Todd Snider: Busy Man Comes to Bloomington

(originally written for NUVO.net (8.31.10)

I hate musical labels. But I can use them. I’d call Todd Snider a roots rocker, having seen him with his old band The Nervous Wrecks, all sweaty and rockin’. Call him folk, or a kind of Prine/Petty/Jerry Jeff Walker/Jagger hybrid. Some of those work for you?

Todd will perform at the 3rd annual Hillbilly Haiku Concert at the Upland Brewing Company in Bloomington, Indiana this Friday (September 3rd) at 6pm. TV Mike and the Scarecrows and The Elly Maze open.

The Hillbilly Haiku Americana Music Series is hosted by the Upland Brewing Co. to raise money for the Sycamore Land Trust. All proceeds from the concert’s ticket, food, and beverage sales benefit the Sycamore Land Trust, whose mission is to preserve the landscape of southern Indiana. Working with private landowners to protect their family heritage, SLT has conserved over 5,500 acres on more than 66 parcels and helped plant over 55,000 trees.

After he rolls out of town, Snider will head to the Americana Music Festival held in Nashville beginning September 8, and will fire up a group he is calling Todd Snider’s Rock & Roll Revue, featuring Jason D. Williams, Dan Baird and Friends.

Snider, who has made Indiana a regular tour stop (in both Indianapolis and Bloomington) since 1995, is producing an album for Williams, a crazy-like-Jerry Lee Lewis piano pounder who has been touring for 20 years. “Killer Instinct” is due October 16, and was recorded at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Tenn. and mixed at the famous Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tenn. Former Georgia Satellites Baird and Keith Christopher guest on the album.

And if that doesn’t make you think the guy who gave the world “Alright Guy’ is doing OK, he’s back working with producer-to-the-rockstars Don Was. The duo is headed to Nashville next month, along with ex-Leftover Salmon singer Vince Herman to work on a Was-produced album of Jerry Jeff Walker songs with Herman and Snider.

Some of the best rock and roll I saw in the 90’s was performed by Snider and his band at a crammed Patio and later, The Vogue. His show was an ultimately uplifting rock and roll Memphis-influenced spiritual experience. The band came with it every time; when a fight broke out at Todd’s birthday show at The Vogue in 1996, they played “The Star Spangled Banner” bring the peace.

The old band even played a one-off show in June with two-thirds of the original Wrecks, with Joe McLeary on drums and Joe Mariencheck on bass, but without guitarist and singer Will Kimbrough. Instead, Snider called on the Baird to bring his guitar and dirty Atlanta riffs to the mix.

Snider, who tours as solo artist most of the time, has found the groove with his one-man, one-guitar singalong, folk rock, too-smart-for-some hippie rock and roll show. He’s playing the Bloomington show to help preserve Indiana’s land, and keep it healthy. That’s a good thing. And there’s beer. And you will sing, whether you want to or not. And smile. And hear something that connects to your musical core, if you let it.

That’s Todd.

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