State Theatre Portland
Todd Snider

State Theatre and WCLZ Present

Todd Snider

Ashleigh Flynn

Sun, March 24, 2013

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Port City Music Hall

Portland, ME

$18 advance / $20 day of show / $35 V.I.P.

This event is 18 and over

Buy tickets at www.portcitymusichall.com and by calling 888-512-SHOW

Todd Snider
Todd Snider
Todd Snider is on the happy back end of happy hour at a favorite East Nashville bar, talking about his new album Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables. "This record doesn't come from good times," Snider says. "I wanted to sound the way I feel, which sometimes means sounding like a broken soul."

On the 10 new songs, Snider doesn't talk around the vulnerable part, or the angry part, or the part about how everything we're taught about goodness and righteousness and capitalism, about God and family values winds up exploding into violence and chaos, wonder and longing. He might carry the mantle of "storyteller" – it's what he titled his live record, after all – but Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables is anything but a nice, folk/Americana troubadour album.

It's not a nice anything.

It is jagged, leering, lurching and howling, and filled with unhappy endings both experienced and intimated: "It ain't the despair that gets you, it's the hope," he sings in the album-closer, "Big Finish." That Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables is also roaringly funny is tribute to Snider's unique sensibilities, and to his standing as what Rolling Stone magazine calls "America's sharpest musical storyteller." Anguish without laughter is boring, like intensive care without morphine, and Snider has never been within 100 miles of boring. Also, he didn't earn the attention, friendship and fandom of American musical giants like Kris Kristofferson and John Prine by writing mopey protest songs.

Musically, Snider and co-producer Eric McConnell sought a sound that mirrored the times and that didn't replicate anything they'd done together on critically acclaimed works East Nashville Skyline, The Devil You Know or Peace Queer. With McConnell on bass and Snider playing guitar and harmonica, they gathered a core band of percussionist Paul Griffith, violinist/vocalist (and gifted songwriter) Amanda Shires, and keyboard player Chad Staehly, along with guest guitarist Jason Isbell and harmony vocalist Mick Utley, and offered up a sonic mission.

"I told them I wanted to make a mess," Snider says. "That was the goal."
And so a handful of accomplished musicians set about making a mess. And did so. Shires' violin is the call-and-response heroine to Snider's lyrics, filling the role Scarlett Rivera filled for Bob Dylan on Desire. Only messier. Meanwhile, Griffith makes like some off-kilter offspring of Keith Moon and Zigaboo Modeliste while Snider's guitar plays lead switchblade.

The result is something disconcerting, cracked and wholly original. It's something that stands apart from the music of Snider's heroes, and from Snider's own, much-celebrated past. Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables is Snider's 12th album (14th, if we count a "best of" set and a collection of B-sides and demos), and it uses its predecessors not as a compass but as a trampoline. Snider found different song forms, different inspirations (from Alaska ne'er do well Digger Dave to Chicago Mayor, former White House Chief of Staff and friend..... no, really..... Rahm Emanuel) and different means of expression. He paints a world where begging turns to mugging, where investment turns to ruin, where babies grow into felons, where honesty is blunt trauma: "Wish I could show you how you hurt me in a way that wouldn't hurt you, too," he sings. And there's no way.
Ashleigh Flynn
Ashleigh Flynn
shleigh Flynn's most recent release, American Dream, is alive with stories about down-and-outers, young and old, all still hopeful, as is Flynn, that they can achieve the American Dream. The emotional depth and stellar storytelling will no doubt continue her trajectory of national acclaim and impressive sales. American Dream has won Flynn the following praise, as well as performance spots on Mountain Stage (NPR's nationally syndicatedlive music show), opening spots across the US for Todd Snider:

"Her latest release makes it clear that she's got the natural vocal soulfulness separating the contenders from the pretenders....[Flynn's] American Dream is true blue Americana." - PASTE Magazine, May 2008

"Possessing vocals graced with otherworldy clarity, it's tempting to call Ashleigh Flynn Americana's answer to Norah Jones. That comparison, however, hardly describes Flynn's genuinely compelling storytelling." -Performing Songwriter, July/August 2008

"I haven't been knocked out by a female songwriter like this since I first encountered a young Patty Griffin or Nanci Griffith." -Jambase, 2008 High Sierra Review
Venue Information:
Port City Music Hall
504 Congress St
Portland, ME, 04101