Cidy Zoo offers "Something for Everyone"

Band touches on a diversity of genres

Bill Toll has been gifted with more than his share of creative energy.

Toll is known in the Flint area as an improvisational comedy director, a performing artist and a founding member of the alternative Buckham Alley Theatre. Those commitments, however, do not alone satisfy his artistic impulses.

Cidy Zoo, a name inspired by a child's drawing and spelling of a city zoo, has been the pet project of the singer-guitarist-composer for the last two years. An experienced musician, Toll was searching for and found a musical partner in bassist J.D. Dudick. "He's a good musician." Toll said of his friend, a local producer. "He works a lot with developing an artist."

Dudick and Toll drew from local talent to complete the band, hiring drummer Mike Smith and numerous other musicians from Flint and Detroit. The fruit of their labors, a CD called "Something for Everyone," lives up to its name.

The CD features a broad spectrum of musical influences, centering on Toll's strong blues guitar skills. Toll and Dudick chose from what the guitarist calls "a boatload" of songs he had written over several years.

"Initially what J.D. and I did was listen through the songs and tried to pick 12," Toll said.

His style, to use trade-magazine lingo, could be called "AAA," or Adult Album Alternative. More to the point, Toll's music has a mix of blues, rock and, on occasion, a little rockabilly.

"I'm a blues guitar player, but these are not really traditional blues songs, they're rock," Toll said of the tunes on the CD. "'Buick City Blues' is (performed in a) traditional blues format, but the other stuff is just straight-ahead rock songs."

The band's CD release party, which took place July at the Dryden Building, was a catered, professional event - and, according to Toll, a major success. More than 150 people came out, and the party ran late into the next morning. A unplanned benefit from the party, Toll said, was his good fortune to meet Terri Senecal, whose company, Rosebud and Associates, works in artist developing and marketing.

With fans, friends and business contacts on his side, Toll and his band can expect more good things in their future.

Shawn Humphrey (The Flint Journal - August 1997)