Spotlight On: Wolfe tour stops at Godfrey's
Todd Wolfe brings his blues, southern rock and psychedelic sounds to Godfrey Daniels, 7 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem, 8 p.m. Jan. 18.
The band, voted September's "Artist of the Month" by RockWired, is led by guitarist-vocalist Wolfe, whose music career spans three decades.
Wolfe began playing in the New York scene in 1979 with his band, Nitetrain. His guitar-playing inspirations include The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and George Harrison.
Wolfe's first club band, Troy and the Tornadoes, opened for Greg Allman and Dickey Betts. Wolfe collaborated with Carla Olson of the Textones and Sheryl Crow. He has written songs for Faith Hill and Phish.
Wolfe has released seven albums since 1999, beginning with "Live from Manny's Car Wash." Since then, he has kept busy with a dozen European tours in the last decade. Wolfe's most recent CD, "Miles to Go," was released last summer.
Wolfe, born in Queens, N.Y., relocated to Los Angeles and now calls the Lehigh Valley home.
Last year, he and his band completed three tours, in Florida, Germany and several other European countries, followed by the Midwest United States, Canada, then the West Coast of the U.S. again.
"These three tours added up to 28,000 miles," says Wolfe. "So, when my agent said we were returning to the Midwest and Alberta, Canada, I was somewhat surprised. It's a lot of touring for one year."
The weather was not always on the band members' sides. "It landed us in Wyoming and Montana during the cold wave. We were seeing temperatures averaging between minus six degrees Fahrenheit to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit. "It made it very difficult getting around, especially with snow and ice, and it kept some of the crowds from getting to the shows."
Wolfe has had several changes in the band since 1999. He speaks of the existing group with praise, "Our drummer is Roger Voss, and he has been with me for the past five years. Our bass player, Justine Gardner, is a young Berklee College of Music graduate [who] joined up two years ago. The current lineup seems to gel very well, and considering we're of different ages and backgrounds, makes for an interesting mix."
"Miles To Go," Wolfe says, came together after a year of touring and laying down some basic tracks in the studio. "I received a phone call from Ben Elliott at Showplace Studios in Dover, New Jersey, where I had done extensive recording through the years. Ben said he'd like the band to make a great album from scratch. So, I didn't hesitate and next time off the road we went in and started recording."
Of the 10 songs on "Miles To Go," eight are originals. The band covers George Harrison's "The Inner Light."
"Ours is a somewhat psychedelic version of Harrison's Indian-styled song," says Wolfe. "And there's part of that variety. The album is more of a throwback to the early to mid-seventies in that its rootsy, with rock and roll, blues, a ballad, and even a reggae-tinged song. It could very well be a Stones or Clapton album.
"Unfortunately, now everything has to be categorized or compartmentalized into either blues, rock, jam, pop, etcetera, and this album is a bit of all of that, which has always made it kind of difficult for me [to define]. My music … is a true melting pot.
"And I think all the songs are so damn good. So, it touches on what they now call 'singer-songwriter' territory, which is silly in my book."
Wolfe says he looks forward to playing at Godfrey Daniels.
"The band will be full on that night, with Justine Gardner, Roger Voss, John Ginty [keyboards] and myself, and you never know, maybe more." Guest vocalists are said to include Maria Woodford and Mary Hawkins.
After Godfrey's, it's back on tour for Wolfe and company next month and in March, thankfully, at this time of year, in Florida.