Todd Burge
Todd Burge’s “Imitation Life” will be released on March 13 (photo: Josh Saul)

Todd Burge Recruits Tim O’Brien, Kathy Mattea For “Imitation Life”

Posted on:

< < Back to

West Virginia troubadour Todd Burge wanted to mark his 50th year on earth with a special recording project.

A 50-song album seemed like a bit much and calling it Fifty Songs sounded like false advertising.

Instead, the Parkersburg singer/songwriter worked for a third time with Tim O’Brien, a Wheeling native and famed frontman for bluegrass superstars Hot Rize and 2015 Grammy winners Earls of Leicester.

Set for a March 17 release, Imitation Life features O’Brien, who plays mandolin, fiddle and guitar, along with guests Kathy Mattea, Larry Atamanuik and Mike Bub.

Written during his 50th year, Imitation Life is a personal album for Burge, who is known for writing songs from the perspective of odd characters, criminals, animals and bugs.

Recorded live with few overdubs at John Prine’s Butcher Shoppe Studios in Nashville and engineered and mixed by David “Ferg” Ferguson (Johnny Cash, Del McCoury), the album captures Burge’s melodies and unique wordplay in their element.

Yet with the personal focus, Imitation Life also proves warm and inviting, like a deep conversation with a friend you haven’t seen in a while.

“He’s got a great talent as a writer and unique view of the world; he’s invented his own art form,” said O’Brien. “His songs just get better and better. This album is a real ‘Todd de force.'”

An 11-time repeat guest on NPR’s Mountain Stage, Burge has been called the “dean of West Virginia songwriters, the best we have,” by the show’s host, Larry Groce.

In recent years, Burge has emerged as one of West Virginia’s most prolific singer/songwriters. He has performed everything from alternative rock to contemporary folk at festivals, in venues as diverse as CBGB’s, the Country Music Hall of Fame, The Kennedy Center, Caffe Lena, Club Passim and Music City Roots.

This Friday, area fans will have the opportunity to pick up a copy of Imitation Life during an album release concert at the Parkersburg Art Center. Show time is 8 p.m. Advance tickets and more information can be found at