A Tale of Two Todd Snider Shows

Front Porch House Concerts, Boulder, March 6, 2007

Soiled Dove, Denver, March 7, 2007

Todd Snider played Colorado last week: March 6 at Front Porch House Concerts in Boulder and March 7 at the larger more commercial Soiled Dove down in Denver. I was lucky enough to go to both shows and here’s what happened.

The Front Porch show was offered at a private residence north of Boulder by an extremely gracious couple who open their home to music lovers on a regular basis. The event started at 6. Guests were welcomed in for drinks and appetizers. We got there at 6:30 and the party was in full swing. Although we didn’t expect to know anyone there (we were wrong about that), the crowd was friendly and the conversations interesting. That’s because Todd Snider fans are fun to be around. We immediately found like-minded folks to talk to and even ran into an old friend from school days back in Tennessee.

Todd stayed in his tour bus across the street and didn’t venture in until show time. He said he was nervous – had never played a house party. I think the audience was maybe a bit too well behaved – no drunken demands for “Beer Run” issued forth the entire night but he gamely set about giving us a great show.

Due to some kind of fancy tequila that someone in the audience was generous enough to pass around, I can’t actually read the notes I assiduously scribbled down so, if you went to the show, please forgive me (for whatever I did or said) and send me any corrections you may have.

It was just Todd, his guitar, and his harmonica. And it was enough.

He played an initial set of about a dozen songs, including my favorite song “Play A Train Song,” “Alright Guy,” “Ballad of the Kingsmen” with an end of the song segue into “You Sexy Thing,” and, of course, “Beer Run.” He took about a half hour break and then played a bunch more.

Owing to the effects of the tequila, I was emboldened to actually approach Todd during the break and have a brief conversation – you can’t imagine a nicer, more interesting guy. Since I didn’t reveal to him that I was with “the press,” I guess that discussion is privileged information, pretty much.

I will say that it’s plenty weird to talk to an artist like Todd Snider. You know what I mean – you listen to these guys over and over again and collect all their records and, although you don’t know their deepest thoughts or anything, you do get sort of an idea of what they are about and you incorporate them into your life. On the other hand, of course, they know absolutely nothing about you. To them, you are just a stranger and you don’t want to be too scary. I hope I wasn’t but, given the tequila, I just don’t know.

After the break, he loosened up a bit and started taking requests. He played about fifteen more of his own songs (notably “Horseshoe Lake,” “Looking For A Job,” “Can’t Complain,” and “Easy Money”) but then said he wanted to play us some covers because “Anyone can play shit they know.” So he treated us to some John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, Billy Jo Shaver, and a most excellent rendition of Guy Clark’s “L.A. Freeway” which I hope he records some day so I can have it for myself. EighteenMinutes.com has the setlist.

The next night, the show was at the Soiled Dove down in Denver. I really wanted to go and I’m glad I did. Todd seemed more comfortable in front of the bigger crowd – I’m guessing because it wasn’t quite so intimate so he had more of a buffer. There were quite a few people there from the show the night before – Todd fans are hard core and it was fun running into some of my new best friends. You’re never alone at a Todd Snider concert.

Also, outside the venue, I scored a sweet free t-shirt from KCUV – the best radio station in Denver.

So, at the Soiled Dove, he played a lot of songs and told a lot of stories – some were the same from the night before but enough were different that it was well worth attending both shows. (Again the set list is on EighteenMinutes.com). And the songs that he did repeat were some of his best. And that’s not all. We also got to see Jeff Austin of Yonder Mountain String Band with his mandolin join Todd onstage for the last part of the show. Those guys should play together ALL THE TIME. Just saying. Best rendition of “Play A Train Song” that I ever did hear. And Todd really seemed to be having a good time at that point.

As an encore, Todd came out by himself and sang “Worst Case Scenario” all by himself. Check out the lyrics here. It was a funny, yet sympathetic look at celebrities acting up. He was laughing at them but he was also laughing with them. Pretty cool. And the audience ate it up.

So, you know, even though I saw Todd Snider twice last week and took some punishment from the tequila, I’d gladly go again if he happened to come back this week. And again and again.

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