The storyteller comes home

Former Beaverton resident Todd Snider will perform Saturday at the Northwest String Summit
by: STACIE HUCKABA Todd Snider, originally from Beaverton, is seen here on stage. He’s back for an appearance at Horning’s Hideout in North Plains on Saturday.

Beaverton native Todd Snider has made a career singing about his Oregon childhood.

Now, after years on the road, the 44-year-old singer-songwriter is planning a return trip to the town he grew up in, as well as a one-night-only show at Horning's Hideout this weekend at the annual Northwest String Summit music festival.

'I always look forward to coming home,' Snider said. 'The first time I played (at Horning's Hideout) I thought 'how did I not know this was here when I was young?' It's such a great place to play.'

Snider, who has been featured in publications such as Rolling Stone magazine, has been compared to the likes of Johnny Cash as well as comedian Bill Hicks, and has been called the most likable man in music.

He has gained a large cult following for his often auto-biographical songs and stories, including his days playing football for Beaverton High School, or the day he got arrested in Tillamook County.

The Northwest is a clear theme in much of Snider's music, but he said that his connection to Oregon goes much deeper.

'I sing a lot about growing up here, and I talk a lot about it,' Snider said. 'But I think the actual sound of the music, when I am putting the arrangements together, it's almost like going for this feeling of home.

'Sometimes when I write songs, I think about the Oregon coastline,' he said. 'I want to make music that sounds like something you would listen to when you're driving down the coast. Music that says 'this sounds like this place.''

Coming home, literally

Now a resident of Nashville, Tenn., Snider said he thinks of himself as a musical gypsy.

'That suits me, though,' he said. 'It's better for me to be a gypsy than to sit around. If I sit at home for too long, I'll probably develop a gambling problem or something,' he laughs. 'The road is the life I chose.'

Snider left Oregon after high school and said he only gets the chance to return to the Portland area once a year on tour.

'I can't really see a time when I wouldn't have to be out on the road,' Snider said. 'But I love it. I wanted that life and I got it. Sometimes I think about taking a little time off, but it's not really for me.'

While Snider makes sure to hit the local hotspots while in town (he said he always makes a trip out to Alpenrose dairy) this year he has a special request.

'This year I sent a letter to the house I grew up in,' Snider said. 'And I'm hoping to hear from them before I leave. I think it'd be great to sit on my family's back deck and drink a beer. I mean, I promise I won't break anything. I just think it'd be real cool if they'd give me one hour out on the deck I grew up on.'

Snider's performance at the String Summit will be his third in the festival's 10 year history.

On tour, Snider usually appears alone on stage but for the Summit he will team up with Great American Taxi, a Colorado-based jam band that Snider recorded with on his latest album.

'Playing with Great American Taxi has been a fun ride,' Snider said. 'I like to play anytime, but part of what makes it fun is that we are always trying to make it different.'

Snider takes the stage at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at Horning's Hideout in North Plains.