CODY CANADA & THE DEPARTED
The studio environment for a working musician is equal parts laboratory, man cave, and holy place. On a steamy day in Austin, Texas at Yellow Dog Studios, there was a reverent hush that made it feel like a sacred service was underway. When the studio door opened, a song tumbled out. “Better get right, before the Lord gets ready,” a Gospel-drenched refrain; deliberate and soulful stuff. Through the glass, The Departed was playing live, facing each other in a circle, with Steve Littleton on Hammond B3 in a separate room, and Seth James singing with a world weary voice in the booth.
The guys came back into master control to listen to the track with co-producer Adam Odor. They all were looking down at their respective electronic devices while the music was on. Adam whispered that Cody Canada and The Departed were making a straight up rock record this time around, tapping into the eternal emotions and sonics that have informed the great American musical styles from the start. That album is called Adventus, the Latin word for arrival.
The Adventus album is fourteen tracks deep. The band members, Cody Canada, Seth James, Jeremy Plato, Steve Littleton, and new drummer Chris Doege, have never had the luxury before of starting the recording process with so many songs. They have worked collaboratively, bringing thoughts, phrases, verses and riffs together. This project, in fact this band, is a testament to the creative process. It is about playing what you want with whom you want, carving out a road family fueled by mutual appreciation for each other’s talent as well as the camaraderie.
Adam Odor put the process in perspective, "The Departed had the last year and a half to lock in, to find out who they are and what they are together. That’s the way they did it in the old days, when a band would get signed to a label. The A&R guy (Artist and Repertoire) would let them tour for a year or so, before he took them in the studio to record. That is what is happening with The Departed. These guys are all so good, the musicianship and the songs, and that is a rare thing when you have them both.” Cody explained further, “For this album, we were ready to roll. When we started practicing there was the feeling that we are honored to be doing this together. Doing other people’s songs for the first album, This Is Indian Land, gave us time to let the new stuff percolate. There are some really intricate songs, and so far, we have only played a couple of them out in public.”
Cody Canada was 16 years old when he arrived in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He found a creative nirvana of musicians who planted seeds that would stay with him for the rest of his life. Cody recalls, “I met Tom Skinner, Scott Evans, Bob Childers, Jimmy LaFave, Mike McClure, the Red Dirt Rangers and they were all playing this really, really good music. It was kind of in that same vibe as the Allman Brothers and The Band. But what came out of it was really diverse. There were more country acts like Jason Boland. The All American Rejects were the rock guys. Then you had the whole Red Dirt hippie thing…I didn’t even know what Red Dirt was until somebody told me. I got turned on to it all and it’s stayed with me ever since.”
Canada was front man for Cross Canadian Ragweed for fifteen years, where he tapped into those influences for their nine albums, four of which charted on Billboard’s Top 10 Country Albums Chart. They sold over a million albums and played to sell-out crowds, bringing the term “Red Dirt” to the nation. When Cross Canadian Ragweed decided to part ways, Cody resurfaced with a mission in mind, to pay homage to the Red Dirt writers and music that were formative. The Departed’s first priority was getting into the studio and cutting the Oklahoma tribute album that Cody had wanted to do for years. This is Indian Land came out last year, a 15-track “buffet of really kick-ass Okie songs,” Canada noted.
And so a seamless transition was made, Cody Canada and his long time Ragweed band mate, Jeremy Plato on bass and vocals; along with Seth James on guitar and vocals (Seth James Band, Ray Wylie Hubbard), Steve Littleton on B3 organ and keys (Live Oak Decline, Stoney LaRue & the Arsenals, Medicine Show) and Chris Doege on drums (Seth James Band, Nashville touring acts). The band members have known each other for years, and they know each other’s musicianship. They are excited to be playing together, stoked about the new beginning that their first studio album of original material provides.
Cody Canada & The Departed continues to hit the road hard. As excited as they are about their gigs, they are taking it all very seriously. Canada continues, “Now it’s a new band playing new songs so we’ve got to learn everything, get our game together and practice. It’s a whole lot of fun. I can’t sleep at night. It keeps me awake, not from worry but from excitement. We’re just ready to tear it up.”
Cody Canada, Jeremy Plato, Seth James, Steve Littleton, and Chris Doege embrace the future with Adventus. The music rocks, shimmers, simmers; amplified by the heat of the Texas sun. Adventus signals the arrival of The Departed.