Todd Rundgren, the musical visionary whose hits include “I Saw the Light,” “Hello It’s Me” and “Bang the Drum,” is staging Toddstock in Louisiana.
Toddstock II v.6.5, the sequel to Toddstock I, which was held in 2008 at Rundgren’s Hawaiian home on the island of Kauai, is set for June 17-22 at Nottoway Plantation & Resort in White Castle.
“This is a popular demand kind of thing,” Rundgren explained from Hawaii about his 65th birthday shindig in Louisiana plantation country.
At the first Toddstock, Rundgren marked his 60th birthday, tenth wedding anniversary and move to a new house.
“We had a lot to celebrate,” he said. “So we invited anyone who could transport themselves to Hawaii. Ever since, people have wanted to reproduce that event.”
Although hundreds of Rundgren fans attended Toddstock I, the singer knows that Hawaii is a long trek for most people.
“We figured it could be a more interesting and creative event if we did it on the mainland,” he said. “People can drive there and possibly bring little projects of their own. We could turn it into a sort of mini Burning Man combination of music and art and debauchery.”
As lovely as Hawaii is, many Rundgren fans, especially foreign fans, will find an antebellum mansion on 22 acres between Baton Rouge and New Orleans to be an exotic locale.
While Toddstock II includes scheduled activities, Rundgren said, “the fans define a lot of the agenda, in terms of what they want to do and how they respond to the environment. And we’re only about an hour outside of New Orleans, so I’m sure some people, if they have not experienced it before, will be taking trips into New Orleans.”
Rooms for Toddstock II v6.5 at Nottoway and the Best Western in Plaquemine are sold out. Tent space is available for $799 per person. The price includes a Toddstock pass, meals, open bars and the week’s activities with Rundgren. Portable air conditioning for tents is extra and available on a first-come first-served basis.
The routing of the second half of Rundgren’s 2013 American tour is among the reasons why Toddstock booked itself into Nottoway. The tour begins June 23 at the House of Blues in New Orleans.
Toddstock II follows Rundgren’s 2013 European tour, previous American touring and his February dates in Australia, New Zealand and Japan with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band. After Rundgren’s American tour ends Aug. 12, he’ll do three shows in Japan, appear with the Akron Symphony Orchestra and Akron Youth Symphony Aug. 31 and then rejoin Starr’s band for a South American tour.
“Doing something with somebody else somewhere has become part of my regular yearly schedule now,” Rundgren said of his participation in the All-Starr Band and other shared projects.
“It seems lately that the years have gotten busier,” he added. “Part of it is, like anybody else in this economy, I’m trying to keep my head above water. I rarely turn down an opportunity to work, especially if it’s something that seems interesting or fun. Yeah, I’m busy but I enjoy having the work rather than having to look for work.”
Rundgren released his 24th solo studio album, State, April 9. His discography also includes two albums with his ’60s band, the Nazz, and nine albums with Utopia!
State, written, produced and performed almost entirely by Rundgren, blends elements of dance music, electronica, rhythm-and-blues and rock.
“It’s kind of a combination of dance and this modern improvisational DJ approach,” he said. “Even though I’m not doing a lot of improve on the record itself, it’s designed to be performed in a way that isn’t necessarily literal or linear.”
For his State tour, Rundgren said, “the idea is that the performances will, from night to night, have unique elements, an improvisational element to them.”
Thanks to modern recording technology, Rundgren made the album in a room at his home, not a conventional recording studio, and then did remixes of the songs as he traveled the world.
“I like being able to make music wherever I am,” he said.
Rundgren grew up just outside of Philadelphia, the very musical city that’s been home to Dick Clark’s American Bandstand; hit-making duo Hall & Oates; Philadelphia International Records, the soul music powerhouse led by songwriter-producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff; Cameo-Parkway Records (Chubby Checker’s “The Twist,” Dee Dee Sharp’s “Mashed Potato Time”; and Jerry Blavat, a pioneering white disc jockey who played black rhythm-and-blues.
“A lot of white kids got exposed to R&B — not just Philly R&B, but the entire world of R&B — through listening to Jerry Blavat, the ‘Geater with the Heater.’ I grew up listening to R&B on the radio. It’s such a source of inspiration that people make comparisons between me and, say, Daryl Hall, as if we influenced each other. But it’s really the milieu that we grew up in, hearing all that music all the time.”
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