Todd Snider w/ Kevn Kinney
With chairs set out on the dance floor of the Windjammer, the usually rocking joint turned into an old-fashioned music hall for a mostly middle-aged crowd on Sunday evening. Songwriters Todd Snider and Kevn Kinney (of Drivin’ N’ Cryin’) treated the audience to humorous banter and a fun, intimate vibe.
Kinney started things off with his Greenwich Village memoir “MacDougal Blues,” which he peppered with stories of the strangeness of the big city. He followed it with a dynamite acoustic version of Jason Isbell’s hard rocker “Never Gonna Change,” the first track on Kinney’s solo album, A Good Country Mile.
Snider hopped on stage with a huge smile and sat down with Kinney for a mostly improvised set. The first song, “Lonely Girl,” set a soft tone, as Snider’s soulful side shone through. His spare guitar and harmonica work was as tender as could be. The music got more fun and loose as they went along. “Here’s one I made up in a car,” Snider said as he began the bumpy “45 Miles,” which is featured on his recently-released live album, Live: The Storyteller.
“My wife is here, and so this is for her,” Snider said as he introduced the prettiest song of the night, his ode to his wife, “All My Life,” with a gorgeous harmonica solo in the middle. He then opened it up for requests, asking the audience, “Is there anything y’all came hear hoping to hear?” A man yelled out, “Just in Case.” Snider replied, “Oh yeah, were you the one calling for that last night? I got back to my room, and I went, ‘Fuck, I forgot that song for that guy,’ here you go.” The audience chuckled, and he played the goofball song.
Kinney called out, “Ladies and gentleman, the new guitarist for Drivin’ N’ Cryin, Sadler Vaden'” as the young Charleston guitar phenom (formerly of Leslie) hopped on stage. Vaden immediately attacked the acoustic with a fierce solo and stayed on for two songs, playing the most technically impressive guitar of the night.
Snider chuckled as he introduced his famous talking-blues number, “Ballad of the Kingsmen,” saying, “I always play this song in the hope that two people will have sex tonight who didn’t know each other before they got here tonight.”
Snider and Kinney both have a few layers of rasp on their voices after decades of touring, and they can’t hit some of the high notes. And while the show was a bit unfocused, the backyard pickin’ party vibe worked perfectly. Their chopped-up voices are oddly appropriate for their songs, adding some credibility to their tales of the road.