind. “I stayed at home on a Saturday night for the first time in almost five years / Something about all those people outside made their laughter bring out all my fears.” The catchy tune was a sonically uplifting introduction to the resonating breakup theme of the still unreleased album.

With a new lineup that is tapped to play the next leg of gigs, Velez’s performance was ambitious and even featured a Julliard string section that seemed to appear from the heavens as they illuminated the balcony shortly into the set. Seated in a pair of old red velvet theater chairs like the two judges from the Muppets, Colin Brooks on viola and Patrick Hopkins on cello offered a gorgeous symphonic finish to “Funny,” a cosmic voyage to the stars and back, led by Major (or maestro) Velez. “The pyramid is lifting off / My friend the captain says buckle up.”

Sometime after lift off and just before the grand finale Velez turned around to his audience in pure marvel, his eyes nearly welling with tears. He may have surprised himself, astonished by the beauty of his very own creation. The feeling was mutual throughout the rest of the show it seemed as onlookers were in sheer awe and almost confused as to what exactly was happening in front of them on the stage. For Velez’s music resides in the stratosphere above the mainstream, and for most of us, these sounds were new to our generation and like nothing we may have ever heard.

As if he were channeling the sadness of Nina Simone, it’s quite possible that Velez too, suffers from tortured artist syndrome. For many musicians, this is sometimes the only way that creativity is fostered. There’s much hope to his songs, however: The big (and seemingly only) rock song “Words” was electrically charged and hooky, with lead guitarist John Kengla wailing an atmospheric riff, while Michael Robert Thurber’s buzzing distorted bass lines were fluid and groovy.

“Teddy,” a ballad of a dying relative, began with Rich Brownstein’s playful honky-tonk piano melody and finished with yet another fun surprise: a couple of horn players that suddenly appeared from the shadows. The viola and cello continued to tug on the heart strings during “Barcelona Birds,” which featured Velez solo on guitar. “Like Jeff Tweedy said once, this song’s the cavalcade of hits,” he joked as an attempt to lighten the mood of the dark club. As Velez and his band closed with a truly slow dance number, "Shadow Waltz," the kick drum and violin were slow enough to stop time, but effective just enough to melt hearts.
- Venus Magazine


RocketHub: For Creatives, By Creatives
By Andrea Rice on June 22nd, 2010

(At left: Vladimir Vukicevic, co-founder of Rockethub.com, where recording artist Alfonso Velez, right, has a fundraiser for a new album)

Crowdfunding just might be the new record deal. Based on crowd participation, this renaissance style of fundraising has been a great boon for one singer/songwriter, Alfonso Velez. In this day and age, where big record companies are like sinking ships, and music piracy is costing the industry billions each year, many musicians face what seems now as an impossible challenge of getting a record deal. For Velez, this was only a temporary deterrent.

RocketHub.com is a new website designed for creative types— its focus on grassroots campaigning through fans. Founded by self-made artists Jed Cohen, actor Brian Meece, and musician and writer Vlad Vukicevic, RocketHub was their initiative to transform the personal challenges that arise from being an artist, into success stories of living the dream.

Since the site’s launch in January, this team of “creative underdogs” has helped just shy of 50 musicians reach their goals. “We believe in a DIY-ethos that’s welcoming and supportive to all Creatives from around the world— that allows for the best to rise to the top,” Vukicevic said.

Among the best is Velez’s project, My Music is Your Music— the musician’s personal crusade to put out his album on his own, with a little help from his friends of course.

“This record was a once in a lifetime experience,” said Velez of the freshly laid tracks recorded in a 3,000 square foot dance hall in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. “I was really lucky to find these songs in the cosmos and record them with a very special group of people.”

Velez uploaded the album to Soundcloud.com and hoped for the best, but knew he had to take matters into his own hands in order to get his music out there. “On the behest of my friends, I started looking into funding it through fans and thought Rockethub.com was a wise choice,” he said. With RocketHub, Velez raised $1,000 in the first four days of his month-long campaign. “People that I haven’t heard from in years from all over the globe are pitching in generously,” he added. “It’s a riveting feeling to be so connected through music, to so many people out there— it’s also humbling.”

Velez reached out to his fans via email, telephone, Facebook, Myspace and face-to-face, confident in his ability to reach his goal of $6,500 by month’s end. The only catch with RocketHub however, is that if your goal is not met, everyone gets their money back— a gamble surely worth the effort. “Alfonso’s rewards build his brand, tell a story, and offer real value to folks who will join him on his journey,” Vukicevic said of the Velez’s unique campaign.

RocketHub boasts other success stories too, like that of Irish musician Niall Connolly, who raised $5,000 in 45 days, with over 100 contributions from all over the world. Connolly received international press coverage, using RocketHub as both a launch pad for publicity and as a buzz-generator for his new album.

While some musicians attempt to buy their popularity through social networking tactics, and others seem wary of jumping on the Twitter bandwagon, crowdfunding seems to be a solid, honest and true method for gaining exposure, in lieu of a record deal.

Recently, the team at RocketHub led a panel of music industry experts at New York Law School to discuss the future of the business. They argued that the old model of the record label is becoming obsolete. “We believe that crowdfunding represents the new path for funding the creation, distribution, and promotion of music,” said Vukicevic.

Why Choose RocketHub?

1. It costs less to make good music. A musician or band of musicians can now record an album for a budget of around $3,000 to $10,000 – including a high production value and overall quality.

2. The average crowdfunding contribution is not limited. CDs used to be the primary method for musicians to make money – at an average price of around $10 a pop. Now musicians can offer products (CDs, T-Shirts, etc.), services (lessons, etc.), and experiences (lunches, live shows, etc.) — at RocketHub the average contribution is around $50. That means that a new album can be funded by only 50 to 200 fans.

3. Social networking makes reaching friends, fans, and family easy. It used to take days and a lot of money (in postage fees) to reach thousands of fans. Now it takes minutes and it is virtually free.

4. Online payments remove friction. Cash is clunky. Checks are slow. Credit cards require infrastructure. Online payments are easy and can be virtually instantaneous (thank you PayPal).”

- American Songwriter


The Weather's Fine on New Alfonso Velez album

* Posted by Kevin Oliver on April 9, 2009 at 8:35pm
New York City was where Alfonso Velez's biggest musical touchstone, Bob Dylan, gained notoriety, so it makes sense that Velez relocated there from Washington, D.C. a couple of years ago. The son of a Mexican actuary and a Cuban architect, Velez has lived on three continents, giving him a wider worldview that makes his gift for lyrical linguistics all the more powerful.

He's no Dylan, and he knows this--his last album featured the poignant "Prayer For Bobby," a moving musical tribute to his mentor-at-a-distance. Velez, however, possesses a keening tenor that's reminiscent of early Dylan without the midwestern twang.

"The Weather," title song to Velez's latest, features the kind of rolling piano riffs that fans of The Band will recognize, atop a lyric about the transient nature of both love and the weather: "We started out as summer lovers, but now it's frozen here."

Like fellow New Yorker Andy Friedman, Velez plays the kind of countrified rock that's neither rock nor country, but somewhere in that sweet spot between the two--like a sunny day in the midst of the rainy season, The Weather is fine--come out and play. - No Depression


There is nothing quite like the freedom of creative expression behind an independent artist. For singer/songwriter Alfonso Velez, headlining a Memorial Day show at Mercury Lounge was just the beginning. Dressed in all white for the occasion with war paint on his cheeks, Velez depicted the perfect image of true Americana folk, despite his Mexican-Cuban heritage.

“Sorry folks, I’m a bit nervous tonight,” he admitted humbly as the room quieted. Opening solo with “The Need to Know,” a dark and instantaneous attention grabber, it was obvious he needed no introduction. “Welcome to my party, the devil’s in your town,” he crooned. Velez is as timeless as some of his biggest influences—a culmination of Robert Johnson’s King of the Delta Blues, Nina Simone’s Ain’t Got No/I Got Life and Chet Baker’s My Funny Valentine.

As he transitioned into the title track of his latest album, The Weather, Velez strummed complex rhythmic patterns and used his vast vocal range. His voice filled the space, entertaining the intimate crowd of about 40—not an easy task for one man. “You’ve gotta lose all reality and use all imagination,” he said in regard to his songs. For the entire set, Velez sat on a stool with a nylon string classical in his lap, incorporating various styles of technique and demonstrating his capacity as a guitarist and versatility as an artist.

“Teddy,” a sad but uplifting tale that was spawned from a hospital visit to a sick relative, was completed by a heavy bridge and finished strong with a flamenco-style breakdown. Budding single “Barcelona Birds” ranged from soft to quiet and incorporated romantic Spanish lyricism and the echo of whistling birds. His gift as a poet was evident with “Shadow Waltz,” another new tune that ended beautifully with whistling harmonies. “You move like the light of a fire/Consuming a great city.” Velez also took it upon himself to pay tribute to his latest muse, Sixto Rodriguez, a fellow Mexican artist who debuted during the late ‘60s. Velez performed a solid cover of “Sugar Man,” the single that never was, and urged his audience to Google the legendary musician. - Relix Magazine


More than the blues: Alfonso Velez back in D.C. for Georgetown gig
By: Robert Fulton
Special to The Examiner
November 10, 2009

Here's a quick rundown of people mentioned by musician Alfonso Velez during a short phone interview: Bob Dylan, Robert Johnson, Salvador Dali, Ayn Rand, Bill Withers and Philip Glass.



Goes to show you that, with so many different interests, influences and pursuits, why it can be difficult to define Velez's music. While it's not off the wall or experimental, the conglomeration of major American musical influences creates an infectious, satisfying sound both easily accessible yet sonically satisfying.

"I've tried to do that a lot," Velez, who performs at Blues Alley in Georgetown on Tuesday night, said of defining his music. The one-time D.C. resident now lives in New York City, where he works as a do-it-all for the New York Times editorial department, including writing obituaries. "I find it's difficult. I'm a musical kid growing up."

The music is definitely rock 'n' roll, with Dylan and Elvis influences. But it's an old-school, '50s-tinged rock 'n' roll that comes across as genuine and lacks the level of kitsch retro acts present. It can also be bluesy, folky and poppy, at one time rollicking, the next sleepy.

In August of 2007, Velez moved from D.C. to New York. The 28-year-old has always been nomadic, giving a truthful definition to the modern concept of a traveling troubadour musician, and lived in D.C. for four years. He had a brief run in the local pop-rock band Monopoli before stretching his solo legs. When he got the itch to move, he chose NYC, which has had a tremendous effect on his music.

"It's made it a lot more relevant," he said. "It allowed me to find my own voice. It adds an edge to everything. It's a hard city to live in."

Why he moved to New York wasn't Velez turning his back on D.C., but pursuing a lifestyle in one of the world's most influential cities.

"I've always wanted to do it," he said, adding that he makes his home in a dance studio in Manhattan, giving him enough space to live and record music, a rarity in the city. "I'm young. It's a great city.

"There's people there [in D.C.] I hope to keep in my life forever," he added.

The Blues Alley gig will be a pair of shows featuring a quartet comprising Velez, keyboardist Will Rast, bassist Jerry Ratner and multi-instrumentalist Jerry Busher. Velez promises not to repeat any songs in each of the sets. He also plans to explore his musical life in a progressive manner, touching on his three albums -- his debut "Make it Plain," the recent "The Weather" and the upcoming "Russian Bear" -- as well as covering some of his influences.

"My experience and music has been very chronological at this point," Velez said.


- Washington Times


Discography

Alfonso Velez- Fin (2003) LP
Alfonso Velez- Surfacing (2004) LP
Alfonso Velez- Audiograph (2005) LP
Monopoli- Monopoli (2006) EP
Monopoli- St. Monopoli (2007) LP (Unreleased)
Alfonso Velez- Make it Plain (2008) LP
Alfonso Velez- The International Baccalaureate (2008) LP
Alfonso Velez- The Weather (2009) LP
Alfonso Velez- Russian Bear (2010) LP
Alfonso Velez- The Memo EP (2011) Live EP
Alfonso Velez- Currently in Pre-production full-length (2012)

Photos

Bio

"Stellar! "
- The Onion's A.V. Club

“Songwriting doesn’t get much stronger than that,”
-David G Robbins, Their Bated Breath

"He is a world-class performer, one hell of a singer, undeniable, timeless and scary good. He is the competition.
-Fernando Otero, Grammy Award Winner, Nonesuch Records

“You know, people see the name Alfonso Velez on a billboard and they come in expecting a very different sort of musician.”
-John schaffer, WNYC Soundcheck

Despite his name and certain expectations attached to it, Velez and his band pound out songs rooted in the future of the best of American and British rock and pop, citing influences like Portishead, The Doors, Led Zeppelin and Nina Simone.

Velez has continued to morph and surprise throughout sold-out performances at Rockwood Music Hall as well as CMJ, Public Assembly, Mercury Lounge, The Highline Ballroom, The 9:30 Club and Ram’s Head, approaching his work as his favorite painters do their canvases; masterfully.