Acclaimed composer Todd Snider arrives in Healdsburg
Before becoming one of the most talented and original songwriters of his generation, Todd Snider was an above-average high school linebacker from Beaverton, Oregon.
Snider, who will be performing at the Raven Theater in Healdsburg on Wednesday, October 20, with Lilly Winwood, aimed to continue his football career at Santa Rosa Junior College in the fall of 1985. But the head coach did not fully appreciated the strength of the recruit. independent sequence. Snider only lasted a few weeks on the team.
But his brief stint in Sonoma County was not without its rewards.
“There were a bunch of Samoan kids on the team. They had parties, where they cooked for everyone, ”he recalls last week. “Some of them played guitar and a few could play harmonica.”
One of his new friends taught Snider how to “pop out melodies” on the harmonica. “After that I just took it away and kept playing it and playing it.”
For three and a half decades, he never stopped playing, evolving, experimenting and growing as a musician. Since the 1994 album that put him on the map, “Songs for the Daily Planet”, Snider has been described as an alternative country artist. These days, he says, he’s returned to his troubadour roots.
In Healdsburg he will perform songs from his latest album, “First Agnostic Church of Hope and Wonder,” a collection steeped in the loss, during the pandemic, of three dear friends – John Prine, Billy Joe Shaver and Jerry Jeff Walker – who had deeply influenced his music.
The album is described by Rolling Stone as “freewheeling, even by Snider’s standards, with a traditional chorus and a mixture of eulogies, socio-political observations and typical Snider tales of the destruction caused by the man”.
It comes two years after the release of “Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3”, a collection of folk songs that marked Snider’s kind of homecoming. After spending the previous six years making rock albums, he suspected that he had “perhaps gone too far from shore.”
This return to his roots, he recalls, was propelled by the time Snider had spent delving into Woody Guthrie’s Library of Congress recordings. Guthrie, he said, “sometimes resets me why you do a song, rather than how.”
Since 2016, Snider has been gathering material to respond, through his art, to the election of a certain polarizing CEO. Among the socio-political edges of “Cash Cabin” is “A Timeless Response to Current Events”, in which it “calls b_______”, according to one critic, “on false patriotism, crooked capitalism and lying politicians.”
“It was fun,” Snider recalls. “It was very Woody, very Ramblin ‘Jack Elliott – a reminder that we are meant to comfort the grieving and grieve the comfortable.”
In middle age – Snider turned 55 on Monday – he gained some hard-earned wisdom and self-awareness. Remembering his third album, “Viva Satellite” from 1998, he admitted that “my band and I just wanted to be rock stars that summer, and I look back and think,” It just wasn’t not us. “”
There have been other times, over the decades, “a few records,” he admitted, “where I’m like, ‘What were you thinking?'”
How does it feel to have veered closer to the shore, to the folk music it comes from?
He revived and defibrillated it, Snider replied. “Usually when I make a record, I finish it and I’m like, ‘OK, that’s it, you don’t have to do that anymore.'”
Working on “First Agnostic Church of Hope and Wonder” made her “feel like I could do it even more. With this one I became less valuable on language and words and just had fun. And I thought, ‘I could do this for a long time.’
“It made me feel like I’m going to do a lot of folk records now. I have to get this out of my system.
You can contact editor Austin Murphy at [email protected] or on Twitter @ ausmurph88