Local band mixes genres

Gabino Vega Rosario

Velorio’s first full-length album is expected to come out early 2009 and is going to appeal to fans of all genres and experimental music. Velorio, which means “to awake,” is a six-member local band composed of Alvaro Caceres, Ben Gomez, Eric Powers, Alex Lopez, Jorge Urbina and new member Jonathan Weinmann.
The members do not have a set instrument. During shows, each member usually switches around instruments with one another. Bongos, congas, keyboards, tambourine, guitar, bass and maracas are interchanged to add a new performance visual.
About two years ago, Caceres and Gomez wrote and released an EP, which contained four songs. “The EP was more of a resume to get more people in to the band,” said Caceres.
The band has been working on their full-length album for about a year. Powers mentioned, “The album has to be worthy of international attention that’s why we are working so hard on it.” The recording will be held in Los Angeles and after the new release there is a guarantee of tour dates around California. “We are planning on touring Washington, Oregon and maybe Texas. We would love to go to the east coast,” said Caceres.
Velorio does not have a specific genre they like to call themselves, but if they were to choose a genre, they would label themselves as world-pop-multicultural. “We really hate answering that question because we use different genres,” said Powers. Some genres Velorio tend to use involve jazz, pop, cumbia, soul and salsa.
On Oct. 26, Velorio performed at the Empty Space Theatre, which included a new song and some jokes by the band members.
The original version of “Hijo del Son” has an acoustic opening, but during this live performance, the band started off with a simple drum and guitar beat. Singing the lyrics in Spanish, audience members sang along. As the upbeat song progressed, there was an untraceable transaction that turned into a rhythm and blues beat.
The transaction continued as the members began to move around while keeping the whole song in beat. A strong use of Latin percussions was used and the bassist slapped his bass to add an extra drum beat. The flow continued ending with the song “Cumbia del Marijuanero,” which had a more cumbia-based beat.
While writing music, Velorio has no set composer. The band has had music education, which makes the writing process an easy objective, according to Alex Lopez.
“We all have different types of music influence,” said Caceres, “Music is like a language, because we can speak it and we all have different dialects.”
“Whoever writes up the first beat gets the privilege of being the creator of the song. The members would continue the beat based off of the first one. “It’s a ‘first come, first serve’ situation,” said Caceres laughing.
The show on the 26th was originally a concert performance, however, since the band has a strong Latin influence, the song “Juana la Cubana” and “La Bamba” were played.
Suddenly the concert turned into a nightclub. Audience members got in front of the stage and began to dance. Strangers dancing with strangers, the crowd cheering, the music pounding, the involvement was high. A duo solo of percussions had the crowd cheering louder. The show came to an end with a slow fade and an introduction of the band members. Some band members left the stage, but the rest stayed and finished the song. The drummer Weinmann finished a solid drum solo, which ended the freestyle percussions. The crowd exploded with a cheer.
Velorio does not have a cycle they follow when they write their music. Lyrically, Caceres uses “love, pain, freedom, and even the Lord.” He said, “These are the things that have a role in our lives.”
Originally, there were seven members, but because of family issues, two members were dropped and Weinmann filled in the drumming position. “We had to step it up, said Lopez. “We had to stretch out as a band. We keep getting better and better at this; this has brought the best out of us.”
The band has had to deal with money, family and relationship complications. “Everybody has a job and a family, but we spend a lot of time together as a band,” said Powers. The members still plan on touring, show their music to the world, and face the sacrifice. “It’s all worth it; no question about it,” said Lopez. “We decided to do this.”
For more information about the band, visit Veloriomusic.com or Youtube.com. Velorio also has their music in ring tones by Verizon.