Bill Todd - New York, home and back again
Bill Todd, in all of his twenty-six years of glory, sat, unassumingly, on a rainy Summer’s night and expressed his deepest thanks to his friends and family for getting him to where he is today as a musician.
After graduating from SUNY Purchase, with a degree in Jazz Studies, Bill moved to New York City, along with the majority of his friends from college. Living under one roof, a large group of his closest friends hustled the New York City streets by selling Obama condoms: “Late spring, summer, early fall, it was all fine. We made a lot of money. But, when winter came around it started sucking, and I didn’t feel like things were going well”. It was at this point Bill had to re-evaluate living his post-college life in New York City. Bill said, “Shit was kinda hard, and I began thinking, ‘Is this really what I want to do?’”
So Bill went home, leaving his friends behind in New York. For some, toughing through New York would be their growing up experience, but for Bill, it was moving back home. It was here that he took the chance to really engage in all of the information he had learned at Purchase as a sax player: “I had to let everything sink in, absorb it, then apply it. I had to learn how to let go of the classroom, and then just start playing – play what you feel, what you hear, not just numbers”.
However, soon Bill realized that home wasn’t quite a fit either, so he started working as a musician on cruise ships, and from there he began touring with the musical, Young Frankenstein. Partially trained in other instruments, Bill recalled, “It was this gig that showed me I could be a doubler – this could be a reality”. A doubler, for those of us who do not know, is a musician who can play multiple woodwind instruments. Realizing that he had this special skill, that many musicians do not, Bill returned to New York.
This time, the city wasn’t as cold and uninviting. Bill’s friends had spent time establishing themselves and musicians, and with warm, open arms invited him to experience the network they had created for themselves in New York. Bill smirked, thankfully, and said, “One of the great things about going to Purchase was that I had all these people to come back to. I started hanging out with all of my friend’s friends”.
It was this network of friend’s friends, that helped Bill record his first album, “I asked these guys to do it, and all I could offer was to take them out to lunch. Their response was, ‘Yeah, totally – I’d love to play’”. Bill was surprised by their response, being that they were extremely talented, well established, career musicians. Bill hasn’t forgotten how he got to where he is, and attributes his success thus far to the people in his life who opened their arms, and brought him to where he is: “I was never really a hang out by myself kind of a kid”.
Today, Bill supports a lifestyle solely on his music, but isn’t necessarily finished making his mark: “I’d like to teach at the collegiate level. I think I would be a good teacher. Learning has been a journey for me, and so has life. Teachers in music teach us about life, if only for the reason that music becomes our life”.
With pieces that tell part of Bill’s story, it is an honor to hear him play Wednesday night at For Locals by Locals. 231 Rogers Avenue. Doors open at 7:30pm.