Todd O'Neill blends country, rock at Cowboys in Lafayette

Todd O'Neill
Todd O'Neill

Langdon Herrick

Special to theadvocate.com

Todd O'Neill is the product of a lifetime's worth of Southern music, and though he and his band hitch their horses mainly at the country music post, there's enough classic rock, blues and honky tonk to keep things lively onstage.

O'Neill said his family's broad musical tastes made him the musician he is today.

"I had a large family, and we lived out in the country, and we didn't have cable TV, so everybody would be listening to records instead," O'Neill said. "So you'd walk through the house and hear different kinds of music playing. Each room was a different genre. My mom was the new country fan, my brother was into classic rock, my other brother listened to old country, and my dad listened to doo-wop and oldies like Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. So I had all these different influences growing up."

Though O'Neill said he knew he wanted to be a musician even as a kid, he didn't realize that he could actually make ends meet as a local artist until he turned 18 and started playing gigs around town.

"That's when I started going out to different bars and honky tonks, and it hit me -- I could do this for a living," he said. "That's what I've been doing since I was 18. This is my 12th year playing music professionally. I'm blessed. I get to go out and play several times a week and provide for my family and pay bills and put some food on the table."

O'Neill brings new life to classic songs from across the musical spectrum, but in the past has shied away from focusing on original material.

"Writing, for me, is the most painful thing," O'Neill said. "It's the most miserable feeling when you're doing it, and when you're done it's the most rewarding. It's strange. I feel more comfortable onstage singing other people's songs, because it's a window into your life. It's so personal."

When the mood calls for it, however, he and the band have a few originals they bring out every now and then, depending on what the crowd is in the mood to hear.

"Around here it's really hard to get people's attention when you're playing an original song, especially in barrooms and stuff like that. They want to hear songs they know and sing along. We squeeze our originals in once in awhile and people start requesting them." O'Neill said.

O'Neill has played with many bands in his career, but he is especially excited about his current lineup, which consists of Seth LeCoq on electric guitar, Todd Richards on drums and backup vocals, Tim Fruge on keys and Jeremy Billiot on bass.

"I'm blessed with one of the best bands around, and I know it's cocky to say that, but I got a great group of guys. The chemistry that we have onstage is magical. People don't realize that we're a new band. We've been together since January, but we play like we've been playing together for years," he said.

O'Neill said that this chemistry lets the band really cut loose during live shows.

"It's an in-your-face honky tonk, classic rock, country and soul mixture and a lot of kick and shout. It makes me feel great when people come to one of our shows and say, 'Man, I thought we were coming to hear a band just play songs, but when you guys get up there it's like a concert.' We get the concert atmosphere kickin', and it's a nonstop party," O'Neill said.

Todd O'Neill and company will play at Cowboys (211 N. Ambassador Caffery Pkwy.) in Lafayette on July 27.

More information about the band can be found at http://www.toddoneillband.com/