State Theatre Portland
Todd Snider

Todd Snider

Molly Thomas

Thu, July 25, 2019

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

Port City Music Hall

Portland, ME

$25 GA Seating / $30 DOS / $40 Preferred GA Seating

Sold Out

This event is 18 and over

Buy tickets in person at the Port City Music Hall box office (504 Congress Street) Wednesday-Friday 10AM-5PM, charge by phone at 800-745-3000, or online right here. PCMH box office will open one hour before doors night of show.

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.
Molly Thomas
Molly Thomas
Molly Thomas And The Rare Birds have always been authentic but Thomas and her band have raised the bar on honesty and vulnerability for their new album, “Honey’s Fury”. The southern Alabama foursome amplifies Thomas’ recurring theme of our humanness, connection, and the personal transformation of our chaos and confusion into a raging river of sweet honey. During the four years of creativity that yielded “Honey’s Fury” Thomas has seamlessly woven 12 songs of love, betrayal, destruction, forgiveness, reflection, and healing into a powerfully inspirational album. Thomas effortlessly transforms the depth, range, and complexity of her existence into enlightening learning experiences that are touching and inspirational to her listeners. A notable example is Thank You where Thomas takes us on the wave of emotions surrounding her recent divorce, marital infidelity, and ultimately her path to forgiveness and healing. Her transformative and empathetic touch is most evident here.

Molly Thomas has always been a child of the water and metaphors of flow, movement, tidal change and bodily connection frequently surface in her lyrics. Born in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, Thomas has made made her home in and cultivated the majority of her musical influences from the southern regions of Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. A hive for songwriters and artists whose emotive storytelling and beautifully gritty swampy swagger personify the region, The south has been the perfect location for Thomas to grow her self-described Indie Swamp Pop.

As a side-person Thomas has recorded and toured internationally, including late night performances on David Letterman and Jay Leno’s Tonight Show with folk icon Todd Snider. Her violin, string arrangements and vocals have been featured on recordings and live performances with Guster, Matthew Ryan and Will Hoge amongst others, and her reputation as a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and collaborator speaks for itself. Throughout her career, Thomas has released three critically acclaimed records as a solo artist and her music has appeared in films.

Thomas’ current album “Honey’s Fury” is her first with her touring band The Rare Birds and it is a collaborative effort that first took flight with her creative partner and co- producer Rick Hirsch. Guitarist Hirsch, who's roots are firmly embedded in the Georgia and Alabama music communities, is also is a child of the Gulf. Hirsch’s career took off as a founding member of the chart topping southern rock band Wet Willie in the early 70s. In the mid-70s Hirsch recorded and toured with Gregg Allman and Cher on the “Allman And Woman” album, at which time Hirsch relocated to Los Angeles, where he wrote, recorded and performed with many legendary artists and music industry pioneers including Randy Newman, Glynn Johns, Russ Titleman, Tom Dowd, Billy Vera, Fatboy Slim and Joan Armatrading. In addition to many film and television credits Hirsch has

had his songs recorded by Alabama, Tina Turner, Cher, and co-wrote Papa Come Quick (Jody and Chico) for Bonnie Raitt’s Grammy nominated “Luck Of The Draw” album.

Like waterways that meander through the land eventually meeting in the Gulf, Rick Hirsch and Molly Thomas were meant to meet, and on many occasions, Hirsch’s name was brought to Thomas’ attention as a potential collaborator. He had recently returned home from Los Angeles, and right across the bay from Thomas, to Mobile, Alabama to build a recording studio and to develop young artists. Although they had been traveling in the same circles for 10 years they had yet to meet when their paths serendipitously crossed as Hirsch ended up stepping in as a last minute replacement for Thomas’ guitar player at a show in Mississippi. Immediately attracted to Thomas’s voice, songwriting and “all-around artistic soul”, the two artists began a creative partnership in 2015. Their allegiance and attraction to the Gulf cemented a creative bond and the two started to develop a sound that echoed the south. “It’s big, swampy and round, with each musician playing an integral role in bringing the songs to life”.

One recurring theme in Thomas’ songs is connection, whether it be personal or one’s relationship to the ever changing physical and emotional environment. The Rare Birds are also intertwined musically and personally. Drummer John Milham first met Thomas when she relocated to Mobile to join his current band Slow Moses.

In the 20 years since the move the two have revolved through each other’s lives, for a short time in Slow Moses, as brother and sister-in-law during Thomas’ marriage and eventual divorce from Milham’s brother, and finally with the first incarnation of The Rare Birds in 2014. Besides being part of the rhythmic tide behind The Rare Birds, John is the band’s “peacekeeper” and glue, keeping the band’s groove and spirit on course. It was also Milham who introduced bassist John Keuler to Thomas and later brought him into the band. Another local musician, bassist Keuler holds down the bottom end of The Rare Birds and contributes beautiful vocal harmonies behind Thomas. Keuler’s melodic bass lines and harmonic contributions are an integral part of the band’s lush sound which they have been sharpening on the road for the last four years.

Enter Grammy award winning engineer Trina Shoemaker, best known for her work with Emmylou Harris, Daniel Lanois, Sheryl Crow, The Indigo Girls, Blues Traveler and The Dixie Chicks. Schumacher was working at Dauphin Studios in Mobile, where Honey’s Fury was recorded. She had heard the recordings and, after a chance encounter and discussion with Thomas at the supermarket, was enlisted to mix the record. Thomas wanted a lush, rolling, swampy sound, which was similar to Schumacher’s signature sound. In yet another serendipitous moment, Schumacher was added to Thomas’s team, mixing 11 of the 12 tracks on Honey’s Fury.

Molly Thomas is an accomplished career artist with a strong point of view fronting a dynamic and experienced band of musical collaborators. Molly Thomas And The Rare Birds have a dedicated work ethic confirming their honesty and authenticity in every song, and have been hailed by both critics and their contemporaries as an integral and “unfiltered voice” representing the sound of the southern United States.
Venue Information:
Port City Music Hall
504 Congress St
Portland, ME, 04101