Todd Christoffel, a long-time member of the Songwriters in Seattle Board of Directors has recently taken on our newest showcase, the Columbia City Theatre. As host, he will help SiS songwriters put their best foot forward when playing their original compositions at this historic landmark, previously graced by the likes of Quincy Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Chris Cornell, and many other musical greats. As Todd is often busy helping other songwriters feel welcome and prepared to share their work, we wanted to introduce you to him through his own words.
“I am from the Chicago area and had a brother who played guitar, so I kind of learned to play the guitar that he had laying around the house and got into the coffee house scene singing songs. I just found that writing songs was as much fun as singing songs.
I went to college for a couple years but couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do, so I quit college and went off to Nashville to try and be a professional songwriter. However, I don’t think Nashville was the best place for me, especially since at the time it was almost always country music.
I was very young and immature and didn’t have much money. I played some songs for a few guys and they said, “hey- if you could stay around for a while, in a couple of years you might be able to go somewhere.” Well, that is not what I wanted to hear. A couple of years seemed like an eternity at that age, so after a while of banging around I just kind of hightailed it and decided I was going to forget about songwriting and get a “real job”.
So, I got a real job, got married, and I got transferred to Washington State though I didn’t like the job much. I had decided I was going to put music away and not deal with it anymore. However, I kept coming back to it. I guess I ended up not being able to put music away.
I went back to college at the University of Washington and got a degree in medical technology and went to work doing research on blood, and all the while I was still writing music.
My wife and I had a son, and at around that same time I met Cris Faget who also worked at the blood bank. Cris and I hit it off and formed a group called String Theory which later morphed into the group called Don’t Ask. After adding Doug Aslin as a drummer we decided to record a couple of CDs and also played out in the Seattle area.
One day when I was searching the web I came upon Songwriters in Seattle, which was very newly formed. We met at the Pike Place Market, and a few of the founding members stuck with it and turned it into the group it is today.
My decision to become a host for the Columbia City Theater Round Robin showcase came about because it seemed nice to give back to the songwriting community. Also, being a founding member, I feel like I have an obligation to help out the group.
One of the great things about being a host is that it really can foster a sense of community between songwriters, and you can also meet a lot of interesting, talented, and crazy people. I find I really enjoy playing out and listening to other songwriters. Being a good listener is one of the best skills to have as a host, and hosts also need to be comfortable on stage and somewhat organized.
Songwriters in Seattle always needs volunteers to move our projects and showcases forward, and it seems to me the more volunteers we have the better off will be at connecting between the other songwriters and the songwriting community.”
To find out about becoming a host or volunteer opportunities to help support your songwriting community, click here.