Todd ‘Brother Sonny’ Baio: Interview

If you’ve been paying any attention to the Saturday UkeTube at all, you’ll know I’m a big fan of Todd. With him putting out a new CD, Odd Hill Music, it seemed the perfect time to pump him for more information.

What can we expect from your new CD?

Odd Hill Music” is a collection of 21 folk and old-timey songs (with one original thrown in there :) . Some of the tunes are the lo-fi mp3s from my you tube channel and a handful of the songs are from some time spent in my office recording with a little more attentiveness to mic placement, etc. It’s a very “uke-ccentric” collection replete with soprano, concert, and baritone ukulele, but it also includes tracks with harmonica, washboard, 3 string cigar box guitar, and the 12 string guitar (which i affectionately call the ‘boom stick’). i’d say it’s a bit quirky, very simple, pretty lo-fi, pretty fun, and a bit punk….even though it’s folk :)

You mentioned on your blog that the ukulele has inspired you to write more songs. Why do you think that is?

*i’ve got a new blog by the way that i promise to post more consistently on….because it’s focus is scattered like me www.brothersonnysblog.blogspot.com

I think this is a great question. Quite honestly, i think it’s partly because i’ve been playing the guitar for 20 some odd years and have become a little too comfortable with it’s voice and tone….(another reason i’ve recently picked up the 12 string guitar and been messing around with alternate tunings). Another part of the equation would have to be the unique voice and feel of the uke….even the baritone (gasp). The re-entrant tuned ukes just breathe fresh life into chord patterns/riffs (which is usually how i start making/writing tunes) and the baritone uke has a simplicity to it that I believe is a good fit for my voice.

Which of your homemade instruments is your favourite?

I’ve got two right now. one is a modification i did on a crappy grizzly kit uke. The Uke-Cimer. I pulled frets off to give it a diatonic scale/dulcimer fretboard and i put the 1st and 2nd strings close together to make them one course….i think i have it tuned to DAD. the other is a 3 stringed box guitar i made out of an old art supply box and a plank of pine….it’s got natural overdrive when you strum it hard enough!

You often play for kids. How do you find they react to the old songs?

They’re absolutely super! They get very involved, many of them are pretty familiar with some of the old folk songs I do (probably thanks to Dan Zanes’ family music empire), and they’re pretty forgiving if i chunk a verse here or there….

You’ve got a new YouTube channel for family, singalong songs. Do you come from a musical family?

Yessir. youtube.com/sonnyssongbag is my start up channel to promote singalongs and internet porch music. I come from a family that appreciates music, but not many players….it’s neat though, my 3 year old son is already messing with the uke, percussion, and my homemade creations, and my 4 year old daughter seems to have a knack for song and dance.

How can people get hold of your CDs?

I’m still a technical Luddite. folks can get ahold of me through my Youtube Channels or e-mail me at folkster.todd@gmail.com (you can see logistics here). Until I can’t maintain it, I actually prefer doing transactions via the e-mail and postal service because I’ve made a lot of great friends that way….it’s a bit more relational. I’ll do the whole paypal thing when i hit folk star status ;)

Visit Todd on YouTube and on his blog.

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5 Comments

  1. Donnie Bubbles November 3rd, 2009 1:56 pm

    Todd is the real deal – talent and class all the way – thanks for the great interview Al.

  2. Nick Bardy-Chivor November 3rd, 2009 4:15 pm

    …I often thank you for your great work in keeping us posted about all things uke related in a fairly irreverent and often very funny manner…but along with your good self and your very tidy ebooks , Todd and his vid’s on youtube have been a great source of inspiration and big smiles over the duration of my short ukeing history…Keep up the good work Todd…

  3. todd November 3rd, 2009 9:41 pm

    Wow Donnie and Nick…

    very kind of you both….thanks so much for the encouragement…

    cheers,

    todd

  4. LonnaB November 4th, 2009 12:57 pm

    Great interview! I can’t wait to get our copy of the new CD.

    As someone who plays music for little people on a daily basis, Todd is a real inspiration to me.

  5. Alan November 5th, 2009 11:54 am

    Beautifully played Todd.

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