Whatever strange confluence of events the universe strung together to get you to read this article, let’s both admit that it did not involve you having the faintest clue who Chris Velan was. After you went home and downloaded his two albums, might I suggest you drop the universe a little thank you note.
Velan got his start in a seven-piece reggae band called Equalizer, founded with his two brothers. Velan dissolved the band in 2001 and subsequently released two solo albums where he attempted to incorporate his reggae influences with his singer-songwriter musical style.
I should tell you that the previous sentence has been checked multiple times and does not contain a single typo. The words singer-songwriter and reggae were both meant to be in that sentence in reference to one artist.
And in the hands of a less-skilled player, the nauseating feeling produced by the thought of such an illicit musical genre union would be fully justified. But Chris Velan is one hell of a musician. To hear him play songs off his latest album, Twitter, Buzz, Howl, is to be opened up to a truly exciting new sound.
Velan has a true respect of pop music, borrowing the best aspects of that style: instantly accessible and catchy as hell. But where most pop songs run out of ideas about a minute in, Velan manages to incorporate the freestyle flow of reggae to keep his tunes both alive and lively.
Add to that a foundation of strong lyrics and the impassioned soul that a great songwriter gives to his music. It is hard to do justice to how this all comes together with the use of 26 English letters and a few grammatical symbols.
But that it does come together was self-evident last week, when Velan played a gig at the El Cid on his far too brief L.A. tour. Alone on stage, Velan managed to produce a sound that would rival most bands, accompanying himself with an assist from his trusty loop pedal. And to see a crowd of people bobbing their heads with rhythmic excitement at the music of this roaming reggae troubadour is to begin to understand what Chris Velan is all about.
He will be coming back in the fall with new songs in tow, so I suggest you spend the summer playing catch up. Go to his MySpace page, and give “Best of Me” a listen.
By the time the song ends, you will know exactly who Chris Velan is. And don’t forget to use recycled paper for that thank you note. The universe prefers it that way.