Toby Tobias, a Huntington Station musician originally from South Africa, has been bringing the local community together with music by playing not only his own songs but by showcasing the musical talent of other singer-songwriters from the area at a weekly Open Mic he hosts at Finley’s of Green Street in Huntington Village.
Asked about the importance of bringing people together through music, Toby replies, “I love music and musicians. I have found a way in our community to connect musicians with the broader community because I understand that music is the universal language of love, acceptance and understanding among human beings. I am so grateful for being given the chance to create opportunities for musicians to play their music and for audiences to meet and hear musicians that they would not normally in their lives meet and hear. That gives me much satisfaction.”
The inspiration for Toby’s song “Dream Machine” was a story from his own life where he left a well-paying 9- 5 job in Manhattan to pursue his music. Toby said, “I worked for twenty-five years in corporate America, taking the Long Island Rail Road to NYC every day, but I knew that someday, some time I would take that leap of faith in my songwriting and performance abilities as well as my people skills, and make the move to become a full-time musician. That happened in 2013.”
Toby jovially remarks that leaving job to pursue music brought about feelings that were a mixture of joy and elation. He continues, “Seriously, I have been blessed with the opportunity to do the things I have done in my life. And there is a reason for everything. I gained some extremely valuable skills working in corporate America and am grateful for having done that type of work. In a way, it has prepared me for this next journey in my life in a very useful manner. But I am very happy not getting on the train every day and going to a job that I found unfulfilling. I was not prepared to do that for the rest of my life. I chose my own course. My song “Dream Machine”, a video which was produced by Huntington-based film producer Greg Blank, is my setting an example that if you have a dream and vision for your life, and if you are strong and confident enough to see it through to reality, then you can achieve it.”
One event that Toby has created and presents around Long Island is called “Journey from Johannesburg”.’ During this 75-minute performance, Toby shares his life’s journey through original songs, storytelling and a unique visual presentation, recounting his travels from South Africa to Israel, and then to New York, where he eventually became an American citizen.
Toby explains, “The show’s message is one of racial equality, understanding of each other’s cultures and religions and a strong desire for togetherness in a world which seeks to divide rather than bring together. It is produced by a good friend of mine, playwright and songwriter. Jon Goldstein. “Journey From Johannesburg” will be presented on Friday, June 1st at the Huntington Public Library on Main Street.
Every Wednesday at Finley’s in Huntington Village, Toby hosts “NOOM”(Northshore Original Open Mic), which brings together songwriters who play their original songs in front of other songwriters and music lovers. It is now in its fifth year and is going strong. Those who would like to find out more about it may visit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WELOVENOOM/
Once a month, Toby hosts a songwriter workshop called “Northshore Songwriter Workshop” in his music studio in Huntington Station where songwriters in different stages of their musical development can share their new or unused songs and get feedback from the other musicians. He also offers private and group guitar and songwriting lessons.
“It is truly wonderful living in Huntington Station,” Toby says. “Both my partner, Janice Lester, and I enjoy the diversity of the community and the efforts made by the community to be as inclusive as possible to different ideas and programs. We are so glad that Huntington Station is that type of community.”
For more information about Toby Tobias, visit: http://www.tobytoby.com/