Busy Todd Snider on track with Hard Working Americans 

click to enlarge Hard Working Americans
  • courtesy JAMES MARTIN
  • Alt-country band Hard Working Americans, headed by Todd Snider, play from their debut album at the Fillmore on Friday.
Alt-country supergroup set to light up Fillmore Todd Snider didn’t mean to form an alt-country supergroup. The frontman’s new outfit Hard Working Americans — with bassist Dave Schools (Widespread Panic), drummer Duane Trucks (King Lincoln), guitarist Neal Casal (Chris Robinson Brotherhood) and Great American Taxi keyboardist Chad Staehly — was a happy accident. Since Snider was mentored by folk-rock elders like John Prine, Jimmy Buffett and Jerry Jeff Walker, Staehly wondered whether his chum had worked with musicians his own age. Snider hadn’t, but didn’t mind the idea so the two started phoning potential members. The band’s new self-titled, all-covers debut album includes songs by Kieran Kane, Gillian Welch and Randy Newman among others.

After your 2012 solo CD “Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables,” were you at a loss for what to do next? Yeah, kind of. I’d just come out of this, well, almost like a divorce from my family. There was this article in the New York Times, and they just stopped talking to me. And it hurt, so I didn’t write and I went into a hole for about two years. And with “Agnostic” I feel like I wrote myself out of a hole. Then I just couldn’t stop writing stuff.

And you explored a variety of genres, right? I wrote a book called “I Never Met A Story I Didn’t Like” and it comes out in April. It was easy — I made it up in a week, 90,000 words. I type as fast as I can talk, and that’s fast. I think I need medicine for the talking. And I’ve written 14 poems for my new band to record and I’m also joining Great American Taxi for their next record this fall.

You made a movie, too? It’s called “East Nashville Tonight.” They were making a documentary about me and then Elizabeth Cook came over and all of a sudden there was a plot. I even have a record company, kind of (Aimless Records). And I found this girl in West Virginia that I really like — Sierra Elizabeth Farrell, this kid that jumps trains — and I recorded her. I think I found the next Hank Williams.

But Hard Working Americans is a larger cultural metaphor, too? We’re trying to be a new kind of voice that will, like Woody Guthrie said, ‘Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.’ I thought it would be great to have a band that honored the people that America has chewed up and spat out. Like that politician who sent a picture of his (private parts). What a jerk. And I get that he’s a jerk. But I still hope that our band makes him feel less alone.


Hard Working Americans

Where: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.

When: 9 p.m. Friday

Tickets: $25

Contact: (415) 346-6000, www.livenation.com

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Tom Lanham

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