Traveling Troubadour Todd Snider Charms Intimate Audience at The Egg, 09/15/2021
ALBANY – Todd Snider seemed to blow in on the wind of Wednesday’s fall weather, landing at The Egg for his performance of original songs and storytelling to the delight of local fans. He was joined by fellow performer Reed Foehl, who opened for him.
Foehl began the evening with a gentle, quiet song with images of winter. He seemed like a sweet soul as he recalled memories of his childhood and talked through songs he wrote for his son. “Carousel Horses” brightened the mood in his set, but maintained the sense of peace and calmness that comes from being present with a mellow and loving soul.
With lyrics like “I feel sorry/you feel sorry for me” in “He’s On an Island,” Foehl also was able to get listeners thinking more deeply as the night progressed. Priming the crowd for Snider, Foehl spoke of his own father, John Prine, and being a person in a human family. His song for Prine and his father, “Chances Are,” received a rousing response from the crowd and positioned listeners to open their thoughts a bit for deeper exploration.
Foehl was kind to the latecomers, who seemed to be coming and going in higher numbers than usual. The intimate setting of Swyer Theatre made their rudeness feel so much more apparent, but he smoothed it over, welcoming everyone. His pandemic song, “This Too Shall Pass,” continued the Dover, MA native’s message of hope and calm.
After a brief set break, Todd Snider came out very casually and asked a member of the crowd, “Hey brother, how have you been?” as if greeting an old friend. He chatted with the crowd throughout the concert with much the same conversational tone, mixing in bluesy and folksy music to charm between words of wisdom. Snider appears so casual, in both demeanor and spoken word, it is easy to miss that he’s truly an intellectual, schooling the crowd on how to be better humans.
Right from the onset he was playing with the audience, playing familiar chords from The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” only to shift things up, laughing as he did so. The banter served to draw the crowd into what felt like private jokes but revealed a deeper commentary on the stressors of being a thinking adult. In one moment, he was pointing out how songs state truths that are falsehoods (“Like in “The Gambler,” when they say, “You gotta know when to hold ’em.” “That’s not true, just by the way” Snider coyly inflected) before also talking about his dear friend John Prine. As he recalled Prine’s dancing during their last gig together, Snider introduced the song he wrote to grieve his loss. He could be both somber and silly as only a deep thinker can be, all the while acting simply.
Snider’s storytelling served great purpose, not just in explaining the origins of his songs, but also by imparting some very basic pieces of wisdom. Snider shared his insights on Americana music (it’s country music that wasn’t successful), sports (he was a football player until he found pot), and travel (he’s a natural drifter who was forced to sit still due to COVID).
Highlights of the night include his song from the point of view of a tree, and another about being a dollar bill hung up behind a bar, “I’ve Been Framed.” Both of which he endorsed were written while he was under the influence. “I don’t want to talk too much about pot, or anything, but…” Snider frequently remarked. Rolling between his heels and his toes, Snider’s slight frame fluttered like a leaf in the wind on a September night.
Snider’s stories were downright hysterical, and there were moments that he circled back to earlier joke references with quiet delight. He talked about friends from his past, mistakes he owned, and apologies rendered. He also performed an encore with crowd favorite “Beer Run” and a magically unique “Free Bird.”
Snider is one of a few remaining troubadours who travel to tell their stories through word and song, and he is aware that he’s part of a waning profession. At one point in the night, he shared that if someone is leaning toward the career, he wholeheartedly recommends jumping into it. “Don’t think,” he advised.
The night was a satisfying two and a half hours of lyrical music, beautiful sounds, and hearty laughter. Snider’s performance met his troubadour goal — and then some — as he tumbled on to his next gig.