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David Todoran takes his "twisted Delta blues" overseas.

Anyone who follows the local music scene knows that David Todoran is one of the most talented, versatile and prolific musicians to come out of Fort Wayne. Over the past two decades, the alternative rocker and self-described "twisted Delta blues" musician has produced five group albums and three solo albums.

His fame has spread to Germany, where Todoran has toured, and where he may return in the fall. Germany's trendy ulfTone Music label in Berlin picked up the European distribution rights to his music and invited him to record his new album, "Luck in This Life," last summer in Berlin with German backup musicians from the band Dziuk Kuche.

Todoran joined ulfTone's roster of "Americana" musicians that includes John Prine, Todd Snider, Chris Whitley, Pat MacDonald and Jesse Harris.

"I don't speak much German, and the musicians weren't sure what I was doing, so the initial recording sessions were a little tense," Todoran recalled. "Creative tension was flying. The drummer said it was as if he went to Chicago and recorded an album with people who spoke Turkish. We fought like cats and dogs and drank beer all night long."

The problem was that the German musicians feared Todoran was going in the more traditional rock direction of his previous solo albums. "The song 'Three On a Match' broke it open for us," Todoran said. "It had a breathiness they could take in a different direction. They said 'Oh, this we can do' and felt more comfortable. After a few days we were playing like a band."

The new album is a brooding, inward departure from the more expansive music that Todoran made on his two previous solo records produced by roots-rock/alt-country legend Ian Spanic.

"The last two albums ('Solstice' and 'Under My Skin') were rooted in Midwest mythology with a straight-ahead narrative," Todoran said. "The music had a wide-open expanse to match the subject. This one broke from that setting with darker lyrics."

Rolling Stone Germany gave "Luck in This Life" three stars, high praise for an indie-label release, Todoran said proudly. The magazine cited Todoran's "Americana, slightly jagged and Europeanized" sound. He calls it "twisted Delta blues" because the main instrument Todoran plays on the album is a 1931 National Steel Duolian guitar with a piercing, stinging sound favored by the old Delta blues guitar masters like Robert Johnson.

Todoran's vulnerable, haunting songs are focused around an acoustic guitar/bass/drums trio, and augmented by layers of electronic overdubs from other German musicians. At his CD-release party, Todoran will be accompanied by Brad Kuhns on bass and Kevin Jackson on drums.

The thoughtful lyrics on 11 original songs dwell on restless souls probing for answers in life about fate, fidelity and love. "Whatever that means," the 43-year-old musician said. "The title song sums up the issues. How much in life is dumb luck? How much do we bring on ourselves?"

With his steady devotion to music, which began at Elmhurst High School back in the late 1970s, Todoran has been bringing that luck on himself and a growing base of fans around the world.



 

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