|Cody Canada & The Departed play People's
Court on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 9 p.m. Stewart
Mann & the Statesboro Revue open the show.
Tickets are $12 in advance. |
By Michael Swanger
No need to look under Cody Canada's fingernails
to see how deeply rooted he is in the Red Dirt
scene. You can hear it in his true-to-life voice
and the roots-rock songs that he sings that
pay homage to his native Oklahoma on "This
is Indian Land," the debut album from his
new band, The Departed.
For Canada, "This is Indian Land,"
is a long time coming. After spending 15 glorious
years with Cross Canadian Ragweed, a band formed
by childhood friends that saw four of their
nine albums chart on Billboard's Top Country
Albums before amicably parting ways last year,
the singer-songwriter-guitarist wanted to pay
homage to the creative nirvana of musicians
who created a particular style of music that
influenced him at an early age.
"I've been talking about doing this album
for 10 years," said Canada. "We never
got around to it with Ragweed because the record
label was always pushing for original stuff,
but I wanted to pay tribute to these friends
of mine, and with the split up of Ragweed it
was the perfect time to do it."
"This is Indian Land" is a 15-track
overview of noted Okie songwriters other than
Canada, including Kevin Welch ("Kickin'
Back in Amsterdam"), JJ Cale ("If
You're Ever in Oklahoma"), Leon Russell
("Home Sweet Oklahoma") and Randy
Pease ("The Ballad of Rosalie"). Pease's
tune was the first Canada heard when he moved
from Yukon to Stillwater at the age of 16 to
pursue a career in music. It was there that
he met Tom Skinner, Jimmy LaFave and the Red
"If you're going to do an Oklahoma tribute
record and you leave Leon Russell and JJ Cale
out of it, you're not doing it right. Those
guys were big influences on the guys who influenced
me," said Canada.
The week that Ragweed split, Canada formed The
Departed after one rehearsal with Ragweed bassist
Jeremy Plato and three fellow Red Dirt musicians
— guitarist Seth James (Seth James Band, Ray
Wylie Hubbard), B3 organ and piano player Steve
Littleton (Live Oak Decline, Stoney LaRue) and
drummer Dave Bowen (Stoney LaRue, Dale Watson).
Because the five musicians had traveled the
same circles for years, the transition was seamless,
"It instantly happened. There wasn't a
minute of wondering what we were going to do.
It was pretty much set in stone," he said.
"We're all real tight. We live in the same
town, our kids go to school together and we
cook out. It was meant to be."
Canada said the 15 years he spent with Ragweed
were the best of his life, and he doesn't have
any regrets about the decisions and music they
"We took it as far as we could take it
without selling out," he said. "We
did it our way. We had several opportunities
to take it to another level with opening gigs
for Toby Keith and stuff like that, but we just
didn't want to do it. That's not the kind of
music we endorse. We weren't singing songs about
dogs and war and the American flag, we were
singing more about what Merle Haggard taught
us, songs of sadness, anger and love."
Canada said fans have embraced his new band,
though he still gets requests from the audience
to perform Ragweed tunes. He said that The Departed
plans to record an album of original material
this winter with hopes of releasing it next
"I think the fans are starting to get it.
I still have to fight the crowd sometimes when
it comes to shouting out Ragweed tunes. I don't
want to come across as bitter, but there are
some nights there's a guy in the front row being
a complete asshole, so we play a few of Ragweed's
more popular tunes," Canada said. "But
I want people to know that this is different,
and that our main goal is for people to have
fun, but to shut up and listen." CV