Todd Snider boasted about his shiftless nature as he introduced himself to a capacity audience Saturday night at Knuckleheads.
“I’ve never had a goal in my life,” Snider said. “Not once.”
Like a musical laggard and an unmotivational speaker, Snider sang slacker anthems and told absurd stories about his careless tendencies for more than 200 attentive listeners.
Snider may have been relaxed, but he wasn’t lazy. The Tennessee-based singer/songwriter performed in a solo acoustic format for more than two hours (not including a 20-minute intermission) in the first of two sold-out concerts at Knuckleheads.
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Although Snider has written many memorable songs since his bracing debut album was released in 1994, he has attracted only a small, albeit rabid, fan base.
He repeatedly spoke of his misgivings about folk music, even suggesting that he initially fell into the genre because “that’s a place you can go if you don’t sing pretty or don’t play guitar that great.”
He since has become a fine guitarist, and his voice has been transformed into a friendly rasp. His singing is as inviting as the frayed welcome mat at the doorstep of a longtime friend.
Snider’s singing is featured in Hard Working Americans, a recently formed band that includes notable musicians from ensembles including Widespread Panic. He repeatedly touted the band’s merits as he encouraged fans to attend its forthcoming concerts.
“I think the most profound thing music can do is make people move around and dance,” he said.
While there wasn’t much dancing on Saturday, Snider gave fans plenty of intellectual exercise.
“Looking for a Job” was one of several songs on the set list that addressed societal ills. He explained that the selection was about “a man who had so little money to his name that it began to work to his benefit.” “Is This Thing Working?” concerned the Pyrrhic victory of a high school bully.
Snider resembled an addled philosophy professor at closing time during quizzical selections like “Greencastle Blues.” He felt obliged to defend his best-known composition. The 2002 novelty song “Beer Run,” he insisted, remains “hilarious.”
The serious selections included “Play a Train Song,” an ode to a miscreant who claimed to be a “runaway train outta my one-track mind.” Even so, Snider’s comedic bits provided the best moments.
“All of my music is generally better than it sounds,” Snider kidded.
On Saturday, his music sounded mighty fine.
Is This Thing Working?; If Tomorrow Never Comes; Too Soon to Tell; Good Fortune; Looking for a Job; Stuck on the Corner (Prelude to a Heart Attack); Conservative, Christian, Right-Wing Republican, Straight White American Males; Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance?; Can’t Complain; Enjoy Yourself; The Last Laugh. (Intermission) Beer Run/Age Like Wine; Alright Guy; Statistician’s Blues; Easy Money; D.B. Cooper; Greencastle Blues; Play a Train Song; Tension; Doublewide Blues; Good News Blues/I’m Ready; The Ballad of the Devil’s Backbone Tavern; Big Finish; Better Than Ever Blues Part 2; Free Bird