Todd Snider sells himself a bit short if you ask me. He’s far more than just an “Allright Guy”. Equal parts folksinger, storyteller and rambler, Snider is a veteran traveler. He’s an artist that manages to appeal to a wide section of Americana fans regardless of the boundaries usually set by age, status, interests or even political leanings. There’s an understated importance to the songs Snider carries along with him on the road, and an even more understated importance in how those songs are delivered. Perhaps, even if he’s not the hero we need or deserve, he’s definitely the hero we want and look towards even if he would likely shrug off such admirations. On this evening, Snider in his unassuming presence, held the sold out Tower Theatre audience in the palm of his hand.
Snider is at the beginning of a year long tour for his upcoming album Cash Cabin Sessions Volume 3 that releases on March 15th, and we were treated to a taste of that release right away. Playing solo acoustic, or “like the old days,” Snider opened his set with “Talking Reality Television Blues,” a song that humorously captures the history of the old boob tube past to present. The next two tracks from the album, “Just Like Overnight” and “The Ghost of Johnny Cash” were accompanied by the type of story intros that make Snider so damn endearing. Just like that, Snider was done with the newer material. Announcing his appreciation for the audience tolerating these new songs, and his disdain for artists that tour only playing new material, he launched into “The Ballad of the Devil’s Backbone Tavern,” “D. B. Cooper” and more. While operating with a set list of some kind, Snider often called upon the audience to provide his songs for the evening. As a result, it was rollicking “best of the best” night including some of his most loved stories from the road. Nothing quite summed that up like the “Banana Story,” a harrowing tale of life on the road and mind altering chemicals with the Hardworking Americans. It’s a tale that’s as likely to have Snider laughing equally as much as the audience was.
Highlights were abundant, and how could they not be? “Horseshoe Lake,” “Play A Train Song,” “Vinyl Records” were all represented as were the obvious fan favorites of “Beer Run,” “Alright Guy” and “Looking For A Job.” Nearly everything one could have hoped for was performed. We even received an extended appearance from Cowboy Jim, Snider’s dog and traveling companion. Snider says Cowboy Jim often makes appearances on stage during shows before wandering off during during the songs he doesn’t like. The canine must have sensed the magic in the room this evening as he remained lounging on the stage for the entire second half. Somehow, a dog wandering onstage mid set isn’t the weirdest thing you’ll likely encounter at a Todd Snider show. Rather, it does a fine job of surmising the evening.
If the remainder of the tour is as special as this night was, it’s a must see. Of particular note, Snider is an Americana artist that promotes himself with a jam band mentality, likely thanks to his time spent with the Hardworking Americans. For $20 fans were able to purchase a USB drive loaded post show with the evening’s performance. Why more Americana artists or even bands from other genres don’t offer this is an absolute mystery to me. Dates for Todd Snider are currently scheduled well into July. Don’t miss an opportunity to see Snider in this stripped down manner. It’s definitely a treat.
Information can be easily found here: https://toddsnider.net/home/
Setting the stage for Snider this evening was Nashvillian via Louisiana songwriter, Kevin Gordon. I’ve said it time and time again, that I love the opening slot. For true fans of songs, it’s the perfect opportunity to discover something new and important that you didn’t know you needed; a way of finding those new to you artists that become the favorites of tomorrow. Just like that, Kevin Gordon validated my thoughts regarding the support artists. Armed with a beautiful vintage tobacco sunburst Gibson ES-125, Gordon took the stage and regaled us in tales of the Gulf Coast region, and the dualities of the south as a whole.
Touring with Snider for a few dates in support of his most recent Crowville Media release, Tilt And Shine, [read our review here: REVIEW: Kevin Gordon’s “Tilt and Shine” Paints Pictures With Poetic Words] Gordon’s songs touch equally on the good and the bad of places he’s placed roots in along the way. Not a songwriter to be easily labeled, Gordon approaches songs from all angles. The roots rock swagger approach of “Down in the Well” and “Get it Together”, to the blues scorched “Burning the Church House Down.” Yet, it was the simple stripped down story approach of “Colfax/Step in Time” that unequivocally won me over. A tale of youth, high school football and ultimately race relations in the south, the song captures a truthful representation of what has influenced, but not defined an era and region. The song stopped me in my tracks, and commanded my attention. I love when that happens.
Unfortunately, Gordon’s set seemed to be an inconvenient interruption to many in the audience. As is becoming all too typical at shows these days, the music and songs being faithfully and emotionally presented by these artists seems to be less important than continuing preshow conversations. Though I don’t know how apparent or noticeable it is to the artist, it’s very frustrating for those of us wanting to truly hear these songs. Still, Gordon’s songs managed to resonate with many this night. It was apparent in the conversations he had with many at the merch table, and I really hope to see him make his way back through OKC for a full show. His songs and performance will undoubtedly send me down a rabbit hole hoping to catch the specialness of the evening. I regret forgetting to pick up a couple of his releases post show as I had intended. Thankfully, his albums and more information can be readily found by visiting here: http://kg.kevingordon.net/