Don’t call Todd Snider a folk artist or a singer-songwriter. He has a specific title for his musical employment as a wandering minstrel.
“My job is Ramblin’ Jack Elliott,” Snider said. “He is the godfather. Woody Guthrie did not tour. He (Elliott) was the first to go out with an acoustic guitar, a harmonica rack and he still does. I toured with him last year and he still has it…he considers me his grandson.
Inspired in the mid-’80s by Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark and John Prine – who call themselves Elliott’s sons – Snider has been on the road singing his songs since the early ’90s, when he had real success with “Talkin’ Seattle Grunge”. Rock Blues,” bouncing on and off major labels to record the songs he writes about his life and his observations of America from the road.
Snider is currently on tour and will headline Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach on May 16 before heading to the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles on May 17 and Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown on May 18.
“I feel like I’ve been sent on an adventure to account,” he said. “You have to really like to travel. I prefer to be on the road. I feel like that’s where I belong… It’s a lifestyle. It is not a story that ends. I sometimes sleep in my clothes because I’m one of them.
There are a few other troubadours today, Snider said, pointing to Hayes Carlll and Aaron Lee Tasjan. But they’re a few years behind Snider, who released “Songs for the Daily Planet,” his first major label, in 1994, joined Prine’s Oh Boy label in 2000, and launched his own label, Aimless Records, in 2008.
Snider has now released 19 solo albums, including the most recent, “First Agnostic Church of Hope and Wonder,” in 2021.
He was also part of two bands, the jam band supergroup Hard Working Americans and the garage rock Elmo Buzz and the Eastside Buildings — “that was in preparation for my real work,” he said. “It’s all about that.”
With his songs covered by artists from Robert Earl Keen and Gary Allan, who had a country hit with “Alright Guy”, to Loretta Lynn and Tom Jones – yes, that Tom Jones – Snider has another source of income to go with. touring income that will keep him alive, if not make him rich.
“The music industry has always provided me,” Snider said. “Even when I was on big labels, the big beast still took care of me… One of my mentors told me I could do any art I wanted and still live like a very young dentist A very young dentist is not bad.
It’s literally unclear what songs Snider will release when he takes the stage. It can be familiar “hits”, obscurities, covers or whatever comes to mind.
“I usually do a setlist, but I won’t follow it,” he said. “I’ll have a plan, and when the show starts, I’ll try to slip something into it. Then it’ll really start to go anywhere.
But that’s exactly what the troubadour wants: to be in front of a crowd of his followers, to do what he loves as he wants to do it.
“I can go on stage with a string box and scream my feelings,” Snider said. “All those years ago I saw Jerry Jeff and John (Prine) and it looked like a really fun job and it was.”
With: Daniel Rodríguez (solo)
When: 8 p.m. May 17
Or: El Rey Theater, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles
Tickets: $30 at AXS.com
As well: 8 p.m. May 16 at Belly Up Tavern, 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach. $28 at Bellyup.com; 8 p.m. May 18 at Pappy & Harriet’s, 53688 Pioneertown Road., Pioneertown. $40 at Ticketweb.com.