Monday, September 24, 2018

Truths in Storytelling with John Prine and Todd Snider at the Paramount, Seattle WA 9/22/18


In 2015, I saw John Prine with his mentor Kris Kristofferson in San Diego. I wrote a little blog about it called,  The difference of 10 years and heroes with the premise that our heroes or mentors come from the immediate preceding generation.

On Saturday night, Mary Kit and I had the pleasure to see Todd Snider and John Prine in Seattle thanks to the warm invite from our old Santa Maria friends Ken and Vicki Forman whose daughter Emily lives in Seattle with her family.  Mary Kit's three kids and their families also live in the greater Seattle area. So the four of us decided to meet up here, spend the day together and see the concert.

Before the show at dinner, Ken was telling me how John Prine took Todd Snider under his wing and that Todd has opened many shows for John over the years and helped build his career as a singer-songwriter. For me, it was a perfect connection of mentorship from Kristofferson to Prine and Prine to Snider.  These unique individuals all have the gift of storytelling in their songwriting.  It is a gift that reveals the plain and simple truths about men and women, working people, people living in a simpler time, injustice, the amusing, the open and shut doors, and the wide open spaces.

Todd opened the show with his stories and songs and I don't think I've ever seen such a perfect opener for the main attraction. If you have never seen or heard Todd Snider, he is funny as hell but can turn that emotion around quickly with a darker perspective. His gift is his balance between stupid funny, serious satire, and folk singer. I became a convert in a sold out theater of the Todd Snider faithful with a lot of hoots and a standing ovation at the end of his set. Thanks to Ken and Vicki for the introduction.

Now John Prine at 71 has 20 years on Todd Snider, and the master came out ready for spit and fire. He has a new album, The Tree of Forgiveness, which had me at the title before I even listened to the album when it came out in April. Prine backed by his fantastic band moved through the new songs intertwined with his famous standards and I felt the audience embrace every song like a winding stream. (Here is the setlist.)

So why does everyone love John Prine these days? I think we are all needing real stories, stories John Prine communicates through his songs of our shared humanity to love and respect each other.

For me, Saturday night was a range of emotions from laughter to tears. This is something you go to a theater for when you see a play. It was an Americana Folk passion play of plain truths about ourselves, past and present. In our current times, where bullshit and hate have become king and queen on our national stage, truth has mostly taken a back seat.

The audience at the Paramount on Saturday night was ready to be entertained. They came to see a couple of their heroes who represent genuine honesty, humor and truth in song. I walked into the building to be entertained too, and I was.  But what I came away with more than anything, was the wonderful feeling that it was simply nice to escape from the news of the day and hear from a couple of authentic Americans on a very friendly stage.

Here's a little mix of Todd Snider and Americana Music Awards 2018 Artist of the Year Award, John Prine. Note - I found several phone videos from the tour the night before in Portland, Oregon and thought that close enough to Saturday night.

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