AMER­I­CANS

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - MU­SIC -

“This is ev­ery­body’s se­cond band, and ev­ery­body’s first band likes to tour a lot as well. Still, we do it as of­ten as we can,” says Snider. “When I see them, for me it feels like it picks right up. We’re a re­ally tight group, de­spite not play­ing all the time. When you get on the road, there’s so much chaos. You just weather it to­gether. It makes you tighter in a way.”

For Snider, the group is a to­tally dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence as he’s nei­ther lead­ing the band nor play­ing gui­tar, but sim­ply singing. “I don’t even have to get to the gig un­til show­time, he says. “Then I just walk out on stage and look down at the (setlist) and open my mouth. David Schools is the leader. I never thought I was good at lead­ing a band any­way. But it’s fun to watch some­one do it well, and it’s fun to be part of some­thing where you’re just serv­ing the songs.”

“For me, the older I get, I’m al­ways try­ing to be around peo­ple that know more about mu­sic than I do,” he adds. “I feel like I’m learn­ing a ton about mu­sic and singing and tones and sounds and rhythms. It’s just con­stant. This band is a con­stant mu­si­cal learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and that’s what I like.”

Hard­work­ing Amer­i­cans rep­re­sents a charmed col­li­sion of styles: Snider has al­ways thrived work­ing (or sub­vert­ing) the tra­di­tional form of folk songs, while the rest of the band mem­bers are rooted in ex­ploratory, jam-ori­ented mu­sic. “But that kind of mu­sic is some­thing I al­ways grav­i­tated to­wards,” says Snider. “I like when songs go on long. I love the Grate­ful Dead, that kind of thing. I’ve al­ways been a folk singer, but my life af­ter the show is kind of like a long solo or a jam. I al­ways felt con­nected to that world in spirit, that ex­plo­rative thing.”

Coin­ci­den­tally, on the day Snider calls, he’s just heard about of the death of his friend song­writ­ing leg­end Guy Clark. Clark’s tune “The High Price of In­spi­ra­tion” serves as the heart of “Rest in Chaos,” and he even sang and played on the Hard­work­ing Amer­i­cans’ ver­sion, mark­ing one of his fi­nal stu­dio per­for­mances.

“David (Schools) heard the song (which was on Clark’s 2013 al­bum, “My Fa­vorite Pic­ture of You”) and felt like it could be a cen­ter­piece for our record, since it was con­nected to the things we were writ­ing and singing about,” says Snider. “Guy came around one of our ses­sions, and then came back to play his song with us. It was cool. I’m gonna miss him. He was a sweet guy. He was al­ways re­ally good to me. He was re­ally good to kids who wanted to be like him.”

Af­ter wrap­ping their cur­rent tour, Hard­work­ing Amer­i­cans will re­con­vene for a West Coast run in Au­gust. In be­tween, they’ll con­tinue to work on songs for a pos­si­ble third al­bum. “We’ve kept mak­ing up songs,” Snider says. “We have six new ones.”

Al­though Snider isn’t clos­ing the book on his solo ca­reer — and will be play­ing spo­radic shows on his own this sum­mer — he does seem more in­ter­ested in con­tin­u­ing to make mu­sic with Hard­work­ing Amer­i­cans. Part of that, he notes, is due to is­sues with his hands and play­ing gui­tar. “It’s carpel tun­nel or arthri­tis; it’s cropped up over the years,” he says. “I’ll be play­ing, and I’ll try and move from a D chord to a G chord, and my hands will say ‘nope.’ So I have to stop or sit there and vamp on the chord till it moves. Ba­si­cally, it means I can’t do a bunch of shows in a row. So I’m just go­ing and do­ing two or three at a time.”

“But also, I don’t have any songs that I would say are ‘mine’ right now. That’s not to say I don’t want to do (a solo record) again some­day. But my cur­rent ob­ses­sion is this band and mak­ing songs for this par­tic­u­lar group of peo­ple. It’s re­ally the thing I’m find­ing is most re­ward­ing.”

Milling­ton Road, Milling­ton. 901-873-4114.

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