If there’s one thing 2016 has taught any music fan, it’s that rock star birthdays are a big freaking deal.
Todd Snider has been celebrating his 50th in style with a series of Nashville birthday concerts starting with Friday’s (Oct. 7) show at the Ryman Auditorium to ring in the album release his latest collection Eastside Bulldog.
On Saturday (Oct. 8), he headlined the East Nashville dive the 5 Spot barefooted and performed a Sunday afternoon set at the nearby Woodland Presbyterian Church. Both Saturday and Sunday’s sets were benefits for the church, which is preparing to provide for the homeless this winter.
If anyone had trouble getting into Friday’s gig at the Ryman, there were a few loyal Snider followers (who are lovingly referred to as “shitheads”) at the door who were happy to give away their extra tickets to those who wanted to join the party.
After hitting the stage with an acoustic guitar to perform openers “Can’t Complain” and “D.B. Cooper,” Snider greeted his audience with a fair warning.
“Before I get too far into my portion of any program,” he said, “if you’ve heard me say this before, I’m going to share my opinions with you tonight, not because I think that they’re smart, I share my opinions because they rhyme. I’m not here to change anybody’s mind about anything. I come here to ease my own mind about everything. So thank y’all for giving me a chance to do this.”
He added that he can ramble for 18 minutes and in his spare time he likes to jam. Then he recalled forming the super group the Hard Working Americans after connecting with Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools at one of their concerts — a rock production he describes as the type of show that folks can smell before they even get to it.
Snider called fronting the jam band the “best job I’ve ever had.”
Schools and Snider’s Hard Working Americans bandmates are Neal Casal of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Chad Staehly from Great American Taxi and drummer Duane Trucks.
“If I’m lucky enough and that band comes to town again,” he said, “and you’re lucky enough and you come see that band, my hope is that you won’t say to yourself, ‘Oh, so that’s what he’s doing now.’ You’ll have heard me say, ‘That’s just what I’m doing now.’”
Then he kicked into “Conservative, Christian, Right-Wing Republican, Straight, White, American Males” from 2004’s East Nashville Skyline.
Throughout the two-hour show, Snider entertained with songs and stories spanning his extraordinary career, which includes at least 12 studio albums. His major label debut was 1994’s Songs for the Daily Planet, which was released on Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Records.
Written from the perspective of his alter ego Elmo Buzz, Snider’s latest album Eastside Bulldog is full of ’50s and ‘60s-style rock anthems about being a burned out musician in East Nashville, chicks, cars, fighting, partying, Bocephus — and that’s pretty much it. Anyone who is a fan of the music coming out of the 37206 zip code will love it.
The Buzz pseudonym was created to avoid radius clauses in Nashville so he could play more. But according to The Tennessean newspaper, Snider can be heard singing every night for the geese on the lake behind his house in Hendersonville, Tennessee.
“Just because I need to,” he said. “Not for practice. It’s just something I’ve got to do.”
Snider is on tour through Nov. 19 with Rorey Carroll. Their next show is Oct. 12 in Lafayette, Indiana.