What: Rue Snider, Adam Taylor, Sock Hop Stallions
When: Saturday, January 30th
Where: Portal Studio, 163 N Lawrence St
Mobile, Alabama 36602
Rue Snider writes melodic songs about love, heartbreak, whiskey, and dragons with choruses that get stuck in your head like a dream you pleasantly remember. His lyrics are quirky, specific, and deeply personal while attempting to address universal emotions. His live show is part comedy, part folk revival, and part private confession. Rue is a rode warrior who performs a hundred plus shows per year in front of audiences large and small anywhere music is welcome. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.
He has shared the stage with Tom Maxwell (Squirrel Nut Zippers), Tropic of Pisces (members of Rubblebucket and Oberhofer), Superhuman Happiness (Stuart Bogie – Antibalas, Arcade Fire), Benjamin Scheuer (writer and star of “The Lion”), The DuPont Brothers, Niall Connolly, Caroline Cotter and many others.
Rue is currently on the road supporting his brand new album “Leaving To Returning.
You play hundreds of shows a year, and you say Mobile, Alabama is one of your favorite cities to play, what are some others?
My favorite places begin with the people who live there. When you start to make friends in a place and see a town that isn’t your own through other people’s eyes you start to get excited about it. That’s how I came to enjoy Mobile so much. The more I get genuinely excited about a city and really look forward to being there the more the people I’m playing for tend to respond. Richmond is a place like that. Everyone in Richmond LOVES that town. It’s an infectious passion. I love Jacksonville, FL. Birmingham, AL. San Antonio and Austin TX. Lots of places. I’m excited about what’s happening with the music scene in Indianapolis. Burlington, VT. That’s just to name a few. New York City of course. That’s home and my favorite place in the whole wide world.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve experienced on tour? off stage. I mean, while traveling.
Once I was driving through Arkansas behind a tanker truck for two hours that had the words “Haulin’ Liquid Chicken” in big letters on the back. That scarred me. Also on that same road I counted 7 dead dogs. Seriously. I saw the biggest bag of weed in my life get tossed onto a kitchen table in Burlington, VT like it was no big deal. In Austin there’s a place called The White Horse where they have honky tonk bands that sound like George Jones or Conway Twittty play every night and the whole room two steps with each other. But in a really old fashioned way. Everyone changes partners after each tune. It’s beautiful and really cool, but it was so weird the first time I saw it. Now I can’t wait to get back to Austin for SXSW because at the very least I can go to The White Horse and two step badly with the women every night.
I love how you write songs in parking lots and you write about stories you hear across America. Do you find your music is changed night by night, or is it more like the songs get tuned in to being just right?
I think they get dialed in more each night. They evolve in my mind and that effects how they come across. At least I think so. People will write or talk to me about a song and what it means to them and that can alter my intention when I’m playing it. I remember reading a Harold Pinter play in college called “The Dumb Waiter,” which in retrospect I did not understand at all. I wrote an essay about it and my professor was really impressed because he saw it as a completely fresh and unique reading of the play. I didn’t get what Pinter was saying at the time. But the play connected with me nonetheless. I hope people have that experience with not just my music but all music. Kind of making it their own and allowing it to speak to them even if they take something away that wasn’t the original intention. This can be taken too far of course. If someone listens to my songs and walks away thinking “Magnolia” is a good movie they are hearing the wrong things.
Politics and some ideas around religion are in your lyrics, but your songs don’t hit me as being too over-the-head about it. Do you spend much thought trying to avoid being definite on these subjects? I think people like you more for the questions rather than being told the answers.
That’s interesting. Yes and no. I studied philosophy in college so I’m all about raising questions. There are some things in life I would call concrete though. For example I just wrote a song called “Impotent Rage” about domestic abuse. I know too many women who have been beaten up by guys they trusted and I wanted to say something about it. I released a single called “The New New Colossus” about the language some people on the internet are using to address their concerns about Syrian refugees. The current political speech coming at us nonstop, 24 hours a day is often so vial and full of fear and hatred that I’m comfortable presenting a different narrative. No one is voting for Bernie Sanders because I have a song about income inequality. But maybe they’ll think about it more than they did after they got in a fight with their cousin about politics over Christmas.
There’s a rich tradition of men and women with guitars speaking out about social justice, politics, whatever. I know ultimately that I’m just a guy with a guitar. It’s not reasonable to expect to win hearts and minds with a pop song. But I hope people hear the music and think about things. Not that they walk away agreeing with me. But hopefully the mixture of gritty, super honest heartbreak and love songs connects us on a human level and as a result some of the more political stuff is able to get through and find a place to ruminate.
The more I drive around the country the more I write songs about things I see and hear. That means less stuff about my sad heart and beautiful women who rejected me, probably to their benefit, and more songs about social injustice, racism, abuse, addiction, and things like that. It’s what’s on my radar.
Do you have an elevator pitch to convince a stranger to go to a live show?
There will be girls there. Lots and lots of girls.