Todd the Rocket Richard is an acclaimed DJ, award-winning drummer and percussionist, emerging remixer and producer, and musical curator/director. Living in New England, he has been energizing events and concerts across the region, playing 75 dates a year, as well as performing, producing, and supervising music for labels, television, businesses, and independent artists.
Drawing from a rich amalgam of influential musical icons, such as Quincy Jones, Francois K, Prince, Masters at Work, and Joel Dorn, Richard is motivated by soul music in all of its shapes and forms, ranging from Motown-era standards and the socially-aware funk of the 70’s through the pop, hip hop, and dance music of this generation.
First cutting his teeth as a sideman drummer and percussionist in bands around Boston and Nantucket Island, his first forays into professional music were with Boston pop rock act Scarlet Haven, showcasing for Epic, Sony, and a cadre of Christian and indie labels. As is the story with rock bands, it was inevitable that the groups’ breakup was premature, and transformative for Richard.
As a means to better teach himself the ropes, Richard formed his own music production and entertainment marketing company, and contributed to the development of countless independent artists and venues. He was part of the team that helped launch the Boston label Dopamine Records, and has since contributed to several other label ventures. Last year, he launcheed his own label, The Downbeat Renaissance, as an imprint of the Milled Pavement Label Family. He has served as advisor to many artists and organizations, including the Portland Music Foundation, Maine Jazz Festival, and Maine Academy of Modern Music.
Richard’s career and work reached a pinnacle moment in 2010 when he was asked to serve as publicist and media consultant for the legendary pop artist-turned producing songwriter Gene McDaniels. Known for his pop work in the early 60s (A Hundred Pounds of Clay, Tower of Strength,) his groundbreaking and iconic social soul jazz anthem Compared to What, and his decades-long collaboration with Roberta Flack, McDaniels embodies the idea of a renaissance man. A decades-long fan of his songs and contributions to modern music culture, Richard worked with his new found mentor and hero until his passing in July of 2011.
Recent years have seen him DJing throughout the Northeast, holding residencies in his transplanted home of Portland, ME, Boston’s North Shore, and his hometown of Nantucket Island. It is through his DJ career that Richard has really begun to come in to his own, not only in the DJ booth, but across all disciplines. His style reflects his own immersion into soul music, and its infusion in to so many extensions of modern music. His DJ sets are frequently a pulling apart of the legacy threads that tie contemporary musics together, marrying first generation hip hop with electro-boogie, rare disco, smart pop, house, funk, and party jams. He is a regular fixture at nightclubs, lounges, sporting events, and venues (Enormous Room – Boston, Red Door – Portsmouth, Maine Roller Derby) and a first-call DJ for premier arts organizations (Maine College of Art, Portland Music Foundation, Portland Museum of Art). He has been nominated for “Best Downtempo DJ” and “Best Club DJ” for the wepushbuttons Awards, and performed feature slots at the 2009 WPB: Electronic Music Festival.
Richard has accomplished many of his early drumming dreams and goals. His work in electronica and modern dance music has included stints with numerous bands, artists, and projects, including global pop artist Andy Happel (formerly of Capitol Records’ Thanks to Gravity) and pop-funk powerhouses Miss Fairchild (MTV’s “The Real World”). Portland Magazine has called him “Maine’s most sought-after drummer.” While touring with independent country rock outfit the Don Campbell Band, he has performed at venues such as Gillette Stadium, Cumberland County Civic Center, Meadowbrook Farms, and at the CMA Fan Festival in Nashville. The band has opened for a who’s who of country music, including Gretchen Wilson, Willie Nelson, Toby Keith, and many others. Todd the Rocket played drums and percussion on the recently released “Kites to Fly: The Music of Dan Fogelberg,” by Don Campbell, which appeared in the #3 spot on Bull Moose Music’s Best Selling Regional CDs in 2012, despite only being available for the last 6 weeks of the year. Along with musical partner, songwriter Kate Schrock, Kate and the Rocket released a 6-song live EP entitled “PCMH.” This release included shows joined by none other than reggae sax legend Glen DaCosta (Bob Marley and the Wailers, Zap Pow).
Last winter, the Sumner McKane Group performed select dates around New England with their live performance and screening of the classic silent film “Nanook of the North,” previewed nationally on NPR’s “Echoes” program. As a producer and music supervisor, his credits include executive producer for the debut recording by DJ P.Nice, now Sammy Bananas (Fool’s Gold Records) and contributing a track for the debut release by MC Sontiago (endemik Music, URB Magazine “Next 100”) He also served as the music director for “Into the Drink,” an experiential dive/travel television show debuting nationally in February 2010. Recently, he remixed a track by performing songwriter Kate Schrock, “Water’s Edge,” available as a free download from his Soundcloud. The debut release on The Downbeat Renaissance, a remix EP of music by the New England based composer Andy Happel, was executive-produced by Todd the Rocket and released late 2013.