Singer-songwriter Todd Snider bends some ears at the Big Room
Flashing a broad smile under his customary brown hat, Todd Snider—who’s often been compared to John Prine for his wit, and is known for songs that are vivid four-minute pictures of life—took the stage at Sierra Nevada’s Big Room.
Prior to Snider’s entrance host Bob Littell introduced the alt-country singer-songwriter as one of the most-requested performers who had yet to play at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and one who was a special request from the master brewer—and what the master brewer wants, the master brewer gets.
With guitar in hand and harmonica in place, Snider led off with “Can’t Complain,” “Just Like Old Times” and “D.B. Cooper,” the story of the 1970s hijacker. “Seems like its going pretty good, so far,” he observed at the first song break.
Explaining that some of his newer songs are more opinionated, Snider insisted that he was not singing them to change peoples’ minds. Instead, he joked, he was sharing them with us because they rhymed. Later he claimed that he had been “abducted by peace queers and forced to write protest songs for their cause,” much to the delight of those peace queers present.
But perhaps the most poignant message in the 20-song set came in his slow, powerful reading of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” that gave the song a deep seriousness in these times.
Of course, the other side of Todd Snider is pure fun. He clearly enjoyed the crowd singing along to “Beer Run” ("B double E double R U N: Beer Run!"), which has had some life as a novelty song thanks to syndicated morning radio programs, and to “Alright Guy,” the title track to Gary Allan’s 2001 album. Snider ended the set with the raucous “Conservative Christian Right Wing Republican Straight White American Males.”
The encores brought a different set of earnest emotions, with “Good Fortune” ("may good fortune come to you") and “Enjoy Yourself” ("enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think"). After the show, Littell was overheard saying this was “about as rowdy an acoustic crowd we’ve had.” It was as if for the whole night the audience had been taking the last encore to heart.