American Aquarium

Hailing from Raleigh, NC, American Aquarium’s southern musical perspective is a blend of honest songwriting, an unwavering work ethic, and a genuine love of rock & roll. Whether you call it alt-country, Americana, or roots rock, one thing is for certain: Their music is a fresh voice that borrows from many forms of the American songbook.

25-year old songwriter and band leader, BJ Barham, brings songs to the five other band mates who breathe life into a performance that is equal parts Springsteen-esque rock bravado, old-school country lyrical heartbreak, and indie-rock introspection. From the college coeds to tattooed bikers and hipsters, the band has demonstrated their ability to cross boundaries.

With 5 years, 5 albums, and over 700 shows under their belts, American Aquarium is the continuance of the road warrior meets studio craftsman ethic that has long been a part of the rock & roll and country music cultures. They are a band and crew that spend their lives between a van with no air-conditioning and stages all across the country. Their collaboration forms a wholly new and polished version of what Americana might start to look like in the years to come.

Cody Canada & The Departed

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 frontman 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."

For more information about Cody Canada & The Departed or This Is Indian Land visit

Darren Hoff & the Hard Times

Darren Hoff spent nearly a decade singing and playing guitar with The Weary Boys, a band who's roots trace back to Eureka California before the founding members moved to Austin in 2000. They crisscrossed the nation dozens of times and self released six records. The boys called it quits in the summer of 2007 and after finding his first day job in over six years Darren's first thought was "I better start writing some songs". Nearly two years later Darren Hoff and his new band dubbed "The Hard Times" entered Jumping Dog studio with 10 tunes penned by Darren and an old Charlie Poole song.

The selection and inclusion of Darren's new band-mates came through a mix of circumstance and intention. Ben Massey, lead guitar, relocated to Austin a decade ago from his native Maryland. He has played more than a thousand gigs with various acts around Austin, a good number of them opening for Darren's old band. Darren and Ben kicked around the idea of starting a side project together for years but both were too busy for it to get off of the ground. That changed early in 2008 when they got together to work on a few of Darren's songs, put together a set of covers, and started booking some off-night gigs as a three piece with various bass players.

Brandon Burke was next to join up with a simple "sure" when Darren asked him "hey we have a show tomorrow, do you want to play drums with us?" Burke a recent transplant from Yakima Washington with an odd musical background, a paring of Metal and Jazz might not have been an obvious choice but they immediately clicked.

Florida born engineer Jim Hawkins made his way to Austin via Hawaii, California and Belize. He became friends with Darren and Brandon when they worked together at a music shop. Early in the summer of 2009 he signed on to record and co-produce their self-titled first release. The recording process and working relationship was so fruitful with Jim adding keys to a few tracks that he started sitting in at live shows. It was quickly decided that his keyboards, harmony vocals and acoustic guitar were a perfect fit and before completion of the recording he became a full member.

After a handful of bass players used to gig they were fortunate enough to get legendary Gilley's bandleader and David Allen Coe alum Billy Dee to start the recording process laying down bass on 9 of the 11 tracks. Meanwhile former co-worker at the same music shop and lead guitar player in local indie rock band The Alice Rose Gregg White popped in to say hi and mentioned he had recently purchased a new bass. Well the Hard Times needed a bass player for a gig two nights later and Gregg fearlessly jumped aboard. One gig turned into another and Gregg ended up doing the final recording sessions for the record.

The quintet look forward to gigging, writing and recording for years to come.

$12.00 - $100.00

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