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Todd Snider

Live at the Ryman

Todd Snider

with special guest Ramblin' Jack Elliott

TICKETS AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY

$54.50 / $39.50 / $34.50

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Troubadour, meaning an itinerant singer of songs, is a word that dates back centuries, and comes from the French verb “trouver,” which is to find. These musical wanderers would find and invent stories humorous and intellectual, romantic and earthy, performing them as they went from town to town. Troubadour is also the word that acclaimed musician-raconteur Todd Snider leans on to describe himself and his latest release, Live: Return of the Storyteller.

“I think my first thought with this record was I wanted to remind people really quickly that I’m a troubadour,” says Snider. “Playing live is the only chance for me to show, ‘This is what I really do.’ I’ve never thought of myself as a recording artist. I’m someone who gets over by traveling around, telling stories, making up new songs and singing them alone on stage.”

Before he even made his professional debut with Songs For The Daily Planet in 1994, Snider already knew that he wanted to be part of this time-honored tradition. “I like the romantic notion of drifting around and laughing your way through life,” he says. “Like Jim Croce or Mark Twain. I felt like I was half-doing that anyway. When I was 19, I was a real drifter and a sofa circuit person. Then when I first saw Jerry Jeff Walker and John Prine play, I became obsessed. I followed them both around like The Grateful Dead. I saw that the difference between a free spirit and a freeloader was three chords.

That speaks to Snider’s modesty about his singular talent and deep catalog of songs of every emotional stripe. Rolling Stone has called him “America’s sharpest musical storyteller” while the New York Times described him as “a wryly quotable phrasemaker and worthy antagonist.” Live: Return of the Storyteller – his third live album and nineteenth overall – plays like a masterclass by one man with a guitar and a freewheeling imagination. Threading his husky-voiced phrasing through a likable cosmic cowboy manner, he invites you on a tour of tunes humorous (“Big Finish,” and the have-meets- have-not “In Between Jobs”),  Proustian (“Play a Train Song,” “Too Soon To Tell,” and the lump-in-the-throat snapshot of John Prine on “Handsome John”) and heart-worn (“Like a Force of Nature,” “The Very Last Time,” “Roman Candles”). As the fifteen-song set unfolds, you can feel a tangible bond building between Snider and his fans.

But the songs are only half of what makes the connection so compelling.

Acting as palate cleansers and putty, the stories between numbers offer colorful glimpses into Snider’s interior life. Whether he’s talking about being mistaken for a homeless guy in a nice hotel, searching for a song in the woods while tripping or the poetry of one of his heroes dying on stage, his spoken interludes are delivered with both meandering charm and deadly comic timing.

Snider is also mindful about not repeating himself when he’s returning to a familiar venue, which can add a tightrope quality to his performances. “On this record, when I left Nashville, I didn’t know what I was going to say,” he admits. “I just knew that it couldn’t be the same shit that I’ve said.  I was going to have to have some new stories to tell. That’s how it’s been for years. Then one night, I’ll get up there and open my mouth and something new comes out. And then I’ll just kept telling it and refining it. It happens under pressure.”

“I always think that being a recording artist isn’t something that I’ve thrived at,” he says. “I have fun with it and try all different kinds of music and try to learn more and more, but the only reason I get to do it is because of the main thing I do – which is travel around by myself and sing and tell stories. That thing works. Since I was twenty, that thing has worked. People come to see me do it and I love to do it.”

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