Words and pictures by Duane Clawson
In a world that is over-processed and over-produced, it is always good to remind ourselves that the real good stuff still exists. Tonight, the real good stuff was on a stage in St. Louis, Missouri in the form of Todd Snider. Snider has been delivering the good stuff since 1994 with release of his album, Songs for the Daily Planet. His songs tell tales from a slightly-twisted point of view with a dash of reality and a hint of humor. Snider, turned carnival barker, came to the stage as a one-man promotional machine for his two latest projects; a book, I Never Met a Story I Didn’t Like: Mostly True Tall Tales and a movie, East Nashville Tonight. If you may or may not have noticed, I like to cover shows that are a touch different, and different this show was.
First up, Snider walked on stage to welcome everyone and give a loose itinerary of the nights scheduled events. A thirty-minute clip of the making of East Nashville Tonight served as a prelude for the festivities. East Nashville Tonight follows Snider and fellow songwriter, Elizabeth Cook, as they attempt to produce a fictitious talk show for Cook. I don’t claim to be Siskel or Ebert but I will tell you I will be seeing this movie. This movie borrows pages from Snider’s playbook: partly truth, partly fiction, but in the end the “Alright Guy” prevails. After the movie preview, Snider takes up a position behind a homemade podium, emblazoned with the logo for the band, Hard Working Americans, another side project for this song smith. Snider reads several excerpts from I Never Met a Story... This book is based on Snider’s encounters with the famous and infamous. The songwriter recalls various memories, from being reluctantly accepting of career advice from Jimmy Buffett to golfing with Matthew McConaughey and Roger Clemens. It was interesting to watch Snider read from his book, as he often stopped to chuckle at his own musings.
After a brief intermission, Snider returned to a sparsely-decorated stage to take song requests from audience members. Fans of Mr. Snider lined up at microphone to request songs from his vast catalog. The self-proclaimed pastor of the agnostic church of hope and wonder almost brought the show to a halt as overzealous attendees began shouting out their request from their seats. Many fans shared stories, along with their request, of past interactions with the musician and how his music had touched their lives. After a few songs, Snider returned to reading passages from his book as an audience member’s request appeared to have sparked a memory. The vibe of the evening gave one the feel that this type of show was an ever-evolving, work in progress for the veteran performer; it should be noted this was only the second show of the tour. Winding down the night ,Snider paid tribute to one of his heroes, Kris Kristofferson, by playing a jaw dropping version of “To Beat the Devil”.
I went to this show expecting to hear the music of Todd Snider but came away understanding that the music is just a small speck of this artist's creative panorama. I would like to conclude with a word of caution. If you’re in any way offended by abundant stories of drug use or "F-bombs" being dropped at an alarming rate, this show probably isn't for you. But if you are offended by these things, you probably won’t be a fan of Mr. Snider. Thanks to Todd Snider’s management for putting MTC front and center. Photos of the performance are below:
Contributed by Duane Clawson
Todd Snider, Live and in Person @ Sheldon Concert Hall, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on 4:00:00 PM Rating: