Todd Snider

Todd Snider

You don’t expect barrelhouse boogie woogie, straight up garage rock or power pop from the ratchety voice who gave you “Talkin’ Seattle Grunge Rock Blues,” the iconic East Nashville Skyline or the Great American Taxi-backed Time As We Know It: The Songs of Jerry Jeff Walker. Yet fresh from fronting the freewheeling social commentary of the jam-meets-Tom Petty Hard Working Americans – featuring Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools and Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s Neal Casal – Todd Snider’s Eastside Bulldog suggests there’s a new kinda rumble under the hood of the iconoclastic troubadour.
“I think if you work so hard to be taken seriously, you’ve missed the rock and roll,” Snider says with a wry smile, equal parts Shakespeare’s Puck and naughty teenager. “What’s wrong with uptempo and positive? This is Saturday night: crank it up when you’re ready to go out, drive too fast, get yer ya-yas out. Just let it go, and dive in -- and get rockin’.”
 Random notions sunk into the East Nashville soil when the cabin-fevered folkie would spend time at home. Knowing you can’t saturate the market, he’d call up friends like Elizabeth Cook and Kevin Gordon, and hit various bars under the moniker Elmo Buzz & the Bulldogs. The randy, rousing group – “kinda like the Rolling Thunder Review, with horns and girls” – quickly became a hipster’s favorite, mating Jerry Lee Lewis’ fraught rock with the Kingsmen’s swing’n soul.
 Never intended as more than a local kick-out-the-carbons joyride, the Bulldog buzz infected more than East Nashville’s 5 Points neighborhood. A day of recording with Emmylou Harris’ steelman/original Mavericks’ producer Steve Fishell – for a master class he runs – captured the combustion and kinetics in a way that merged crazed music lovers, alcohol and freewheeling musicians.
But it wasn’t until manager Burt Stein encouraged Snider to take his Dogs to Cash Cabin to try and catch lightning in a studio one more time that the music from the “mythic” Elmo Buzz, the never-made-it bar-rocker whose schtick the Peace Queer creator “stole,” was crystalized, and was finally committed to tape. Eastside Bulldog is romp, a stomp and one hell of a party.
“This,” Snider enthuses, “is the afterparty after the party.”
From the Bo Diddley grindhouse bully smackdown “Enough Is Enough” to the freewheeling “Secret Agent Man”-style pep club rally “Eastside Bulldogs,” the bass heavy, horn squonking instrumental “Bocephus” that evokes the Champs’ “Tequila” with its own feverish cry of Hank Williams Jr’s nickname to the Fats Domino meets Little Richard rager “37206,” which proclaims “I got the tshirt – and the bumper sticker,” this is Snider unbridled.
“We’re kinda like the Kingsmen: they’re always blazing and they barely make it when the vocal kicks in. Like the end of the solo on ‘Louie, Louie,’ that’s my favorite musical moment ever... Because just when you think it’s all gonna fall apart, it comes together and explodes. It’s so good!”
One listen to the careening refrain of ”chicks and cars and partying hard,” with Jen Gunderman’s pumping piano and Snider’s slamming surf guitar on the music business skewering “Hey, Pretty Boy,” it’s obvious that spun-out fishtailing is where it’s at for the man whose writing’s been hailed by John Prine, Jimmy Buffett, Kris Kristofferson, Keith Sykes and Guy Clark. Snider sees no compromise or contradiction in these euphoria-pumping party songs.
 “To me, it’s a deeper thing: If you don’t think ‘Whomp Bop A Lu Bop’ is genius, you’re missing it. As a person in folk, I think ‘Sha na NA na NA’ or a bunch of ‘shadoobies’ are the lyric that’s got it! ‘Tuttti Frutti’ is deeper than ‘Blowin’ In The Wind,’ even as the guy who wishes he’d written ‘Blowin’ In The Wind.’ It says more about everything, love, rage, sex – all of it.”
It doesn’t hurt that Snider’s current cavalcade of songs includes the barbed-wire surf guitar strewn trog-pop “Are You With Me,” the burlesque-y churn and shuffle of “Come On Up” in full carny barker exhortation or the farfisa power-pop pogo delight of “Ways & Means,” which invokes “Private Eyes” songwriter Warren Pash’s cash. Even the cacophony meets freefalling “Check It Out” suggests a meth-addled percussive-driven “Land of a 1000 Dances.”
“That’s the whole idea: it’s the opposite of what you expect from me. But I like songs that say, ‘Hey, baby, let’s rock and roll..,’ especially more than once. I like there’s lotsa spots to yell. I like that the whole record is over in less than half an hour – and it’s all fun!
“I hope my artsy fartsy friends can hear this and like it. For some people, if it’s not super-serious and talking about the things they think they should worry about, then it’s not art. But you know, the real art is stuff that makes you feel! 
 “You listen to this, and it’s not going to matter – as long as it’s tonight! And ALL night! As long as my baby’s with me, and we’re getting it, and...”
 Snider almost runs out of breath. He’s fired up. He’s ready to party. And for the man who’s the post-modern troubadour state-of-the-world pulse taker, it’s simple. “This is genuinely my political statement to the world: if you ask me about the election or the state of the world, I’m like Our Party is – We Party Balls! Turn It Up, Man! We’re Doomed; Let’s Dance!
 “Oh, and all those kick ass, wicked sweet leads? Those are my wicked sweet kick ass leads for the first time! I play about as good as a kid in high school – and that’s exactly what we’re looking for.”
So as the sax bleats and sweats, the tempo bunches and catches, kick off your shoes and drop your center of gravity. For Snider, it’s just thus. Get your “Funky Tomato” and go.

The Coal Men

Sometimes, the sum of something is much greater than it's parts….this is exceptionally true when it comes to Nashville-based band, The Coal Men, who are just getting ready to release their CD, Kids With Songs, on Funzalo Records. Now a road tested and more focused band, Kids With Songs is the product of 'divorce, death and broken bones' among other life changing events. This is an especially auspicious occasion, as this is also the tenth anniversary of the bands' formation. Funzalo is expecting nothing but success for this phenomenal trio.

Featuring lead singer/guitarist Dave Coleman, drummer Dave Ray, and bassist Hitch (short for Hitchcock), The Coal Men's music is rich, full of melody and hooks, and incredibly entertaining. Songs that tell stories, that convey pain, love, longing, hope and hopelessness. Behind those lyrics, music that is lush and beautiful. On Kids With Songs, the hardest job is to choose the best; songs like Never Again, Almost, Kids With Songs, Nightingale remain in your head for days, Possession is sexier than hell, and tunes like Houston Memory and Farther Find Me Now just tear at your heart.

We could go on and on about how amazing this band is, but let's be honest, you get hundreds of those bios. And you have ears – so you can listen to the CD and form your own opinions….so instead, here's some insight as to who the men that make up The Coal Men are:

Dave Coleman – lead vocals/guitar

Dave Coleman is the creative vision and the dreamer of the band. If Kris Kristofferson and Bruce Springsteen had a kid, that child would be Dave Coleman. A graduate of Belmont College who didn't start writing songs until his late teens, Dave is an avid songwriter with an incredibly rich voice. He has the ability to make you see the stories he's telling. Unusual for a guy who grew up shy and listening to bluegrass and traditional country and then went on to get hooked on 80's metal. Dave is a lover of good coffee (no Starbucks, thank you), a solid handyman, and not big on really hot weather. He's also lucky enough to be in a band where the talent level is equal, and talented enough to write songs that make people think, 'I know exactly what he means…..".

Food he resembles most: Parsley. Because it's the showman of the food world!

Jason "Hitch" Hitchcock – bass

Described by Dave Coleman as the "benchmark in his musical world", Hitch is the guy everyone wants in their band. Solid personally, and even more dependable as a bassist, Hitch is a comedian and a person who loves to build things with his hands. Having known Dave Coleman since he was four, they've shared everything from GI Joe's to the stage of the Ryman, and together since they were 12. A natural musician, Hitch has envisioned himself on stage since the age of 9. His bass lines are more like foundations than additions, and his playing brings to mind John Entwistle with a twang.

Food he resembles most: Rump roast or Boston butt. (That's what he says). We think potatoes, since they are good with any food, are loved by everyone, and can be enjoyed 1000's of ways.

Dave Ray – drums

Dave Ray is the go-to man in the band. Hitch's partner in comedy, Dave Ray has an eye for direction, is a homeowner, and likes to be in charge of things. He's been playing drums since before he was a teen, taking part in high school and college ensembles, as well as garage bands. A musician with an excellent ear, Dave often finds himself participating in the arrangements of songs as well laying down the beat. If he could, Dave would spend some time watching the birth of jazz in NYC, and probably taking part in it as well. Dependable and great at returning phone calls, Dave is the third long-lost brother in The Coal Men. His playing is energetic and stylistic, easily an equal part of each song.

Food he resembles most: Pizza. You never get tired of pizza. We also think it's because there are so many kinds of pizza, and there's many aspects to Dave Ray.

For more information, interviews, CD's, or just to shoot the shite, contact Jennifer Herold at 520-628-8655 or at

Some of what the critics are saying:
"The laid-back drawl of Coal Men lead singer Dave Coleman falls somewhere between Lynyrd Skynyrd's Ronnie Van Zant and Alan Jackson. Bluesy Hammond organ and twangy, Allman Brothers-style electric guitar complete the Southern rock vibe on Beauty Is a Moment. Highlights include "Pretty Girls," in which a syncopated drum beat embellishes the chorus. "They can twist your arm, make you do what they want you to," Coleman sings, describing the cloud in front of the silver lining. "Outside Lookin' In" is another gem, this time on the poppier side, with a bouncing, harmony-laden chorus. Songs are mostly populated with thoughts on relationships and childhood memories, but scattered throughout these familiar themes are shimmering dewdrops of lyrical poetry. "Beauty is a moment, like youth it cannot last," Coleman sings in the title track, but it's moments like these that will make this beauty of an album last."
- Mare Wakefield

With the addition of Chris Frame (Son Volt) on guitar and Jen Gunderman (The Jayhawks) ..boards, The Coal Men have gone from trio to quintet and their second full-length release, Beauty Is A Moment, reflects creative growth that shows no sign of letting up. Composer and guitarist Dave Coleman – who wrote or cowrote most the disc's 12 cuts – is the force behind much of what puts The Coal Men into the first rank of roots rock/alt country music.

Coleman writes with the fearless emotional candor that marks the best of Alabama songwriter Will Kimbrough's work, and the band is just similar enough to the Jayhawks to invite favorable comparison. But despite Coleman's slight, dismissible vocal resemblance to an earthier more soulful Jackson Browne, The Coal Men don't really really sound like anyone else. Coleman's songs have the naturalness of good conversation and unfold with the same freshness. A laconic but literate and expressive lyricist who isn't afraid to let melody pull an equal share, he paints with fewer strokes than many, yet gets so much out of them. For him and the rest of the Coal Men, beauty is a moment – actually, a series of moments – and there are a wealth of fine ones ("Natural Wonder," "Cleveland Sky," " Louisiana ") here. Coleman and Frame's guitars, Dave Ray's deep-bucket Levon Helm-type drumming, the tight but unceremonious competence of the band, and the quality of the songs put the album outside of trends and vogue.

The next big thing always comes and goes, but everything about Beauty Is A Moment indicates a deservedly long and laudable musical life ahead for The Coal Men.

"The Coal Men are one of my favorite Nashville bands. Leader Dave Coleman writes brilliantly and sings with soulful conviction. The striking imagery is in the new album's title tune: lyrics equaled by its fuzz-tone undertow bass line, slashing electric guitars, pounding percussion and sizzling organ/piano work. These folks deserve stardom, people."
- Robert K. Oermann

"The Coal Men have risen from the ranks of Nashville up-and-comers to a spot as one of Music City's strongest, nerviest rock acts."
— Peter Cooper

"This young quartet's exhilarating mix of alt-country, roots-rock and pop might sound subversive in its stodgy Nashville, Tenn., hometown, but elsewhere its second album washes over the ears like a summer breeze. Featuring simple, sturdily built songs recorded on vintage gear in a mix that lets you hear the grain in the wood the instruments are made of, "Beauty Is a Moment" lives up to its title – and the Coal Men live up to their buzz."
- Kevin R. Convey

"Youthful cohorts The Coal Men lay down the roots with a tenacity that belies their tender years."
— Jack Silverman

"Nashville's The Coal Men serve up a huge slice of Americana pie with their second full-length release, "Beauty Is A Moment." Led by singer/guitarist Dave Coleman, this band manages to epitomize the best of Southern rock without sinking to a redneck stereotype. This is sophisticated rock-tinged pop with a genuine regional flavor."
- Rudy Panucci

"The Coal Men are a quadruple threat. They write great songs, their front-man is a phenomenal singer, they play the fire out of their instruments, and they produce everything with a radio friendly flair for detail."
— Billy Block



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