Folk singer Todd Snider opens for Sam Bush today at Ski Jam. Snider's latest release, an EP titled "Peace Queer," is a collection of anti-war songs. Austin, Texas-based five-piece The Band of Heathens starts the show at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are available at All That Jazz and online.

Courtesy photo

Folk singer Todd Snider opens for Sam Bush today at Ski Jam. Snider's latest release, an EP titled "Peace Queer," is a collection of anti-war songs. Austin, Texas-based five-piece The Band of Heathens starts the show at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are available at All That Jazz and online.

Folk musician brings politics, wit, storytelling together

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Past Event

Sam Bush, w/ Todd Snider and The Band of Heathens

  • Friday, January 16, 2009, 6 p.m.
  • Music Tent at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area, Steamboat Springs
  • Not available / $20

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— Talking to Todd Snider, it took a second to realize that in answering a question about his new EP, Snider actually was reciting, from memory, a rant he recorded for its seventh track.

"I've been driving around for 15 years, making this (stuff) up and singing it for anybody that'll listen to it. Some of it's sad, but some of it's funny. Some of the songs are short, but some seem like they go on forever," he said in a phone interview, deviating slightly from the script laid out on "Ponce of the Flaming Peace Queer," a song off his 2008 antiwar EP, "Peace Queer."

"My friends have been telling me that my songs have gotten more and more opinionated, and I wanted to let you know : I don't share them with you because I think they're smart or because I think you need to know them," Snider said. "I share them with you because they rhyme."

Since his debut in the early 1990s, Snider has made a name for saying what he wanted, as he thought of it. The result has been a mix of heartfelt folk songs and straightforward rock 'n' roll tunes - always honest, often sordid and sometimes political. But the political touches aren't meant to be heavy-handed, Snider said.

"I like to think that I'm not bludgeoning people like a folk Nazi, you know?" Snider said. "I'm just a run-of-the-mill hippie, really. I hang out with those guys in Yonder Mountain String Band; they're hippies."

Today, Snider opens for newgrass musician Sam Bush in the final concert of Ski Jam. Doors to the Steamboat Music Festival Tent open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are available at All That Jazz or online.

Snider talked with 4 Points about the politics of being a "Peace Queer," his honest songwriting and his upcoming projects.

4 POINTS: When you put together 'Peace Queer,' had you intended to make a political record?

Todd Snider: I was actually working on a different album, the one that's coming out pretty soon, and I noticed that a few of these songs seemed kind of protest. I was working on this record, and I had five protest songs, five rock 'n' roll songs and five normal ole folk songs. :

I mostly let the first ones come out, but, once I got focused on making an EP, there were a couple of things that I wanted to do (including a cover of John Fogerty's 'Fortunate Son').

4 POINTS: You're kind of known for not holding much back in your songwriting. Do you find it helpful to just let whatever you're thinking come out?

TS: It's been helpful for me in my life, the same way people find it helpful to meditate. It feels funnest when you don't try to control what comes out. : I live around a lot of guys who, when they go to work, they have to think, 'Would Faith Hill sing about this?' And I feel very fortunate that I don't have to do that.

4 POINTS: Are you working on anything now that stands out as being different from what you've done before?

TS: I like to think that this record coming out sounds different than any record I've ever done. And I hope the songs are up to snuff. I can't ever tell until about a year later.

4 POINTS: What does it sound like?

TS: It's a normal folk record; it kind of sounds like Ry Cooder or J.J. Cale. : And the one after that is like The Animals.

4 POINTS: What do you like about recording different styles, with a slower folk record followed by a straight-up 1960s rock record?

TS: The record that I'm working on : I feel challenged to be unique, and I'm trying to make a folk sound that's just for me. And then with the rock thing, it's not unique at all.

I love those songs. I like to make up songs that sound like songs I've never heard, but then I like the songs like 'Johnny B. Goode,' or the ones where they say the line and then they say that same line again.

Sometimes, I like a story song that you have to follow really closely, and sometimes I like a song where the only words are 'A whop bop-a-lu a whop bam boo.' : Saturday night you do the one, and then the next morning you wake up and you do the other.

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