There are tons of underrated and underappreciated artists out there who are keeping it real and staying true to themselves and their music despite mainstream country dictating what sells. Few artists embody this and are as underrated as Benjamin Tod.
The Cottonwood, Tennessee native is as real as it gets, and his authenticity shines through in his honest lyrics and incredible guitar picking.
According to his website, Tod spent most of his childhood in the care of his grandparents. He received his first guitar at seven years old, but didn’t learn to play until he was 14. Soon afterwards, Tod was expelled from school and found himself busking on the streets of Nashville, years before the city became as commercial as it is now.
Tod’s teenage years were defined by music, train hopping, and substance abuse. It was during these years that he met future wife and Lost Dog Street Band member Ashley Mae in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.
A self-taught fiddle player originally from Rapid City, South Dakota, Ashley had relocated to Nashville with her mother who worked for a rock radio station. At age 17, the two set out together to hop trains and travel the country playing music on city streets.
After playing in various bands, they formed Lost Dog Street Band together in 2010. LDSB struggled initially, though, and the band’s beginning was far from fruitful.
But thanks to an invitation from bluegrass outfit The Devil Makes Three to tour with them, which kept them afloat. Ever since, the rest is history.
Tod, an outspoken recovering addict, and his wife Ashley Mae, have now settled on a plot of land in Kentucky that they maintain themselves and spend most of their time when they aren’t on the road with LDSB.
With LDSB, they have released over seven albums since 2011, including 2022’s Glory, which deals with Tod’s addictions and recovery and is without a doubt one of the best albums of the year thus far.
And aside from the band, Tod has released two solo albums over the last few years, 2017’s I Will Rise and 2019’s A Heart of Gold Is Hard to Find.
Between these 9 albums, Tod has a deep catalog of music to showcase his talents. A thoughtful songwriter with unique vocals that seem to fit the reflective and heavy content of his music perfectly, Tod has plenty of top-tier songs in his collection.
I could try to go on and on about how great the music is, but it would probably be better if you just hear for yourself.
Here are 15 of my favorite songs from Lost Dog Street Band and Benjamin Tod.
15. “A Heart of Gold Is Hard to Find” – Benjamin Tod – A Heart of Gold Is Hard to Find (2017)
14. “I Will Rise” – Benjamin Tod – I Will Rise (2019)
13. “What Keeps Me up Now” – Lost Dog Street Band – Glory (2022)
12. “When I Went Down to Georgia – Lost Dog Street Band – Homeward Bound (2015)
11. “To Heaven From Here” – Lost Dog Street Band – Weight of a Trigger (2019)
10. “Busted Love” – Benjamin Tod – I Will Rise (2019)
9. “Cannon Fodder” – Benjamin Tod – A Heart of Gold Is Hard to Find (2017)
8. “End With You” – Lost Dog Street Band – Glory (2022)
7. “Terrible and True” – Lost Dog Street Band – Weight of a Trigger (2019)
6. “Fighting Like Hell to Be Free” – Lost Dog Street Band – Glory (2022)
My favorite song off of LDSB’s spectacular album Glory that they released back in January.
5. “Weight of a Trigger” – Lost Dog Street Band – Weight of a Trigger (2019)
4. “Sorry for the Things” – Benjamin Tod – A Heart of Gold Is Hard to Find (2017)
3. “Using Again” – Benjamin Tod – I Will Rise (2019)
2. “We Ain’t Even Kin” – Benjamin Tod – A Heart of Gold Is Hard to Find (2017)
As he explains in the song, Benjamin Tod wrote this song about a grandfather figure who helped raise him, even though they aren’t actually blood related.
“He’d read me the bible ‘til midnight And he’d tan my hide when he caught me in lies When I dropped out of school we did fight And we lost some years in our foolish pride Now I’m not sure if I’m better or worse for the distance But we’re not concerned cause there’s nothing to learn from resentment
Life is defined by decisions You may burn bridges you ain’t got time to mend You’re too old to be in this condition You’re too young for the lord to take in”
1. “September Doves” – Lost Dog Street Band – Rage and Tragedy (2016)
In my opinion, this is some of Tod’s best writing, and the September doves metaphor is just too good.
“My grandmother’s lullabies used to sing me to sleep I can’t sleep nowadays without liquid relief Well if lullabies were whiskey then my Grandma’s drinks were cheap I can’t afford sleep anymore
And we were never made for love our souls are far too old But loneliness needs company and a lost dog needs a home So you will be the fire and I will be the coal Baby we can burn out of control
We could pick any old road and start again Hell, we could change our names and try to forget Lord knows I’ll be sorry when it’s done But circumstances shot us down like September doves
Don’t stop here, there are plenty more songs worth losing to between Lost Dog Street Band and Tod’s solo work. Go check it out for yourself.