Born and raised in Vienna, WV, Todd Burge, like many small town kids, grew up living vicariously through the music and lyrics of his herioes. But unlike most kinds, his heroes were Charlie Rich, Roger Miller and early Neil Diamond. "My parents split up when I was ten," remembers Burge, "Dad liked Charlie Rich and Mom, Neil Diamond. I spent hours and hours listening to these artists. Looking back, I think it was a way to get closer to my parents, to connect to them in some way."
He sang in Junior and High School Choirs and reluctantly took piano lessons. As a freshman at WVU in Morgantown he bought his first guitar. But learning songs by popular artists took too much time, so he resorted to writing his own. Burge quickly became involved in the Punk/garage band scene, founding bands like The Larries, Bunj and the Beats, and later, 63 Eyes.
"Going to WVU was very important to my career in music. I studied Psychology and English, but it all seemed to tie into music and lyrics. The study of human behavior and Shakespeare are great places for a young songwriter's head to be. But the most important thing was the support a songwriter or band would receive in that college community. A local band would play at the Underground Rail Road one night and you'd hear their songs on WWVU-FN92 the next day! That was mind-blowing to me. It just didn't happen in Vienna. People thought songs came from some mysterious place or that you had to be in NYC, LA or Nashville to be serious about music. Not true," says Burge.
After college Burge moved briefly to San Francisco to work for a small record label. Then he came back to WV to tour with 63 Eyes, but his heart was stuck in the acoustic genre. In 1990 he releasaed his first solo CD on his label, Bunj Jam Music. The recording, "Never Say Uncle," was a very personal, contemporary folk recording that was modestly successful. It convinced Burge to embark on a fulltime solo career. He took the do-it-yourself punk attitude that was shared by many bands in the 80s and applied it to his new acoustic career. He has now released 6 CDs and plays over 150 shows a year, including recently at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Todd has shared the stage with a diverse array of artists including Ricky Skaggs, Tim O'Brien, Bela Fleck, Tim Finn, Junior Brown, Rusted Root, Chris Smither, Jorma Kaukonen, Tish Hinojosa, Larry Groce, Johnny Staats, Robbie Fulks, Mike Seeger and Roy Bookbinder.
Todd Burge regularly is lauded by colleagues and reviewers. "Prolific songwriter and fearless performer with melody, phrasing and wit to spare! Burge is blessed with a rich voice, great guitar chops and a goofy sense of homegrown humor.
He was recently called West Virginia’s best songwriter by Larry Groce, host of PBS’s Mountain Stage, who noted "Around this state he's probably the 'dean' of all the singer/songwriters. The finest singer & songwriter that we have. The hardest thing for a singer/songwriter is to distinguish yourself to be original, because there are so many, I mean there are thousands of them out there and Todd has that quality. His music is unmistakable. You hear both his voice and the way he constructs songs, the way he rhymes things, what he writes about, all those things are unique. I don't know anybody else who does it like Todd does. There are some people who fall into traditions and you can say they sound pretty much like this person, but Todd doesn't sound like anybody and that's what I like the most about him, is the originality."
Grammy-winner, hit songwriter, Tim O'Brien observed "Todd's a great songwriter, he's very attuned to everyday life and very witty. It's great to know him. When I heard him on 'Mountain Stage,' I said 'where have you been?' He's done a good job and his portrayal of every day is great." (Tim produced Todd's latest CD, My Lost and Found on Bunj Jam 2008.)
"A short list of WV's finest performing songwriters would have to include Parkersburg-based Todd Burge. His by-turns smart, serious and funny tunes and his confident stage presence are a master class in the art of the solo singer-songwriter craft." opined Doug Imbrogno-Charleston Gazette and a key force in the New Songs Festival.
"Todd Burge is a perennial favorite here at the cafe. The combination of his creative songcrafting, baritone singing and expertise on his guitar create a musical experience that should not be missed. In our book, this man is WV's numero uno singer/songwriter". —Gary Tannenbaum-Owner, Rosewood Theatre & Cafe-Morgantown, WV
"Burge's small-town tales and rustic folk have made in him, in many respects, the quintessential WV artist. On his latest effort, he's come up with perhaps the quintessential WV artist's song, "Up In The West Virginia Hills." Dan Le Roy, Graffiti.