Cody Canada & the Departed Keep Red Dirt Music Flowing
Cody Canada knows magic when he feels it.
That’s what happened when he was a teen, jamming with his friends that would soon become his decades-long band mates in Cross Canadian Ragweed. That’s what he feels now that he’s touring with the newly formed Cody Canada and the Departed behind its just-released album “This is Indian Land.” And none of that would ever have happened if he hadn’t visited Stillwater, Okla., when he was a teenager.
“I was kicked out of high school because I was focused on music and I was working. I got good grades and had real low attendance and not a real good attitude toward authority,” said Canada. “So I took a trip to The Farm in Stillwater and met all these people making hippy music who wrote all of these songs. I related to them. It meant something that everyone in that circle either wrote or played guitar or something. So I went home, patched thing up with my dad and moved to Stillwater. I was about 17. I stayed until I was 23.”
Now that Canada has a new band he and bassist Jason Pivot, who was also in Ragweed, have turned their dream of paying homage to those musicians a reality with musical soul mates guitarist Seth James, keyboardist Steve Littleton (who Canada first met in Stillwater) and drummer Dave Bowen.
First came the album and now the band is on a major tour of the U.S., playing the songs that inspired Canada and his band mates to join the Red Dirt music movement.
Although Ragweed was still doing well in concert attendance and album sales, the members decided to disband when drummer Randy Ragsdale opted out to spend time with his family.
Ragsdale told Canada and the other members they should fill his slot and go on. Canada said when the band formed, when the members were all teens, they vowed that they would not tour unless all four members were in the group. That’s why Canada and Pivot are now with the Departed.
In a way, the covers from the new album that the band is now playing on tour is a perfect launch site for the rest of the work the Departed plans. Think of it as a back to basics approach, especially for Canada.
“I started writing [songs] once I got to Stillwater and was surrounded by those people,” said Canada. “That is when it really stared to happen for me.”
Canada’s songwriting fires were ignited when he began to listen to the music of Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakam, quickly discovering that they sang about their lives and perceptions.
“When Steve Earle popped up, then I really knew it, I knew what was to become of my life,” said Canada. “Stillwater taught me how to build it. I always associate Stillwater with Steve Earle. I know he’s not from there, he’s probably never been there, but there’s just something that tells me they’re part of the same thread.”
In talking, it’s clear that for all his chart success, Canada still relishes the beauty of the plainspoken song from artists that put music way before commerciality. Now that he’s with a new band, Canada said his songwriting muse is back full time and he’s crafting songs for another album.
“When I was in Stillwater, I was seriously electrified. It blew my mind. It had existed in my backyard and I never even saw it,” said Canada. “When I heard them play, I though ‘We can do this man. I know we can do this…Now the stage is set for Jeremy and I to start this all over again. We’re ready.”
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