Local Musician Part of Weezer’s “Hootenanny”
By By: Marisa LaScala
Alex Yacovelli (dead center, pink shirt) on stage with other contest winners and members of Weezer, including guitarist Brian Bell (red jacket, sunglasses)
I’ve been a fan of Weezer ever since they came out with “Buddy Holly” and “(Undone) The Sweater Song” back when I was in middle school. You can imagine my jealousy when I found out that, last week, Pleasantville musician Alex Yacovelli got to play with the band onstage at Madison Square Garden. I badgered him for all the juicy details so I could live vicariously through him.
Yacovelli, who is currently a vocal performance major at NYU, entered the contest to play onstage with Weezer though 107.1 The Peak — and he came very, very close to not winning. In order to enter, he filmed himself singing the Weezer song “El Scorcho,” along with the intro about what the song means to him, and uploaded it to the radio station’s website. (You can watch the video here.) However, there was a glitch and the video never made it to the radio station. “Kat Suda, the promotions director of the station, informed me that they had technical difficulties with my submission,” he says. “They did, however, find my video randomly on YouTube ten minutes before the contest deadline and decided to declare me a winner — even though they had a different winner in mind!” With that, he was on his way to MSG.
Yacovelli was one of 30 radio contest winners who all got to play during the band’s “Hootenanny” encore. “Other performers played banjo, didgeridoo, conga, flute, sitar, trombone, and a wealth of other instruments,” he says. “We rehearsed with Patrick, Weezer's drummer, who orchestrated the various sections of each piece: chorus, bridge, solo.”
When it finally came time to go on stage, “I felt like a gladiator about to enter the Colosseum,” he says. “On the way to the stage, I congratulated Tom Delonge — lead singer of Angels & Airwaves and former member of Blink 182 — on a great set and we pounded fists. Surprisingly, I wasn't the least bit nervous, which I assume is a testament to all the training I’ve had at NYU and otherwise.” Apparently, Yacovelli’s good luck kept on rolling, even after he was handed a pre-tuned guitar and climbed the stairs to the stage. “I was urged to ‘fill in’ and ended up dead center stage. It honestly wasn’t planned. I wasn't being greedy. I just happened to land there, right next to guitarist Brian Bell. It was nuts.”
All of the “Hootenanny” performers played two of Weezer’s radio hits: “Island in the Sun” and “Beverly Hills.” “Technically, we weren’t supposed to sing,” he says, “but the whole ordeal had a ‘sing-a-long’ feel, so I joined in on some choruses and whatnot.”
Who knows, maybe one day Yacovelli will be back at MSG to perform his own music. He’s currently recording Sweet Nimbus Nothings, his own acoustic-rock album at a studio in Brooklyn. (See, I told you Westchester residents are productive.) If you want to hear a teaser of some of his songs, check out his MySpace page.