Mike Vial/Peyton Tochterman

Air Date: 05-28-15

On his previous albums of folk-rock, Mike Vial sings about searching for true love, taking chances, and facing life’s transitions. These themes mirror the songwriter’s ambitious journeys over the years: He left his teaching position to pursue music full time, married writer Natalie Burg, celebrated the birth of their first baby (a girl!), and started a songwriting challenge to write a song a week in 2014.

Mike performs 150+ gigs a year. His vocal style is comparable to James Taylor and Ari Hest, but his guitar playing stands out with its own voice, mixing elements of jazz, folk, and rock. He has been showcase performer for Folk Alliance, The LCC Radio M897 Spotlight Artist for May 2015, and winner o the Ypsi Songwriting Festival in 2010 and Lansing’s Blue Owl Songwriting Award in 2014.
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Peyton Tochterman’s story begins in Aldie, Virginia, a small rural town where as he describes “ the mill doesn’t run, we had a small country store, a church that no one went to, Buzzy’s gas station that hasn’t had pumps since before I was born, and a post office. “ The town’s still there, Peyton is not.

But his songwriting delves deep into this kind of American rural upbringing. As Ellis Paul puts it, “"Peyton Tochterman has an old soul’s gift for writing the ageless, earthy songs that define what is best about American Music. His songs carry the weighty truths that make life less of a burden for those who hear them." Peyton’s songs reach deep into the rural landscape of America and don’t just talk about the beauty and light of our country, or our relationships with others, but also about the often disenfranchised, darker culture of the American reality- both spiritually and economically.

6 On The Square comments that “Tochterman's soulful, pastoral verging on sultry, and often refreshing sound hints at the rocker lying beneath the surface. At times, you'll hear Springsteen or Mellencamp peeking through in his songs. Give him a guitar and harmonica, and then let his raspy, gritty voice comfortably take hold and wrap you in his warmth.” Most of his characters in his songs are dreamers and revolutionaries, who have never escaped their town (or head), or if they did, never found what they were looking for and ended up right back on the barstool where they got the idea to leave in the first place.
His debut national release A New World exhibits these characters and more. From heart churning ballads to story songs, Tochterman is a “skillful song poet”(Maverick Magazine) and as Vintage Guitar Player puts it, “Tochterman’s fingerpicked acoustic demands attention, showing as much backbone on lovely ballads like “Smile” as on the comedic “Always”… Tochterman stands alone (solo) just fine, particularly on cuts like “God And Country.”

In 2007, while trying to establish himself as a staple of Virginia based songwriters, Peyton had a 9-foot Steinway piano collapse onto him and then spent 4 months on his back recovering from spinal cord surgery. It was then that Tochterman rededicated himself to the kind of uncompromising songwriting that deals with the hard and sometimes brutal reality of the internal and external struggles of the American man. Yet in his songs he also finds light and peace in the mess of it all.

In 2012 Tochterman was hired by The State Department of The United Stated to travel to war torn Afghanistan as A Cultural Ambassador for Music where he performed for not only members of the US Military and our coalition forces, but also for and with local Afghans. He was the first American (and likely the last) to ever perform at The Citadel in Herat built by Alexander The Great in 330 B.C. The state department described his work while abroad as “doing more for diplomacy between Afghanistan and The United States than anything else we have done.” As one LT. Col. in the Marines who was at his show told him, “You made our job easier today,” referring to Tochterman’s concert where he invited 8 Afghan musicians to perform with him on stage. “This is the kind of thing that will truly resonate throughout the culture here.” Tochterman’s music resonates for sure.

Peyton is a Virginian. He is an American. As did Tochterman, his songs begin and take route in the rural south, but reach far out into the world. At the end of the day you can trust that his songwriting is honest, bold, and uncompromising. Nothing is going to change that.