It takes an amusing singer/songwriter performer to command an audience’s undivided attention, armed with little but a guitar and his own songbook. But Todd Snider makes it look easy—even accidental. Singing, picking and story-telling his way through songs like “Beer Run,” “Looking for a Job” and his anthem of sorts, “Conservative Christian, Right-Wing Republican, Straight White American Males.” There’s no stacks, no racks, no effects and often no rock ’n’ roll band to blow people away.
Todd Snider is on the road supporting his album The Storyteller.
Brian Kincaid is Snider’s right-hand-man on tour, overseeing soundcheck and merch sales, mixing FOH and recording every show. “The past couple of years, our touring schedule consists mostly of long weekends or week-long runs,” Kincaid says. “Since we fly so much, it’s not practical for us to bring any of our gear. Aside from our recording equipment and stage setup, we normally use a house-provided DI, and only travel with cables, tuners, harmonicas and two Epiphone EJ-200s.”
For Snider’s vocal, “We like to use the most beer-soaked mic available—or an SM58. Audix OM5s are great, too. Mixing Todd live is really simple as it’s just guitar and vocal channels. He also almost mixes himself by pulling away from the mic, and by his mix of finger-picking and strumming. He can bring the house to utter silence and have them up on their feet dancing in a moment’s notice.”
Because Snider’s superb showmanship takes his songs to a totally different place live vs. on studio recordings, fans are eager to own the live sets. Kincaid posts recordings of all of the artist’s performances online to toddsniderlive.com, where MP3s of full-length shows can be downloaded for about $7 each. Kincaid has developed a consistent system of capturing the dates: “I take separate guitar and vocals channels or a stereo soundboard feed, which I record to two tracks. I run a pair of Peluso CEMC-6 microphones that I record to an additional two tracks in my DAW, which includes an M-Audio interface running to my PC, capturing the files in Cakewalk SONAR. Post-production normally consists of these four tracks being mixed and mastered to a stereo matrix mix.”
Recently, Kincaid and Snider, working with Snider’s frequent studio engineer Eric McConnell (based in Nashville), selected 24 tracks that McConnell mixed for a double CD, The Storyteller, out this month on Snider’s Aimless Records label. Snider and Kincaid are on the road this month, supporting Storyteller with short runs in New York, Nashville, Boston, L.A. and San Francisco.