Written by Daniel Barker
Mar 12, 2010 at 07:30 PM
ImageFriday night March 12th, 2009 brought the eclectic singer/songwriter Todd Snider to Houston, Texas to perform “Under the Big Top” at The Mucky Duck. Once or twice a year the Irish pub converts the parking lot into a performance venue and it sounds like quote the treat especially for a Duck regular…Todd Snider was starting off the weekend that included Bob Schneider on Saturday and The KPFT 40th Anniversary Concert on Sunday featuring a slew of serious Texas talent.  The day I got the announcement from Rusty Andrews I mailed a check; I was looking forward to this.

I remember seeing Todd Snider twice and the two performances could not have been more polar opposite….The first time was at The Fabulous Satellite Lounge with The Bottle Rockets during the Viva Satellite Tour…a show voted best live performance of that year by The Houston Press…TS was backed by The Nervous Wrecks lead by Will Kimbrough on guitar…A very memorable show at a very memorable venue….The second time was at The Stingaree Festival  in ’07….A blue northern blew in and I guess Todd decided to mail this one in from Portland….Wrapped in a scarf and with his fedora pulled way down low, his set was probably one of the few forgettable of the 3 day event….

TS came tonight supporting his 2009 release “The Excitement Plan” on the YepRoc label….I was confident that this venue would highlight the seasoned storytellers talents…what I did not realize was the stark contrast this outdoor setting would have from the standard Mucky Duck level of sophistication….The Duck was asking $30 bucks a head for a general admission show…but the place was packed to the gills…SRO big time. Flat out – the sound was bad…When you cannot understand the words of a solo singer-songwriter there is a problem….TS was constantly working with the sound man but they never got it right…..

A subdued and uncharacteristically quiet Todd Snider worked thru a predominantly all request set…The crowd was a great Petri dish of live music lovers who willingly beckoned out their vote for a favorite song or two….many of which were played…”I Can’t Complain”, “Horseshoe Lake”,  and “I Spoke As A Child” were standouts….Not many songs off the new album were featured but he did make time for the new single that is making  its way across the Americana air waves, “America’s Favorite Pastime”…A song about the improbable event of major league pitcher Doc Ellis throwing a no hitter while on LSD….

Todd Snider can play the guitar and I have to say his work this evening was the highlight…as well as his harmonica work…I’m sure that the vocal was there but the sound butchered it…The SRO crowd that had gathered in the walkway was filled with local musicians and local radio station hosts…Larry Winters has always, always filled his Saturday afternoon show with Todd Snider cuts…maybe one of the reasons for this robust crowd this night…

The set list this night included:

1. I Can’t Complain
2. BB Cooper
3. The Ballad of The Kinsmen
4. America’s Favorite Pastime
5. Ballad of the Devils Backbone Tavern
6. Tension
7. I Spoke As A Child
8. Horseshoe Lake
9. Marlboro Reds
10. Single Wide
11. Easy Money
12. Alright Guy
13. Late Last Night
14. I Believe In You
15. Sitting In Jail
16. Georgia On A Fast Train
17. Conservative Christian, Right Wing Republican, Straight White American Male
18. Circle Be Unbroken

1. Enjoy Yourself
2. Barbie Doll

Overall, I have to give an alright to the Alright Guy….I would enjoy it more seeing him in the traditional Mucky Duck setting…The “Under the Big Top” style is superb for an event like the KPFT Birthday Bash or a full band but not this….Todd Snider is a mainstay in this genre and I wish him all the best. Until next time I see you out supporting live music…