Whether it is stepping onto the stages of Coachella and Farm Aid with Jack Johnson or stages around the world with artists ranging from Social Distortion to Matt Costa, writing music for Dave Grohl’s grammy-winning documentary film “Sound City“, or playing on countless recordings by artists such as Chuck Ragan, Dave Hause, Jonny Two Bags and more, multi-instrumentalist and Guitar Lessons Orange County instructor Mitchell Townsend has garnered more than two decades of experience as a professional recording and touring musician.
Mitchell Townsend has spent most of his life immersed in music in some form or another. Born and raised in Rockville Maryland, the seed was initially sown by his parents whose own love of music ignited his interest at an early age. His father’s friendship with renowned east coast bluegrass band The Seldom Scene allowed intimate access to musicians such as Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Mike Auldridge, John Duffey and Ricky Skaggs. The impression of such inspirational people was impossible to ignore and resulted in the determination to learn to play an instrument. Soon followed the influence of his two older brothers inevitably exposing him to the rock music of the late 70’s and early 80’s. This melting pot of styles would eventually help define his character as a musician. Drawing from a broad variety of influences, he has found inspiration in musicians ranging from Jeff Beck, Tony Rice, Albert Lee, David Lindley, Ry Cooder, Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen to Peter Green, Nick Drake, Lowell George, Michael Landau, David Hidalgo and many more.
Upon relocating to Southern California at age 18, Townsend began to seek out potential playing opportunities. After some time spent doing occasional session work, the first opportunity to get involved in a professional situation came when Interscope Records recording artists Red Five cold-called him with an immediate need for a bass player. Two weeks later he was in the throes of his first national tour, playing more than 55 shows across America over a 10 week period. Lasting 5 years, his time with Red Five consisted of hundreds of live shows across the U.S and Canada, sharing stages along the way with artists such as No Doubt, Sublime, Weezer, Deftones, as well as KISS on their first ever reunion tour.
After 5 years of nonstop touring came to a close, Townsend returned to the more grounded world of the recording studio, rediscovering his initial desire to spend his time as a studio musician. In 2003 another cold-call came in, this time from No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont. In the early stages of producing what would become the acclaimed debut album “Songs We Sing” by singer-songwriter Matt Costa, Dumont signed Townsend on to play a variety of instruments on the recordings. These early sessions led to two full-length albums and an EP with Matt Costa, as well as another 5 year run of constant worldwide touring alongside artists such as Jack Johnson, Oasis, Ryan Adams, Modest Mouse and Death Cab For Cutie. While supporting Jack Johnson across Australia, New Zealand and Japan as well as Jack’s headlining slot at the 2008 Coachella Festival, Mitchell had the honor of sitting-in with Jack and his band nightly, playing lap steel and guitar.
The last decade has seen Townsend involved in a wide variety of projects, including composing multiple tracks of music for the Grammy-winning feature documentary film “Sound City” directed by Dave Grohl, as well as music for the Billy Bob Thornton movie “Faster”. He co-produced and played a variety of instruments on the critically-acclaimed album “Devour” by singer-songwriter Dave Hause and continues to play regular live shows with Social Distortion guitarist Jonny Two Bags in support of his exceptional debut solo album “Salvation Town”. The last year has consisted of Townsend once again stepping onstage with Jack Johnson and his band at Farm Aid 2015, playing guitar and mandolin on Chuck Ragan’s score for the forthcoming video game “The Flame And The Flood” and playing a string of shows across Europe with Jonny Two Bags and Social Distortion.
At this point in his musical experience, Mitchell Townsend’s mission is simply to continue playing and recording as much music as possible, as well as maintaining a full schedule of guitar, mandolin, lap steel and bass guitar students throughout Orange County, California and online guitar students around the world.
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