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Meet the Board: Todd Christoffel

24 Jul Posted by in Blog | Comments
Meet the Board: Todd Christoffel
 

Todd Christoffel has been involved with Songwriters in Seattle nearly from the start, and joined the Songwriters in Seattle online membership on meetup.com in 2008. As a board member, Todd hosted board meetings at his home for several years. He has been an event host, a supportive member providing invaluable help behind the scenes, and has performed solo or with his band, Don’t Ask, at many functions and events.

Here is a little more about him, in his own words:

When I was a kid, it was the heyday of the coffee house scene in the Chicago area; stuff like Steve Goodman at the Earl of Old town. I started writing songs in high school with a beatup old guitar that my brother left sitting around, and he invited me to go to his college coffee shop to play some of my original music. Well, just one time and I was hooked. I think I just sang a song called “I Wish I was a Toad”.

When I was in college in Illinois, I didn’t really know what the heck I wanted to do, so I quit after a couple of years, packed up my Honda Civic, and drove down to Nashville. But I was pretty young and naïve and after meeting with a few people who generally showed interest I was told by one guy, “If you stick around a few years you probably could really go somewhere.” I was so young that a few years sounded like an eternity to me. I didn’t have a job, and I really didn’t have a good place to stay, so I hightailed it back home to get a “real job”. (Birth of the song “There was a Murder in Nashville”).

I happened to be in love with my high school sweetheart, so I got married, got a real job, and decided that I would forget about music. Getting married was great, but the new job in Seattle wasn’t all that interesting and the “forgetting about music” part didn’t really work out. Seattle was a great place though, so we decided to stay. All the while though, I still kept writing and enjoying it and playing out at open mics, etc.

I took a couple of courses in microbiology at the local community college, and I really enjoyed that, so I decided I would get a med tech degree at the UW and look for a job in hospitals. When I was interviewing, I talked to a rather famous blood researcher at the local blood bank, and we sort of hit it off. She offered me a job in research, which was just fine because working in a hospitals after my Internships in the med tech program was not all that appealing to me. So I now have a nice career in medical research… a career that I feel helps people and one that can pay the bills.

At the blood bank, one of the techs in another department said, “Hey there’s another guy in the Crossmatch Lab who plays guitar. Maybe you two guys should get together.” So Cris Faget and I met up and started a partnership in music. We have played together now for over 25 years. We first had a group called String Theory, and after adding some members, we decided to call it Don’t Ask because we were tired of people asking us what kind of music we did. We recorded a couple of CDs, had a bit of limited success in Seattle, and then had members come and go and then come back again. We have really enjoyed playing music together. Playing in a band has really evolved the way I write to include rhythmic and melodic diversity. It just has changed the way I write, period.

During the inception of Songwriters in Seattle, I was just surfing the web looking for songwriter stuff when I happened upon their meetup group. They were at the Pike Place market just doing their monthly meetings, and I really enjoyed the comraderie and the other writers’ music. There was a wonderfully committed core of folks that helped Songwriters in Seattle get started.

One thing led to another, and it seemed like a really good fit for me. I felt as if I could help myself become a better writer and help other writers become better, so I’ve stuck with it all this time. It never ceases to amaze me the diversity of talent that walks through the doors during one of those monthly meetings. Meeting and playing and seeing all these amazing people is what I think keeps me coming back year after year. Also, we have some wonderful people who are involved and who are ever inspiring.

Who knows what the future holds for Songwriters in Seattle? Maybe house concerts or “meet and greet” social events. There have been ambitious ideas that have been floated. For instance, maybe Songwriters in Seattle could run their own coffee house and use the funds to promote concerts and to further the songwriting community.

Whatever lies ahead, being on the board has been good because it’s nice to feel like part of a larger community of like-minded individuals. It’s also nice to make new friends and hear new ideas, and being on the board allows you to shape the vision of what Songwriters in Seattle can become.

About the Author
SiS Administrator

Songwriters in Seattle is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with over 3,000 supporting the community of Pacific Northwest songwriters through events that foster creative development, collaboration, music education, and performance.

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