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{20 Questions} Todd Purifoy

Todd Purifoy is the man behind the coolest pictures you’ll ever see. He’s been responsible for album covers, magazine covers, promotional posters and just about everything else you can slap a picture on. He’s been at ground zero of the Texas/Red Dirt movement for many years. He has had access to candid moments that are exclusive to him. He has built relationships with artists and fans alike. Check out his photo book, Mavrik Magazine and his latest project: Darren Kozelsky.

1. What’s new in the world of Todd Purifoy?

Right now, the most significant “new” thing I am working on is working with Darren. I am still shooting shows where I can, but most of my time is spent working with Darren and his wife just trying to keep things moving in the right direction. It is fun, but I would venture to guess most people don’t know how much work goes on behind the scenes to keep their favorite bands doing what they do. I have been very close to the scene for some time, and I had no idea about all the details that go into making a simple show happen.

2. Was photography something you were always interested in or was it something you just sort of fell into?

Actually, it wasn’t something I always had an interest in. As many people probably know by now, my Dad was pretty much always into photography, so I was around it quite a bit. It wasn’t until the digital age, and my little ones came along that I really started to get involved. Once digital caught up to film in quality, it was a natural thing for me to become deeply involved with since I was so heavily involved in computers already.

3. Name association:

-Wade Bowen – Genuine. I guess most people know Wade is a really really good person. But the quality that I admire most in Wade is how genuine he is. Wade is a good friend, and I respect him as much as anyone in this scene.

-Randy Rogers – Driven. Randy just has a quiet drive about him that you can’t help but admire. Randy was one of the first guys to take an interest in what I was doing, and has been very good to me since the beginning.

-Cody Canada – Fonzi. HAHA. The coolest guy I know. Everything about Cody is just the definition of “cool.” Thankfully, he doesn’t walk around saying “Eyyyy!” Technically, that makes him COOLER than Fonzi.

-Jason Boland – Pure. Purest, cleanest voice going.

-Peter Dawson – Underrated. I hope that doesn’t sound like an insult, because it is not meant as one in any way. Since the day I first saw Peter perform (Acuna with Ragweed YEARS ago), I was convinced that there was something special about him, and I just know he is going to blow up at some point.

-Cory Morrow – Hotel doors. Just something that popped in my head… Wink

-Stoney LaRue – Well Well Well…Talent. A ton of words come to mind, and “talent” doesn’t really do him justice. He can do anything. I saw him lift a burning bus off a tribe of pigmies once…at least I think it was him.

-Django Walker – Legacy. Probably not fair, but I can’t help but think how hard it would be for everyone to constantly be asking you about your dad. Surprisingly, every time I have ever been around him, people didn’t seem to be whipping him about it, and that is cool.

4. Without naming names, talk about the rudest artist experience you’ve had while taking pictures at a show or photo shoot.

Well I will not name anyone, but many GW folks will probably know right away as many of them witnessed the same thing. At Steamboat this year there was an artist that sort of stopped down a show to berate an individual for asking them to turn up the vocals. This kid was jamming to all the songs, and clearly a fan. It was way out of line for the artist in my opinion…I don’t care WHO you are. I was pretty disappointed because I have always dug this person. I guess the real disappointment for me is that 99.9% of the artists playing OKOM are so genuinely cool. It turned me off on that person.

5. You manage Darren Kozelsky. What about him made you decide to make the jump to artist management?

Darren was a good friend of mine before there was any business relationship. Obviously management was not my game, but things just sort of fell into place at some point. The thing is, for about 4 months prior to me getting deeply involved, I had been doing what I could to help. It wasn’t official or anything, but I was trying to get him from point A to point B as best I could. Darren has been playing music on stage for a LONG time…since college. However, the idea of taking it to the next level is relatively new in Darren’s career. He was doing it for fun when some of the other artists encouraged him to take it further. When he got serious about that, and started working with Mac, it blew me away. I believed in him and just wanted to make sure he had an opportunity to put his music out there. A few months later, Darren spoke to me about making it an official relationship. Darren is an amazing person, and people who know him personally can attest to that. He is an amazingly loyal friend, and if nothing else, I owe it to him to help in any way possible. If I had something major going on in my life, he would help me.

6. What was your first concert? What do you remember about it?

I remember seeing Willie and Family Live, and for some reason I remember his sister Bobbie playing piano. That actually won me tickets to a show one night. It was a trivia question on the radio. But I think the FIRST show I remember was Bobby Bare and Lacy J Dalton at the old Palace in Beaumont, TX. I remember my little brother being young enough for Lacy J Dalton to single him out in the crowd.

7. What is your favorite album cover of all time, any genre?

That new Stoney LaRue Live at Billy Bob’s is pretty badass. Wink

The Grateful Dead “Steal Your Face” cover is pretty sweet. Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde” was pretty cool with the fold out picture. I’ll say my favorite is The Boss’ “Born to Run” soley for its photography.

8. What’s the worst trend in Texas/Red Dirt music, in your opinion?

Bashing Nashville is the worst trend. Most of it is misguided, and uniformed. I spare you a rant, but sooner or later it has to stop. I know there is some crap coming out of their, but Nashville is full of good stuff too, and many of the people listed here on GW ARE in fact starting to get some respect around town. It is pretty dang cool if you ask me, and the movement is happening.

But one that is fast approaching in my opinion is blind support for any Texas Music Artist just because he is a “Texas Music Artist.” Just because they are cool people, and just because they are from Texas does NOT equal “good.”

9. What is the strangest thing you’ve seen at a show while taking pictures?

Man, there are a ton of strange things. I saw some fans having sex at the Corona Club at a Ragweed show once. Several things made that whole day strange.

First, “THEY WERE HAVING SEX AT A RAGWEED SHOW!” And I don’t mean in a van…I mean on the front damn row. They were wedged up between a speaker tower and the stage.

Second, my Mom was with us and it was her first Ragweed show.

And third, I married some people that night. A guy asked me if I would perform his wedding ceremony in a bar down the street from Crosby’s. I thought he meant as a fun, joke like thing. But he was serious. He went somewhere and came back with a bunch of flowers, a ring, the whole shootin’ match.

Suddenly what was a beer-fueled good time for Todd got real serious. We went out on the patio, my step-dad was best man, and my wife Kim was the Maid of Honor. We did a real ceremony with pictures and everything. The people on the patio all watched, clapped, and I think my little brother even cried.

Then they bought me beer for the rest of the night. I just remember telling him, “I don’t think this is legal back home dude.” He didn’t care.

10. You’re a devoted former student at Texas A&M. Talk about your experiences in college, and how you decided to matriculate there?

Now you know I am an Aggie, and yet you still use a word like “matriculate” when asking me a question? Wink

After consulting Wikipedia, I would have to say it was probably just because of the atmosphere on campus. I love everything about A&M. When I was growing up, most of my buddies wanted to go to tu, and I visited both schools quite often. The traditions, history, and pride people took in being a part of Aggieland hooked me. I was comfortable there. I went to a Muster, and a Silver Taps, and I just thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. The support and the pride people took in honoring other Aggies was huge to me. As it got closer to actually making a decision, A&M is the only place I applied. Then some other opportunities came knocking that made it all make even more sense. Basically, it all worked out because I had no plans of attending any other university.

11. Speaking of Aggies, give us the best Aggie joke you’ve ever suffered through.

Two Ags were driving through the country and they saw another Ag in a row boat in the middle of a wheat field. He was paddling like crazy. One of the Ags looked at his buddy and said, “You know…guys like that are the reason people give us so much hell.” A few seconds later the good Ag responded with, “Yeah…I know what you mean. If I could swim I’d go out there and whip his ass.”

12. Who is your favorite photographer?

Carl Dunn is the reason I made the book. He was doing the exact same thing that I do, back in the early days with legends like Zepplin, Hendricx, Emerson Lake and Palmer…etc. His story of getting into it is very close to mine. Basically it was born out of a love for the music of the time. His book, “This is Rock & Roll” was one of the inspirations for me doing mine. So he is a favorite.

Others are not famous, but peers of mine who amaze me constantly with their creativity, their eye, and their ability to capture a moment rather than just an image.

13. Do you have any tattoos? If so, what are they? If not, what would you get if you had to get one?

Nope. If I had one, it would probably have to somehow incorporate my kids initials or something.

14. You’re heavily involved with Mavrik Magazine, talk about how the ideas for how that project came about and what is in store for the future of the magazine?

I was looking for someone to help me publish my book. I needed someone who could technically do the layout and design I had in my head. I met Kim Phillips, and she was my answer. She helped me find the printer, make a deal to self publish it…etc. Around the same time, Kim, Summer, and Greg were thinking about the magazine. I sat with them, discussed it, gave my two cents, and decided I really believed they had something. So I started using some of my contacts to feel it all out. I basically just gave them advice, introduced them to some people I thought would be a big help, and ultimately I started holding back photos for them to use. They do all the hard work. I just look through the lens for them.

15. Who are the “next biggest things” in Texas/Red Dirt music, in your opinion?

Well, I will leave Darren out because I am biased. But not so biased that I will not mention that you should all go check out the CD. It is AWESOME.

I think Texas Renegade is a band to look out for. They have some solid people surrounding them and that IS one of the most overlooked things when planning out a career in this business in my opinion.

Jarrod Birmingham is going make some waves. It really comes down to more than just musical talent. It is decision making, the right team, desire, and the ability to stick to it.

16. What are the 3 highest points of your career in music?

Randy Rogers using my Adairs shot was a big one. It was the first shot of mine that really was noticed and used. Bud Light has used it, it has been in Texas Music Magazine, it is on posters…etc. To this day one of the most used shots of mine.

Randy on the cover of Best in Texas Magazine was pretty huge for me too. That was my first magazine cover.

Getting to shoot Willie would have to be in there as well.

17. What are the 3 lowest points of your career in music?

Hard to say. It has all been a blast. I am not copping out…I just can’t think of any. I guess the worst thing for me has been seeing some of my stuff being used without credit or without ever asking me.

There have been some shoots that I was passed over for, and that is always disappointing, but the nature of the business.

Sometimes a bar runs out of Bud Light and that is traumatic for me.

18. Rapid fire:
-Favorite beer? Bud Light
-Favorite gum? Big League Chew
-Favorite burger joint? Chicken Oil Company – Bryan, TX

19. As everyone, what’s your favorite George Strait song?

80 Proof Bottle of Tear Stopper – Why was that never a freaking single? That probably would have put him over the top. Too bad for him…that guy could have been somebody.

20. What sets this Texas/Red Dirt scene apart from mainstream country music?

A lot…and not much. The closeness and accessibility to the fans is one big thing. The genuine “regular guy” aspect of the artists is very cool, and I believe unique. Clearly there are guys writing and singing their own songs, and that is not as common in mainstream music. And even when a guy does not write his own song here, they usually have a connection with the writer that is pretty solid.

The scene as a whole is pretty tight knit. True support for peers is something that I am sure exists in mainstream music, but not to the extent we see it here. Loyalty is VERY strong in this scene.

On the business side, it is not as different than you might think. We deal with the same hassles and hurdles as everyone else. Business is business, and that is true no matter what your line of work is.

As this scene grows, and as more guys make a move toward mainstream acceptance, I think much of that will change. I mean we have people hear who can genuinely change the way country music is appreciated. Maybe it is all just cyclical, and we are just riding the wave back to the way guys used to do it. Maybe some of the folks in this scene are breaking new ground. Either way, we have the privilege of witnessing it first hand. It is happening.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it is along journey, but persistence is the key to the game. And it IS a game. We have some folks here who are changing some of the rules, and that is awesome.

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