"It was a garage band called Mosaic. I didn't name it," he said and laughed. "We did a lot of songs by Skid Row, Pantera, Poison and Metallica."
Latin music and the guitar came later.
After high school, Canelon said he sort of drifted. Instead of music, he took a job at a nearby lumber mill. After eight years, he took a job driving a forklift for Bruce Hardwood.
"I did that for three years," he said. "I became very good at that. I could flip a quarter with a forklift."
He's still proud of that.
After some time away, though, music found him again. In his mid-20s, Canelon heard an old record by composer Antonio Lauro, the "Gershwin of Venezuela," and it reignited a passion for Latin music and his love of the guitar.
He said his cousin, Tino, taught him to play a little, enough that Canelon sought out a guitar of his own: a beat-up acoustic instrument held together with duct tape.
He practiced with that guitar and, to his cousin's surprise, he got pretty good -- good enough that his cousin told him he needed to buy a decent instrument.
"That changed my life," he said. "I had a purpose. I felt that I was put on this world to play music."
It wasn't overnight but, with a lot of hard work, Canelon established himself and then put together a Latin combo in the late 1990s. The band played throughout the area, including Charleston's Multifest, and then, in 2001, the band made the move from Elkins to Charleston.
"I'm really happy where I'm at now," he said, although he's far from satisfied.
Canelon said he's constantly studying his instrument and his genre. He's mostly self-taught, works through books and videos, and just tries to apply what he figures out through that.
"I've taken classes here and there," he said. "I've learned some cool things from Ryan Kennedy."
He has high hopes for Comparsa's new CD, which he hopes will be out in time for the band's Live on the Levee show on Aug. 30 with Acoustic Syndicate. Canelon also wants to get Comparsa back on "Mountain Stage."
"We did the show once before, but I'd like to do it again," he said. "What we're doing, nobody else in West Virginia is doing that."
He also wants to win a Grammy.
Canelon smiled broadly and said, "I'm a Sagittarius. We're archers and aim high."Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.