The Ardvark Felon
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The Ardvark Felon

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Blues Funk




"Hempfield High School grad to play Gypsy Moon Blues Festival as funk band Ardvark Felon"

Frank Velardo came up with the name Ardvark Felon when he was just 15.

Velardo says he was “infatuated” with the Doors as a teenager. He thought the way frontman Jim Morrison scrambled up his name into “Mr. Mojo Risin’ ” was cool, so he and his cousin attempted to make their own anagrams.

“Ardvark Felon” is what Velardo landed on, despite missing an “a” in Ardvark to make its spelling correct. Now, Velardo and his friends use that name to perform as a funk-blues group.

Ardvark Felon will perform at the seventh annual Gypsy Moon Blues Festival in East Petersburg on Saturday.

The performance will be a return to Velardo’s old stomping grounds. Velardo attended Hempfield High School for his junior and senior years. He graduated in 2005.

Velardo was surrounded by music all of his life. His mom plays piano, and his dad plays drums. Family parties often evolved into jam sessions. Before he could play, Velardo would contribute by dancing like Michael Jackson.

After doing a book report on Mozart in the third grade, Velardo decided to emulate the famous composer’s style.

“I had a little Casio keyboard, and I would use the harpsichord sound. And then I had the vest, and I would pull my socks up really high,” Velardo says. “I had the white wig. I always go for it, you know?”

After he hung up his wig, Velardo found himself drawn to the type of music his parents enjoyed: classic rock acts like Jimi Hendrix, Cream and the Beatles. Velardo was quoted in a 2004 Lancaster New Era story about teenagers enjoying classic rock.

At the time, he performed as part of the band Leap of Faith, which once took the stage at New York’s famous CBGB club. In 2004, he played at the Chameleon Club with a classmate’s band.

He told the New Era that his latest interest was the blues, a passion that’s continued in the music he makes today with Ardvark Felon.

Velardo transferred from the University of Pittsburgh to Temple University for its jazz program. He still lives in Philadelphia.

“Some of the greatest musicians I’ve come across have found a home here,” Velardo says.

Velardo adapted material from his first Philadelphia band — jazz-funk outfit Erroneous Crunk — to perform as Ardvark Felon. Drummer Alexander Maio, bassist Jordan Berger and keyboardist Mike Frank round out the band.

Velardo says the band’s live performances are enjoyably unpredictable. He describes his original music as “blues-funk psychedelic,” but covers by artists like Third Eye Blind aren’t off the table either. Velardo also performs in a wedding band, so he likes to feel out a room and cater to a specific audience.

“We know these songs, so if we’re out and playing in front of people and that’s what they want to hear, we’ll go in that direction, because we’re just trying to make everyone have a good time ultimately,” Velardo says.

A wireless guitar allows Velardo to dance his way through the crowd during a show.

“Along with being really diverse, when we play, we are pretty loose with each other,” Velardo says. “You can see that we’re friends and there’s a banter that’s happening. And just as far as being really animated performers, I think we get really into it, and that kind of pulls other people into it.”

Ardvark Felon released a three-song EP in January, which includes a song radio station WXPN has played on air.

“That was a huge thrill,” Velardo says. “I was working really hard on not Ardvark Felon stuff that day, learning a bunch of wedding tunes or whatever. I just finished all that and then got a text message from a friend saying he just heard it on the radio. I was like, oh man, everything’s worth it.”

JENELLE JANCI | Staff Writer
Jenelle Janci
Aug 30, 2017 - Lancaster News Paper


You have to love an artist that comes with his own inbuilt high-brow joke in their name, and knowing that Ardvark Felon is actually an anagram of his real name, if you can live with the poetic license of the spelling, is an immediate tick in the box. And musically the ticks keep coming. Where is Home is a nostalgic inspired by some old home videos and is a subtle mix of psych-pop and folky balladry.

Normally found ploughing a trippy, jazz-rock furrow, here he takes a more understated path, tugs at heartstrings, serenades the simpler pleasures and the people that matter, it is a paean to the past, our collective youths and the transition from innocent dreams to adult realities. It is a ballad at heart, built of emotionally driven personal narratives and rich vocal tones but never cliche or syrupy and there is some wonderful sonic augmentation. Nothing too dominating, just additional details, which gently colour the musical landscape, enrich the flavours of the song and add some extra depth. Less is indeed more…much more. - A&R Factory

"Adult Swim’s Rickmobile Squanches Philly (And The Rest Of America) Ahead Of ‘Rick And Morty’ Season 4"

The whole soiree (sans Kalaxian Crystals and bird-people) was made even better with a live performance from The Aardvark Felon, a local band that played all the R&M hits such as “Get Schwifty,” “Head Bent Over, Raise the Posterior,” and “Goodbye Moonmen.” Their credibility was further cemented by the fact that bassist, Jordan Berger, was able to do some really convincing impressions of the series’ two main characters, both of whom are voiced by series co-creator, Justin Roiland.

“When I heard that the Rickmobile was coming, I jumped at the opportunity to perform,” said the band’s frontman, Frank Velardo, who also runs the brewery’s musical affairs. “We're all big fans and I knew we could really rock out on those Rick and Morty tunes. The Rick staff said they've had bands before, but none of them had worked out the tunes like we did. They really appreciated that. We had the fans and staff dancing and singing along to "Head Bent Over, Raise the Posterior" and it was magical. Live music makes everything that much better, especially waiting in line ... I feel like we found our people, a whole untapped fan base that's down with the absurd. Who knows! Maybe we'll get one of our songs in Rick and Morty! Wubba Lubba Dub Dub!” - Forbes Magazine



Ardvark Felon is the anagram-derived alter ego of Frank Velardo, composer, lead singer, guitar-slinger, and man in front of the band.  The band is spontaneous but polished, serious yet absurd.  They're funky in all the right ways, love playing for dancers, and know just when to turn things up with explosions of group improvisation and jamming. 

Band Members