Folk artist Todd Snider comes to York's Appell Center on June 8
Todd Snider wears many hats as a performer.
On stage, the folk artist is known for being a storyteller, and he sings lead vocals in Hard Working Americans, a sort of southern rock, Americana blues jam band that some music critics have dubbed a "super group."
But first and foremost, Snider is a songwriter.
"I’ll go do different types of things, but my first love was always working on the lyrics," he said.
Snider, 52, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at the Appell Center for the Performing Arts in downtown York.
He recently released his 18th solo album, "Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3," recorded at the Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee.
The opening track on the album, "Working on a Song," nods to the process of chasing a lyric, Snider said. The song begins in his early days in Nashville.
"Last night I thought I had it right here in my hotel. Faded out the further asleep that I fell," he sings, referring to the lyric he's trying to write.
The stanza continues, "When I woke up this morning I was more than twice my age, and I had left myself this note here on another empty page."
Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash recorded most of their later music at the Cash Cabin Studio, and their son, singer-songwriter John Carter Cash, now owns and operates the studio and lives next door.
In "The Ghost of Johnny Cash," Snider recalls a story told by the younger Cash about country star Loretta Lynn.
Cash told Snider he looked out his window one night and saw Lynn, who was recording at the cabin at the time, dancing in the yard.
"She told him later that she had been dancing with his dad," Snider said. "He didn’t see a ghost. He just saw Loretta Lynn dancing with Loretta Lynn, but she said she sees his ghost a lot."
Several tracks offer Snider's take on the political world, the state of affairs and the powers that be pulling the strings behind the curtain.
In "Talking Reality Television Blues," a guitar-harmonica social commentary in the tradition of Woody Guthrie, Snider takes a cynical view of infotainment and the confluence of cable news, politics and reality TV.
Beginning with the rise of television and the decline of radio, Snider guides listeners through the development of the medium: sitcoms, game shows, MTV, "The Apprentice" and the presidency.
Beyond the banality of everyday politics, Snider points to more sinister forces at play.
In "The Blues on Banjo," he ponders everything from the Federal Reserve and the military industrial complex to the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 on Sept. 11, 2001, and the ensuing military conflicts in the Middle East that resulted from that day's events.
Snider said it makes sense, as a natural flow of power dynamics, that the people calling the shots at the top levels of government would want to control how information is provided to the public.
"Whether it’s true or not, it sure opens your idea into the possibility that a lot more could be going on than what we’re watching," he said.
If you go: Todd Snider will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at the Appell Center for the Performing Arts, 50 N. George St. in York City. Tickets start at $25.
For more information, visit appellcenter.org or call the box office at 717-846-1111.