At the age of 10, during a clarinet lesson somewhere in Westchester County, Todd Mack’s attention was drifting far away from the sheet music and finger exercises that made him an all-county musician.
“I can remember sitting … taking one of my clarinet lessons and totally not being able to focus on the lesson because I had just gotten ‘Magical Mystery Tour,’” Mack, who lives in western Massachusetts and hosts a weekly radio program on WKZE (98.1 FM), said of the album by The Beatles. “The Beatles are really what started it for me. They opened the portal to rock ‘n’ roll.”
The aspect of “Magical Mystery Tour” that grabbed Mack was “the production. I was just amazed, how they were getting all those sounds and the melody lines. I couldn’t get them out of my head.”
Given his interest in how “Magical Mystery Tour” was made as much as what it sounded like, the three-pronged musical career path that Mack took seems fairly logical. Mack is someone who seemingly cannot get enough music, having immersed himself in it from morning until night, at his day job and in his spare time.
This father of two, who lives about 25 minutes from Millerton in Southfield, Mass., runs the Off The Beat-N-Track recording studio with a partner and hosts the “Off The Beat-N-Track” radio program Saturday evenings on WKZE, which is based in Sharon, Conn., but heard throughout the Hudson Valley.
Mack is also a musician who sings and plays guitar. He has a new CD out and is set to bring his band to the Joyous Lake in Woodstock Saturday night. “Yonder the Big Blue Holler” is the fifth CD released by Mack, who at one point in his music career was logging 200 live performances annually.
You can get a sense of Mack’s musical personality by talking to him about music as much as listening to his music. While he is truly a Beatles devotee who was hooked by the way in which the lads from Liverpool could create a sonic masterpiece in the recording studio, Mack seems to also appreciate a lone singer banging on an acoustic guitar.
“This CD is very twangy, definitely the twangiest thing I’ve done to date,” Mack said of his release. “It’s definitely like an alt-country-Americana thing … I’ve always been a sucker for roots-country rock. As a kid, I can remember the first time I heard Johnny Cash. There is something that’s very real about it. Something very organic about it.”
Along with the twang on “Yonder” is a slick sheen of sound that you would expect from a musician who runs a recording studio. As he did at age 10 when he daydreamed about “Magical Mystery Tour” rather than focusing on his clarinet, Mack with his new CD seems to have paid as much attention to the writing and performing as he did to the production.
The Todd Mack Band plays the Joyous Lake, 42 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock, Saturday at 10 p.m. Admission is $10. For information, visit www.toddmack.net, www.joyouslake.net or call 1-888-679-1969.
John W. Barry is the music writer for the Poughkeepsie Journal. Write him c/o Poughkeepsie Journal, P.O. Box 1231, Poughkeepsie, NY 12602, call 845-437-4822, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org