My name is Todd and I love music. That's really all you need to know about me, but if you want way too much info- here's my story...
I grew up in a musical family in Charleston, SC. My mom taught elementary music (her dad was a full time jazz musician) and my dad was a professor at MUSC in Charleston, and also plays clarinet. I played piano as a child and alto sax in middle school, but it was the summer of 8th grade when discovered James Taylor's music and I got really serious about acoustic guitar. Long before YouTube, I would sit for hours in front of a tape player with my Washburn guitar trying to copy every nuance of JT's playing.
My family moved to Maryland when I was entering 9th grade and while I was in high school in Bethesda, Maryland, I got really into jazz guitar. I studied with a fantastic guitarist and teacher - Steve Abshire. Steve was an enormous influence on my life and he opened my ears to Joe Pass, Herb Ellis, and Wes Montgomery when I was 15. I scored some paying gigs in DC playing rhythm guitar in jazz big bands when I 16 and I was hooked- I couldn't believe that I could actually get paid to play guitar...
After high school, I went to Towson State College for a year and landed my first paying solo acoustig gig. Towson didn't wasn't a good fit for me, so I moved home after my first year and then transfered to USC (South Carolina) where scored a scholarship and became music major. At USC, I studied with Bert Ligon and he fundamentally changed the way I thought about music. Theory, logic, harmony, improvization- Bert handed me the keys to unlock and decode all of the mysteries of music that I had never understood. I was still gigging at least 3 or 4 nights a week while I was in college and getting a taste of life as a full time musician. In 1995, while I was still in college, I came down to Hilton Head to cover a gig at the Tiki Hut for a friend and that trip was the beginning of my long career as a musician in Hilton Head.
I graduated from USC in 1997 with a BA in music and immediately moved to the beach on Hilton Head Island. I started playing at a couple different bars and filled up my schedule with 8 gigs a week. During that first summer, I played solo acoustic at 4 nights a week at Steamer in Coligny Plaza (3 as a solo musician and 1 as a duo where I played upright bass with a friend). For whatever reason, Steamer seemed to be a really great fit for my kind of performance.
In 2000, I started playing exclusively at Steamer 6 nights a week and I kept that schedule up until 2014. Who plays the same gig 6 nights a week for 14 years (I7 years if you include the 3 years when I was playing there 3-4 nights a week)? This guy... The Steamer gig put me on the map in Hilton Head- we had a great thing going there. I did some really creative digital marketing for that gig (way before social media) and created a database of over 10,000 email addresses of people who would come out to hear my gig year after year at Steamer.
Around the same time that I started playing solo gigs 6 nights a week (1999), I started using the Boomerang looper pedal live at my gigs. I can honestly say that if it weren't for that piece of gear, I couldn't have done the Steamer gig for as many years as I did. Looping allowed me to grow as a player and a musician. I learned new tunes at a veracious pace and spent a lot of time coming up with unique ways to use looping at my gigs. I was also playing bass at the Tiki Hut with a cover band every Saturday and Sunday afternoon from 1997 - 2010. Playing bass in a cover band is a great thing for any musician to do- I highly recommend it to anyone looking to expand their understanding of music. I don't care if you play flute, guitar, or piano- playing bass will make you a better musician.
In 2008 I got married and moved off of Hilton Head and into the burbs and in 2009 our son, Larson, was born, and in 2011 our daughter, Fiona, was born. Those early baby years were challenging, but being a stay at home dad during the day and a musician at night gave me the chance to experience every second of my children's early years. I'm so thankful for that.
In the summer of 2013 (while I was still playing music at Steamer), my family and I moved to Daufuskie Island. If you don't know about Daufuskie, check it out- it's a small island across from Hilton Head Island, but there is no bridge to the island. Shortly after moving to the Daufuskie, I took the gig at The Salty Dog Cafe' and I would drive a little tiller boat across the Calibogue Sound to commute to my gig at the Salty Dog. Life on Daufuskie was full of all sorts of amazing moments that I'll never forget- running around an empty beach with my wife and kids, fishing, shrimping and throwing the cast net with my kids, crabbing, teaching my 5 year old son how to drive a tiller boat- I could go on but I'll just leave it at- living on Daufuskie is the most authentic and intense type of lowcountry living you will find. While we were living on Daufuskie Island, I took on more roles and responsiblities at the Salty Dog beyond just playing music. I was also booking their 4 venues, managing their musicians, desigining and installing PA systems, and eventually taking on all of their marketing.
As much as we loved living on Daufuskie, the commute to the kids' school in Bluffton every day was tough, and in the Fall of 2015, we moved back to our old house in the burbs of Bluffton. I had to trade the 10 minute commute to work in a tiller boat for an hour commute in traffic from the Bluffton suburbs all the way down to the Salty Dog in the back of Sea Pines. In the Spring of 2016, I left my full time at the Salty Dog. Shortly after leaving the Salty Dog, I quit looping and stripped my live gigs back to singing and playing guitar with a tamborine underneath my foot. After leaning on a looper pedal 6 nights a week for 17 years, I needed to rediscover the simple joy of playing music without technology. It wasn't long after I had been playing acoustic gigs without looping that I discovered the Farmer Footdrum. I knew it was going to be a game changer for my solo gigs- so I dug deep into practicing my footdrumming in the summer of 2016.
In the Fall of 2016, I started playing at Skull Creek Boathouse 4 nights a week, and one night a week down in Harbourtown at the QuarterDeck. In 2018, I will be playing 5 nights a week exclusively for the Sea Pines Resort- 4 nights a week in Harbourtown, and Thursday nights at their Beach Club.
When people ask "what do you do for a living", I feel like I've beat the system when I answer, "I play guitar". My kids are now 6 and 8 and are in elementary school- mornings and afternoons are mine again for the first time in years. I'm working harder than I have ever worked on my music- 2018 is going to be a great year...
thanks for your support!