Todd Snider at City Winery

I’m not sure what it is about Todd Snider that’s so alluring. In fact, I’m pretty sure that even Todd Snider doesn’t know what it is about Todd Snider that’s so alluring. He’ll be the first to admit that his proficiency on guitar is average at best. And he certainly doesn’t have a voice that would land him on American Idol or even America’s Got Talent. The singer/songwriter gig is hard enough as it is. Yet, more often than not, musicians in this vain excel in at least one of the two aforementioned categories. But Todd knew this going in and, fortunately for him, fame and fortune are the furthest thing from his mind. And even more fortunately for him, despite whatever qualities he may or may not be lacking, he seems to be having zero trouble at all gaining the popularity it takes to survive in the world of a traveling solo musician.


Upon wandering into the brand spankin’ new City Winery in the West Loop, I became curious as to how Todd would fit in at such a… “fancy fuckin’ place” as he called it. The candlelit room had an air of swankiness to it. Come to find out, he was actually filling in for another songwriter who couldn’t make it that night. But Snider had no trouble pulling a last minute crowd — a testament to his growing popularity across the nation. They might not have been the wine-drinking type, nor might they have been the type to enjoy the pricey food that City Winery features. Regardless, the people showed, ready for an authentic dose of the talkin’ blues.


Todd Snider is a storyteller… a good storyteller. There’s an authenticity in his voice and his music that speaks volumes. It’s this honesty that I think compels people to fall in love with his songs. Weaved into his live show are stories about a life spent searching for something, about the transformation from a high-school jock to a barefootin’, folk-singing hippie, and about everything that’s wrong and right in this world. His shows are unavoidably political, but he insists it’s only self-indulgence. “You may be exposed to my opinion from time to time, but if you walk out of here tonight with your mind changed, than that’s your own fault. I don’t share my opinions with you because I think they’re important or because I think you should listen to them… I share them with you because they rhyme,” said Snider.


This night was a bit different than I would imagine most Todd Snider shows to be. It was all-request Friday, apparently, and featured not a single long-winded story from Snider’s expansive collection. This came as a subtle disappointment to me, as these stories are usually wildly humorous and a unique part of the TS experience. Regardless, songs like “Happy New Year,” “Statistician’s Blues,” and the always-hilarious “Conservative Christian, Right-Wing Republican” were just the type of Todd I was hoping for. It’s songs like this that put a breath of fresh air into the disparaging world of American politics and remind you not to take things to seriously. I’m really glad that Todd Snider is here with us, making the music that he loves… I think everyone who has the chance to listen is much better off because of it.


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Jeremy Frazier is the editor-in-chief of Soundfuse.