About Funk in Time

Jerry Velona

An eclectic and exciting mix of American Music - classic soul & funk, neo soul, rock and jazz

Velona Says it’s About Funk in Time

Boston-based drummer/singer/songwriter Jerry Velona has released his fifth album entitled About Funk in Time on his own label Karunabird Records.

The record contains 14 songs, 3 of which are original compositions and the rest covers of classic soul, funk and R&B tunes from the 1960’s and 70’s. “This was the golden era for this style and I grew up loving this music and idolizing the singers and the bands,” says Velona. “This music not only connects me to my youth but it’s the foundation for a lot of hip hop records. I hope to re-introduce it in some small way to a newer, younger audience.”

Velona chose several songs from the era that are not well known; such as “She’s Lookin’ Good by Rodger Collins, “It’s Alright” by Larry Graham and his band Grand Central Station and “Mighty Mighty” done by Earth Wind and Fire. He also mines and pays tribute to some of the more recognizable tunes like Marvin Gaye’s “Hitchhike” and Junior Walker’s “(I’m a) Road Runner”.
Vocally, Velona displays an impressive versatility; moving with ease from the Memphis soul rave-up She’s Looking Good to the ballad You Don’t Know Me which borrows from the classic Ray Charles version.

The album features some of Boston’s best musicians and the tracks are tight and crisply recorded. In addition to the vocals, Velona plays drums on all the tracks. “Mighty Mighty” features nationally known rap and spoken word artist J Ivy. “One of the things we tried to do with the covers was to update the production values but keep the core, the groove and the energy of the original recordings. Mighty Mighty is such a positive, upbeat track. J was able to take it from there to an even higher level,” says Velona.

Velona’s originals sit squarely in the rock category. His song “Dope Springs Eternal” which he laughingly describes as, “the pathetic story of my love life,” features a quirky clavinet hook and is getting traction on college radio along with the memorably titled “Ms. Vesoluvska” which is a cross between Pearl Jam and the early Who.

The one departure from the rock and soul theme of About Funk In Time is the final track, a cover of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, “I Have Dreamed” from the soundtrack of The King and I. With an ethereal instrumental track featuring guitarist Duke Levine, pianist Tim Ray and Richard Gates on bass, Velona demonstrates his crooning chops in addition to the soulful vocals of the rest of the tracks. About Funk in Time makes a convincing case for the vitality and relevance of this timeless music in the 21st century.

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The Joint Venture Band

Playful and authentic Dixieland jazz.

Mozart is an original composition about our pet rabbit of the same name who gave us great pleasure during his (sadly) short life. It was written in particular for my daughter Nina and sung by her in the original demo. After playing it for several people, I was encouraged to put a professional vocal on the track and release it for the children's music market and lovers of authentic Dixieland jazz with a touch of whimsy.

The track features a collection of top Boston area musicians including Jesse Williams on bass, Billy Novick on clarinet, Tim Ray on piano, Marty Richards on drums and the superb vocals of Debbie Pierre. It also features legendary drummer and percussionist (and my uncle) Ted Sommer on percussion and sound effects.

I don't perform on this track but wrote and arranged the song as well as composed the lyrics. I'm hoping that some kids and their parents might enjoy the song and as a result become exposed to one of the classic styles in American music.

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Love Radio

Jerry Velona

Jerry Velona continues to surprise and expand his musical boundaries with his sixth release featuring tricked out rock, new twists on classic soul, raw funk, country and Christmas blues all with his eclectic signature vocals and wry lyrics.

Love Radio is the sixth release by prolific Boston singer, songerwriter, musician, Jerry Velona.

The album features a quartet of blistering, straight ahead rock tunes starting with a cover of the Long Ryders' "Looking for Lewis and Clark". Of that cut, Sid Griffin who wrote the and sang the original version says: "Jerry Velona once again proves his musical worth in a balls-to-the-wall cover version of the Long Ryders’ ‘Looking For Lewis & Clark’, a pounding yet melodic take which begs the question: where are the great and fearless leaders of the present day? Velona’s committed vocal and approach to the lyric may not provide a complete set of answers but oh Mercy, they frame the question so very, very well.”

The three other rock tunes are all penned by Velona and include the whimsical "When I Wake Up", the subtlely political "Bureau of Whatever" and the semi-autobiographical "First To Last". All feature Velona on drums and vocals along with the twin guitar terrors of Billy Loosigian and David Minehan.

On the soul and funk side, Velona updates the Donny Hathaway song "Ghetto" with original lyrics and a different spin in "The Ghetto (Ain't Going Back). The song features an epic arrangement with rhythm section, percussion, strings, vocal chorus and features Debbie Pierre on lead vocal and the spoken word brilliance of J Ivy. Not to be missed! Velona also updates an obscure but wonderful soul chestnut "Baby What'cha Got (for me)" first recorded in 1967 by the late Darrell Banks. "Our Own Devices" again showcases Velona's wry lyrical style over a churning, burning funk track including the "Boston Horns" - Gordon Beadle and Phil Grenadier.

"Forbidden Fruit" recorded by the Band and written by Robbie Robertson gets a country rock treatment with violin, accordion and a great guitar track by Duke Levine.

Finally, just in time for the holidays comes "Just Don't Feel Like Christmas", a bluesy, introspective treatment featuring Velona's plaintive vocal and a great horn arrangement by Paul Ahlstrand.

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Dream Girl

Jerry Velona

Dream Girl is the latest release from eclectic Boston-based singer, songwriter and instrumentalist Jerry Velona - a trio of jazz styles from smooth contemporary to classic New Orleans to swing.

Leading off with the ethereal smooth jazz single Dream Girl, a Velona composition featuring an all-star band including Duke Levine, Brad Hatfield, Marty Richards, Richard Gates and featuring Paul Ahlstrand on tenor sax. The second track of Dream Girl features Jerry on vocal. That track was originally released on Velona's 2009 album "Random Emotion."

Next up, the Velona-penned and arranged Wishful Intuition; straight out of Bourbon Street and featuring Jerry on the vocal along with Billy Novick, Dave Harris, Jesse Williams, Kevin Belz, Zac Casher and Larry Luddecke. For a more intimate take, the small band version of Wishful Intuition features Dave Limina on piano. The lyric concerns a fellow who falls in love with every beautiful girl he sees (like most guys!) with a surprise twist.

The disc wraps up with a cover of the whimsical Johnny Burke/Jimmy Van Heusen classic If You Stub Your Toe on the Moon. The song was first recorded by Bing Crosby in the 1940's and was featured in the movie A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Frank Sinatra also recorded the song for Columbia Records. The tune highlights an arrangement reminiscent of the early Nat Cole trio and features Jerry on vocal along with Dave Limina, Billy Novick, Jesse Williams and Mike Williams. Check out the companion video available on You Tube!

Dream Girl is the first jazz release and fifth overall by Jerry Velona whose songs have been featured in HBO and MTV productions. He is an alumnus of Berklee College of Music and performs with his bands Joint Venture and Pack of Viceroys in the Boston area.

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Little Loaded

Jerry Velona

2-song release from Boston area singer/songerwriter Jerry Velona. Includes the insanely catchy and rockin' cover of the Beatles "Little Child". Nashvile artist Michael Anderson says "very very cool, has spirit of John Lennon in it" .

Little Child was recorded and mixed at Q Division studios in Somerville, MA - a great studio where many fine records and bands have recorded included one of my favorites, Fountains of Wayne. Pat Dicenso was the engineer and did the mixing and he's a very talented guy who really captured what we were trying to do I think. The players on the track are Zac Casher on drums, Duke Levine on guitars, Larry Luddecke on piano and Richard Rosenblatt on harmonica. I arranged the tune and provided the basic outline but it really just fell together when we started to play it in the studio. The guys are all such great players and I think we might have done 2 or 3 takes max. Originally the tune had a harmonica solo only but I brought Duke and Rosie back to share the solos and it came out great. I'm kind of a musical sponge when it comes to influences. I couldn't help but hear the early J Geils Band when we started playing the tune and so on some level the vocal is probably an homage to the great Peter Wolf but I'll let you be the judge of that.

Locked Out & Loaded was a tune I wrote about "those guys" who so many girls love despite the fact that they treat them like crap! Growing up in New Jersey, my mom always taught me to be a gentleman and I was polite and respectful to girls and ended up being friends with most of them and boyfriends with few of them. Luckily as I entered adulthood, the qualities I brought to the table were more in demand from the ladies so it's all good!

I have to acknowledge Judas Priest from whom I borrowed the "Loaded" chorus from their song "Living After Midnight". When that song comes on my Ipod at the gym, I always do a couple of extra reps! LOAL was originally recorded at Straight Up Music in Arlington, MA with my good friend and bandmate Larry Luddecke at the controls. I re-recorded a few things at Q Division and Pat Dicenso mixed it there. The players on this song are Kevin Barry on guitars including the great slide parts, Jim Fitting on the harmonica, Richard Gates on bass, Marty Richards on drums and Tom West on the piano. I played a little percussion on this one as well as the vocals.

Bill Bromfield mastered both tunes at Bromfield Music Nashville and my very talented son Chris Velona took the photos.

I hope you enjoy them!

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Random Emotion

Jerry Velona

A deliciously eclectic blend of styles from classic soul, rock, blues, country, jazz and folk, tied together with artful lyrics and the arresting vocals of Jerry Velona.

Jerry Velona is Boston area singer/songwriter and musician. He attended Berklee College of Music and has been playing for years in clubs throughout Massachusetts and New England. “If anyone is doing a book about dives in the Boston area, see me for research”, he joked. Jerry has written and recorded dozens of original compositions which he has performed with his band Joint Venture. He won a Billboard songwriting award for his song Hip Hop No More. The song was part of an eponymous CD released in the late 90’s which received national airplay including heavy use in several episodes of MTV Cribs and on an HBO special. Jerry’s voice has been featured in commercials, a cartoon pilot and on the song “At Last (you’re there)”, from the documentary film, “Lifestyles of the Poor and Unknown”. “The story of my life”, he cracked.

Random Emotion is the name of Jerry's first, full-length album. The lead track, Leave Me Alone, was released a year prior as a single and is also available through CD Baby. The CD contains 13 songs, 12 of which are original compositions and the other, End as a Man, was written by Jerry's uncle Anthony Velona who composed many songs in the 50's and 60's including Lollipops and Roses which has become a jazz/pop standard. "My Aunt Yole had the song in her files. It was beautifully hand-notated on ledger paper by my Uncle Tony", said Jerry. "She told me it had never been recorded and thought I might want to do something with it". Jerry came up with an arrangement fusing a jazzy hip-hop groove followed by a up-tempo samba section. He brought together an A-list band featuring Brad Hatfield on piano and Oscar Stagnaro on bass. Jerry also enlisted the considerable talents of family members; his uncle Ted Sommer on percussion and his cousin Kathy Sommer on synth. "I figured it was a family project and that seemed to be a natural way to go," he said.

The rest of the CD contains a wide variety of songs in a number of different styles. Starting off with the Stonesy rock of Leave Me Alone, leading to memphis-soul sounding Talk to the Ossifer. Later in the album there are two hard-rock tunes: Undercover Appetite and Post Dated, both mixed by legendary Boston guitarist David Minehan at his Woolly Mammoth studios in Waltham, MA. Minehan also mixed the song Some People. Throw in some bluesy, country songs like Miss Understood and Don't Mean Squat, an instrumental accoustic track - The Last Paper Boy, a classic New Orleans song - It's Just as Well, (which is kind of Professor Longhair meets Randy Newman) and a jazzy ballad Dream Girl and you have as eclectic a group of songs as you'll find by any artist on a single record. "You also have a marketers nightmare", laughed Velona. "People ask me what kind of music I do and I really can't tell them", he said. "I have always enjoyed and listened to lots of different kinds of music and am influenced by many styles and artists. The songs just come out in the style that I feel is best to put the musical and lyrical ideas across", he said.

Velona writes all his own lyrics as well as the music and some of the lyrics have a Libertarian/Conservative bent. Leave Me Alone is an ode to rugged individualism. Talk to the Ossifer deals with the problem of fatherless boys and Some People addresses the capacity for evil among "some people". Did he mean to write a political record? "Not really," he said. "The lyrics to those songs concern topics that are important to me. The challenge in writing songs like that is to do it in an artistic way that can resonate with anyone on a variety of levels and not sound preachy. I hope I accomplished that," he said.

The album features some of the finest musicians in the Boston area who back up many national and international acts. "I've played with alot of these guys over the years and we've become friends," said Velona. "They're such great players and it was a real treat to write the songs knowing that certain musicians would play the parts just right". Velona travelled to Nashville to record parts of two of the songs but the rest were recorded and mixed at Straight Up Music in his hometown of Arlington, MA.

Random Emotion is a trip through American music by a mature and confident artist.

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