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Meet Ted Wulfers

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ted Wulfers.

Ted, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m a musician, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, recording artist, touring performer, music producer, composer, recording engineer and a filmmaker. I was born and raised in the Chicago area, I went to college in Ohio as a philosophy and music major and after a decade of traveling and touring, I moved to my current home of Los Angeles where I’ve lived for eight years. As a recording artist, I’ve just released my 9th studio album called  called Tremolo Moon, a video from, a video from one of Tremolo Moon’s new songs “Thoughts & Prayers” has gone viral and is currently studied at universities and included in keynote speeches. I’ve had an official 2017 Record Store Day vinyl release that blew up on radio and went into the Baseball Hall of Fame, several of my songs have been on the radio over the years including #1’s and top 40 singles in certain markets such as “Here We Go” and “The Carl Rogers Blues.” I’ve had a song inducted into the Nashville Independent Radio Songwriter Hall of Fame, and several of my songs have been in TV and film. My song “San Luis Obispo (Take it SLO)” is considered by many around the world as the official song of the city of San Luis Obispo. Several songs from my catalog have been played at weddings and funerals around the world. I’ve played over 1000 shows on tour in 43 states and five countries and several other artists have covered my songs on their own albums. I’ve also co-written several songs with artists that have gained TV licenses or radio play.

As a composer, I’ve scored and performed the music for several award-winning films, TV shows and video games. As a music producer, I’ve produced/recorded/engineered/mixed dozens of albums and singles for a myriad of artists and singer/songwriters out of my 663 Sound recording studio and I am currently directing a documentary film on the Gibson J-45 acoustic guitar.

The instruments that I play on a daily basis consist of Acoustic and Electric Guitars, 12-string Guitar, Baritone Guitar, Piano, Electric Bass, Upright Bass, Organ, Drums, Pedal Steel, Lap Steel, Ukulele, Mandolin, Banjo, Dobro, Harmonica, Cello, Keyboards, Percussion and of course, Singing. I also have narrated a number of films and commercials and have been doing more and more voice over work out of my 663 Sound studio. I’m told my career can be described as “multi-hyphenate” with everything that’s going on, but to me, it’s just what I do.

How did I get started? At the age of three years old, I started to play all the commercial jingles of the era on the piano by ear so my parents signed me up for piano lessons. There, I flourished as a classical pianist and performed in several recitals and concerts as a boy. I would often re-arrange famous classical pieces in different keys or tempos and I would be scolded for doing so even though that was something that came naturally to me. (Laughs) My piano teacher died when I was in 6th grade and I looked at this as a blessing…because I no longer had to “practice” piano. When my Godfather died, I was in 7th grade and I immediately channeled the bad news by going to the piano and writing an original song. It was at this moment that I began “playing the piano” rather than “practicing” and I discovered the freedom and love of writing and performing my own songs. Those would be the last formal music lessons I would ever take and I am self-taught on almost everything I do in music.

It was around this time that I also started jamming with people in band settings on keyboards and soon my sonic palette and desires yearned for the exotic sounds coming from that magical, mystical, loud and rocking instrument…the guitar! I also got into drumming around this time and I begged my parents for a drum set. A black Fender Squier Stratocaster electric guitar was much more quiet and portable than a drum kit and it became the Christmas gift that changed my life forever when I was 14 years old.

While 14, I started my first band and began performing as a solo artist as well as with my band around the Chicago area. I started rigging Sony boom boxes and tape decks together with Radio Shack microphones and eventually graduated to a Realistic mixer and a Tascam 8 track and began making original recordings of original material by overdubbing and bouncing tracks on cassette tapes between the boom boxes and the 8 track and creating some rather lush and advanced recordings given the technology I had available. Some of these recordings began to circulate around my high school and even became the background music for morning announcements…my first public “radio play” if you will.

After winning several battle of the bands and playing lots of school dances and shows around the Chicago area with my band Beggar’s Bridge, I recorded my first full album at 17 years old in a small Chicago recording studio before going off to college at Denison University. Though the personnel changed, the name didn’t and I took the Beggar’s Bridge name to college and immediately began gigging throughout the Midwest. At 19, I recorded a second album as Beggar’s Bridge in Ohio…self producing/recording/ engineering/mixing the record…and songs from that album started to get radio play and we began opening for bands like The Doobie Brothers, Chicago and The Disco Biscuits. It was at this time, I realized that it was truly “yo-ho, yo-ho, the pirate’s life for me” and thus began the journey I’m still on today.

While in college, I was a roadie for the Rick Brunetto Big Band…a 16 piece big band that toured all over Ohio. I gained so much valuable knowledge and gig life experience from setting up their gear and running their sound and am forever grateful to Rick for giving me this opportunity. Even if one of those gig life opportunities included being pulled over by the heavily armed SWAT team in a case of white Chevy van misidentification! (Laughs)

Through hanging out with the band Wilco in the 1990s, I was introduced to a recording studio called Chicago Recording Company and a producer/engineer named Chris Shepard who had just worked on Wilco’s Being There album. Chris and I teamed up for what I consider my first “real” album, Agave Blue, and over the summer of 2001, we rented a farmhouse and recorded the album in 40 days between the farmhouse and Chicago Recording Company. I got a crash course in how you make a “real” record. That album sold well and got some radio play traction on some big stations and I began to tour and put out nine full albums of original music continuously to this day. In 2001, I changed the name of my band to Ted Wulfers & Beggar’s Bridge and in 2002; I started to be billed just as Ted Wulfers. If I’m solo, it’s Ted Wulfers and if it’s full band, it’s Ted Wulfers Band.

Since then, I’ve recorded records in studios around the world including Abbey Road, Gravity, Richard Dodd’s Studio, Blackbird, Sixteen Tons, Godaveygo, Mad Dog, Fonogenic, Sunset Sound, Phantom Vox, The Hit Factory, House of Blues Studios, Sonora Recorders, Glenwood Place and Kingsize to name a few.

From experiencing the energies, audio acoustics and gear these wonderful studios had to offer, I began to put together my own studio and collection of high end, vintage, analog and digital gear so that I could achieve the same level and quality of sound and recordings in my own space and be able to work constantly on new music whenever I wanted. I started with a small setup in Chicago that I called Four Leaf Studios but when I moved to Los Angeles in 2011, I designed my current studio exactly how I wanted it with Persian rug treatments, exotic decorations, furniture for sound baffles, vintage instruments, amps and microphones everywhere, and an extremely comfortable vibe. I named it 663 Sound after the weight of a record Pacific Blue Marlin I caught off the coast of Hawaii in 2002 (which now hangs in Chicago’s Field Museum). 663 Sound has grown from my personal studio where I create my own albums and film/TV/video game scores to a full on private professional recording studio where people travel from all over the world to record their next albums and singles or have me play a number of instruments on their recordings. It continues to grow all the time and I also have a 663 Sound mobile rig for recordings anywhere! So many of my favorite records were made in small San Fernando Valley studios and/or home studios and remote locations that I am very proud and honored to carry on that tradition. I’m also of the belief that you should record and make music where you are most comfortable and often, homes, castles, churches and villas provide that special energy and comfort that “basketball court wood” recording facilities do not. It makes me so happy every time someone walks into 663 Sound and says, “Wow, this place feels so free, comfy and full of creativity.” To me, that’s the only kind of place worth working on anything!

While recording my 9 original albums since the 90s in so many studios, I’ve been blessed to work with top of the world, Grammy-winning and nominated engineers including Chris Shepard (Wilco/Smashing Pumpkins/Buddy Guy), Manny Sanchez (Plain White T’s/Fall Out Boy), Richard Dodd (Tom Petty/George Harrison/Traveling Wilburys/Dixie Chicks), Chris Blair (Sting/The Beatles), Roger Seibel (Elliot Smith/Blitzen Trapper), Davey Reiley (Elvis Costello/Billy Corgan/Skillet), Eric Corne (Walter Trout/John Mayall), Mat Lejeune (Jennifer Hudson/Lumineers), Jon Zacks (Death Cab For Cutie/The Eagles), Ron McMaster (Frank Sinatra/Elvis), Malcolm Burn (Bob Dylan/Neville Brothers/Emmy Lou Harris/Daniel Lanois) and Ian Sefchick (John Coltrane/Bluenote Records).

Even though I play most of the instruments on my albums and projects, some of the musicians who have performed on my music include Kenny Aronoff (John Mellancamp/John Fogerty), Rami Jaffee (Foo Fighters/Wallflowers), Eric Rigler (Titanic/Braveheart), LP (Global Superstar), John Payne (ASIA/Rock Pack), Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams/John Mayer), Jessy Greene (Pink/Foo Fighters/Wilco), Gary Morse (Brooks & Dunn/Dierks Bentley), Gia Ciambotti (Bruce Springsteen/Lucinda Williams), Matt Walker (Smashing Pumpkins/Garbage/Morrissey), Dave Raven (Mike Ness/Keith Richards), Taras Prodaniuk (Lucinda Williams/Richard Thompson), Carl Byron (LA Legend), Mike Fratantuno (Black Eyed Peas/Gossip Girl), Carey Deadman (Frank Sinatra/Producers), Paulie Cerra (Joe Bonamassa/Larry Carlton), Andrew Lippman (Dances With The Stars/Larry Carlton), Chad Willis (Lyle Lovett), Tarra Layne (The Voice), Katie Ferrara (Pop Superstar), Aaron Weistrop (Chicago Great), Mike Racky (Chicago Legend), Mark Lonsway (Nashville Great), Mark Cantwil (Ohio Great), Chris Lawrence (Mike Ness Band) and many more.

One of the truly magic, once in a lifetime stories from 663 Sound happened in November of 2016. The Chicago Cubs had just won the World Series for the first time since 1908. Even though I saw my first baseball game in Dodgers Stadium in 1981, and the Dodgers were the first to play any of my music in a big stadium (Dodgers Stadium 2005!), growing up in Chicago, I’ve been a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan and this was a very special occasion. Hours after the Cubs had won while returning home from a celebratory party, a song idea came in and I knew it was a good one. By the time I got home, I picked up my guitar and knew the song was even more special. The song was called “The Cubs Won It All In 2016” and it was an emotional and detailed love letter to sports fans everywhere who never got a chance to see this historic event in the form of a folk song. I was exhausted but decided to record the song within minutes of writing it. I recorded and mixed the song in an hour or two. Around 6am, I sent it to a few people and put it out in the world expecting to get a few likes on social media and fell asleep around 7am.

At noon, I woke up to the song all over radio and television and people purchasing the song to take to cemeteries to play it for the headstones of their loved ones. People were holding up their phones to Wrigley Field’s friendly confines and blasting the song into the structure. The song became the chestnut listening experience on Chicago’s biggest radio station 93.1 WXRT along with phones, computers and car stereos, as there was a five million-person rally to celebrate a few days later. And the following Monday, on November 7, 2016, I was notified by the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown that my lyrics of the song would be going into the Hall of Fame’s archives and exhibits. As a kid who grew up wanting to be a professional baseball player, who decided to take the path of music instead…this day was truly magic. The following spring, the song was a Record Store Day exclusive vinyl release and is the first music on vinyl about the Cubs winning a World Series. Why you ask?? Well… Because vinyl hadn’t been invented yet when they first won in 1908! (Laughs)

This magical moment in music and history happened at 663 Sound and that mojo will be forever part of its architecture. When Nikki Sixx asked me about playing the song on his radio show, he was so blown away by how magic the experience was from song creation to recording to radio hit. That kind of homerun only happens…well…every 108 years but I’m proud to be the guy to do it. Holy Cow!

In the filmmaker department of my creative world, the Gibson J-45 documentary film that I’m making fell into my lap when Bob Dylan rented my Gibson J-45 for a few days in 2016. It was then I questioned why Bob and I played such a guitar and what it was about said guitar that made it so special? This has led to a worldwide quest interviewing artists world-famous to up and coming, luthiers, historians, professors, guitar shop owners and more telling so many stories and studying the historic significance of this instrument. The film has been such a joy to make. My rock ‘n roll colleague Erik Nielsen has done a number of amazing music videos with me, some of which have been nominated for awards and he and I have worked very hard to turn this film into an amazing documentary. I can’t wait to have it out for you all to see hopefully soon!

One thing I’d like to mention is to give some love to some of the gear companies who help me do what I do. I have gear endorsements with Shubb Capos, Mad Professor Pedals, Curt Mangan Strings, Walker & Williams Straps, DLS Effects and most recently EBS Sweden Amps. To me, I feel very lucky to use amazing gear that is made by truly amazing people who I consider friends as well as colleagues.

I also would be remiss if I didn’t mention my cat, Jagger. He is the keeper and head honcho of 663 Sound and he is loved around the world. It’s so funny when I’ll be on tour in Europe or bump into famous musicians at the NAMM show in Anaheim and everyone’s first question is “How’s Jagger?” (Laughs) He is a true being and character of the universe and it’s an honor to know him.

So today, in 2019, I’m thrilled to be involved with so many joyful, inspiring, creative and amazing projects as an artist, producer, composer and filmmaker. I’m looking forward to going on tour soon to support my Tremolo Moon album. I produced and recorded these 12 new original songs. Malcolm Burn (Bob Dylan/Daniel Lanois/Neville Brothers/Emmy Lou Harris) mixed it, Richard Dodd (Tom Petty Wildflowers/Traveling Wilburys/Dixie Chicks) mastered it and Ian Sefchick (John Coltrane/Blue Note) cut the vinyl at Capitol Studios in Hollywood on the very same lathe that Pink Floyd first cut Dark Side of The Moon. I hope you get a chance to hear it as well as my other albums and I can’t wait get back on the road soon.

2020…the year of perfect vision (Laughs) looks to bring lots of touring, travel, lots of music, a few original film scores, some successful productions and hopefully a documentary film from me to you very soon.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
A life in music is a lot of fun but it’s a lot of work. You need to ride the waves, enjoy the feasts and survive the famines. The struggles have been immense but the successes have been amazing. I was in a bad van accident on tour in 2005 when the vehicle hit black ice on an Indiana highway and I skidded, slipped and then began flipping into the side of the road. The van was totaled and I was rushed to the hospital where I learned that several other people had died that morning along the same stretch from black ice. I was on a plane three days later to SXSW in Austin, TX with glass in my face. Then, a few years later, dealing with my Dad’s death was a struggle. He was my best friend and such a tremendous human being. But that’s life, ya know? The struggles make you stronger and there’s no such thing as a smooth road. If you can’t embrace the struggles and turn them into good things, I feel you’re in the wrong business. (Laughs)

One of the things about a creative life and career is that you build and make your own world and your own vision…hoping someone else will like it enough to listen to it, watch it, or want to buy it and listen to it again or come see it performed live. I’ve always been my own solo artist with my own band so it’s always been a challenge to build my own worlds that interest me enough to keep going as well as keep my audience interested. I know a lot of people who have taken sideman musician gigs playing for other artists with very well established or famous worlds already built. I respect that path a lot but that hasn’t been the path for me. I’ve always focused on my own music and my own path…feast or famine. Of course, I’ve played with some bands I’ve produced and I’ve played in some bands where I really enjoy the music and the people, but my own career has always come first. That can sometimes be a huge challenge and a major risk but….it also brings some pretty fantastic rewards!

Another struggle is just the music industry in general. I’ve been offered several record contracts that have been very enticing but after reviewing the fine print, I’ve ended up turning them all down after seeing how much I would have lost. But that’s just how the machine works. If the right label came along with enough mutual respect and support for one another, I would love to work with them but it’s just a tough time for music these days.

I’m old enough to remember a time when people would buy up all your CDs at shows. I even had people buy CDs from me in gas stations on tour just seeing a guy with long hair in a band with a van. Those days are over. Streaming has killed a lot of our revenue as artists and I’m amazed to see so many artists continue to support and promote the very vehicle that hurts them the most! It’s a tough time for art in general these days. So much of it is devalued or underappreciated. Books, paintings, poetry, music, photography, movies… You have several generations now used to getting them all for free…so that is a struggle we are all dealing with in 2019 moving forward.

There is also an inundation of mediocrity in the arts. The Internet has allowed so much freedom, access and availability but it’s also allowed anyone to say they’re “a professional.” I wish arts were more like sports where only the people good enough with talents and abilities to actually be there were allowed on the field, court, studio or stage. I know art must always remain relative and subjective but the struggle has been tremendous for really talented artists around the world who can’t get the appreciation or attention their talents deserve due to the superficial tendencies our industries and species seem to be prone to. If you want to play professional hockey and you can’t skate or shoot the puck, guess what, you’re not going to be in the NHL…even if you look good in the uniform!! Whereas, these days in the music industry, if you can’t sing or play….BUT you can fake “wearing the uniform” with social media bots, auto-tune tricks and ghost-writers, you’re suddenly…”an artist.” That’s the kind of bullshit that is so hard for so many amazing talented creative people around the world to deal with. My advice to those talented souls is to keep on being YOU!

There have been periods of history where art and talent are really appreciated and I think things will turn eventually as they always do….it’s all phases. You just gotta ride them out but like I said earlier….those waves….those feasts, those famines…you gotta enjoy while you can and keep on rockin’ and put out the best work you can and put on the best show you can…while you can.

This past year has been insanely fruitful and full of musical successes with awards for my TV and Film Scores and releasing my new album but I’ve dealt with some unfortunate injuries this year that have forced me to cancel or postpone tour dates and events. Fortunately, I’m feeling much better and ready to get back on the horse so to speak but anytime you’re on the sidelines due to an injury or illness, it’s a bummer and you just have to tackle the situation with as much positivity as possible to overcome it!

The only road that has the best pavement is the stage. There’s nothing like an awesome audience in touch with your every note, lyric, beat and movement. That energy, that excitement!! Besides sunsets, really good coffee and your favorite three sexual positions, it’s the best thing in the world to be addicted to!! Live music, in the moment. We endure the struggles and setbacks to shine in that moment. I guess that’s why they call us crazy. (Laughs)

I guess to answer your question, I’ve learned to embrace the pavement when it’s smooth for a bit because I know soon enough, there’ll be a bumpy ride. (Laughs) The trick is to keep on rollin’ down the road and to laugh. Laughter is the key to so much in this life!

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
As a recording artist, singer/songwriter and touring musician, I release albums of original music and play shows.

As a film composer, I am hired to score original music, supply original soundtrack, write themes, mix audio, record foley and produce sound design for films, TV and video games. It is truly a great joy of mine.

As a music producer/musician/engineer/mixer, I am hired to produce, record and mix albums or singles and/or to play a myriad of instruments on these projects. Collaborations of this nature are so magic.

RECORDING ARTIST:
I mentioned this earlier but Tremolo Moon is my newest release. On this album, I was really influenced by world events, my own world travels, walking late at night and I wanted the sounds to soar, shimmer and shake around the lyrics. “The Ghosts” is a haunting and ethereal song about losing those closest to you. “Sego Canyon” is a science fiction epic that questions whether or not we are alone in the universe. The song is also inspired by my real-life encounter I had at Sego Canyon by happenstance. “Fall In Love” explores the mystical mood and feeling of going out on the town late at night in search of love, lust and whatever the evening will bring. “1980s Movie (John Hughes)” is an autobiographical tale of a romantic adventure I had that unraveled as if it were straight out of a John Hughes film. I wrote “Thoughts & Prayers” a few days after the horrible Las Vegas, Nevada mass shooting as my reaction to the epidemic of gun violence in the United States and “World I Knew” is a study of how humanity keeps slipping back into unfortunate behaviors and mindsets…especially in regards to nuclear war and climate change. It’s a hopeful love ditty really just set in a world gone wrong.

“Anna, Queen of Bruges” came to me after I had the most remarkable and delightful wander in Bruges, Belgium. I tried my best to write something as beautiful and sweet as that city is! “Die In My Sleep” is a sultry, sweaty, slow song that helps to inspire the desire to seize the day. “Fleur De Lis” and “Summertime Festival Girl” were spontaneous first-takes singing and playing guitar. Both are such fun and sexy songs and I really love when impromptu jams become wonderful songs and album cuts. “Desert Driver” was a one-take lap steel meditation that I added one-take of bass to and then Rob Humphreys dropped on one-take of drums. And “Red Shoes”… I have no idea what “Red Shoes” is about or where it came from. It’s a tune I sang to myself in the shower over and over again for a week, so I recorded it! (Laughs)

FILM/TV/VIDEO GAME COMPOSER:
Scoring TV, Film and Video Games has also become such a great joy of mine and in the last few years, I’m approached more and more to score and compose original music, supply original soundtracks and compose original themes for a number of films, TV shows and video games. These include the award-winning films Father of Jayla, The Good Samaritans and the 2019 LA Film Fest Best Episodic Comedy Series Vendors starring Joel Murray, Christopher Biewer and Zoe Bell. I’m the weirdo musician who since my teens has watched movies with the mute button on and set my own score idea with whatever instrument I had close at hand just for fun. That skill and wacky method has turned out to be a very valuable asset as scoring and setting mood is something that really comes naturally to me. When you’re creating your own music, you’re building your own mountain, world or house but when you’re scoring, you’re helping to decorate someone else’s world and that collaboration is really magic. I love to think out of the box and everyone who has hired me so far has chosen me exactly because I’m approaching the film’s sound or music from the less obvious direction. People seek me out because of my quick turn around, enormous access to real instruments and for the sonic pictures and atmospheres I’ve been able to help these filmmakers create.

PRODUCER/MUSICIAN/ENGINEER/MIXER:
I do all of this out of my LA-area (San Fernando Valley) recording studio, 663 Sound. As I mentioned earlier, 663 Sound is a private recording studio that I built for my own music and projects but word got around after people loved the sound and vibe of my own albums as well as a few other albums I had produced for a few other artists and now 663 Sound is a place where dozens of albums, singles and several film/TV and video game scores have all been recorded and are being worked on currently as you are reading this!

I’m proud to say that 95% of all music projects I’ve recorded at 663 Sound have been on the radio, in TV or film at some point and that 100% of all Film and TV Scores, Themes and Soundtracks I’ve recorded are award-winning. That’s a track record, I’m quite proud of!!!

What sets me apart from other producer/engineers/musicians is that I’m an artist first, so I know exactly where they’re coming from as far as what efforts, skills, necessities, emotions, anxieties and details go into making a record or a song a success. I draw from my knowledge and experience of working with some of the best engineers on the planet in some of the best studios in the world and I bring expertise, tricks and techniques to getting amazing vocal and instrument sounds and performances comfortably, quickly and with vibey precision. I also play a large enough variety of instruments that I can handle a fast turnover of productions and recordings quickly because I can perform the necessary instrumental parts required in a short period of time and I’m often asked to play ALL the instruments on an artist’s album…or at least a large number of them. And, if it’s a part I’m not up for tackling, I have connections and relationships with some of the best musicians in the world. 663 Sound can be one stop shopping for artists and bands where they can walk in with an idea and hours or days later walk out with a complete and finished product exactly how they wanted it that is ready for release and the radio.

Another strength I’m proud of and realize more and more is my inherent work ethic. It comes naturally to me, but I know it is of great value to so many artists who record at my studio. I grew up making records in Chicago and inherited the producers and engineers who had long tenures with Cheap Trick, The Smashing Pumpkins, Buddy Guy, Dave Matthews and Wilco. They had zero tolerance for dilly-dally and bullshit and at every session, we were there to work! Get sounds, and get recording! Time is money…let’s get the take while the energy is hot or while the voice is working! It was environment where working quickly with a sharp wit and lightning fast expertise and know-how was the only way you’d survive and you laughed the entire time because it was nonstop fun to be working that way.

When I first started recording in Los Angeles and Nashville, I experienced the opposite: “Hey man…we got the drums set up….we got the amps set up….we got sounds…how about we have a coffee and talk about our strategy for the rest of the session..” How about we start recording like I’m paying you to do?? So I take pride when clients of 663 Sound say “Wow, I’ve never worked this fast, sounded this good and had so much fun while recording!!” That’s how it’s supposed to be!

I also have a large and extensive instrument collection of vintage and modern string instruments, pianos and organs that is not only a big help to the songs sounding amazing, but provides an enormous variety of real instruments and sounds to choose from quickly. Add to that a really great microphone collection and the sessions are fun and easy. Every instrument and idea is within arm’s reach and a few minutes from getting recorded. That’s how I like to work.

Besides all the cool vintage guitars, basses, drums and amps, I’m really proud of the 663 Sound piano. It’s a 1904 Steinway Vertegrand that I purchased from Hollywood Pianos in Burbank and every piano playing client has fallen in love with it as much as I have. It is 95% original parts from 1904 and it plays and sounds simply magnificent! Sound-wise, it’s three to four pianos in one in that you can get such an enormous variety of sounds to record out of it and it plays like a dream. They do not make them like they used to…literally! Vertegrand pianos are built to sound like grand pianos only built vertically in the shape of a tall upright. They are larger and taller than spinet pianos or most other uprights and Vertegrand pianos were all the rage in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I would LOVE to know who first purchased my piano and had it delivered via horse and buggy while Theodore Roosevelt was President!! The famous Abbey Road Beatles piano is a Vertegrand that was made a few years after mine. On eBay, I found an actual 1904 magazine Steinway advertisement promoting their Grand and Vertegrand piano releases that year and it hangs in a frame next to my piano!

But one BIG reason people tell me they hire and seek me out for their projects is my committed concern with helping them and having them sound like THEMSELVES and not to mimic or sound exactly like whatever sound or artist is at the top of the pop charts that nanosecond. It’s amazing how many producers and studios force a sound on to an artist. My goal is to help them bring their own original sound into the world and OUT of the artist to enhance their own sound and careers. There’s only ONE of all of us on the planet and I wish more people tried to sound more like themselves than other people. At least they do at 663 Sound and that’s another aspect of my work I take a lot of pride in.

It’s also fun to do a lot of narration and voice over work at 663 Sound. I’ve been doing radio interviews since my teens and have spent most of my life on stage or in a studio in front of a microphone so with the addition of a lifetime of comments like “you have a voice for radio,” this is something that has come very naturally to me and is a lot of fun. Plus, as a recording engineer, I can record the passage and edit or mix it for the client with a wonderfully fast turnaround time.

My plans for the future?? Any big changes you say?
My plans moving forward are to continue to release albums, to tour in markets and parts of the world I’ve not yet been in, to keep producing great records and singles for great artists, to find at least 1-2 films I can score each year and to keep on making as much music as I can while I can.

As far as big changes, I’ve made several healthy lifestyle changes in the last few years and just this last year, I’ve lost a bunch of weight and gotten really healthy. I stopped drinking six years ago and I have to say that the clarity in art and workflow is really amazing.

So here’s to much more traveling, much more music, love and life moving forward. I’m really proud of my new music and I’m excited to see where it takes me and am happy to work with so many wonderfully talented artists and amazing people.

Last week I turned 40 years old. Over the hill but so ready to climb the next one!

At 19 years old, I wrote in my song, “Something of Everything”:

“Graduated from high school
Didn’t have a clue what the hell to do
So I started up a rock ‘n roll band
People call me names
Some people call me crazy
You don’t have to tell me
I know what I am

And I wanna do something before the sky falls
And I wanna do something of everything
To say I’ve done it all”

Since then, there’s been a million miles, a thousand and some shows, 10,000 hours, 10,000 more, NINE studio albums, a fish I caught in the Field Museum, a song I wrote in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Media Blitzes, all night laughters, epic romances, erotic love affairs, painful failures, incredible fortune, famous encounters, infamous adventures, thwarting death, embracing life, dealing with death, inspiring life, making movies, taking pictures, feeling groovy, listening to lectures, days at the beach, goals within reach, falling in love, losing my heart, losing my mind, rockin’ my soul, making you dance, helping you smile, videos gone viral, nights that got too wild, “the Ted abides”, riding the tides, complete flops, radio hits, airport delays, floods, fires, blizzards, van accidents, standing in weddings, European bedding, nightmares, chopped hair, big mistakes, one takes, perfect timing, tercet rhyming, record productions, guitar deductions, TV, freaky, second lines, double times, bouts of depression, vinyl impressions, howling at the moon, more than a thousand tunes, sunset grins, sunrise smiles, 4am blues and dreams truly coming true.

Every now and then the sky does fall and if you pay attention to the daily world events and news, it’s getting closer every minute. Just gotta keep smilin’ and crankin’ the music!

At 40 years old, I can say:

I’m alive
I wear the same size pants I did in high school.
I have long hair
I live with the coolest cat on planet Earth
I play rock ‘n roll music for a living
And I can’t wait for the many adventures to come.

Thanks for sharing my story and I hope to see you at a show sometime soon on down the trail!!

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Playing baseball with my Dad, reading and going on car rides with my Mom, neighborhood bike rides, fishing trips, my dog Jenny…the best border collie ever! Playing the piano. Long summer days, raking giant autumn leaves, building freezing cold forts made solid out of packing snow and ever eternal hope of spring training coming around the corner. I’m part of the last generation who was able to grow up without a lot of technology and during a relatively sane time in the world. I was lucky.

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Image Credit:

Photos by Erik Nielsen, Ted Wulfers and Christopher Biewer

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