A musician and producer who’s been releasing independent music for nearly two decades, Todd Mack certainly knows the score. He sympathizes with the struggles and pitfalls of the unsigned artist as host of the grassroots off the Beat-n-Track Radio Show (which airs Saturday nights from 9-11pm on WKZE, 98.1 FM) restricting his first hour onair to local or locally performing indies, and his second hour to indie music of all genres from across the US, Europe, Canada, and Asia.
“The whole idea is to give exposure to artists who don’t have the backing of a [major] label,” says Mack, who’s based in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He keeps his show upbeat and exlectic, spinning a mixed bag of punk, polka, electronica, rock, roots, and even a little ambient on occasion. The show recently went into syndication, airing on a handful of stations nationwide. This isn’t all Mack does to help out the indie newbie. He’s just finished writing his first in a series of related texts, Artist to Artist: Getting Started (Mack is already an established author of children’s books). “Not that I’m a scholar on [the music industry]. Everything I’ve learned is just from experience. But the biggest problem that most artists have is promoting themselves. I’ve read a ton of books that will guide you on how to do it but 99 percent of them are written by nonmusicians and people who sit behind a desk—and some of them are so far from reality. There needs to be more people helping people like us.”
As someone who used to tour full-time—up to 200 shows a year from Florida to Maine—Mack’ best advice is to perform as much as possible. “Even with MySpace, CDBaby, and Amazon, if you’re not out there gigging, you’ not going to sell CDs. There’s nothing like live music. It’s electrifing. I sell more CDs after one show than I do in a month online.”
Through perseverance and hard work, Mack has been fortunate to move his music beyond the local scene. His sixth recording, following on the heels of last year’s solo effort, Yonder The Big Blue Holler is Square Peg, Round Hole, which he recorded with his band, The Star Alternative, in his converted barn studio. The recording is 13 tight tracks of edgy indie rock (“Tell Me”) slacker fashion (“Bombs Away”), ska slant (“Him Not Me”), psychedelic funk (“Sween Tokin’ Mama”), and roots-driven rock (“The More You Drink [The Better We Sound]”), featuring Mack’s guitar and laid-back gritty vocal style, Will Curtiss’s bass, Matt Sermini’s drums, and James Bill’s guitar. It’s uninhibited and spirited and these qualities have garnered Mack a devoted following.
Todd Mack will perform an acoustic show at Mezzanine, 79 Broadway, Kingston, on Saturday, July 8 at 9pm. He&rsquol;ll then hit the High Falls Cafe with The Star Alternative on Friday, July 14; the Rosendale Street Festival on Saturday, July 22, at 6pm, and New World Home Cooking the same night at 10pm. Mack is open to all local CD submissions for his radio show. For more information, visit www.toddmack.net.