Jun 13, 2012 06:20 AM WV Sound
Keeping a beat in the Mountain State
Todd Burge: Gone and Back Again
Born in Parkersburg and growing up in neighboring Vienna, Todd Burge is a true West Virginian, though he couldn’t wait to leave when he was young. But it was his leaving and coming back that made him appreciate his roots and figure out where he belonged. “I spent my 20s trying to get out, and my 30s trying to get back,” he says.
Without realizing it then, Morgantown is where Todd’s love for music took off as a student at West Virginia University. Morgantown was like a whole new world for Todd—where young people were hungry for music, the college radio station aired local music and let students test their broadcasting skills, and music venues were spread across town, inviting budding artists to take the stage. “The stars lined up for me in Morgantown,” Todd says. He got familiar with local stages, hitting up Blue Moose Café and 123 Pleasant Street.
When you ask Todd what he does these days, he’ll tell you he’s a songwriter who tours, puts his music on CDs, and plays everything from punk rock to bluegrass. “I’m schizophrenic when it comes to music,” he says. “I get excited about the kind of music you can’t quite put your finger on because there are all kinds of music mixed in.” The short answer, he says, is that he plays acoustic bass with a West Virginia twang thrown in.
Todd’s songs tell stories, but writing them isn’t always easy. “I write every day and most of it I don’t like, but every once in a while, a good song will pop up.”
Like many artists, Todd uses his imagination. His song “Grow Up” was inspired by an article he read about a woman who buried her husband in her garden. Trying to imagine why she would do that, Todd wrote a song describing a woman who was ready to settle down with a family, only to have her husband act like a child. In the song, the woman waters her husband, telling him to “grow up.”
Todd likes to write songs that are inspired by imagining people’s points of view. The song “A Bit too Late” is Todd’s version of what radio evangelist Harold Camping might have written in a letter to his nonbelievers. On the contrary, his song “The Never Ending End” tells the side of followers as they show their disappointment when the world doesn’t end as predicted.
Today, Todd resides in Parkersburg with his wife, Lisa, and their two children, Will, 8, and Sophia, 6. One of his two newest albums, Character Building, is both for children and adults and was inspired by his kids. Twenty-five percent of proceeds from Character Building go to the Food Allergy Network, an organization Todd cares deeply about, as his daughter has severe food allergies. You can also check out Building Characters, the “grown-up” version of Character Building, featuring songs like “Grow up,” “The Most Beautiful Light,” and “A Bit too Late.”
See Todd Burge live:
Saturday, June 9, 2012, 4 p.m. Marietta, Ohio; Colony Fest; Todd Burge Performs Songs For Kids
Saturday, June 23, 2012, 11 a.m. Charleston, West Virginia, FestivALL kids show
Tuesday, June 10, 2012, 11 a.m., Parkersburg, Artsbridge Summer Kids Festival
Wednesday, June 11, 2012, 2 p.m. Marietta Ohio-Kids Show - Mid Ohio Valley Players Theatre
Thursday, August 23, 2012, 7 p.m., Parkersburg, City Park Band Shell
Saturday, October 6, 2012, Bramwell, Oktoberfest
Sunday, October 7, 2012, 2 p.m., Beckley, Tamarack