With the Cowlicks, Ronald Koal & The Trillionaires, The Hootowls, Cryin Out Loud, The Schramms, The Kevin Salem Band, The Dragsters, and others, Todd has warmed up for, shared the stage with, and played mini tours with tons of performers. Just for fun, let's see how many he can remember. In no particular order:
Asleep at the Wheel, Pavement, The Bottle Rockets (4 times), Untamed Youth (Deke Dickerson), The Bad Livers, The Blasters (mini tour), Junior Brown(3 times), Roscoe's Gang, Chris Whitley, Los Straightjackets, The Pine Box Boys, Moot Davis-Pete Anderson (mini tour), Richard Lloyd, The Friggs, The Schramms, The Spin Doctors, Sublime, NRBQ (mini tour), Blood Oranges, The Walking Clampetts (mini tour), The Silos, Syd Straw, Freedy Johnston, Sea Monster, Huey Lewis and the News, X, Danny Gatton (twice), Buckwheat Zydeco, Billy Idol, Edgar Winter, Wild Girl's Go Go Rama, Cake, D.L. Menard, Rank n' File, Sonny Landreth, Wilco (U.S. Tour), Syd Straw, Viva La Wattage-NY Loose, Reeves Gabrel, Lucinda Williams, The Senders, Vacant Lot, The Devil Dogs, The Thompson Twins, Ramblin' Jack Elliot (twice), Appolonia, Novembers Children, The Adults, Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys (3 times), The Aubernaires, Uncle Tupelo (twice), The Jayhawks (4 times), Berlin, Walter Salas Humara, Chris Stamey, The Exotic Birds, Junta, and Richard Thompson (twice). More to be added when remembered..........
Todd Novak's musical journey began as he sprouted up in Pennsylvania in a small coal mining town on the Youghiogheny River. His father (a long distance truck driver) accepted work transfers that moved the family to several cities and towns in Ohio, which started the gypsy juices flowing in Todd's blood.
In Columbus Ohio he had the great luck of spending several years in the legendary "Ronald Koal and the Trillionaires", as well as Cryin Out Loud, and High Sherriff Ricky Barnes and the Hootowls.
Ronald Koal and the Trillionaires toured opening for, or shared the stage with Billy Idol, The Thompson Twins, U2, Joan Jett, The Psychedelic Furs, Edgar Winter, The Blasters, Berlin, and many others.
Cryin Out Loud did the same, with Huey Lewis and the News, and X, as well as having their 1985 video "Live It Up" shown in rotation on early MTV .
The Hootowls were the first authentic country band in Todd's career, with dog house bass fiddle, mandolin, and just a snare drum with brushes. The Hootowls would warm up for D.L. Menard, Buckwheat Zydeco, Rank N' File, Richard Thompson, and many others.
In the mid 80s Todd moved to New York City to pursue larger career possibilities, which involved playing guitar with and recording The Scramms "Walk To Delphi" (Okra Records), and then forming the surf group The Dragsters with former members of The Trillionares and Cryin Out Loud.
After becoming a staple at CBGBs and other NYC clubs, the Dragsters got signed to Island Records and released their only album "Stoked". The Dragsters enjoyed a mini-tour with NRBQ, and they opened their shows every night with "Wild Weekend" by The Nortons. NRBQ must have been influenced by The Dragsters because their following album was titled "It's A Wild Weekend"!
The Dragsters also recorded 2 songs "Dance Dance Dance" and "Pet Sounds" under the name Sea Foam Green on The Brian Wilson tribute album "Smiles , Vibes, and Harmony" (Demilo Records), which also includes cuts from Dinosaur Jr., and Sonic Youth.
After the Dragsters split due to a stir up at Island and Polygram records and a lack of support, Todd spent a year or two re-evaluating his career and path. Todd was co-manager of Context Studios on Ave B, and then 28 Ave A for 12 years which led to him meeting and becoming friends with The Patti Smith Group, Henry Rollins, The Ramones, Richard Butler, and Freedy Johnston amongst others.
Freedy Johnston's guitarist Kevin Salem was forming a band, and Todd would land the second guitarist job in that band. After residencies at several clubs in NYC, The Kevin Salem Band snagged a record deal with Roadrunner Records, and recorded "Soma City" produced by Nico Bolas (producer of many Neil Young albums). The Kevin Salem Band toured extensively in support of "Soma City" warming up for Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, The Jayhwaks, The Bottle Rockets, Syd Straw, Reeves Gabrel, and more....
Todd also did occasional session guitar work in NYC. One of the ad campaigns Todd recorded the music for was a high quality animation for The NYC Department of Sanitation. The cat in the commercials had a whammy bar! There was also a short lived band called Pleather that Todd shared guitar duties with Television-Mathew Sweet guitarist Richard Lloyd.
After The Kevin Salem Band had run it's course Todd needed a break from touring and moved to Cold Spring NY, where he would become involved with Luthiery (building and repairing stringed instruments), after meeting Vic Schwarz, and David Santo.
Todd's California music adventures include his band The Cowlicks who won best of the east bay in 2003, and The California Music Awards in 2004, beating Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. Yowza!
recently, Todd has a surf, rockabilly, ska, & country instrumental group rollin and rockin called "Todd Novak & The Benny Hillbilleez". You may hear some of their tunes in tv commercials, and flicks if you you are familiar with their tunage. They dont gig often, so catch them if you can!