Tag Archives: Todd Snider

Yep Roc Sale!

Yep Roc is one of my favorite labels – an eclectic bland of Americana, folk and pop artists who get promoted with care. It’s not your typical stable, and those who toil behind the scenes must love working there.

So when Yep Roc throws down a sale like this one, I pay attention. Now through August 1st, you can get over 80 CD’s for just $5 each and more than 20 LP’s for only $10 while supplies last.

Artists include Nick Lowe, Marah, John Doe, The Sadies, Todd Snider, The Baseball Project, Ian Hunter, Loudon Wainwright III, Paul Weller, Robbie Fulks, The Apples In Stereo, The Fleshtones…come on, do I really have to list everyone?

Click here and load up!

Yes, they come with covers...

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Not Even Almost Famous

I’ve gotten quite a few emails over the past two days about the Todd Snider piece, some from long time fans glad to high-five another, some from people who hadn’t heard anything of his later stuff and were thankful for the kick in the ass (you’re welcome!).

Emails like that always put a smile on my face. Although I’ve been writing for years I’m not delusional enough to think that my words set off beacons across the globe. I’m not even almost famous. But I do know that a lot of people are followers and loyal readers; some comment publicly while others drop a private message. And I do it not for the money or the fame, but because this is just another format in which I get to discuss music and film and comedy that I like, just like I’ve done all my life with my friends.

And it’s a passion I will most likely take to my grave. I still participate in mixtape swaps and share tips about new discoveries. Emailing a link to a great video in 2011 is almost as much fun as showing up at Brian’s house with the first Black Sabbath album, or the day Phil, Larry and I sat around the living room at Bristol Place getting our minds blown by My Aim Is True.

I’ve gotten to talk to a lot of artists over the years, and with the better ones – the ones who have conversations, not just talk to plug product – the subject often turns to collecting music and favorite artists that are underappreciated. I’ve found that in almost every case, that spirit of discovery still looms large in their heart, and the child-like enthusiasm for sharing the passion has never left them.

I thought this exchange from a 2002 interview with Peter Wolf captures it about as well as it can be. Despite worldwide game, Pete still loves to have friends over and spin records in an effort to turn someone on to a new song or artist. He lives for it. Me too.

Peter: The thing is, I don’t consider myself a historian or a record collector. I just consider myself a fan. There are people who will expound on this or that, but I just consider myself a fan. I still go see bands do this or that, grab the new Beck record, keeping up and seeing what’s coming down the pike, be it The White Stripes or The Hives, or going to see James Cotton. I’m interested in all of it.

Me: Well, that’s like why I started writing. I had this need…it wasn’t so much that “I know more about music than you do and I’m going to write about it to prove it.” More that I dig music so much and I love to write about it in hopes that someone reads it and gets the charge that I’m getting. Maybe they’ve never heard of who I’m writing about but the way I describe it gets them interested, and they play a record that they wouldn’t have played, and they get that same…bolt that I did when I first heard it. And then they turn somebody else onto it, and it goes on from there. That’s the big thing. I don’t get that immediate feedback that an artist gets through applause, or the validation that might be measured in sales, sometimes it’s just out there in the void. Did anyone read that? Did anyone give a shit? Or did somebody’s life change because they picked up a John Hiatt record or a Del Lords record after I wrote about it and say “Oh my God…

Peter: Did you like the movie Almost Famous?

Me: I thought that was about my life.

Peter: Yeah, yeah…I was surprised that it wasn’t more popular than it was. I thought it really kind of focused in, for somebody who would be fifteen now, on a mythic era. Or for someone who’d be thirty-five now, or fifty-five! I thought it really captured…it was a sort of valentine to the whole love of music and the records and the sacredness of it, and the innocence of it. And the exploitation of it! I thought it was a really well put-together movie.

There’s a lot of people who bitch about the current state of music and how there aren’t any good bands anymore. I don’t think that’s true, but I do agree that the shifts in popular culture mean that many bands don’t have the outlet that they once did. There are probably some great bands trying to get a foothold, and the radio doesn’t care about them nor does the record industry. But somewhere, a bunch of people are groovin’ to them every Friday night.

So you have two choices. Bitch about the past and do nothing about it…and sound like your parents when The Beatles and The Rolling Stones came out. Or follow Peter Wolf’s example, and share your knowledge and your passion and your information as much as you can. Have an old school record party. Write a blog. Make some mixtapes.

Pay it forward.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Solo Saviors

I love to have my ass kicked by a great rock band as well as the next guy. But I can also appreciate that a true songwriter and performer can be just as incredible with just a piano or guitar in a solo show. Maybe it’s the economic necessity, maybe it’s the desire to retain total control, maybe both. But more and more artists are hitting the road acoustically, and usually in an intimate enough setting where the artist-audience connection is truly electric.

Some started out this way, of course, and the bands came later. But many of them discovered their innate ability to command the stage with stories and humor as well as the gift of their songwriting. I’ve been fortunate enough to see magic over the years.

And yes, it was seeing Todd Snider on Thursday night that prompted this week’s TGIF, so here are Ten Solo Saviors – artists playing in your small club – or maybe even your living room – who you should be making a pilgrimage to see. Have a safe and happy weekend…

(01) – Todd Snider

(02) – Graham Parker

(03) – Nick Lowe

(04) – Pat DiNizio

(05) – Peter Case

(06) – Elvis Costello

(07) – Ray Davies

(08) – Ian Hunter

(09) – Todd Rundgren

(10) – Ian McLagan

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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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Under The Radar: Tommy Womack

It’s about this time every year that I post something about Tommy Womack, and damn it, I’m going to keep doing it every year until people wise up and recognize this great American treasure. Forgive me if you are already on board, but if you are, please link this to one friend tonight.

The review I’m reposting below will celebrate its twelfth birthday on Thursday, and you’ll see that even then I’m referring to “faithful Consumable readers” just like I occasionally now defer to “regular Prescriptioneers”. In other words, I’m a loyal drum beater if you have a drum worth beating. Tommy Womack did then, and still does.

So go listen to his new efforts with Will Kimbrough in Daddy, by all means. But don’t forget Tommy’s excellent solo albums and other projects. People with talent and a wicked sense of humor deserve our attention and support. In a perfect world, there would be a double bill of Tommy Womack and Todd Snider playing your town and mine.

Faithful Consumable readers will remember my “how the Hell did I miss this” review of Tommy Womack’s last record Positively Na Na; I was overjoyed to stumble across one of the most uncompromisingly original songwriters currently competing for our ears. Womack’s back with a new record, and I’m back to tell you to get your ass to the store now, because he’s at it again.

Who else could open a record by sandwiching a rollicking double-time swamp blues song between a snippet of psychotic poetry and a thirty-second faux-folk song called “Christian Rocker?” But when he gets down to business, it’s incredible songs like “The Urge To Call,” where his sharp storytelling is matched sonically by an infectious combination of organ and dobro. Or the searing slide guitar, sword fighting with Womack’s emotive vocal on “I Don’t Have A Gun” (“I’m so glad I don’t have a gun/on a night like this/I’d use one…”). In a better world, a song like “She Likes To Talk” would be a hit single. And give the man bonus points for covering a Kinks song, and “Berkeley Mews” at that.

Lyrics aside, Tommy Womack flat out rocks. “Telling You What You Want To Hear” builds from the ground up like the bastard son of “Honky Tonk Women” that it is (right down to the cowbell). The all-star stable of players is once again all over this record, featuring killer guitarists like George Bradfute and Dan Baird and especially fellow Bis-Quits axeman Will Kimbrough. Not that Womack is a slouch (his slide playing is incredible!), but Kimbrough plays some of the filthiest lead guitar solos I have ever heard, and his work on “Dreams And Golden Rivers” is top shelf stuff.

Womack’s way with words extends beyond songs. His novel about life in the rock and roll trenches (“Cheese Chronicles“) is an underground classic, and according to his website, he’s hard at work on the follow-up, “Jesus Has Left The Building.” Nashville has a rep for wearing down willing talent and molding it into cookie-cutter Hat Music, but Tommy Womack just continues to sit at the bar, too cool to even bother flipping the bird.

It’s time you pull up a stool and join his army.

Listen to clips here.

Tommy Womack website

Who's your Daddy? Will and Tommy are...

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Free Digital Samplers

They say you can’t get something for nothing. Wrong

Having grown up on 45 singles and gatefold albums, I’m still a tactile music lover. I’m being dragged kicking and screaming into the digital distribution world, even though I realize that it’s more convenient and less expensive. Can’t help it. Old habits die hard.

So since I’m not constantly surfing iTunes and Rhapsody and other music services, I sometimes miss out on titles that come out exclusively for the digital market, be they music or comedy. Hell, it’s hard enough to keep track of everything and I’m proactively looking…I can imagine how hard it is to find everything passively. And record companies – small and big – realize this also.

There’s nothing new about samplers, but pressing and distributing vinyl and CD platters cost money and couldn’t be offered for free in large quantities. Warner Brothers used to sell them for two dollars through the mail, which probably was a break-even point for them, although it wasn’t that much cheaper than a normal retail priced album at the time. When CDs became deceptively cheap, the market was flooded with indie samplers, although most would up in dollar racks. It would have been nice to try to discover new bands, but with the plethora of CDs in the store, who had the time and the money to experiment?

So here’s one thing digital got right – free albums, a click away from wherever you happen to be. The purpose is the same – hear some new bands, hopefully find someone you like, become a fan and buy their product. It’s the try-before-you-buy policy that is the new paradigm for a fractured industry. I’ve stumbled across several by pure happenstance; I’m sure you’ll find tons of others. Many bands are happy to give their albums away hoping you will come out to the show and support them on tour.

So here are Ten Free Digital Samplers that I found worthwhile; no-risk free records for the taking. Imagine – a money back guarantee!

01) Ike Reilly digital sampler – one of the best songwriters around and a dynamic performer, a cutting edge Dylan-influenced poet. I’ve got his whole catalogue and if you don’t know him, trust me, you will love this guy.

02) Americana Music Awards Sampler – featuring cuts from John Hiatt, Buddy and Julie Miller, Steve Earle and James McMurtry to draw you in, you’ll come away as fans of Jason Isbell and The Avett Brothers.

03) Wicked Cool Coming Attractions – A great sampler from Little Steven’s label (and Underground Garage playlist) including The Chesterfield Kings, The Breakers, The Cocktail Slippers and contenders for 2010’s best album, The Len Price 3.

04) Merge Records 2010 Sampler – Indie wonderland, featuring Destroyer, She and Him, Clean, The Clientele and The Shout Out Louds.

05) Alive Records 2009 Sampler – Not dated in any way, this runs the gamut from re-released gems from The Nerves to great cuts from The Buffalo Killers, Left Lane Cruiser and Outrageous Cherry.

06) ROIR: So Indie It Hurts Jackpot! New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders, Suicide, The Mekons, The Fleshtones, James Chance and the Contortions…NYC punk bonanza!

07) Ryko: Flash of Light – Worth it for the acoustic Gary Louris tune alone, but this is filled with great singer-songwriters like Will Hoge and Justin Currie (from Del Amitri).

08) Barsuk Records 2009 Sampler – OK, so I wish that Nada Surf was on here, but otherwise this is a killer collection featuring Death Cab For Cutie, Menomena and Ra Ra Riot.

09) CMJ 2009 Sampler – I imagine there will be a 2010 version floating around soon, but this is stuffed with lesser known bands so what difference does a year make? I already liked  The Black Hollies and The High Strung and came away discovering The Generationals and The Bloodsugars.

10) Best of Yep Roc Singles – This is an absolute steal. When you’re one of the best labels of the past twenty years, of course your roster boasts Nick Lowe, Todd Snider, Dave Alvin, The Apples In Stereo and Reverend Horton Heat.

And what the hell – it’s free one from Sub Pop containing Blitzen Trapper, Wolf Parade, Beach House…even a clip from comedian David Cross!

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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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