|One of my prayers to the
porcelain god this morning was to pllleeeeaaasseeee let "them"
all go to Rockford and I'll meet up with them in Green Bay. Was that
really me on my knees in this Burly biker's home hoping this? Did I
really count teeth of the Carnival workers in that bar last night (they
started it)? Was that me in the thrift store tap shoes shuffling off to
Buffalo at the pool table? Did I take a poll of whose names began
with a number? Yeah, it was me, preparing for a Pre Prine Party
I have sworn off alcohol from this moment on... until the
11:30 our group that met in Burlington Wisconsin the day before
at our incredibly accommodating host's house, Crusher, were ready
to head to Rockford. The trip was uneventful.
We checked in to our hotel, and wouldn't you know it,
our room was the one that was just outside the lobby, in direct view of
With such a great view of the lobby we met up with fellow Prine Shriners Mary
Mac, Glenn, Lyla, Leonardo, his brother, Eric, Meagan, Shawn, Amy, and
Megan's mom as they arrived.
Our concert convoy headed the few
miles downtown to the Coronado Theatre. We met down the block at
the nearest bar, you could watch the people arriving to the concert ...
at 7:30 everyone started filing out towards the Coronado. Once inside, I was stupefied by the ornateness of this
place. I thought the 3 police cars and the dozen security people (oh
yeah, I looked for them first) at the front door were my personal
They allowed cameras inside... but not for the show,
it was to take photos of the millions of dollars spent on the renovation
of this grand old theatre. Walking in through the doors, I felt we were
outside in a palace courtyard during some renaissance period. The
"stars" twinkled on the dark sky and the gargoyles peered down
The place was full... the energy was high and the
lights were dimmed.
On the stage appeared a dashing young man to introduce
Oh Boy Recording Artist "Todd Snider"
Todd (did you know he played a hitchhiker in the movie
"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas") Snider arrived, clean cut, clean
shaven and in shoes to a rousing standing ovation - it was obvious that
the crowd knew who he was. He flashed that big toothy grin and broke
into his set
1: Can't Complain (from Viva Satellite)
2: Lonely Girl (Happy to Be Here)
3: What's Wrong With You (Happy To Be Here
[and one of my personal all time favorite Snider songs]) I
nearly needed a double extra strength Depends when he started singing
this song about a jealous woman.
4: Stuck All Night (New Connection)
5: Statistician Blues (New Connection)
6: Class of 85 (New Connection)
7: Talkin' Seattle Grunge Rock Blues (hidden
track on Songs for the Daily Planet)
8: Vinyl Records (New Connection)
Todd with the stage presence of a big gangly farmboy, and mannerisms of a blind man one minute and in a
musical daze the next is truly
a must see - you just can't help but like him. The crowd was so wild for
him that at
one point Todd said: "If I stay and play much longer they won't let
me play with John Prine anymore"
Lights went up, smokers, drinkers, and cashspenders hurried toward the lobby. So
did I. I wanted to get my CD's signed
because Todd comes out and signs CD's, and he'll talk to you too...
appreciating to hear your interpretations as much as you are to get to hear him. I have tried to
stay solely focused on John Prine, but this Snider guy is hard to ignore. He's
cut his wisdom teeth on Prine. He spelled my name wrong, scribbled it
out, freaked out a little, put a mustache on his photo, and signed it
right. You just have to like him.
Once again, the theatre darkened as the crowd straggled to their seats
and on their feet with a long welcoming standing O as Prine hit the stage with his signature show
1: Spanish Pipedream, he remembered playing it in Rockford
years ago on some guys picnic table the last time he was here... a voice
in the cried out "Willow Creek" - I can only assume that
that is where the picnic table was.
2: Six O'clock News (Souvenirs, John Prine
Live, John Prine) from the crowd bellows: "Jason
Wilber, You Rock Baby!" Raised eyebrows and grins shared the stage
and John replied with "Don't tell him that, we'll have to pay him
3: Souvenirs "That's for Steve Goodman"
"In January 1966 I was drafted and went to downtown Chicago with 5 of
my buddies to take the aptitude test. I just took the answer sheet and
marked it with A-B-B-C-D-A without ever opening looking at the
questions. Well.... the test results came back and I was a f*ckin'
mechanical genius! (Holy Tamale's Prine fans, he said the
"F" word.... shades of Johnny pasts are emerging!) They
put me in charge of a construction crew, of course, I didn't know what I
was doing.... I think we buried a bulldozer because we had 1 too many."
4: Fish and Whistle
"Anne, was my first wife - that was two wives ago. When I was
with her I was writing songs left and right - not like now. Sunday night
would come around, and it would always seem weird to me, maybe because I
had to go to work on Monday morning. I don't know, Sunday nights were
just weird... so I wrote this song and it was originally called
"The Late Sunday Early Monday Blues" but I was watching the
Late Night Sunday Movie and a John Garfield movie was on....."
5: Late John Garfield Blues
6: Picture Show
7: Grandpa was a Carpenter
A chorus of outcries break out for 'Paradise', 'Flag Decal', 'Illegal Smile' and
so on... another voice boomed over all the rest
"Play anything you want to John" - with a nod towards the
voice John did just that. He began to sing 'Far From Me' when he
realized he was a verse short... stopped, shook his head and laughed
"I guess it's better to start a song at the beginning instead of
the middle" and he started the song again at the beginning that we
8: Far From Me
"If you ever get invited to your ex's wedding this would be a
good song to sing:"
9: All the Best.
John explained that he had just flown in last night from Texas to do
a TV show with Bonnie Raitt. - he seemed a bit surprised that someone
would fly him in and out for just one song. (don't worry, news of the
upcoming airing of that show will be soon, the show isn't slated for a
few months yet and I promise you will be the first to know)
Angel From Montgomery
During the show, the late comers were still arriving, and people were
beginning to shoot photographs. The ushers were loud, even more
obnoxious than a drunk at a concert. The security people were down front
standing in everyone's way taking away cameras and film and this lasted through several
songs, to the point where John finally
said while picking his guitar "We'll wait 'til you get seated"
and a voice from the crowd hollered "down in front" - this all
for the staff of the Coronado... probably the only thing they really
should work on.
11: Dear Abby
John explained that he makes up a lot of songs, but the last verse
was probably the only real true verse.....
12: Donald and Lydia
"This fellow developed a unique ability to travel within his
mind when his wife goes on a rant about something he did or didn't do.
He didn't have a lot of money so he just went somewhere in his
13: The Other Side Of Town
"This next song was written for a movie that was so important
that it's never been released. I usually sing this with Iris DeMent, so
I will sing her part too"
14: In Spite of Ourselves
15: Sam Stone
16: Bear Creek
17: Ain't Hurtin' Nobody (that's for Waylon)
Now that I have been to a few shows, and sort of got the actions and the
songs down, I'm checking everything else out. I notice that that cute
little electric guitar of Billy Prine's has had the strap replaced with
a nice thick leather one....so no sense in trying to pass off my
"Nixon's the One" or "Lindsay, it's the second hardest
job in America" buttons to add to the collection on the old strap.
"Jason just bought a new house, he eats at Dairy Queen when we're
on the road to save money....
"Dave Jacques is from Worcestershire Massachusetts - (one loud voice
grunts out a loud Woooo) and Prine and Jacques exchange knowing
grins..... "No matter where we play, there's usually one guy from Worcestershire"
18: Sins of Memphisto (this one always makes me think of my
Catholic girl High School days... since we were at St Mary's and we had
real Bells of St Mary's out in front of the school.... and most of us
were working on ways to get past the nuns and sin, sin, sin.....)
After the song, switching guitars and playing a few chords another
voice from the front offers "Yesssssssssssssss" - John turned
around laughed "You know, I got 20 songs that start out that same
way" "Thank God for capos!"
19: Hello In There
"Anybody here from Crystal Lake?" the crowd whooops......
"Well this ain't that lake"
20: Lake Marie - by the end of this song, the crowd and the
band were so pumped up that John was playing air guitar. Strings were
popping and hooking in mid air, he was trying to get the broken strings
out of the way and play his last 2 or 3 strings. It is always one of my
favorite parts of a Prine show. The "how many strings is gonna bust
during Lake Marie" raffle.
"When you work for the government you would accumulate sick
leave. So when I accumulated 8 hours of sick leave.... I'd get sick. I
wrote this one on my mail route:"
21: Illegal smile....
his mind to the other side of town and his mouth doing the lyrics,
he realized he was at the end of the song without singing the
whole song.... "Well I sat down in my closet, with all my
overalls - No I didn't.... Last time I checked my bankroll..."
The whole crowd knew the words, and John looked out, "Your
turn to sing" the lights went up and the crowd obliged the
beaming and proud man idol on stage.
"My dad was a big Roy Acuff fan... this one's for you dad....Todd
Snider is going to help me out with this one:"
Snider stood along side Dave Jacques and played along, watching Prine's
every motion and strum... as if he was learning the song right then and
there... until his turn to step up alongside John.
crowd had been on it's feet since the end of Lake Marie... clapping,
screaming, begging for more. I always think that the last show
was better than the one before.... and this show was the best
so far. I usually get all irritated by the voices that keep hollering
him to play certain songs, like he's up there doing a request
show or something.... like he's not going to sing the "good
ones" - but this show was not about a lot of misplaced hollering,
it almost seemed like the hecklers was placed there. The crowd
was as silent as mouse when John played, and they cheered and
clapped and swayed and jumped out of their seats at the right
Johnny, you gotta come to Rockford a lot more... and bring that
tall talented blonde guy with you.