Easy Does It

Todd Snider returns to folk from a rock experiment gone haywire

Snider's influences have always been performers who are, first and foremost, writers: the Prines, Sykeses and Billy Joe Shavers of the world. But surprisingly enough, Snider says his biggest musical hero is ole Jerry Jeff, the country icon critics love to hate. In fact, when Snider was 18, he first saw Walker playing solo at Gruene Hall, arguably the shrine of Texas music, and rushed out to buy a guitar.

At 33, Snider is still in the early stages of a songwriting career, in terms of creating a body of work that compares to the likes of Prine (or even Jerry Jeff). But for a guy whose whole life has been one oddball detour after another, he likes what he sees on the road dead ahead, even if he gets occasional pangs of guilt for leaving the band life behind. Granted, the bigger paychecks as a solo artist have helped dull the pain, but Snider's mind (which, like the Butch Hancock song says, often has had a mind of its own) has finally caught up with the rest of him.

"I've been playing solo now for about a year, and I'm very comfortable with it," he says. "Sure, I love rock and roll, and when you play it, you have to do it all the way. But you know, I can't be 27 again, living on no sleep and finishing off a half-bottle of whiskey and three joints before going on stage" -- this from a guy who admits he can't handle his liquor too well -- "and still being able to remember all the words. I had my free pass to party for a few years. You just can't do it forever."

Finding his folksy soul in a rock and roll morass has made Todd Snider as strong as ever.
Jim Herrington
Finding his folksy soul in a rock and roll morass has made Todd Snider as strong as ever.

Todd Snider performs Saturday, July 22, at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, at 8 p.m. (smoke-free) and 10 p.m. Tickets are $12. For more information, call (713)528-5999.

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