Life has come full circle for Bob Todd. And he’s performing this weekend in the city where his music career began over 60 years ago – in Waxahachie.
Todd has played the guitar ever since he started a band while attending Waxahachie High School in the 1950s called “The Ronnie Dawson Band.” Although high school was when Todd really began to craft his musical expertise, his musical memories extend well before that.
“In the first grade, I happened to do a cowboy song called ‘Home on the Range,’” Todd recalled. “I had a cowboy outfit on, and I was about six years old.”
But in his high school years, surging popularity in guitar music invigorated his interest in the instrument, especially with several successful pop stars emerging from the scene.
“When I started, rock and roll was just picking up,” Todd explained. “Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins — different ones like that that were playing different rock and roll that was crossing over from country music and doing the rockabilly – which is kind of how Elvis started out.”
Todd took his guitar – and his singing – with him everywhere he went from Waxahachie to Louisiana and back. He’s bringing those musical talents with him to the Crossroads Film and Music Festival this weekend, where he will perform live at the Ellis County Museum at 2 p.m.
He’s also there to recognize one of his dear friends and colleagues in the music industry for being honored on the Crossroads Walk of Fame – rock music producer Sam Taylor, who’s produced for several artists including ZZ Top, King’s X and Atomic Opera.
“We were told right off the bat that he was going to be there,” Todd remarked after formally nominating him for the accolade. “I was blessed that he engineered my own CD for me.”
Although music is Todd’s passion, he stated that it wasn’t his main career throughout his life. He taught fifth grade American History from 1981 to 2002. But even in education, Todd brought his music with him.
“I started bringing my music into the classroom. I set up history activities during the spring and would play my guitar all through those different periods of history for the kids. I’ve got a big repertoire.”
Some of his students affectionately referred to him as "Cowboy Bob." His music has even had an effect on his daughter, Mandy.
“She’s a professional singer now with Honey House,” he explained. “She and I would play music together up in Red River, New Mexico. We actually just got back from Lubbock watching her perform.”
One of the many things he appreciates about playing the guitar is how it crosses over into so many different genres. Although he got introduced to the instrument through rock-and-roll, he’s performed several different genres on his six-stringed instrument – including country, folk, acoustic, blues and several others.
But his 2011 album, “Full Circle,” is an ode to cowboy music – the type of music you play sitting around a campfire, or riding a horse or wagon, Todd stated.
He calls it “Full Circle” in reference to his own journey as a musician.
“I’ve gone through rock and roll, folk music, country western and all the others,” he stated. “And here I am, coming back to doing a cowboy CD. That’s why I called it ‘Full Circle.’”
Yet, Todd doesn’t claim to profit from his CD sales. Instead, he donates proceeds in the community he plays toward a local cause.
“I mostly used my CD’s to causes, different things that come along like that,” he explained. “One time there was a young lady from Midlothian who had cancer. So I donated the CD’s towards her.”
This weekend, Todd is donating his proceeds towards the Ellis County Museum, since they’ve been kind enough to host him. Todd explained that giving back is important to him, especially with all of the good times and memories the city has given him.
“I didn’t make the CD to get rich,” he added. “I made it so my kids would have something to remember me by.”
His rewards, he said, lies in his ability to play music – and to share that gift with others.
“I’m pretty fond of Waxahachie,” he explained. “I was raised here, my dad was born here, and my granddad was born here. We’ve been in Waxahachie for a number of years. It’s just good to be able to pay back some of those things. I’ve been blessed.”
You can listen to Todd perform at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Ellis County Museum, located at 201 South College Street.