A Band with the Beat BY RISA WILLIAMS MCMILLAN
These guys are fun. They are fun to talk to, fun to listen to, and they just plain have a good time on and off the stage. With a background in Hip Hop, they rock the stage with their own style of music. Call it what you will – Funk, Soul, Reggae or Blues – anyway you size these guys up they are a band with a crazy good beat. The core of La Bodega is composed of Todd Toho on guitar and Frederick Capers on vocals. When they jam as a duo, they refer to themselves as La Bodega Lite for the “6 to 9 crowd” and when they mix it up with their “collectives” – interchangeable parts of local drummers, guitarists, and other musicians – the tempo picks up. According to Todd, “Just as a true La Bodega offers you every imaginable item, our music does the same – meaning we hit on all genres. We got everything you need, satisfaction guaranteed.” Frederick grew up as the son of a pastor and was a soloist at his church. As you can imagine, his tone is smooth as butter and when he hits those notes in Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” you will melt. Todd picked up guitar in high school and now rocks both acoustic and electric depending on what the gig calls for. They both cite Prince as having an influence on their music from his lyricism and funk to his guitar style. Frederick and Todd started jamming together ten years ago and since then “it was a wrap.” They quit their jobs six years ago in order to dedicate themselves fulltime to La Bodega and now do about 200 shows a year. They recently released their first self-produced album, A.O.S Volume 1, and plan on doing two albums a year going forward. They are dedicated to their music and it shows. “People think if you are a musician you just 54
go out and do shows,” said Todd. “They don’t understand we work for ourselves and put in 12 hour days,” added Frederick. When I asked Frederick what music he likes to listen to on the side, he replied with a smile, “I only listen to La Bodega. I am constantly critiquing and tweaking our music.” They divide the work well as Todd is in charge of the business end – marketing, bookkeeping, merchandising – while Frederick does production – writing and lyrics. Their shows are about a 50/50 split between originals and cover songs. “Our main goal is to one day do all originals, but around here you have to do a full three hour show so it’s good to mix it up,” said Todd. In putting together A.O.S. Volume 1, they focused on their Hip Hop beginnings and samples that they liked. A testament to the character of these two, fifty percent of the proceeds of album sales go to charity. “When we set out, we wanted to cover our cost of production but wanted to give back,” explained Frederick. They are working with MUSC in Charleston to organize their donations to Sarcoidosis and MS – both auto immune disorders that have affected people they were close to. “We plan to donate and give back on all our upcoming albums,” said Frederick. “If we can make money on our art and help others with our art, then that’s the goal,” added Todd. For La Bodega’s fall performance schedule, visit them on Facebook or at labodegaman.com. A.O.S. Volume 1 is for sale on any of the music platforms from iTunes to Spotify. They are available to do private parties and weddings and can go full band or Lite to fit all budgets.