Hard Working Americans brought their “traveling cavalcade of chaos” to a packed Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh, N.C. playing to a Sunday night crowd looking for a good time. From the opening chords of his “Mission Accomplished” Todd Snider and his jam band showed they were there to take care of business. Throughout the night the band played a mix of songs from both of their albums along with a couple more of Snider’s songs, “Stuck On The Corner” and “Is This Thing Working.”
While the band adds volume and energy to songs Snider usually plays as a solo artist, and makes numerous covers their own, the band’s original songs from their newly released Rest In Chaos indicate that what may have started in 2013 as a part time band, may have some legs. Since Todd Snider is such a strong, well-loved songwriter, this was bound to happen. After years of touring as a solo singer/songwriter, the self-proclaimed Widespread Panic diggin’ hippie looks like he is thoroughly enjoying his role of being the lead singer in a jam band. When the other musicians, Neil Casal on guitar, Duane Trucks on drums, Jesse Aycock on guitar and steel, Chad Staehly on keys, and Dave Schools on bass, take extended excursions, Snider steps back and dances, his mugging clearly shows that he digs the band as much as we do.
One of the stand out songs of the night, as well as the new record, was “Ascending Into Madness”, the take away line being, “I’ll quit drinking, for the reason I started drinking, when it makes me feel better, than I already do” delivered with conviction by Snider and drawing some hollers from the crowd. Another slower song, “Down To The Well” from their first record, gave Casal an opportunity to take us on a journey with one of his classic solos. There’s a reason this man is a guitar hero in the jam band scene, while Jesse Aycock’s soaring lap steel lines add contrast with an instrument we don’t hear enough these days.
The set closed with a long “Another Train/Is This Thing Working” jam, which saw Snider taking part in the extended instrumental segment by telling a story about walking outside trying to find the answer blowing in the wind, but the wind said “not a fucking thing”. Then he introduced the band as he continued his story, speaking of being passed by a car which contained all the band members who asked him to jump in for a ride.
Returning for the encore, Snider acknowledged the passing of songwriter Guy Clark and the band then played Clark’s “High Price of Inspiration” which happens to be the lone cover on Rest In Chaos, and like all of their covers, it sounds like a Hard Working Americans song. Given how quickly this band has gelled into a tight unit with a distinctive sound, let’s hope these Americans keep working hard at bringing us great music and good times, because as Todd Snider said that night, “We’re in this together.”