Difficult to pigeonhole, Evan Toth is a seasoned singer-songwriter and performer who knows no bounds. Whether it's performing rock songs or penning cabaret tunes for other performers, Evan's interest has always been in creating the "Good Music" that he showcases on his WFDU 89.1 FM radio program. Proficient on the piano, guitar, accordion and harmonica, Evan showcases his music using anything he can get his hands on. He is at ease performing as a solo, or with his amazing trio (drums/bass) which features Ron Zampini and Jeff Constantine, or both!
Toth can, however, perform the works of others as well, as he did off-Broadway - and in the national tour of - "Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding." Having nearly 15 years of performing experience behind him, Toth is comfortable before any audience.
Though he often brings his talent far and wide to places like: Japan, New York City, Los Angles, Miami, New Orleans, Dallas, Milwaukee, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Nashville, he's always at home on the stage.
Music Conferences / Festivals:
Millennium Music Conference 2009 (MMC13)
2009 Cape May Singer-Songwriter's Conference
2009 Susquehanna Music & Arts Festival Songwriting Finalist
2009 Seaside Heights Music Festival Performer
2009 Wave Gathering Performer - Asbury Park
2009 13th Annual Black Potatoe Music Festival Performer
WRXP 101.9 FM with Matt Pinfield
WOR w/ Joey Reynolds
WSOU 89.5 FM
WFDU 89.1 FM
WDHA 105.5 FM
WCFA 101.5 FM
SPSC 88.7 FM
WMSC 90.3 FM
WRPR 90.3 FM
WRFR 93.3 FM
The Living Room
The Parkside Lounge
The Bitter End
Don't Tell Mama
The Edison Hotel Theatre
Newark Bears' Riverfront Stadium
The Passaic County Fair
The Meadowlands Fair
The Brown Room
The Clash Bar
The Jazz Estate
Tito Puente, Jr.
Jeff Constatine - Bass
Ron Zampini - Drums
"Welcome Back to Hell" full length album.
Yes, we have tracks with radio airplay and that are streamable.
Between rock and cabaret – not a hard place
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Sunday, February 4, 2007 On the Web: evantoth.com Cabaret is grand pianos, martinis, elegant...Sunday, February 4, 2007
On the Web: evantoth.com
Cabaret is grand pianos, martinis, elegant supper clubs and songs that rhyme "arms" and "charms."
Rock is guitars, beer, low-rent bars and songs that rhyme "Hackensack" and "ack-ack-ack."
And Evan Toth? He's split right down the old middle.
That's why the Paterson singer-songwriter, who cites Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello among his influences, is launching his first full album, "Welcome Back to Hell," at Don't Tell Mama – a tr?elegant cabaret on New York's restaurant row.
"Bringing New Jersey to New York City" is the name of his show, which can be seen Friday and Saturday at the 46th Street venue.
"Although I'm a rock guy, I was definitely influenced a lot by the Great White Way and the American songbook, and I'm not really afraid to tap into it if I need to," Toth says.
Toth, a pianist and guitarist, will be appearing with his band the Excuses (Matthew Kloss from Montclair on bass, Ron Zampini from Oakland on drums) to play songs like "Broke Up Heart," "Rejected" and "Monkey House" from his CD, released on his own Eastside Park Records label.
Quite a bit different from, say, "Don't Tell Mama" – the Kander-Ebb song from "Cabaret" for which the club was named, and which typifies the kind of music that most often gets played there.
But Toth, who has taken his music to quite a few piano bars and cabarets over the years, says that many club owners are receptive to something a little different. Provided, of course, that the artist can bring in customers.
"A lot of these cabarets in New York were kind of friendly to me, and kind of understood my plight," he says.
Among the other such places he's played, through the years, are New York's Duplex, The Bitter End, and the now-defunct 88s – along with more conventional rock venues like the recently shuttered CBGB.
"I'm really trying to think outside the box," Toth says. "I want to introduce [my music] to as many good venues as possible. And a cabaret is generally a classy place, not some rock club with slime hanging off the walls and a bathroom that's overflowing."
This isn't Toth's first time at the rodeo.
The talented multi-instrumentalist (he also plays harmonica, accordion, bass and drums) has been performing since 1992 – approximately 20 years too late to be discovered by John Hammond in the early 1970s singer-songwriter boom that made stars of Billy Joel, Randy Newman and Carly Simon. "That would have been perfect, but unfortunately the industry is totally different now," he says.
Toth, however, did have two things going for him.
One, he was born in the great do-it-yourself era of home recording, where anyone with a little money and spare room can make a professional-sounding CD.
The other is that he had a natural theatrical streak – which made him adaptable not only to cabarets, but to even more formal theater settings.
Which is how Toth, an English teacher by day (for the last four years at Community High School in Teaneck) got a role in the touring, off-Broadway and Japanese productions of the long-running audience-immersion comedy "Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding."
"They were advertising [for actors]," Toth says. "One of the parts, the actor had to play guitar. I never thought of myself as an actor, but I thought I was right for the musical need they had."
As it turned out, the casting director liked Toth's theatrical flair so much that he was cast in a showier role: Donny Dulce, the wedding singer. "I sang 'Celebration,' 'The Summer Wind," we had a whole Madonna thing," he says. "The point was to be as cheesy as possible."
By the time he finished his three-year run in that show, in 2001, he was ready to hit the cabaret trail with a vengeance.
"I've spent a long time building a local fan base, and it's been a long road connecting to people along the way, but they do come out," says Toth, 28.
It helps, in his brave new career as a crossover cabaret star, that Toth can sit at the Steinway and whip out a rendition of "Strangers in the Night" or "Cabaret" for the piano bar crowd.
Sometimes, when the club has an outer lounge and an inner theater – the arrangement at Don't Tell Mama, for instance – he can serve as his own pitchman, playing sample tunes on the outside to lure customers to the inner sanctum.
The last time he was at Don't Tell Mama, in 2002, he did his ballyhoo a little too well, he says.
On that occasion, as on so many others, he had asked the regular cocktail hour pianist if he could sit in for a few songs.
"I did two songs and everything was fine," he recalls. "Then right before the third one I reached down to pull the piano bench closer to me and I ended up catching my right pinky finger in the lid. I was in excruciating pain, but I had a third song to sing, and I didn't want to stop."
After playing the next tune, he looked down. The keyboard was covered with blood.
"So I had to go over to the regular guy and say, 'Thanks for letting me play a few songs, and I'm sorry, but I have blood all over the keyboard.' And his very matter-of-fact response was, 'Don't worry, I do it all the time.' "
Evan Toth and the Excuses will be appearing 9 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday at Don't Tell Mama, 343 W. 46th St., Manhattan. Two-drink minimum. 212-757-0788.
The Evan Toth Fireside Chat
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By: Shaun McGann Evan Toth has been performing forever. Grade school talent shows found him busti...By: Shaun McGann
Evan Toth has been performing forever. Grade school talent shows found him busting out "Johnny B. Goode" on his first electric guitar. In Paramus Catholic High School, he was doing everything from singing in the choir at mass and playing the piano at assemblies to performing with his punk band, The Derelicts, at a Battle of the Bands that he initiated. High school weekends were filled with shows at now defunct NJ clubs like Studio One, The Cricket Club, or even a string of once a month Knights of Columbus shows with a half-dozen other local acts.
In his 20's, he continued performing around New Jersey and steadily into New York City, both with a band and solo, incorporating the piano more and more. In 2001, he won the role of Donnie Dulce in the traveling production of Tony and Tina's Wedding. This took Toth everywhere from New Orleans to Tokyo over the course of the next two years.
Since then, he has recorded two albums, Life of Leisure, and more recently, Welcome Back to Hell. The influences of Billy Joel, Elvis Costello, and acid-era Beatles are not hard to spot, but it is easy to tell Toth has mastered the art of being derivative without sounding like a retread. He continues to draw, solo and with his band The Excuses, in the Village, Midtown and all over New Jersey, as well as taking his show on the road, recently hitting Milwaukee, Stamford, Chicago and Los Angeles. As is this isn’t enough, he also hosts a radio show on 90.3 WFDU Saturdays at 9 a.m., un-ironically titled Good Music, and will be appearing at Lounge Zen in Teaneck on February 27th.
Q: You've been playing around the tri-state area regularly for over ten years now. Are you burned out on it?
EZT- You'd think that, but I'm not. Each gig is so different that I really never know what to expect. When I have a show that I consider a "dead end" gig, often they end up being great and packed. It's the ones that I plan for that can leave me high and dry.
That doesn't have much to do with the tri-state area - or, maybe it does - but, I've done my fair share of traveling. Less than many, but more than most. Playing NJ is great as long as there are people who care to come out. The enjoyment of the music appears greater in NJ, home folk are a little more appreciative.
When I play NYC, I'm just another schmuck on the firing line; the "wow" factor of my show vanishes a bit, at least in my opinion. Packing a place in Milwaukee, or to a decent crowd in Los Angles, is a different kind of thrill.
I don't have the time, guts or finances to traverse the great American landscape in a van with no promise of a payday. I'm too much of a Divo. Maybe that's what's held me back, or maybe it hasn't. I've always believed if I could make it in the New York City/tri-state area, I could make it anywhere.
Q: You have your own act, Evan Toth and the Excuses, where you're in control; you write the songs, choose the shows, etc. But you've also been on the other end of it, touring around the country with Tony and Tina's Wedding where you're part of the production. Was having a fixed set list and arrangements of other people's material hard to adjust to?
EZT: I often find someone else's musical choices refreshing. I mean, as a part of the show I had to sing "YMCA." Now, sure, you've heard that tune thousands of times, but if you've ever really dug into it and had to memorize it, you'd realize that there is a lot of strange lyrical wordplay going on and it's a totally energizing song to sing, you must just get past the fact that you're singing, "YMCA."
Being in control does not necessarily mean that it's comfortable or easy. Now, you've got to do all of this choosing yourself. Perhaps your bass player doesn't like a particular tune or maybe the band is sick of a few numbers. In any case, relinquishing these choices is often a nice thing. However, with my own gigs, I can play anything, even if it's "YMCA," which it never is. But, I could if I wanted to.
With Tony n' Tina's Wedding, or any other production, all I have to do is wear a scarf, show up, do my gig and go to sleep.
Q: Would you say you still worry about drawing people? And since you mentioned it earlier, being that you're usually playing in one region, what do you do to try and keep the show fresh and draw people back who've already seen you?
EZT: I wouldn't say that it's a "worry," it’s more of a barometer of acceptance: "If no one comes, then no one wants to see me." At least, that's the vicious equation that I make. Some of the best money I've made in music has been for crowds that didn't show up, so that part of the equation is also interesting and disturbing.
The questions then become: How many shows? How often? Where? For how much? etc. It's the variables that perplex me.
I don't know if the gig has to be fresh for the people, but it's got to be fresh for me. I think people like consistency and they're often not sure what they're going to get with my shows. Am I solo? Is it a big rock club? Is it expensive? Is it far away? I try not to pigeonhole myself with my performances, but that comes at a price. I take chances on new venues, which sometimes burns me and the audience.
That being said, I feel as though if the quality of the performance is always there, then the audience is happy. If I'm not feeling bored with myself, then they have a good time. Some people really love “Parkway” or “Life of Leisure“, as do I, but I realize that it's not healthy for me to play them at every show. However, an act is an act. It's supposed to be somewhat repetitive, like in the old days. It should be consistent. It should change, but not drastically, or, if it does, it shouldn't drastically change very often. It's the tweaking and nuances that make the difference.
I've probably been too broad over the last 15 years. I've got a product and I think that my audience is wide enough that no one gets too sick of anything. I've got a large audience, it's just that they spread themselves out very thinly. I'm not sure what I need to do, but I tend to blame myself rather than the audience or the economy or the weather or the weekdays or whatever.
I'm confident in the music, but it's the sale, the marketing and management that plague me. I believe I could do it well for someone else, but I'm too close to my music, it's too personal for me to sell like a hamburger. So, that's stunted my growth, I think.
Q: So what now?
EZT: The older I get, the more I realize just how selfish creating music can be. I really want the tunes to mean something to others; I don't want to be the only one enjoying this. The two things I don't already have would be the financial support to commit far more time and effort to music and the ability to reach many more people than I already do. So: Money and a larger audience.
Our typical set-list is about 60 minutes. The bulk of the show is originals, but we throw in a few covers to have fun. We can perform up to 120 minutes, if needed.
Some of the covers we do are classic rock pieces, such as: "Unchain my Heart", "A Day in the Life", "Johnny B. Goode", "Can't Buy Me Love", etc.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.