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Jun
20
Thu
TODD SNIDER – Cash Cabin Sessions Vol. 3 Album Release Tour with Kevin Gordon
Jun 20 @ 8:00 pm
TODD SNIDER
TODD SNIDER
One morning near the end of August, Todd Snider was relaxing with a visitor on the back porch of his house just outside Nashville, drinking coffee and shooting the breeze while his dog, Cowboy Jim, took a nap nearby. After awhile, Snider said to his guest, “I’ve got an album’s worth of songs, and I think the songs are telling me to make a folk record.”

This was a surprising bit of news considering he had spent the last six years making rock albums of one kind or another. But Snider was feeling as if he had “maybe drifted too far from the shore.” He was feeling the pull to start over, to go back to what he was doing when he first began, to return to his roots as a folksinger. 

If Snider needed any further evidence that was the direction he should pursue, he got it a half hour later. Back inside his home office, he checked his email and had one from his manager informing him he had just received an offer to play the 2019 Newport Folk Festival, an event he had never done.

Snider mentioned he had been listening to Woody Guthrie’s Library of Congress Recordings, then crossed the room to the turntable and put the needle down on side one of the record. “Woody Guthrie sometimes gets me reset on why you do a song, instead of how,” Snider explains of the man who has long been a touchstone for him. “When I was young, there was something about him that made me want to do it. So once or twice a year, I’ll go back to him, I’ll go back to the source.”

Guthrie famously had the words “This machine kills fascists” printed on his guitar, and on several of the songs on Snider’s new album, Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3, he squarely aims his guitar at the creeping fascism he sees in America. He had been wanting to make a political record since 2016, and although only half the songs lean in that direction, there is one constant throughout the album: a man, his guitar, and the truth.

* * * * *

Snider has long been recognized as one of his generation’s most gifted and engaging songwriters, so it’s no surprise he has returned with a brilliant set of songs — and make no mistake, Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3 contains some of his best work as a writer. But what really jumps out on the album is Snider’s growth as a musician and vocalist. He plays all the instruments on the record, and his guitar work and harmonica playing are nothing short of exceptional; not only full of feeling, but highly skilled. In regards to his guitar playing on the record, Snider says he wanted to take everything he’s learned over the past 30 years and play the way he used to play really well. 

As far as his vocals on the album are concerned, Snider is singing with more confidence than ever, a confidence born in part from his time with Hard Working Americans doing nothing but sing. His stirring vocal performances range from slurring blues mumble to Dylanesque talking blues to gravely, honest ache.

Of the five songs on which Snider serves up his humorous brand of socio-political commentary, three are performed in the talking blues style: “Talking Reality Television Blues,” a hilariously accurate short history of television; “The Blues on Banjo,” a bad case of the blues caused by the sorry state of everything from the crooked international monetary-military-industrial complex to the spineless politicians who serve it and which references “Blue Suede Shoes,” Richard Lewis, and Townes Van Zandt; and “A Timeless Response to Current Events,” a brilliant bit of wordplay on which he calls bullshit on faux patriotism, crooked capitalism, and lying politicians. Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires contributed backing vocals on the latter two songs.

There are two other songs on the album featuring Snider’s socio-political points of view: “Just Like Overnight,” about the surprising inevitability of change, and “Framed,” written from the point of view of the framed ‘first dollar bill’ in a bar, a point of view that shows doing the right thing doesn’t pay.

There also are three songs with a music theme. If not for the events that led to the writing of one of those songs,“The Ghost of Johnny Cash,” there almost certainly would be no Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3. After a visit to Cash Cabin Studio for a Loretta Lynn session in 2015 where she recorded a song they cowrote, Snider began having a recurring dream about the studio that featured the Man in Black himself. The dream led him to book time at the studio and ultimately inspired him to write “The Ghost of Johnny Cash,” which tells the story of Loretta Lynn dancing with Cash’s ghost outside the studio in the middle of the night. As he did on much of the record, Snider played the century-old Martin that had long been Johnny Cash’s favorite instrument on that song.

Snider paid tribute to Cash’s longtime friend and confidante in another of the music-themed songs, “Cowboy Jack Clement’s Waltz.” Inspired by the iconic record man’s oft-quoted maxims regarding the art of recording, the song achingly laments Clement’s passing, while touchingly celebrating his legacy. 

The album opens with the other song with a music theme, “Working on a Song.” It’s an existential exercise, a song Snider wrote about writing a song called “Where Do I Go Now That I’m Gone,” an idea he actually has been working on for thirty years, but which remains unfinished.

There are also two songs that are personal in nature: “Watering Flowers in the Rain,” which was inspired by a former associate of Snider’s whose nickname was “Elvis,” and “Like a Force of Nature,” a philosophical reflection on the orbital nature of friendships. Isbell also added harmony vocals to “Like a Force of Nature.”

If Snider is anything, he is a true artist, and he reminds us of that on Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3. At a point in time when the world has never been more complicated and confusing, with people getting louder and louder, Snider did a 180, went back to his roots as a folksinger, to a simpler, quieter form of expression; and it might be what the world is waiting to hear: just a man, his guitar, and the truth.

 
Kevin Gordon
Kevin Gordon
A Louisiana native, now 20-year East Nashville resident, Kevin Gordon is a touring recording artist and songwriter. His latest release, Gloryland, garnered high critical praise from The New York Times, USA Today, Rolling Stone, and many others. His songs have been covered by Keith Richards, Levon Helm, Irma Thomas, Ronnie Hawkins, and more. The title track from his Down to the Well CD, a duet with Grammy winner Lucinda Williams, was featured on two prominent compilations: the Oxford American Southern Music Sampler, and No Depression: What It Sounds like, Volume 1. Also a published poet, Gordon earned an MFA degree from the renowned University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Jun
29
Sat
THE BARBED WIRES
Jun 29 @ 9:00 pm
Bill Noonan and The Barbed Wires are Country and Western traditionalists with rock and roll tendencies: they play old fashioned C&W with a reverence for the roots, and a dynamic creative spirit. Their approach can be compared to other bands that have explored the border of C&W and rock and roll: from way-back influences like the Byrds and Gram Parsons to more contemporary acts such as the Derailers and the Hacienda Brothers. The Barbed Wires combine an extensive repertoire touching on C&W, bluegrass, blues, and rock and roll with Noonan’s catalog of top-notch original tunes. Noonan is known as former leader of the Rank Outsiders, regional favorites in the 90s and early 00s. His more recent work is reflected on two solo albums Catawba City (2006) and The Man That I Can’t Be (2009). All of the Barbed Wires: Bill Walpole (steel guitar), Joe Williams (bass), Lee Sharpe (drums) and Chris Chandek Peace (guitar) are long-time veterans of the Carolina music scene, known among players and fans alike for their musical versatility, and their energetic and highly entertaining live performances.
 
The band lineup has really just come together since the first of this year, with Lee Sharpe (Leebo) coming on board on drums, and Country Bill (Walpole) back in the mix. Chris Peace is doing a great job on guitar and harmony vocals, and there is nobody more solid than JoeW (Williams) on bass. It’s a great bunch of guys, and everybody really loves to play, so we’re excited about the possibilities…so many tunes, so little time. Leebo and Joe have been playing around town forever, but our musical circles did not overlap until fairly recently. Chris was one of my guitar students back in the 80s, he played in Sugarsmack in the 90s, but then left music for quite a few years…we reconnected about the time my last CD came out 2 years ago. Country Bill has been one of my very best compadres for many years…he played with Lenny Federal and the Federal Bureau of Rock and Roll back in the day, and we had an act for a while in the early 00s called Country and Western Bill…we hadn’t done much together over the past couple years, so it’s great to have him back on board in the Barbed Wires.
Aug
23
Fri
THE FLOORBOARDS
Aug 23 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

The Floorboards are an American Roots Rock Ensemble hailing from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The band marries rock & roll and country roots with the sights and sounds of southern mountain towns. Jake and Rob shake the leaves from the trees. Chris coaxes stringed cries from the hills and hollers. Matt writes and sings the story.

The Floorboards released their second studio album, Borrowed Moon, on November 21, 2017. Borrowed Moon finds the Roanoke, VA based band delicately walking a line between singer/songwriter, Matt Browning’s, evocative lyrics and guitarist/songwriter, Chris Blankenship’s, tastefully blistering guitar work.

Since the Floorboards’ debut album in 2012, the years have gone by in a flash of Ford Econoline and rock ‘n’ roll. Borrowed Moon was given its first kick at life in 2013 with the band’s original lineup. Something with the music didn’t feel right, so they took to the road to figure it out. As the dust settled, the band experienced lineup changes, a few broken bones – and the songs that singer/songwriter Matt Browning penned with an acoustic guitar became their proud workingman’s rock ‘n’ roll music. Somewhere between Birmingham, Alabama and New York City, the band agreed a total change of scenery was needed to drive their next album forward.

Since forming in Roanoke, Virginia in 2012, The Floorboards have toured extensively throughout the East Coast, sharing stages with Dwight Yoakam, Trampled by Turtles, Darryl Scott, Tim O’Brien, Yarn, Los Colognes, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Will Overman, and many more.

EVENT DETAILS:

  • When: Friday, August 23
  • Time: 7:00pm – 10:00pm
  • Location: River Jam Stage
  • Cost: Free and open to the public
  • Weather: Events are scheduled to proceed rain or shine.  In the event of severe weather, the USNWC reserves the right to reschedule/cancel live music performances.
Aug
31
Sat
THE CONTENDERS
Aug 31 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

The Contenders are an Americana Folk Roots duo of Jay Nash (9 albums, 10 EPs, 900 shows, 400,000 miles) and Josh Day (Sara Bareilles, John Oates, Brandi Clark, and Jennifer Nettles drummer) they have toured the US, opened for The Milk Carton Kids half a dozen times, played Americana Fest with Patti Griffin, played Merle Fest where Jens Kruger of the Kruger Brothers joined them onstage, toured Europe (Holland, Germany, and France) have released an EP ‘Meet The Contenders’ and released their debut Album ‘Laughing with the Reckless’ last year to critical acclaim.

EVENT DETAILS:

  • When: Saturday, August 31
  • Time: 7:00pm – 10:00pm
  • Location: River Jam Stage
  • Cost: Free and open to the public
  • Weather: Events are scheduled to proceed rain or shine.  In the event of severe weather, the USNWC reserves the right to reschedule/cancel live music performances.
Sep
13
Fri
BIG DADDY LOVE
Sep 13 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Big Daddy Love is a five-piece band with a unique and natural blend of rock, roots and grass that they call ‘Appalachian Rock’. Above the mix, the lead vocals and acoustic guitar accompaniment of their principal songwriter, Scott Moss, command the listener’s attention and call for the harmonies that arise in response. Twin leads of Stratocaster riffs and soaring Allman-esque slide guitar on the one hand, and 5-string Scruggs / Fleck style banjo on the other– like a typical Southern rock line-up, just replacing the second guitar with the banjo– punctuate and emphasize what Moss delivers. These contrasting voices are anchored by a rhythm section that is equally at home in a groove or driving the bus with country, swing, funk or straight ahead rock. Big Daddy Love’s high-energy performances, fueled by this combination of fiery vocals, striking instrumental dynamics that range from bombastic assaults to soothing grooves, have garnered them a strong, passionate following throughout their home region.

EVENT DETAILS:

  • When: Friday, September 13
  • Time: 7:00pm – 10:00pm
  • Location: River Jam Stage
  • Cost: Free and open to the public
  • Weather: Events are scheduled to proceed rain or shine.  In the event of severe weather, the USNWC reserves the right to reschedule/cancel live music performances.