Todd Snider 

Like Todd Snider, I think people use religion as a disguise to control what other people do. And that greed was the culprit when the housing bubble burst and people's retirements vanished. On the country-folk artist's most recent album, 2012's Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Parables, we get a buffet of political issues like these delivered in fairly black and white bites. If you're a Snider fan, you're probably a supporter of the Occupy movement and listen to NPR. The thing is, NPR's "Planet Money" does a much better—and more entertaining–job of explaining the remarkable complexity of these issues.

So, in anticipation of his upcoming show in Missoula, let's talk about the Snider of yesteryear. The Portland-born artist has always claimed Jerry Jeff Walker as an inspiration, and he's best with that kind of storytelling country music. Songs like "Doublewide Blues" from 1998's Viva Satellite, and "Tillamook County Jail" from his 2004 album East Nashville Skyline aren't exactly ducking the country tropes, but they're the kind of ditties you want for an encore. More importantly, they tell a story in good details: "Metallica song blastin' out from two trailers down/ It's them cut-off T-shirt nunchuck kids comin' around/Tonight they'll get drunk, try to get laid/End up in a fight out behind the arcade." You can picture it.

That said, Snider's classic "Conservative Christian, Right Wing Republican, Straight, White, American Male" is as much of a generalization as you can get, but at least he has fun with it. And that's how a self-described "tree huggin', peace lovin', pot smokin', porn watchin' lazy-ass hippie" should be.

Todd Snider plays Stage 112 Tue., April 30, at 8 PM. $20. Tickets available at Rockin Rudy's and seafarerentertainment.com.

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