A version of this story appears in Friday’s Weekend Life section of The Oklahoman.
Cody Canada and the Departed return to the Wormy Dog
Cody Canada is mixing the old and the new this summer, returning to Oklahoma City’s Wormy Dog Saloon with his band, The Departed, and also recording a live, solo acoustic set in Texas.
Cody Canada is mixing the old and the new this summer.
The red dirt rocker and his band The Departed will play in a familiar spot Friday night when they make their always eagerly awaited return to the Wormy Dog Saloon.
“That’s where I really got started, not that one in particular, but the Dog, you know? It’s been awhile since we’ve been there,” said Canada, who grew up in Yukon and came of age as a musician in Stillwater, where the saloon was originally located. “There’s always people that you know … and people you went to school with and stuff like that. So there’s always that home feeling about playing Oklahoma City.”
Next weekend, though, the diehard “band guy” will be playing a rare completely solo acoustic show that will be recorded for a live album. The former Cross Canadian Ragweed frontman is promising “some old, some new, maybe a cover or two” when he plays July 27 at Third Coast Studio in Port Aransas, Texas. The studio includes a 150-seat venue that will make for an intimate concert recording experience.
“I’ve always wanted to do it and I just put it off … and then this time I decided I’m gonna do it. You know, I haven’t done an acoustic (solo) record ever. I’m just gonna do some old songs and some new songs — not brand-new songs; I’m saving the brand-new stuff for the next Departed record — but I think I’ve got 11 or 12 records total that are either Ragweed or The Departed or stuff that I’ve set in on or wrote for. So I gotta lot of material to get out and I figured I’d give it a shot,” he said in a phone interview from his home in New Braunfels, Texas.
“I’ve talked about it for so long, but the last thing I’ve had recorded acoustic was (at) the original Wormy Dog back when Napster was around, you know, the first incarnation of Napster,” Canada added with a laugh. “Our old sound guy Chris McCoy recorded all those shows that me and Jason (Boland) did and I haven’t done anything (acoustic) since. And I’ve had a lot of people ask about it.”
While he prefers to play acoustic shows his old pal Boland, bandmate Seth James or likeminded songsmiths like Chris Knight, Canada, 37, is relishing the thrill and the terror of going it alone for his live record.
“I don’t do alone very well and I like to play with somebody. And this time, I was just like ‘Man, I’m gonna do it by myself and tell some stories and see what happens,” he said. “You don’t have anybody to work off of, and I’ve always been a team player kind of guy. … It’s exciting and scary at the same time because it’s just been so long since I’ve done it. I don’t know, I think it was the challenging thing about it. I wanted to get back to doing.”
The venue may be an oldie for the group, but Friday’s Wormy Dog set list will include at least one new song titled “In Betweener” and maybe a still-untitled tune that the band has begun road-testing. Both are probable cuts for The Departed’s third album, which the band hopes to release in 2014.
“It’s the same old writing process for me. Something didn’t sit well with so I decided to write about it,” Canada said. “I’ve watched so many people in this business that say ‘I’m not gonna do this, I’m not gonna give in, I’m gonna play my music and do it the way I want to do it.’ And then right before they make it by doing their own thing, they give in. The word sellout is so overused and misunderstood in some ways, but it’s kind of that. … So I wrote the tune about musical integrity and about being true to music and true to yourself.”
He added, “I’ve always written about things that I disagree with. That comes from listening to Bob Dylan and Neil Young and Merle Haggard and then later on Todd Snider and Steve Earle. Those guys are masters of that stuff. I just had enough. I got tired of watching really good bands go down the wrong path, you know, so I had to document it.”
Although he and his hard-touring cohorts have a comfortable routine of playing live shows and recording albums, the singer/songwriter/guitarist knows it’s important to continually bring something new into the mix.
“I think you have to. That’s like when it comes to writing a set list for a show every night. I think it has to be a different set list every night because it could get boring if you do the same thing every night. When it starts to feel like a job then it’s time to change it up,” said Canada, as he geared up to spend some quality playtime with his two young sons during his day at home.
“It doesn’t ever get old. If it did, I’d find something else. You know, we get homesick for sure at times. But, nah, it doesn’t get old.”
When: 9:30 p.m. Friday. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Where: Wormy Dog Saloon, 311 E Sheridan.
Information: 601-6276 or www.wormydog.com.