Tag Archives: John Prine

Todd Snider Is An Alright Guy

There are few things better than going out to a club to see a live show that winds up dazzling you, but one of them is doing that with a group of long-time friends. So yeah, last night I was blessed.

I’ve been a fan of Todd Snider ever since I first heard the hilarious “Talking Seattle Grunge Rock Blues“, an epic comic ramble that simultaneously took a good-natured swipe at Seattle’s overrated music scene and announced the arrival of this master storyteller and musician. But I’ve never had the opportunity to see him weave his magic in person until last night, when he not only held the crowd at the German House Theatre in the palm of his hand, he occasionally slipped us into his pocket. I swear at one point he juggled us, too. Stuffed with a cross-section of his catalogue, the set list was at once immensely satisfying (every song a gem) and mildly frustrating (couldn’t I hear about two dozen of the others?).

After enduring a stupefying opening act that can only be described as a folkie channeling Tony Clifton, Todd Snider shuffled onto the stage to the theme from Sanford And Son. Barefoot – his moonshine hat tipped in honor of the crowd – Snider took control from the first note and didn’t let go. No light show, no staging – hell, I don’t think he even switched guitars – Snider won the crowd over with a combination of charm, humor and songwriting chops that can stand toe-to-toe with anyone. It would not be sacrilegious to drop the names of some of the masters because even Steve Goodman, John Prine and Loudon Wainwright III would have been on their feet last evening.

This quote from Jerry Jeff Walker probably says it best: “He has found a way to take his feelings and observations and turn them into songs that can get an audience…he won’t quit til he gets the audience and he always gets the audience.”

Damn right. The songs were magnificent, the stories he told to set up the songs were incredible, and even the faux chicken dance he would occasionally pull out to return the crowd’s favor was perfection. I could have listened to his songs all night, even if he never told a story. I could have listened to him tell stories all night even if he never played a note. I don’t know which one he’s more skilled at, but I’m thankful he hasn’t made up his mind yet.

And the funny thing was despite the spontaneous standing ovations, despite the singalongs and the shout-outs and the requests, I think Snider might have had an even better time last night than we did. I guess when you struggle for a while and then find your zone and know it, it’s magical. Imagine the reward of creating art and seeing people walking past flash and fashion and lowest common denominator entertainment to show up at your door. Todd Snider reaps that reward every night.

I didn’t know my town had it in ’em. I guess they’re alright guys, too.

Go get Todd Snider Live: The Storyteller and Near Truths and Hotel Rooms right now, that will give you a sniff of what to expect. And then don’t miss this genius when he comes your way. Hell, get in your car and go find him.

Todd Snider’s website

Eighteen Minutes

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Bruised Orange

This is when a “bruised orange” is very good

 

…and this is when a “bruised orange” is very painful.

Another year over too soon, and you gave this one away, guys. You got outsmarted, outhustled and outcoached. But no one believed in you at all in the beginning, so the only expectations you fell short of were your own. Learn the lesson and use it for fuel next year.

And if there is no next year, use it in life.

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New Album! Darrin James Band

It’s tough to keep up with everything that comes down the pike, and I completely missed out on Thrones of Gold, the 2006 debut album from Darrin James. Had I read a quote like “As a songwriter, I have wanted to combine honest, dark lyrics with old school blues and a fusion of styles, to express the emotions and stories of tragic or flawed characters” I would have been all over that album in a heartbeat.

Fortunately this second effort did cross my desk. Having no expectations whatsoever, I let it unfold organically and found myself pleasantly surprised by the results. James spent a few years traveling the world playing and writing music, and this album is all over the map as well – but in a good way (kudos Matt Gill for solid recording in multiple studios). Blues, folk, rock, country; a nice blend of atmosphere for his characters and stories to take root in.

Critics have been pretty effusive, dropping comparisons to Robbie Robertson, Joe Henry, Lyle Lovett, Paul Westerberg, Tom Waits and Elvis Costello, among others. I drop a couple more names below.

Live Video: “Baby Don’t Bitch

James has a raw and expressive voice that can at first be jarring, but it does suit his material. His cadence in “I Was Wrong” makes him sound like Neil Diamond on a bender, while the voodoo blues of “Baby Don’t Bitch” might bring Captain Beefheart to mind. But when he settles in on something more pensive (“Shallow Grave”), he can float the timbre and wisdom of John Prine. It’s a nice chameleon act, so when he rolls into Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You”, it fits hand in glove…

Read the full review at PopMatters.

Visit the Darrin James Band website.

Listen to clips at CD Baby

***

R.I.P. Lynn Redgrave. Goodbye, Georgy Girl.

True Royalty

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Who’s Your DADDY?

Not-so-sloppy seconds.

Not-so-sloppy seconds.

Why, DADDY is your daddy, of course. DADDY is fronted by Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack, and if neither of those names ring a bell for you, then it’s good that the new album won’t be out until Father’s Day 2009…because you have a lot to catch up on.

No really – go ahead, I’ll wait.

Yeah, they've been on a few records.

Yeah, they've been on a few records.

How about those audio resumes? Start saving those deposit bottles, because there’s a lot of great stuff there. You also might want to track down side projects like The Bis-Quits, whose one awesome album was released on John Prine’s Oh Boy label years ago. How can you not like a band that writes a track about a guy who plays a cello “like ringin’ a bell” and titles it “Yo Yo Ma”? (Trust me, it’s a great record but that one song is worth the price of the album).

You can’t mention either name without realizing the lineage with Steve Earle, Todd Snider, Jason and the Scorchers, Rodney Crowell, Dan Baird and dozens of other credible names that should have your radar sparking like a dropped muffler just by being in the same paragraph. Will and the Bushmen. Government Cheese. Really, do I have to keep pimping here? These are two bonafide A-list singer/songwriter/guitarists who adorn any worthy record collection, and they also happen to bring the best out in each other. So whether it’s redneck country, y’alternative rock, torch’n’twang, rockabilly, blues, gospel, roots rock or just taking the piss out of something with wit and passion…you’ve got the right guys on the job.

But as entertaining as those two could be as a duo, DADDY is a band. Backing up the troublemakers are Paul Griffith (one of Nashville’s most sought-after session drummers), Dave Jacques on bass (John Prine, Emmylou Harris) and John Deaderick (Dixie Chicks, Michael McDonald, Patty Griffin) on keys.  Those of you within distance of SXSW can get a nice preview next week, but Daddy will hit the road to promote the new album For A Second Time, set to drop on June 16th.  Why a second time? Because like many people, you probably missed the one-off At The Women’s Club, recorded live in 2005 at only their second gig. And unlike Crosby Stills and Nash, they were not scared shitless…they’re back four years later to save your ass again.

June isn’t that far away, but until then…enjoy some live DADDY here.

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