Chris Woodward & Shindiggin among entertainers at annual Clear Spring carnival
CLEAR SPRING — Chris Woodward isn't looking for fans.
Instead, the guitarist and front man for Chris Woodward and Shindiggin wants everyone who follows him to be part of his extended family.
"My motto is, we don't have F-A-N-S, we have F-A-M-S. We consider everyone our family, not our fans. Once you click the like button on our page, you're in the family. And if you don't have Facebook and you follow us, you're still in the family. That's kind of the way I view it. I never liked calling people fans. 'Fams' is much better," he said during a telephone interview from his Three Springs, Pa., home.
Current 'fams,' and new ones can catch Woodward and his band performing Thursday, Aug. 3, at Clear Spring Vol. Fire Co. Carnival, at the carnival grounds, 12323 Big Spring Road.
"Oh man, we're gonna have lots of crowd participation and interaction that's for sure. We love working with the crowd and we like to make the crowd feel like a part of us," Woodward said about the gig, which includes shows at 7 and 10 p.m.
The band is known for its high-energy shows that include original and Top 40 and old school country hits, as well as southern and classic rock hits.
Woodward said he started his musical career at the age of 20 while serving in the U.S. Navy.
"Some guy just had three guitars on the ship and I was like, 'Hey, would you sell me one?' And he said, 'yeah.' So I bought a guitar for $30 and started to play, and it just kind of blossomed from there and led into what I'm doing," he said.
From there, Woodward played in various bands, including with his uncle and cousin, both of whom he credits as his biggest influences.
"(My uncle) raised me on music, and taught me the ropes. Not by telling me, but by being in his band and watching him. You know, that's how I learned, which is kind of cool. (He) and my cousin got me started. We had a band for like four or five years ... they were my biggest influences. Not the big stars, just my uncle and my cousin," he said with a laugh.
Today, his band Shindiggin consists of Zac Grace on vocals and drums; Mike Gambardella, who plays lead guitar and contributes backing vocals; and Todd Burns, who sings and plays bass guitar.
"I do consider them family and to be a big part of this," he said. "We just go out and do our thing and pray people like us. And so far, everywhere we go ... people want to be in the family so we welcome 'em," he said.
In addition to playing music and singing, Woodward is also a songwriter, having spent a week earlier this month in Nashville, Tenn., writing for a publishing company, and will return in six weeks to pen some more music.
"I just talked to the publishing president today ... and he said the writers said, 'You had really good ideas and really good writing ability,' so that was cool," he said.
Woodward said his writing style varies.
"When I sit down with a guitar, it's kind of like whatever comes out, if it's good, I roll with it, you know. And then obviously you think of some hook lines ... and you work around that, too. Sometimes it's not necessarily a straight from the heart song, it's more of, 'I got this really good hook line, now I gotta write a story about it,' you know?" he said with a laugh "So it's kind of cool," he said.
After doing as many as 130 shows a year, Woodward, a married father of three, said he cut his tour dates back to closer to 100 this year, and said he's unsure of what will happen next year with his new writing gig in Nashville.
"I'm just gonna roll with the punches and whatever happens, happens. We're talking about growing and expanding, but I don't know what's going to happen at this point," he said.
But for now, Woodward continues to hit the road with Shindiggin. While many of his shows are in Pennsylvania, he's not afraid to branch out.
"We do a lot here, but we're playing Maryland and like doing some West Virginia stuff, we've played New York, we've played Ohio, we've played Delaware. We've done a lot of traveling," he said.
Woodward who has released about 10 albums, notes his ability to play to the audience as one of his secrets to keeping the crowds coming back to his shows.
"Sometimes when you're out touring, even at our level, and you play all originals, you just bore the crowd. So you gotta give 'em hit songs, what they know, and then mix your stuff in, and that's kind of been my success," he said.