Things have changed since Andy Velo made his debut at in Suwanee in 2004.
He was unplugged then because that was his norm. There was no sponsored touring bus, no videos.
"That was before it took off to become a great venue," Velo recalled by telephone recently as he looked forward to his gig in his hometown Saturday, Nov. 5.
He also blocks out a week regularly to go to Nashville to write songs and have business meetings.
But he stays grounded. His crew didn't take the bus from Atlanta to the Alabama festival until last Saturday morning (Velo was to take the stage Sunday) because Velo was a groomsman in a wedding Friday. "I can't miss a wedding," he said.
And he had plenty of hugs for relatives after his Buford gig.
Like other musicians, he notes that travel gets tiring. "The coolest thing," he noted, "is when you get to a new town and you see people singing your songs. You know you are doing something right."
Indeed, it's a long way from his roots of acoustic guitar and karaoke at a spot in Suwanee that is now closed. Also, there were musical gigs at Sugar Hill United Methodist Church, which still offers rock-oriented performances at some Sunday services.
"It was a privilege to play there," Velo recalled. "That's a lot of the reason my passion (for music) is what it was."
There's little other than music for Velo now, but he is holding a spot open for a family.
"It's not hard to have it both ways," he said of a family in the future. "It's priorities. This area takes preference right now. Long term, I do want a family. I'm doing this so I can put food in our belly and a roof over our heads."
"I knew this was coming," he said of his current success, which also includes a coming CD that will include his two singles. "I didn't know what it would look like.
"Persistence overcomes anything. You can be driven but yet get burned out. Persistence is when you allow your passion to slip, but you still fill up your tank and do it again."
And he'll do it again in Suwanee with a show that will last from 90 minutes to two hours, beginning at 8 p.m. It will include original material plus some "partner covers" -- parts of songs by others that are added to the end of some Velo tunes. These can include "Mary's Jane's Last Dance" by Tom Petty and "Feel Like Making Love" by Bad Company.
"We're coming to have fun," Velo said. "I'm excited we're coming back."