[click "Play" for Todd Snider interview]
Telluride Bluegrass, June 18-21
Turns out folk hero Woody Guthrie came from an extremely prosperous upper middle-class family: dad speculated in real estate and mom owned about 30 rental properties. Robert Allen Zimmerman was born in the Midwest in Hibbing, Minneapolis, and also had solid middle class underpinnings. His father Abe, ran a sort of successful electric-appliance shop. All the stories about the young Robert being orphaned, running away from home annually starting at age 10, performing in a carnival were attempts by Bob Dylan to become Dylan.
Todd Snider is the real deal. This street corner prophet and champion of underdogs like himself came by his folksy, rootsy bona fides naturally. Todd actually did run away from home at age 15, winding up in Memphis by way of Santa Rosa, California and Austin, Texas, where he heard Jerry Jeff Walker perform solo in a local bar and decided he did not need a band to become a professional musician.
In Memphis, Todd was discovered by his mentor Keith Sykes at a bar named the Daily Planet. At the time, Keith was a member of Jimmy Buffet’s Coral Reefer Band and friends with Jerry Jeff and John Prine. Prine hired Todd as an assistant to open the show. Buffet wound up signing the rising star to his own label.
Buffet is the poster child for Baby Boomers: he curbed his indulgences only to survive and be able to write about his excesses. Todd on the other hand, now 42, was born just outside the outer limits of the Boomer generation, narrowly missing Generation Jones. Good bye Boomer narcissism. Hello Gen-X skepticism and introspection. For 15 years, Todd’s orientation has been hard work and the road: gypsies, not gypsies in the palace.
Todd’s latest album, “The Excitement Plan” (Yep Roc Records) combines soul-folk with social protest. It was produced by Grammy-winning Don Was, who worked with the Rolling Stones and Dylan, Todd’s top two favorites ever.
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