Photo by Brian Giandelone
Asked to perform an impromptu, acoustic rendition of his upcoming single, Andy Velo doesn't hesitate.
The Suwanee resident picks up his Taylor and sets to playing outside the businesses that call Buford's picturesque Tannery Row home.
From the first guitar riffs, you know it's going to be catchy.
Four bars in, Velo starts to sing, "Long before Bocephus there was daddy Hank. He told us he was lonesome, he loved that steel guitar. He walked that lonesome valley under neon stars."
Even as strangers pass by, coming in and out of the historic building, Velo seems entirely focused on the music. Just outside a doorway that leads to an elevator, he has created his own stage. Just him, his resonating voice and his guitar.
"Hank it up," he sings, reaching the song's chorus. "Turn back the years. Yeah, let me get lost in them honky tonk cheers. Crank it up. Play it loud. Yeah, do anything but don't turn it down. Hank it up."
Penned by songwriters Charlie Monk and Rick Huckaby, "Hank It Up" is for Velo an homage to the music of Hank Williams Sr. and Hank Williams Jr. The recorded version of the single transitions from a whiny steel guitar characteristic of Hank Sr.'s sound to a driving guitar typical of Hank Jr.'s style as the lyrics play on titles of both men's songs. A shift to a sound heavy on guitars and drums to reflect Velo's own fusion of Southern rock and country styles precedes a return to a slick steel guitar sound and back to Hank Sr.
The song is Velo's debut single after signing with Worn Soul Entertainment earlier this spring.
The release of "Hank It Up," is set to hit radio airwaves Monday, is just another welcomed stop along the road Velo started paving for himself at the age of 12, when he performed his first solo in church.
"That's when I knew," he said. "I knew it was something that I was good at and being on stage was something I loved. At 15 years old I decided that country music was the way I wanted to go. It's who I am."
Velo then taught himself to play guitar on a six-string nylon classical guitar his dad had stashed away in a closet. Soon after, he started writing music. His first live gig was at Antigua, a Mexican restaurant in Suwanee, when he was still in high school.
Now 23, Velo is on his way to releasing his debut CD, a significant milestone in a career he has built from the ground up set in motion after he signed with his label.
"That really was just the missing piece of the puzzle," he said of signing with Worn Soul. "They have kind of taken things to the next level."
Velo will celebrate the release of "Hank It Up" tonight at 37 Main in Buford, where you can hear the acoustic version of the song live.