Full time musician, full time student

Eddie Hacker, Contributing Writer

Choosing to follow his dream by switching from physics to music performance, senior music major Todd Hazelrigg has performed everywhere from the BBC to Mac’s Uptowner.

In 2016, Hazelrigg helped the production of the BBC series “Great American Railroad Journeys” on their episode featuring the Kankakee railway station. In the episode, Hazelrigg performs Arlo Guthrie’s song “City of New Orleans” on a platform stage in the Amtrak station.

Hazelrigg got the opportunity to be on the TV show because of a folk song he wrote titled “Kankakee,” which instantly became a local favorite in his hometown.

Hazelrigg’s first year on campus he wrote the folk song titled “Kankakee”. A video of Hazelrigg playing the song surpassed 16,000 views on Facebook, which led to a feature about Hazelrigg in The Daily Journal.

The Daily Journal referred the BBC to Hazelrigg after they asked the newspaper to suggest a local musician to be on the show.

“I love music, I love to play it every day, and when it came right down to it I knew I wanted to do it for the rest of my life” Hazelrigg said. “I decided to pursue a degree in music. I don’t think I could imagine it not being a part of my life.”

A proud father and touring musician, Hazelrigg decided to bring his talents to Eastern in 2015. As a student, he still manages to perform live at least six times a month, sometimes more if he his schedule allows it.

Hazelrigg is not only a full-time student, but he also acts as his own manager by doing his own bookings, promotions and scheduling.

At future shows, Hazelrigg said people can expect a new loop he has been experimenting with, as well as beat boxing, covers and original bluegrass songs.

Hazelrigg has been a professional musician for over ten years. After graduating from Wilmington High School and later Kankakee Community College, pursuing his bachelor’s degree moved him to Charleston.

By playing at the Uptowner multiple times each year, this venue has become a regular one for him.

Most recently, he has performed at Kindred Spirits in Mattoon, Mac’s Uptowner in Charleston and the C-U Folk & Roots Festival in Urbana.

“I never know exactly what I am going to play until I see the crowd. Every show is different, every crowd brings a different energy,” he said.

Hazelrigg returned to Mac’s Uptowner to perform on the Charleston Square Nov 18.

The Uptowner, known for its ability to attract bluegrass and folk bands to the area, seemed like the perfect place to see Hazelrigg perform.

“I first heard (Hazelrigg) at the Uptowner for his Halloween show a couple years back,” said Randy Watson, a manager for the Blue Fruit Snacks, another band that plays at the Uptowner. “He’s just always brought a good energy to the place and he’s slowly turning into one of my favorite local acts.”

Watson said seeing Hazelrigg at the C-U Folk Festival was a completely different show compared to his Uptowner set.

To learn more about Todd Hazelrigg, those interested can go to his Facebook page at Todd Hazelrigg Music. His latest album on the WEFT Sessions Vol. 2 is on YouTube.

“It’s refreshing to see him bring a different energy every show,” Watson said.