December 29, 2006
Todd Snider's concerts often take on the spirit of old fashioned, barnstorming jamborees and honky tonk revues. His knack is to assemble a group of like minded musicians, "friends," and improvise together, performing mostly his music, yet cohesively binding together as a whole.
Such was the case at Newport, Kentucky's Southgate House on December 29 as Snider gathered together songwriters Tommy Womack and Molly Thomas on a triple bill. Each musician performed separately, and then together with Snider at the end.
Womack took on the raging, grunge-soaked endlessly touring persona, infecting his soon to be released There I Said It's set of material with disarming candor and gut busting eloquence.
Thomas was most effective, raising her voice in hymn-like fashion to stun the audience into reverential silence as songs from her Shoot the Sky recording trippingly bounced around the interior walls of the historic building. A seemingly natural musician, Thomas, who began playing violin at age 6, can switch from piano to guitar to violin, writing and producing her compositions into a galvanizing form.
Snider, along with Womack on guitar and Thomas on violin, wove together his stories of the road, jokes and tall tales with his acute attention to detail. His far-reaching insight into the world of the hackneyed, troubled and stubborn that are willful yet driven down and outers buried through the distress of freedom captivated the Southgate's denizens, and forever cemented the bond with the three musicians on stage. Like John Prine, Snider has an offbeat way of sneaking up from behind on you while working in the fresh material from 2006's masterful The Devil You Know disc until it's patently obvious that it's an evening and experience likely to stay in the mind and soul for a great length of time.
There are always favorites at a Snider show that accompany the shaggy troubadour with his barefoot presence onstage wearing vest, tie and hobo hat. But, for this reviewer's money, "Tension" hit the spot, wielding its message with unerring accuracy and putting a crooked grin on most of those inside the floor and balcony of the Newport, Kentucky establishment.
With a night full of Tommy Womack, Molly Thomas and Todd Snider, those at the Southgate House on December 29 were blessed with more gifts of entertainment and the spirit that anticipates a new year to come.