Stoney LaRue and Cody Canada
14492 Old Bandera Rd.
Helotes, TX, 78023
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM
This event is all ages
Stoney LaRue didn't plan to take six years between studio albums, but there was an awful lot of life and music going on. For one of the icons of the Red Dirt Music movement, it was always about the moment that drove him to his next destination.
"I had a fiddle player and people kept telling me, 'You need to get a band'," recalls the performer/songwriter. "Live at Billy Bob's was like jumping straight into the fire: two weeks after putting the band together, we recorded the album, hit the road and did 250 dates a year. We never looked back."
Not looking back has been an earmark of LaRue's roots hybrid, a sweeping musical narrative that embraces a man's yearning, vulnerability, venality and desire. Though not meant to be a "state of the drifter" album, Velvet weighs the cost of being a man who lives by his own code against the reality it creates for others in his wake.
"I'm a big fan of looking up at night to what's out there– and there are a lot of questions that come along with that," LaRue confesses. "I'd like to think I understand myself – and the world I live in. I'm a father. I'm a husband. I'm a friend. I'm an asshole sometimes – even though I don't wanna be. I'm a seeker. I'm a player. Maybe, too, I'm trying to figure out how to share something with people that will draw them deeper into who they are, the way music does for me.
"Music can heal. It can inspire. I know that much. I don't know if this record will do those things, but I sure hope it might."
After six years and all that living, Velvet marks a new kind of cohesion for the man who's built a career on live performances. Working with award-winning producer Frank Liddell (Miranda Lambert, Chris Knight, Lee Ann Womack) and Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Patty Griffin); Velvet was recorded over three years in Nashville, and finds LaRue melting down the playbook and expectations for everyone involved.
"I met Frank through Enzo, my manager, and we spent some time together – and Frank said, 'I'd like to make a record on you,' and that was three years ago. I didn't really know what that meant, but I liked him, and liked what he said about music..."
Liddell enlisted Glenn Worf on bass, Randy Scruggs on acoustic, Glen Duncan on fiddle, Chad Cromwell and Fred Eltringham on drums, Oran Thornton on guitar and Jim Hoke on accordion, steel and flute. Recognizing the power of cohesion for LaRue's voice, Liddell recorded the sessions with everyone on the floor, letting the musicians bleed into each other's tracks. "It was Frank's genius idea to put us ALL in a room together and FEEL the songs be born."
"Chad Cromwell, who plays drums for Neil Young, said he'd not done anything like this since the '70s. All these session players, who do this for a living, really made me feel like this was something special for them," LaRue explains.In an attempt to draw out the sentiments beneath the surface, Liddell introduced LaRue to several "outsider" songwriters, including Mando Saenz. Saenz was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico and has lived in North Carolina, California, Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee. He understands the reality of being a man always en route to somewhere else, the quest that is life. "There's a real non-pretension to how he writes... He's a poet, and when we start talking about life, it's amazing what comes out.
"I think I had blinders on in a lot of ways, and was surprised what was there when the blinders came off. The more I was seeing about what could go into the songs, the more layers kept being revealed."
Certainly, there is a mystical, cedar'n'sunlight-on-the-dust nature to Velvet. In "The Travelin' Kind," LaRue ponders the reality of those who stay in one place versus those who're born to drift, "The apple don't fall too far from the tree, but the apple never swam in the deep blue sea/ Maybe you're just not a lot like me..."
"When we were writing, I wanted to be honest. I think the delivery behind these songs is important. There's a vulnerability to what you do, and a potential for so much more. Maybe your life is turned upside down, but as a man you can crawl out of it, and as a father, you can take care of your family, try to help find the bigger plan."
Life isn't just about contemplation, though. There's also an edge of lust and danger. As the fiddle-stitched "Sirens" whirls through a brisk core sample of desire and life on the run, LaRue suggests that restless doesn't always mean comfortable. Nor is it the ultimate end game.
"Velvet's silky melody and gentle rhythms show the singer self-aware, recognizing that he's got too many miles behind him to deserve the person he's singing to, and yet... he wants her to touch his soul, to lighten his life, to make him somehow more.
"I've always tried to watch people," he says. "People's eyes are the windows to their soul, and when you look – even from the stage – you can tell how they're doing, what they're getting from us. It makes me want to stay connected and deliver at the same time. When people hear the songs, you can see it on their face. You can see it, too, still rippling when they're done listening to a song or leaving a show. It amazes me, really, how a little positive can undo a lot of negativity. It may not be the cure for cancer but my way of trying to help change the world, my palette has been my music"
Velvet paints a picture of what it means to be free but aware, willing but uncertain – and always, always drawn to the light. "I believe in a lot of things: Trust. Friendship. Smiling. The beauty of it all. And hope. Hope is one of the bigger ones...Somewhere out there, it'll all come together," Stoney LaRue is sure of it – and it echoes on all 10 tracks.
Cody Canada was 16 years old when he made his way from Yukon to Stillwater, Oklahoma. He had been searching for some inspiration; a place to call home musically. What he found was a creative nirvana of musicians who were generating the music that would stay with him for the rest of his life. "It was like the greatest place on earth, " Cody recalls. "I met Tom Skinner, Scott Evans, Bob Childers, Jimmy LaFave, 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."
During the 15 years that Canada was front man for Cross Canadian Ragweed, he successfully tapped into those influences on each of their nine albums. Four of those nine charted on Billboard's Top 10 Country Albums over the course of the years, thousands of albums were sold and the band played to sell out crowds across the country helping to spread "red dirt" music. But the one thing that Canada wanted to do in honor of his musical heartland never came to fruition…until now.
In the wake of Cross Canadian Ragweed's decision to part ways, Cody resurfaced with an armament of musicians and a mission in mind. With his long time Ragweed band mate, Jeremy Plato (bass) the two made a seamless transition into the world of The Departed, as in 'Cody Canada and The Departed". "We kicked around several ideas for names," Canada said. "We're all from different bands and we wanted something to sound like we came from different places. The Departed was right on the money." Along with Canada and Plato, The Departed rounds out with Seth James on guitar (Seth James Band, Ray Wylie Hubbard), Steve Littleton on B3 organ and keys (Live Oak Decline, Stoney LaRue & the Arsenals, Medicine Show) and Dave Bowen on drums (Stoney LaRue, Bleu Edmondson, Dale Watson).
Because they have traveled in the same circles for years, the band members are all familiar with each other and familiar with each other's style of playing. More than likely they've all played on the same stage at one time or another already. It's this familiarity with each other that made their first project so uncomplicated. Although The Departed is writing and will record original material, the band's first priority was getting into the studio and cutting the Oklahoma tribute album that Cody had been wanting to do for years. The result is This Is Indian Land, The Departed's debut album set for release this spring.
This Is Indian Land is a 15-track deep "buffet of really kick-ass Okie songs," Canada states. He jokingly says "It might sound like originals because not many people have ever heard these songs". But in fact, the album is loaded with well-known selections like Kevin Welch's "Kickin' Back in Amsterdam" and "True Love Never Dies", JJ Cale's "If You're Ever in Oklahoma" and Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer Leon Russell's "Home Sweet Oklahoma".
Of course there were a few tracks picked for more personal reasons. Cody notes, "'The Ballad of Rosalie' (Randy Pease) was the first song I ever heard in Stillwater. 'Little Rain Will Do' (Greg Jacobs) is just an awesome historical song I've been wanting to record since the first time I heard it. Randy Crouch's 'Face On Mars' really kind of frightened us. A lot of people wanted us to do it but we didn't know what to do with it. We sat there for a whole day trying to get it arranged and find a groove for it. We made it happen and it's one of my favorites on the album".
This Is Indian Land was recorded at Yellow Dog Studios in Austin, TX. As if the album content and inspiration weren't Oklahoma enough for The Departed, Yellow Dog Studios and owner Dave Percefull got their start in Tulsa. "It really kind of tied it all together," Cody says. "I walked in and saw all the pictures of these Stillwater guys hanging on the wall and thought 'Man, this is exactly where this album needs to be cut".
Cody Canada & The Departed is already making waves on the road. With the recording of the album behind them and a brand new year in front, the band has hit the road like only professionals know how to do. As excited as they are about their gigs, they are taking it all very seriously. "It's funny because with Ragweed we got to a point where we didn't have to practice. We were playing so many shows we could just get up there and do the tunes, right? Well 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."
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