Cody Canada & the Departed
Midnight River Choir
14492 Old Bandera Rd.
Helotes, TX, 78023
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM
Cody Canada & the Departed
The latest, tight incarnation of the Cody Canada-led group The Departed isn’t a reinvention of the group’s sound, or a reimagining of Canada’s musical perspective – it’s a reunion. As with any reunion, the passing years have provided the involved parties with new and unique perspectives, breathing vibrant excitement into their streamlined new environment.
Canada, Jeremy Plato, Chris Doege and Steve Littleton are reopening the doors to a sonic garage where sounds and stories some thought were gone for good are now being unleashed onto an eager public after a few years of fruitful – even risky -- artistic diversion. Being guided by raw emotion and nerves that are often unguarded, Canada hasn’t begun to pluck the opening notes to an increasing number of Cross Canadian Ragweed favorites without some reluctance or painful reminiscence, mind you. But the powerful nature of such visceral connections is what makes his stories stunning while rightfully placing him in a prominent class of modern songwriters occupied by the influential likes of Robert Earl Keen, Bruce and Charlie Robison, Todd Snider, Mike McClure and the men of Reckless Kelly, among only a strict few others.
To be clear, the men of the Departed are not the frat-house faves many of the latest generation of river-tubing popsters are. Ideals and experiences of a person enduring the sometimes harsh realities of the real world demand space in a Departed concert.
In the wake of Ragweed’s 2010 dissolution, most fans likely expected – and few would’ve blamed – Canada for adhering to the heart-sleeved, Okie-rocker recipe that propelled Canada into a true Rock Star realm. Bolstering his bad-ass bona-fides even more, however, was his decision to choose the dirt road less traveled. By finally partnering up with Seth James, a long-time friend universally admired for his soulful skills, Canada’s words had a different backdrop that certainly represented commercial risk, but offered an unusually fresh outlet where the iconic songs of his past, for a while, stayed in the past. For three years, Canada became a side-man for sections of each concert as the Departed quickly built a reputation as a crack band focused on packing as much expertly-curated song-craft into each show as possible, eschewing the demands for “more Ragweed!”
With the chill of 2014’s winter thawing into the haziness of the spring and the Departed now having played as a powerful four-piece for several months following James’ amicable exit, Canada’s appreciation for the truly remarkable, intensely personal body of work he created as he fronted Ragweed is intact, and indeed, fresh with the passing of time and the healing of emotional wounds. Unsurprisingly, fans are exuberantly responding to the inclusion of classics such as “Alabama,” “Dimebag,” and “17” into set-lists for Departed shows. The refitted outfit is channeling the power chords and raw-bone ballads which vaulted Canada into the status as Red Dirt’s biggest name for so long.
This is not a comeback. This isn’t a rebirth.
This is a rock and roll renewal only an artist with Canada’s strength of will and determined vision is capable of. He’s making great use of a rare chance few artists ever receive. He now knows what he only started to understand many years ago, and his words are all the more impactful as a result.
Midnight River Choir
The story of Midnight River Choir is proof that sometimes great bands just happen. One night, four strangers ended up on a late night float trip down the Guadalupe River. As they made their way down the river singing songs, the beautiful harmonies floated into the heads of sleeping campers. The next morning, the boys overheard a man telling a friend that he was "awakened by a midnight river choir." That was all it took. Eric Middleton (lead singer and guitarist), Justin Nelson (lead guitarist), Jeromy Yager (bassist), and Mitchell Pyeatt (drummer), realized the magic of their combined talents and began writing and performing together under that River-God given name.
The formation of Midnight River Choir was nothing short of a force of nature that now translates seamlessly during their live shows. This band needs no labels or comparisons. Their music speaks volumes about who and what they are. Their lives have been woven together by a strong thread of energy both on and off stage. That energy is raw and natural and soaked up from the earth through their bare feet. They believe that what you get is what you give and they give everything they have to their crowds. When that kind of energy lands back at the feet of the boys it is something of supreme intensity. And no one ever forgets it.
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