Todd Wolfe Band To Rock Harry's At The Depot
By: Chris Kazarian, February 2, 2013
Courtesy of Todd Wolfe Band - The Todd Wolfe Band will appear in Hyannis, as part of a five-month tour that coincides with the release of their eighth album "Miles to Go."
Like many creative types Todd Wolfe's desire to express himself artistically was born at a young age.
Growing up in the 1960's in Queens, the guitarist recalled in an interview yesterday the influences such legendary acts as the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Dave Clark Five and later Cream, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix had on him in his formative years. Even before he ever picked up his first guitar, Wolfe would strum along with those musical heavyweights on his tennis racket. "You could only get so much sound out of a tennis racket," he laughed.
Then when he turned 13, he stopped pretending to make music in lieu of creating real harmonies when he got his first guitar. Though he took classes, he admitted he never had much luck with formal lessons: "I had a guy teaching me on this old stone guitar where I'd be killing my fingers," he said.
Still, on his own, he kept practicing. It helped that the Forest Hills neighborhood he lived in was also home to brothers Mickey Leigh and Jeffry Hyman, who would later become known as Joey Ramone. The pair, who were friends with Wolfe's older brother, served as role models for the younger Wolfe.
And of course, his infatuation with the rock stars of the day only continued to grow: "I'd try to learn Clapton or Peter Green licks off of records," he said. "And then there were days I dreamed I was Les Paul."
By the time he had graduated high school, he had already taken steps to make those dreams a reality, playing in garage bands as well as competing in battle of the band competitions in the city.
Start Of A Career
His first real band, Nitetrain, was formed in 1979, opening up for the likes of blues guitarist Albert Collins as well as songwriter Dickey Betts, the founding member of The Allman Brothers Band. "It was a bit of an education for me," he said. "It was pretty amazing."
With hopes of building his career, Wolfe moved to Los Angeles. "I tried my hand there and got my ass kicked and didn't accomplish much," he said bluntly.
So with a bruised ego he came back East, putting together Troy & The Tornados, a New York City rock band that opened up for everyone from The Neville Brothers, Johnny Winter, Robin Trower, The Outlaws and Gregg Allman.
It was during this time, 1987 to be exact, when Wolfe first met Sheryl Crow, then a back-up singer for Michael Jackson, through a mutual friend . Two years later, Wolfe went back out to Los Angeles with Crow, writing four songs in the hopes of landing a record deal.
All the while, he remained friends with Crow, who released her first album "Tuesday Night Music Club" in 1993, featuring such hits as "Leaving Las Vegas", "Strong Enough" and "All I Wanna Do." That summer Crow tapped Wolfe to be the lead guitarist in her band.Though that did not happen, Wolfe elected to remain on the West coast where he performed with Carla Olson, formerly of the Textones, while also continuing to tour with Troy & The Tornados.
"It was an amazing time," Wolfe said. "We started touring in a U-Haul, then graduated to an RV with a U-Haul. And then we got a pink bus, a god awful pink bus, that we used all the time."
Among the songs he co-wrote with Crow during their time together was "Hard to Make a Stand", "California" as well as "Somebody Stand By Me" for the 1995 movie "Boys on the Side"(Whoopi Goldberg, Drew Barrymore) that was sung by Stevie Nicks and later recorded by Faith Hill for her album "Love Will Always Win."
Though he enjoyed playing with Crow, he longed to return to the straight rock and blues style that served as his musical influences and marked much of his early career.
Wolfe Splits From Crow
So in the beginning of 1998, he left Crow's band to further pursue Mojoson, a band he had formed three years earlier and that had signed with A&M Records. Though they had two albums worth of material, Wolfe said, they ended up folding after new ownership took over A&M.
"That was when I moved back East and started doing more bluesier gigs," he said.
His new band went through several name changes from the Blues Project to the Todd Wolfe Blues Project to the present iteration, Todd Wolfe Band. In talking with Wolfe, it is clear he is a little uncomfortable having the trio, which includes Justine Gardner on bass and Roger Voss on drums, carry his name. "At this point I'd rather we be called Biscuits or Shredded Wheat," he laughed. "I'm sick of hearing my name, but I guess for now that is it."
The band, which straddles the line between classic rock and blues, has already released seven albums and an eighth, "Miles to Go", is set to come out later this year.
Though the band has its own originals, Wolfe said audiences can expect to hear everything from Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Eddie Cochran songs. "We'll mix it up and throw in blues covers from the 60's and early 70's," he said. "It depends on where we are. If it's a bluesier crowd, we'll play some blues, but if the place looks like they want to dance, we'll keep them moving."
Tonight's show in Hyannis is the second in what will be a five-month tour for the band which will travel along the East Coast before departing for Germany in April, and then Canada in June.
Now in his mid-50's, Wolfe marvels that he has been able to maintain a career as a musician for much of his adult life. For him, he would not have it any other way. "Other than flipping a damn good hamburger or pancake, I don't know what I'd do at this point," he said. "On my good nights, I think I'm pretty damn good... They dubbed me the iron man. Maybe that is apropos. I don't know how long I can continue at this pace. But I'm here now and every time I play for new people and do new gigs, it rejuvenates me."
Just as enjoyable is creating original music that will be around long after he is gone. As to why this artform is so powerful, he said, "Music captures time... I can almost smell the day when I first heard an old Rascals song; I can almost envision myself in Queens in Rego Park hanging out. [Music] is a timeline for your own life and how it and its message connects to you and remembering where you were and when you first heard a song or even a whole album. It really becomes a part of your life."
To learn more about the Todd Wolfe Band visit their website.