The first Wind Down Wednesday of winter quarter featured the music of Venezuelan native Juan Alonzo. His fluidity between classical, rock, and flamingo styles on guitar gave a welcomed depth to the hour set he performed for a small group of students in the lower atrium.
Juan’s visit to Kalamazoo is his second, the first being in the winter of 2011.
“We had had a great experience with him before,” said Assistant Director of Student Involvement Kate Yancho. “When the opportunity to bring him again arose, I sent out an email to a group of students to ask …whether or not we should bring him back and heard very enthusiastically that we should.”
“I used to play in a heavy metal rock band,” Alonzo said after the show. “I had long hair and everything.”
Internationally, Alonzo was part of a classical guitar tour that took place last summer in Madrid. Wind Down Wednesday is understandably a much smaller venue, but Alonzo enjoys playing in settings that allow him to make easier connections with audience members.
“I like to play slow classical ballads, or classic rock songs to smaller audiences.” Said Alonzo. “Smaller audiences connect better with them as classical songs tend to bring back a nostalgic energy.” Alonzo’s started off his set with a driving instrumental classical guitar song, moving on to play classic ballads such as the Bee Gee’s “How Deep is Your Love,” “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd, and Incubus’s “Drive.” His take on “Stairway to Heaven” incorporated a mixture of flamingo into the common hard rock ballad by Led Zeppelin. “I love Norah Jones,” Alonzo said, adding “Incubus and guys like Dave Mortone have been constant influences.”
Mira Palakodaty ‘18 admired his cover of the Bee Gee’s. “I heard about this event because I am in S.A.C,” she said, “but I wish this event had been later in the quarter so that there was more of a chance to advertise.”
“I only heard about this event by chance,” said Maggie Doele ‘18. “But he is such a good musician there should be more than two people sitting to listen.”
Alonzo’s presence at Wind Down Wednesday could start a trend of showcasing more music as a part of the event. “When Wind Down Wednesday was first conceived, it included live music quite frequently,” Yancho said. “The series has changed a bit over the years, but certainly, if students want more live music on Wednesday, we would be happy to explore that!”
The eight-hour drive back to Nashville laid ahead of Alonzo. “I’m just going back to a regular job and continuing to work on independently producing a CD,” he said. Alonzo’s music can be found on iTunes and Spotify.