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Angie Aparo has the crowd in the palm of his hand late on a Saturday night in a small, dark club a few streets over from Nashville’s famed Music Row, where radio-friendly hits are cranked out dutifully by the music machine during the daylight hours. But this is the nighttime, and Aparo and his rock band the Infidels are living up to their name as they prove why the singer has continued to build a loyal following long after losing his major label deal on Arista and leaving the establishment’s way of making music far behind. Aparo is an enigma, in a way – call him merely a singer and you’ve barely scratched the surface. Label him a songwriter, and you’re closer, yet still not quite capturing the essence of this ultra- talented, soulful entertainer. 

Standing onstage with cigarette in hand as he banters with the crowd, Aparo conjures up images of a young Sinatra, which are quickly dismissed when his band tears into a full-tilt rocker that shakes the rafters. But just as quickly, as he turns the voltage up and gives the crowd a taste of what his new band can really do, Aparo turns on a dime and brings them to their knees with a brilliantly sparse, acoustic rendition of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” It’s the sort of thing he enjoys doing most, interacting with a crowd and testing them to see what sorts of things he can get away with – and can’t – and he lives for it, even now, some ten-plus years into his career.

“I’m really concerned, as a musical artist, with the live show never dying,” Aparo told DISH right after the rehearsal for that night’s show. “We’re in an age where there’s so much stimulation just sitting on your couch and you can see people in concert now and not leave your house. I would just love to keep that live music experience going…it’s so great when it happens both for the audience and the artist, and there’s that thing that’s created that’s bigger than both of them. 

“I love to tell stories onstage…I do a lot of freeform,” he continues. “And in an Andy Kaufman kind of way, I really love the awkwardness. I really love the meltdown, and when the audience doesn’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going with it, and I find it fascinating for it to just bomb! I always resurrect it, and they’ll go there with me, and I just love going for it and just seeing where it goes. And when it doesn’t work, I love it even more!”

For an artist to admit he likes to fall flat is a rarity, but then, Angie Aparo is hardly your average artist. Growing up, he first turned to singing as a means of bonding with his mother, who liked to sing, and later found it was a good way to pick up girls as well. He was influenced heavily by artists like Neil Young and Elton John, and did the band thing for years until he decided to focus on a solo career in 1995. Aparo released an album titled “Out Of The Everywhere” the following year, and searched for a direction to take his music next. His booking agent got him solid gigs playing writers clubs like the Bluebird in Nashville, and when Aparo asked other songwriters what they would do, they suggested he head for the New York scene, which he quickly did. 

“You kind of figure things out quick in environments like the Bluebird or clubs in New York – it’s such a microscope and you have really educated listeners who want you to speak, and I whittled my set down during that time.”

A fortuitous date opening for an artist named Matt Serletic in Atlanta led to a stroke of fate for Aparo, since Serletic would soon become a sought-after producer working with the likes of Matchbox 20 and Collective Soul, and eventually become head of Virgin Records. The two began working together shopping a deal for Aparo, and in 1998 Aparo signed with Arista after Clive Davis requested a show. One of the songs Matt insisted Aparo do for Davis was a song called “Cry” that had been sitting in a shoebox in the back of Aparo’s closet for years. He hadn’t performed it in so long, in fact, that he had to have his wife read the lyrics off to him before going into Davis’ office to play, but the song sealed the deal for Aparo and he was soon making his major label debut, “The American,” which featured the popular single, “Spaceship.” / Issue 57 - September 2018
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