Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Trailer site. for toddstock

here is another site to download the toddstock trailer in different HD sizes

Article: A man and his Island

A man and his island Darren Levin
September 23, 2010

Psychedelic-pop genius Todd Rundgren found his personal paradise while fleeing a maniacal ex lover.

WELL before its lush rainforest setting was exposed to the world in Steven Spielberg's Jur-assic Park, Kauai was the perfect place to get lost. Hawaii's fourth-largest island — about 170 kilometres north-west of Oahu — was a haven for celebrity visitors in the 1970s, many of whom were on the run from something: substance abuse, the spectre of celebrity or, in Todd Rundgren's case, a relationship gone sour.

"I was looking to get away from an evil girlfriend," recalls the 62-year-old singer, best known for his 1972 double-album opus Something/Any-thing and producing Meatloaf's Bat out of Hell. "So I wanted to find a place as far away as possible."

Rundgren was a regular visitor to Kauai but it wasn't until a hurricane decimated the island in 1993 that he could afford to live there.

"[It] essentially flattened the island and I thought, 'If I'm ever going to buy property here, now would be the time to do it,' " he says. "I found a place I fell in love with and resolved that, one way or another, I was going to get it."

That place is Hale O Hua Li'i, or House of Runt, the expansive property Rundgren shares with his wife Michele and four children Rex, Randy, Keoni and Rebop. In many ways, his island lifestyle is a perfect metaphor for the way he's made records over the years — isolated and on the fringes of pop.

After the mainstream success of Something/Anything, which spanned the near-hit Hello It's Me (recorded earlier by his formative garage group, Nazz), Rundgren decided to go on what he describes as a "very individual and wildly omni-directional" musical journey. Sure, psychedelics played a part but it was a comparison with Carole King that really set him off.

"I thought, 'I'm going to write music that Carole King would never write in a million years,' so there was a contrarian element I suppose," he says.

The result was Rundgren's flawed masterpiece A Wizard, a True Star (1973), one of pop's great oddities, which he recorded in a New York loft-cum-studio that he built from the ground up.

"The band were running over [album track] Sometimes I Don't Know What To Feel while I was still re-wiring the console," he laughs. "As time went on, this became the way I made records. I became uncomfortable in a regular studio situation where I had to be on the clock and paying attention to essentially the fees involved, or the fact that they booked someone else in and you'd have to leave."

The album and subsequent stylistic detours, including his prog-rock ensemble Utopia, confined Rundgren to a career as a self-described "fringe artist", a label he insists isn't pejorative.

"What it means to me is that I have a fringe audience but the nature of a fringe audience is they're extremely committed," he says. "They take it as a point of pride that they know something no one else knows. As a result, I'm 62 and I still have a career.

"A lot of artists took the opposite route. They figure you're supposed to pander to the audience constantly and the reciprocal devotion from that audience is extremely shallow. In other words, you didn't really invest yourself. All you tried to do was come up with a formula that would satisfy people and it satisfied them but it was empty calories in the long run."

Being on the fringe has ensured Rundgren's career longevity but it hasn't made him as wealthy as you'd expect for a guy who produced Bat out of Hell (not to mention XTC's Skylarking, War Babies by Hall & Oates or The New York Dolls by the New York Dolls).

Rundgren applies sound business nous to his decisions today, which is why his maiden tour to Australia is being conducted on a shoestring. He's bringing his guitarist along for the ride but will play with a local rhythm section for shows in Sydney, Melbourne and the Great Southern Blues Festival at Batemans Bay.

Among a "liberal dollop" of old favourites, Rundgren's set will be based primarily on his latest album, a tribute to bluesman Robert Johnson, because it allows him to strip back his personnel.

"If I had to even bring a drum riser the air-freight costs would become so ridiculous," he jokes. "That's the principal thing that's prohibited me from coming to Australia."

Todd Rundgren plays the Corner Hotel on Wednesday, October 6. Tickets on sale now.

Video: spark of life ... Akron

Thursday, September 23, 2010

TODDSTOCK Trailer now on iTUNES

Toddstock Trailer on Apple iTunes.....congrats to all involved

RundgrenRadio Sept 28th Dirk Hillyer choir master

Rundgren Radio with special guest Dirk Hillyer, the Choir Master from the recent Todd Rundgren Todd/Healing tour

Article: Todd and his Johnson


ArticlesMusic/MoviesTodd and his Johnson
August 26, 2010 4:30 pm Gary Steel

Todd Rundgren is an extraordinary bloke. His musical career is about as eclectic as can be – from psych nuggets to blue-eyed soul to prog and fusion excess. Wearing his producer’s hat, he’s behind a load of amazing releases, including the New York Dolls, XTC’s ‘Skylarking’, and Meatloaf’s ‘Bat Out Of Hell’. Now he’s coming down here, to NZ, with a local pick up band, to mangle his Johnson. Gary Steel had a natter with the down-to-earth chap.

Witchdoctor - I’m calling you in Hawaii. Is that where you make your base these days?

Todd – That is where I make my home base.

WD – Are you a surf guy?

Todd – Actually no, I’ve never been a good enough swimmer, but I enjoy the island life, I enjoy the ocean, I enjoy the isolation, I like being away form the hubbub.

WD – Looking forward to tour down this way?

Todd – I am, it’ll be the first time I’ve gotten to play down under. I did get to participate in an event last year in Sydney, part of a group of people doing sea shanties on the steps of the Sydney Opera House, which gave me enough of a profile that we were able to find a promoter to get to Australia, and once we did that we thought, ‘let’s go to New Zealand as well’.

WD – It’s interesting that Stetson always seems to do the more idiosyncratic tours.

Todd – That’s me!

WD – Tell me a little about the Johnson project.

Todd – I had never had this longing to do a Robert Johnson record, although I had in the back of my mind the possibility that I would do something in the blues vein because it’s kind of where I started out in music. When I got out of highschool I really only thought of myself as a guitar player, and most guitar players wanted to be in a blues band, because that was the context you got to play the most guitar, and my guitar idols were mostly all from England and they were Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, guys who had been in the Yardbirds and the John Mayall Blues group and the guys who went through that group like Peter Green, and that was pretty much what I aspired to be until the band I was in began to disintegrate in an acid haze (laughs), the rest of the guys in the band discovered the Grateful Dead and decided they wanted to go to the country and get their ‘heads together’ and take a bunch of acid and write a whole new bunch of music and that’s when I figured it was time for a change. And then I started a group called The Nazz, and that model was a bit more of a mix of Cream and Who and a different sort of evolution but still a lot of guitar noodling and improvisation. I had finished an album called Arena, this was about two years ago, and was looking for a distributor and found one but they had a condition that I also record an album of Robert Johnson songs and the reason why was they had acquired the administrative rights to the publishing, but they had no actual recorded versions of Robert Johnson songs, which they were desirous to have so they could license them to films and TV and stuff like that. So I agreed to do it making the assumption that since I had been in a blues band I would figure out a way to do this. When I finally opened up the time in my schedule and started researching it I came to the realisation that Eric Clapton had already made a second career of tributing Robert Johnson, and that disheartened me a lot, figuring out what I was going to do after that. And then I finally realised that – I was never directly influenced by Robert Johnson. There is an unusual phenomenon in terms of record distribution in England and the United States, a difference in the two. England being a sea-faring nation they had all these merchant marine sailors who would be on ships that would have ports of call like Mobile Alabama and Biloxi Mississippi and places where this music existed and where there were actually recorded examples of it that never made their way North because of radio policy. Music by black artists on black labels for black people were considered race records and you almost never heard any of that north of the Mason Dixon line, and the American guitarists found out about this second hand from English guitar players who actually got to hear these records and did their own electrified interpretations of them. So I decided that my Robert Johnson record, I would take the approach that I was an English guitar player in the ‘60s and I’m just trying to find ways to arrange the music so I can play guitar!”

WD – The record reminds me of those amped up Johnny Winter records from 1970 or ’71.

Todd – Yeah it’s really simple, there’s no keyboards of any kind on it, it’s essentially a trio and every once in awhile I’ll pipe in with a lead. Most of Johnny Winters’ records are performed live, he doesn’t add guitar and more guitar over that, so in that sense I’m doing more of what would have been an English approach in which they go and lay down a pretty much straight guitar part all through it, or more typically it’s a guitar quartet, and there’s a guy who’s quote the ‘rhythm guitar player’ who plays it straight all through and there’s the quote ‘lead guitar’ player and he starts to go nuts somewhere.

WD – It’s got that larger than life analogue sound to it. Is it, or is it something you’ve managed to fabricate?

Todd – I’ve always recorded according to what I hear, for the most part. I have enough experience that I could fake my way through it, but I never had any qualms with the transition between analogue and digital, like a lot of other artists had. For one thing it was kind of like arguing with the rain, it’s gonna fall anyway, the whole transition to digital once it started was inevitable, and any of those so-called digital artifacts, etc, had to be dealt with in some way, but we weren’t going back to analogue. Once that happened, I figured out how to produce the sound I liked in the digital domain, using whatever was available to me. So this particular record was recorded with the same stuff I would record any record with, it’s just that I know how to use the components within it to create the sound of the stuff that I like, and the sound that I like is rooted in this early analogue era, at a time when boards were natural compressors, because they had tubes instead of being solid state, so there’s a degree of compression in the entire sound, but it’s got to be a kind of compression that sounds pretty (laughs), doesn’t make it all sound harsh on the ear.

WD – It’s amazingly spontaneous sounding for an album that’s essentially overdubbed by yourself apart from a few contributions. How to you build up that excitement all by yourself. It sounds like you’re having fun.

Todd – It’s all about creating a proper setting, coming up with the arrangement and the bed of what the guitar is going to be doing. And then I do what any bluesman would do, which is take the edge off a couple of stiff drinks (laughs), and then just put your head down and go. There’s a big difference between the blues and r’n’b. Both have improvisational elements to them, as does jazz. All three kinds of music have their music rooted in the blues, or the early black experience, but r’n’b music essentially comes from the church, where there would be a formal arrangement over which you could improvise, and jazz is from that same lineage, and the blues is from the field, and what sounds like improvisation is actually the fact that you never bothered to learn it in the first place; you’re not trying to learn how to play it, you’re trying to remember how you FEEL when you play it. In that sense if you go back to the original Robert Johnson recordings there are a couple of instances of multiple takes of songs. You listen to the two takes and they don’t even sound like the same song half the time. You’re struggling to remember how to play it, but if you don’t play it the way you did the last time you don’t care, it’s more about the delivery of it and the lyrical idea, that’s it.

WD – There’s a short Johnson in America. Is the long Johnson out yet?

Todd – The label has been in negotiations to get international distribution through Sony or Universal or one of the few big global labels left, and they’re about to conclude that deal with someone, which has essentially delayed the release of the album, because they want to have this be the first release of this new international arrangement. Unfortunately… I think there are two reasons it’s being released in New Zealand first and that’s because they won’t be able to get the records there before we tour, and we wanted to have something in the marketplace, so they made an independent deal with Stetson to release the record. So no, it’s not out in the States and we don’t have a release date yet, so it’s an advantage New Zealand has.

WD – Are Jesse Gress, Prairie Prince and Kasim Sultan with you on the tour?

Todd – Unfortunately Kasim and Prairie will not be on the downunder leg. The impediment all these years to me coming over and playing is that the kind of music I play is complex to the point that I have to have a very well rehearsed unit of people, and there’s never been enough dates to not have to deficit spend to fly all those people over there. Even though New Zealand and Australia are both below the equator, people make the mistake that they’re close to each other, so… so we’ve never been able to figure out the economic part of it. Fortunately we’ve got a promoter who’s been able to ferret out enough gigs that I can bring Jesse down, who will get together with a New Zealand rhythm section, and the only thing that makes it possible is this particularly bluesy approach, which is a lot simpler than some of the music I do, which takes even the guys I’ve been using for years two weeks on the road to get correct, and we’ll be gone in two weeks. So we’ll be picking up a couple of rhythm sections when we go through, which is pretty much a traditional approach as I understand it for acts that aren’t native to either New Zealand or Australia. [Really? – WD Ed]

WD – Will you get any time to rehearse with those guys?

Todd – The problem for me is that I have to create time for press and things like that, so Jesse will come down before I get there and rehearse the rhythm section, while I’m taking care of other business, but yeah, we’ll definitely have rehearsal time together.

WD – I gather that the other half of the show that isn’t Johnson material will be the slightly easier stuff…

Todd – We don’t choose it because it’s easier, but because it’s bluesier. As I did come from something of a blues background, all through my career there are songs that have either a blues influence or are literally blues songs, and so we’ve filled out the show with as many of those as possible, and some other obligatory material that may not qualify as blues at all but for those few hardcore fans who have been following the career over the years, there will be some songs they want to hear.

WD – Frank Zappa described his music as a heck of a thing to comprehend, and it seems to me that your music and career fits that description as well.

Todd – People get into music for different reasons. Lady Gaga – all she wants is attention, and quite obviously doesn’t care about musical respect, regardless of what kind of talent she might have in that respect. I wouldn’t want to put words into the late Frank Zappa’s mouth, but I think he always, regardless of how much he liked pop music, he always saw himself as a musician, and when you see yourself as a musician you are less bound by stylistic limitations, but the problem is you’re less likely also to penetrate that wider audience, who like things to be more straight forward and understandable and have some coherence from one single to the next without completely changing your sound all the time. And from Frank Zappa’s standpoint the subject matter could be about anything, and likely it’s about something that people are not used to hearing on radio, and beyond that he feels no limitations as a musician so he’ll play something that’s jazzy one second that’s bluesy the next that’s rocky the next that’s symphonic the next; it’ll be whatever his whim is because he’s following something that’s more musical than stylistic.

WD – You’re exactly the same in that sense; stylistically your music’s been incredibly wide.

Todd – It’s because you have a fascination with the art form in general, and you think ‘I’d like to see what that sounds like with my sensibility behind it’. Some of my favourite musicians, some of my biggest influences outside of pop music, like Maurice Ravel, was in a sense a stylist, but he did things that so confounded people that they would riot at his concerts. When he first performed ‘Bolero’ people thought it was the shittiest piece of music ever written and that he was playing a joke on everyone. He wanted to try something that was in the contemporary terms of the times almost primitive, in a way getting back to his roots, and the result was at the time nearly catastrophic for his career, but in the long run it’s the piece of music they think of first when they hear the name Ravel.

WD – Do you ever wish you had been a one-trick pony that had stuck to one thing like AC/DC?

Todd – I can appreciate that, but I don’t think it’s something that’s available to everybody. AC/DC had the sense to know the limitations of what they’re doing and that makes them almost trans-generational, but as I mentioned I got into this because I was into music. I got into pop music at first, because if you got into music and grew your hair long and played guitar you’d get laid. But early on I had experienced all the ups and downs and ins and outs of the business of music, and decided that what I really wanted to do was produce records and make records, and so my career actually became a sideline, a hobby, I was making so much money producing records for other people that I never had to worry about succeeding in a traditional sense with my own music, and that’s why I’ve had the freedom to eschew any particular style and play essentially what I feel like, because if the record were to flop commercially, I wouldn’t suffer financially, only the record label would suffer, and believe me they let me know about it, too!

WD – You’ve got so many firsts in your career, musically and technologically as well; is that curiosity, moving forward, discovering things, a big part of your musical life?

Todd – I learned most of what I know after I got out of highschool. I remember my formal education as sleepwalking. A lot of it was because I wasn’t given the opportunity to express myself and get that frustration out of the way, and secondly the actual nature of what they wanted to teach me, I couldn’t figure out how I was going to apply it to anything. I didn’t realise a good reason I should read the books they assigned me in English and do my homework was because I might later have to write lyrics, and have to understand grammar and things like that, but it was never put in that context while I was at school. They thought these crazy kids growing their hair long and playing their music, it’ll never amount to anything. So once I did have the freedom to structure my own life I incorporated a lot of make up education. That’s why I’m generally open to new ideas. But the other thing is a lot of what happens has to do with the evolution of technology, and I’ve always had a comfort level with technology that a lot of people don’t have. In part because I don’t mind making the investment in understanding how these things are applied and figuring out what I might have to learn to properly use them. I think that’s half the battle. The other side of the coin is I know when something is going to be useful for me, and when I’m likely going to be wasting my time in trying to adapt to a certain technology. I had a cellphone for a little while when cellphones first came out, and now I don’t own a cellphone. After observing the change in behaviour of everyone around me I thought I’m not going to be that, I’m not going to be a slave to this stupid thing in my pocket. And also I have enough problems with self-aggrandisement that I don’t need a device that makes me think that I’m the most important person in the world, and that I should be talking about my business everywhere I go, so that every stranger can hear about it. And I’ve gone completely off the automobile, I don’t own an automobile. I make my wife drive it all the time, and I hate being in it. So there are some aspects of modern life that some people have adapted to, where I’ve just decided that the technology’s not right for me.

WD – You’ve been at the forefront of music technologies; were you a little bit too early to benefit from it?

Todd – All benefits are financial. Like I said I think a lot of people have voluntarily ruined their lives by their slavishness to their cellphones. It’s not about what financial benefits you get, it’s about whether it’s an improvement to your lifestyle. More than anything I think about the quality of my life; I never think about money, I know my accountant tries to make me think about it. But what I think about is what kind of work do I want to do, how much time do I need to spend with my family. I have a business manager and an accountant who worries about money for me. All I do is expect them to tell me when I should get on the road and work, and when I can relax.

WD – Have you ever thought of doing a tribute to the many people you’ve worked with who aren’t around anymore? Like some of the New York Dolls.

Todd – Yeah, but the guys I worked with recently are still around. I’ve done things with David Johansen over the years, mostly live performance things where we participate together in some tribute to someone else. I worked with Laura Nyro, she’s gone; Badfinger, there’s at least one guy still alive.

WD – Paul Butterfield.

Todd – I actually haven’t kept track of who’s checked out, so the idea hasn’t occurred to me. I think it’s really important that I stay focused on musical ideas that I can realise or expose. The recent stuff makes it seem like I’ve gone retro, when I do an arena rock record and I do a blues record, and it seems like I’m just going to be recycling old material, but that’s not where my head is at, and where I hope to return to soon. People get annoyed with me because I don’t always play the old songs from the ‘70s, and fortunately I have something of a core audience who is used to that now, so it gives me the freedom to explore new musical areas.

* Todd Rundgren performs at the Powerstation, Auckland on Friday September 24, and the San Francisco Bath House on Sunday September 26.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Todd Rundgren talks about his Johnson

Todd Rundgren talks about his Johnson

Never a dull Rundgren moment

THE rock veteran is on the road with his Robert Johnson blues tribute show.

TODD Rundgren has made a career out of being unpredictable. Pop star, producer, technology geek and songwriter are some of the areas in which he has excelled during the past 45 years, flitting between them and a host of musical genres. He doesn't like to get bored.

So it was typical of the American rock veteran to make his Australian entrance only this year and to do it in unexpected fashion, singing a pirate song on the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House.

That performance, as part of Hal Willner's Rogues Gallery show at the Sydney Festival in January, had one positive outcome for some of his Australian fans.

"That planted the seed for me to come over and play some of my own music," he says. He will be doing that in Sydney, Melbourne and at the Great Southern Blues Festival in Batemans Bay, NSW, in the next few weeks.

Todd Rundgren's Johnson, as the show is called, will draw heavily, although not entirely, on the 62-year-old singer's recent album of that name, a tribute to blues legend Robert Johnson.

"It wasn't a record I had planned to make," he says. "It was part of a deal with my American label [which] had the publishing rights to Johnson's catalogue. They needed someone to cover these songs, and it turned out to be me."

Thus another unlikely chapter in the extraordinary career of the highly respected Rundgren was written. Fittingly, it was with the blues that the young Rundgren first emerged as a musician in his home city, Philadelphia, in the 1960s. He was the guitar player in a heavily blues-influenced outfit called Woody's Truck Stop.

"So when the deal to do this came about I wasn't apprehensive about it," he says. "My approach to blues is you find an old blues song and figure out a way to play a lot of guitar on it."

As with many of Rundgren's musical exploits through the decades, his early flirtation with the blues didn't last long. Since then he has been a musical explorer, dabbling in pop, prog-rock, electronica and many other genres. He also has earned respect as a producer, most notably on one of the biggest selling albums in history, Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell. Add his pioneering work in music video and as a composer for film and television and you have a picture of someone who can't keep still, creatively at least.

"I get easily bored with what I'm doing," he admits, "or bored with working in the same musical territory, and if that happens I'll get involved in something that is more exploratory."

In the late 1960s and early 70s Rundgren forged a career as a solo artist and with bands such as Nazz and Runt, with songs that echoed the Beatles, the Beach Boys, soul music and more. On his 1972 double album Something/Anything? Rundgren wrote, sang, played all of the instruments, engineered and produced most of the material. Two of the songs from that album, I Saw the Light and Hello It's Me (the latter a reworking of an earlier Nazz track) became his two biggest hits.

From then on, the recording studio became another instrument at Rundgren's disposal. "When I first got into record production it was a reaction to being in a band," he says.

"I'd pretty much seen everything in the course of an 18-month period with my first group I put together. We experienced everything, good and bad, that the music industry had to offer and I didn't want to be in a band any more. I was ambivalent about performing at all."

His obsession with the studio hit a peak in 1973 with his album A Wizard, A True Star, a weird hybrid of prog-rock and bubblegum pop, which he says "was when things got really crazy in the studio".

"That's when I merged all my aspirations as a musician and as a producer into one thing. I took a different approach to the way records were made and to what the records would be about."

As the 70s progressed his solo output and recordings with his band Utopia got more experimental, augmented live by a collection of outlandish costumes worn by the main man.

"To this day the song most people remember is Hello It's Me, particularly in the US, because of the very weird get-up that I wore on late-night television with feathers and my hair all different colours.

"It's something from the glam-rock era, which was a phase everyone went through. It was kinda fun. I wore some weird stuff but nothing weirder than what David Bowie would wear. It was a way to entertain without having to learn to dance. The costume became the entertainment."

If dressing up became part of his artistic expression, it paled against his craftsmanship in the studio.

His work with artists as varied as XTC, the New York Dolls and Hall and Oates added to his credibility, but none compared with Bat Out of Hell, a masterpiece that has sold more than 43 million copies since its 1977 release.

"There were a couple of things that made that an attractive project for me," he says.

"My father, when I was growing up, was not a fan of rock 'n' roll music and would not have it played on his hi-fi.

"When I was in the house I was exposed to mainly contemporary classical music and show tunes, Broadway musicals. So that kind of theatrical music had been part of my upbringing and from that standpoint I could understand what they were trying to accomplish with Bat Out of Hell.

"The other reason why I did it was that when I was watching them audition for me, they did it live just with [writer] Jim Steinman on the piano and two background singers and Meat Loaf in a rehearsal studio. They did all of the theatrics that everyone is so familiar with from the videos.

"It was going through my head that this was a spoof of Bruce Springsteen. He was the biggest thing happening at the time. I thought, this is the funny Bruce Springsteen, with everything all weirded out, exaggerated and hyperbolic with a big fat singer and not the handsome hunk that Springsteen is and lots of bad puns in the lyrics, but they're still about motorcycles and switchblades."

As well as producing the album, Rundgren funded most of the recording since no record company was interested. "When it was done it took about eight months to find someone to release it and even when it was released it wasn't until the third single that things reached critical mass and people started to buy the album."

Production, he says, "has been a way to broaden my musical horizons, working with an artist who is doing something different to what I normally do. Sometimes the attraction is a lack of familiarity with a particular style, just so I can get to understand it better."

Rundgren toured and recorded under a variety of guises in the 80s and 90s, all the while experimenting in new areas of the music industry such as video and internet technology.

In the past year he has toured in the US and Europe performing A Wizard, A True Star as well as with his Todd Rundgren's Johnson project.

His 2004 album Liars, his first in 10 years, rekindled interest in him across the world, for which he is grateful. "It proved that after all this time I was still able to excite my fans and impress people who are listening to all the other music in the world," he says.

Todd Rundgren plays the Basement, Sydney, on October 2; Great Southern Blues Festival, Batemans Bay, NSW, on October 3; and the Corner, Melbourne, on October 6.

A who's who of Kiwi music talent flocked to Auckland to take guitar lessons from actress Liv Tyler's stepfather

A who's who of Kiwi music talent flocked to Auckland to take guitar lessons from actress Liv Tyler's stepfather.

Todd Rundgren, 62, is in New Zealand to perform two shows – in Auckland tomorrow and at the San Francisco Bath House in Wellington on Sunday.

While here he also held a guitar masterclass. Among his students were Eddie Rayner of Split Enz, Andy Lynch of the Feelers, Nigel Gavin of Nairobi Trio, Jeremy Toy of Opensouls and music critic Nick Bollinger.

Rundgren produced Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell, and has worked with an eclectic lineup of stars from Patti Smith to Cheap Trick, Hall and Oates, Grand Funk Railroad and Psychedelic Furs. His publicity claims he has been "shaping the musical and multimedia membrane for almost 40 years".

He is known for being able to mimic a multitude of everyday sounds on his guitar, including a Harley Davidson motorbike, which he demonstrated to those attending his class.

Rikki Morris, who in 1988 had a No1 song, Nobody Else, and won an APRA Silver Scroll, said he was awestruck at the chance to meet Rundgren. "He's probably my favourite male singer of all time.

"I've been a Todd Rundgren fan for over 30-odd years, so to not only get to see him perform but to come and hear him talk and get to meet him is a huge thing for me."

Rundgren said people came to the workshop not necessarily to learn from him but to hear his perspective on music.

"I don't consider myself a maestro on the guitar, but I do know some things that are adventurous to other guitarists."


upped by guitarpeople

Toddstock poster available

toddstock dvd available

Video: chats with Nick D

Todd Rundgren GRGFMBRKFST (Video)
Nick D chats to guitar hero Todd Rundgren

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

RundgrenRadio tonight

go to to participate in discussions about the tour

Call-in Number: (646) 716-9262
Upcoming Show: 9/21/2010 8:30

Monday, September 20, 2010

Video .. blue bird is dead

written by Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra, performed by Todd Rundgren, from the cd "Lynne Me Your Ears"

Video: i think you know morristown nj

upped by guitarpeople

long time fans great review of this show

by Josh Chasin
Sheesh, where to start?

For me, going in this show was all about Healing. Todd (the album) was one of the records I listened to a ton when first discovering Todd's (the guy) work; it was one of the records my college girlfriend and I used to spin to death. But over time it just hasn't aged well for me. Part of this is that I haven't yet heard a CD version that didn't sound tinny and shrill, whereas I just don't remember the vinyl that way (similar experience with AWATS, by the way.)

"Healing" the song may well be my absolute favorite 20 or so minutes of Todd's recorded catalog, and it has been, since 1981, my personal Holy Grail for what material I most wanted to hear live. The song and album is heavily synthesizer-based, and since in 1981 he was touring with new wave posters Utopia, the material didn't really lend itself to live performance; I think they did "Healer," "Time Heals," and "Compassion" off it on the camouflage tour, and that was it.

But in concert I was delighted to rediscover the giddy silly fun of Todd. Overall, across the two albums performed, I generally found that the songs I like best were indeed the highlights for me. And I think for Todd (the guy) as well.

Anyway, first the band. I think this may just be the dream ensemble for performing Todd's back catalog live. Jesse is a great technical player, and he can flawlessly cover the formal guitar parts (the riff in "Golden Goose," for example), freeing Todd up to sing or solo. When Jesse did toss in solo work, it was always tasteful and, I'm tempted to say, discrete—where Todd sort of sprays all over the song, Jesse lays out judicious lines that color the song while leaving it intact. Except of course for "Spark of Life," where he got to go bonkers leading up to "No, no, no, a little more humanity!"

Oh man, Greg Hawkes. I was never a big Cars fan, they were always a radio band for me (or, it being the early `80s, a video band) but his synth sound—is it his style, his equipment? I don't know, but it is perfect for this vintage, trippy, electric swirly music on Todd and Healing… Meanwhile, Bobby Strickland might be, if Hawkes isn't, the MVP; both these records have a lot of reed work, and this guy just totally nailed every bit of it. Prairie, I know there are mixed feelings on him, but his bashing style sounded right at home especially on the Todd material…

I read some of the complaints about the mix on the live webcast, and I went and listened to it after the show, and I can tell you, in the room—at least where I was, 4 rows behind the soundboard, dead center—it was a different story. I was blown away right out of the box, it sounded unbelievable. Clear, crisp, loud, dynamic, and at the best sonic moments (e.g. "Pulse") the room sounded like headphones, the music coming from all around. And I much preferred the staging of this show to AWATS (and I find AWATS and Todd to be musically similar); last year Todd performed in front of the band; here he performed with them. I felt like he was more a part of the band, as opposed to the costume-changing lead singer…

The opening "How About a Little Fanfare?" and "I Think You Know" immediately put a smile on my face. The Todd record is really, to me, one album's worth of songs, fleshed out with a whole lot of playful if indulgent synthesizer noodling that was awesome when I was 21 and wasted, but that perhaps hasn't aged quite so well. But it was great fun to hear live; "Spark of Life", the first such indulgence, set the tone for the night (or at least the first set), Todd backed with tapes (I think) and live playing, synthesizing his own voice as a lead instrument.

And Todd's keyboard playing! I never thought I'd say this, but it was really solid! Set up center stage, with Jesse and Kaz to our left, Greg and Bobby to our right, he had obviously been practicing. This was the most keyboard I've ever seen Todd play at a show, by far; and the first time in over 30 years of shows that I've seen him play keyboards in a band context (usually it's him solo playing "Too Far Gone" or "Compassion" or something.)

I noticed too that for the songs he's regularly played live—like "A Dream Goes On Forever"—he stuck to the studio rendition, not the live rendition that has evolved. On the first line of the vocal to that song, there's this ringing synth exclamation point, and there it was, right on cue. "Drunken Blue Rooster" was great, Todd's playing as the centerpiece to a wobbly band rendition. "The Last Ride" was killer, hewing again closely to the recorded version. I always thought this was a highlight when 4-man Utopia pulled it out, and here I missed Kasim's backing vocals—he either wasn't singing, or was mixed way down-- but I realized that his voice is strong and distinctive, and his singing would have colored the performance differently than on the original. And of course where I was expecting a guitar solo mid-song, Strickland stepped up for a sax solo (like on the record) and blew the top of my head off, followed by that trademark incendiary Todd guitar soloing.

I've always been partial to side 3 of Todd. "Number One Lowest Common Denominator" was as scalding as you'd want and expect, and "Useless Begging" was one of numerous laugh-out-loud fun songs, thanks to Prairie's tap dancing solo interlude, which was somehow inexplicably perfect. Then "Sidewalk CafĂ©," more synth indulgence but leading to the unbearably poppy, transcendent "Izzat Love." More laugh-out-loud feel goodness; long a favorite song. Todd nailed it—nailed it!—his voice was spot on all night, and man, I just wanted this one to go on and on (I have resolved to learn it on ukulele.) It took me a good half of "Heavy Metal Kids" to stop luxuriating in "Izzat," but once I did, man, that was pretty ripping.

Wisely I'd say, Todd excised "In and Out the Chakras We Go" (yet another bit of synth-foolery) and fell right into "Don't You Ever Learn," what I'd call a drunken blue version. Full, lush, great sounding, and the perfect set closer; the omission of "Sons of 1984" at the end was telegraphed a mile away (not least by the people outside handing out the lyrics for the encore sing-along.)

If Todd is a synthetic psychedelic romp, best illuminated with colored laser, then Healing is a deeply profound and ambitious work, a far better exhibition of song craft, and all about the white light that shines from within (and, of course, a glorious white light featured prominently in the staging in place of set one's dancing laser.) In fact I had trepidation that this material wouldn't translate live, and I was wondering if maybe I wasn't better off with the recorded versions living in my consciousness.

I needn't have worried.

To me the important songs on Healing are "Healer," "Pulse," "Shine," and of course "Healing" (these, as well as the two off the inserted single, "Time Heals" and "Tiny Demons," are the ones on my iPod.) "Healer" tells of a visitation and a calling ("you will be a healer") that is clearly evocative of the Christ myth; "Pulse" is about the healing energy flowing from some other realm through your own heartbeat. "Shine" is a vital and underrated song, with the message that there isn't one healer; we are ALL healers (or at least 10 million of us; 10 million saviors, angels of man. "The healer is not alone." Eyes that have seen, or in this case ears that have heard.) Then "Healing" is an actual meditation that takes the listener inside, walks you through the process referenced in "Shine," turns on your light, takes you out the other side, healed.

But back to the show…

To put over the rich layers of vocal work on this record, Todd used a chorus; "Healer" was brilliant, glorious, beautiful, all bells and voices. Sublime layers of joyous sound washed over us. Then "Pulse." Unbelievable. The woman sitting next to me was obviously on the same page as me; we were audibly gasping, laughing and remarking on the same songs, and this was one of them. "Pulse" is pure ear candy on headphones, and it was put over in an even richer fashion live.

I never much liked "Flesh," but it was surprisingly robust live, and I may have to put it into the pantheon of the record's important songs (and on my iPod.) "Golden Goose" is a silly novelty song, and unlike the rest of Healing, Todd played it that way. In this concert I heard a direct lineage from "Elpee's Worth of Tunes" to "Golden Goose." "Compassion" is a fan favorite, I know, but again, not one of mine; a nice rendition but the house liked it more than I did.

Then "Shine," which was dramatic, dynamic, chilling, exquisite. More than once I let out an involuntary exclamation of joy. The chorus, mixed perfectly, provided the layered vocal arrangement of the record, and the strong female presence in the chorus brought a nice freshness to the sound. Hawkes's synth was great, and at the end when Todd stepped up for the outro solo, it was pure shining white light.

I was wondering where Todd would put the two extra songs; when I used to put this record on cassette, I placed them between the two sides. That's where "Tiny Demons" was, a full band version, with Jesse handling the guitar part. Out of "Tiny Demons," the ringing intro to "Healing," and then the thumping heartline bass.

I'd been waiting 29 years to hear this piece live. I read where someone thought it wouldn't work in a concert setting ("who wants to meditate at a concert?") but I'll tell you what, for me the most memorable, rewarding concert experiences of my life have been the ones that have been transformative, spiritual, healing, ecstatic, bordering on religious. The thing that keeps me coming back for more live music is the possibility for the music to seep into my heart, turn my metaphysical frown upside down. That's why I like improvisational music (the Allmans, the Dead, jazz, even the blues); because the creation of music in the now creates opportunities for moments of magic.

So here we have an extended piece, played for the most part precisely as composed and arranged, but specifically designed to provide that sort of transformative healing experience. Todd put it on record as an experiment; performing it live was really a whole new level of experimentation. I know that as much as I love watching the Allman Brothers play, when they launch into "Dreams," a transformative piece, I almost never keep my eyes open; the music takes me on a journey within and I have to close my eyes and take the trip.

So I was ready to go with the musical flow. The transition from the first to the second movement was sublime, and that movement, all ethereal synth lines and heavenly voices, took me slowly down the river of life. I especially appreciated that Todd, a renowned goofball, treated this material with the reverence and gravitas I thought it deserved… then the chiming that summons you back, Todd announcing "Here we go!" and the final movement of "Healing.: it was pure unadulterated joy, a seven minute Snoopy dance, Todd singing "Welcome home!" again and again. When that transitional chime first sounded I wondered for a moment if we were going to stand; then I actually said out loud, "of course we stand!" and up I went, happy Snoopy dancing like a big ol' fool. It didn't take long for the rest of the crowd to get into the act, dancing, shining, basking, healing into the night…

Todd strapped on the Fool guitar and took the band from the cascading outro of "Healing" into "Time Heals," a great song that I've always loved, and loved live. I think this was a great placement for the tune and the only logical way to get out of "Healing." Still, it couldn't help but be anti-climactic; how, after all, do you follow a Snoopy dance?

The inevitable "Sons of 1984" encore was more light and joy. I've never been super-fond of it—in part because I think the recorded version on Todd is of iffy fidelity—so this was actually the best rendition of the song I've ever heard. The band actually faded out at the end (a live fade?) and the curtain closed on them, to a well-deserved ovation; then the crowd kept singing, the fanatics in the first couple of rows exorting the rest of us to keep it going. I don't know how long we all sang—it felt like a good ten minutes. Finally the lights came up and we were done. The one track cut from the Todd album's running order, "In and Out the Chakras We Go," played over the house system as we filed out, providing some arcane closure.

It's been almost a week now, and I think I have things in perspective. I liked this show better than the AWATS show. It may have been the best Todd show I've been to, and it was one of the best concerts I've seen. I wish I could see it again. I wish I could have hit Morristown the next night, but work called.

Of course my take is entirely subjective; it's largely a function of my fondness for the material, the quality of the performance, and the fact that this 51-year-old was able to reconnect with my own younger self in the process. In Shamanism there is a thing called "Soul Retrieval," wherein using the tools of shamanism you journey within, confront some trauma or unresolved issue from your past, and bring back a piece of the soul that you've lost over the years as a result of that trauma or issue. You are, to coin a phrase, whole. That's what this was like for me; a joyous, spiritual, religious musical experience, one from which I emerged tangibly energized.

And also, my ears were very, very happy.

Video: the last ride ... keswick Pa

upped by lushfan