published Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Cody Canada & The Departed opens Riverfront Nights — Aug. 3

Cody Canada & The Departed, featuring Chris Doege, Seth James, Canada, Steve Littleton and Jeremy Plato, from left, will open this year’s Riverfront Nights concert series Saturday at Ross’s Landing.
Cody Canada & The Departed, featuring Chris Doege, Seth James, Canada, Steve Littleton and Jeremy Plato, from left, will open this year’s Riverfront Nights concert series Saturday at Ross’s Landing.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

• What: Rivefront Nights featuring Cody Canada & The Departed, with No Big Deal opening

• When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3

• Where: Ross's Landing, 100 Riverfront Parkway

• Admission: Free

• Phone: 423-756-2211

• Website: www.riverfrontnights.com

'EXTRAS'

Various local businesses and groups that focus on healthy and outdoor living are featured.

• Young Professional of Chattanooga GreenSpace -- Tennessee Wild, which is dedicated to protecting the Cherokee National Forest.

• Under The Pup Tent at The Dog Pound -- McKamey Animal Center and free pet portraits by H. Wheeler Photography

• Activities on the Green -- Showcasing the "longboard," an oversize, old-school skateboard

Part of the appeal of "red dirt" music, a sound birthed in Oklahoma years ago, is that it is a mix of sounds that can be found in surrounding states.

That's one of the reasons Cody Canada so readily took to it when he moved with his family at age 16 to Stillwater, the place where the sound, or at least the name, got its beginnings.

On "Adventus," the new album from Cody Canada & The Departed, you hear a little Cajun and some Mississippi Delta blues. You hear country and bluegrass, and you even hear some South Georgia/Allman Brothers influence, thanks in part to the Hammond B3. It's a sound Canada has been mining since his days with Cross Canadian Ragweed, which he fronted for 15 years before the band parted company.

"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," Canada says in his online biography.

"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."

On Saturday, Canada and The Departed will headline the first Riverfront Nights concert of the season at Ross's Landing. Riverfront Nights is a free series that features music with weekly themes related to healthy and outdoor living. It is family-friendly and dog-friendly.

The Departed features former Ragweed mate Jeremy Plato, along with Seth James, Steve Littleton and Chris Doege.

"Adventus" is their first album of original material, and Canada says the red dirt sound is definitely there. He says the sound originated with Woody Guthrie years ago and picked up steam with Bob Childers.

"Somebody asked him what it was or how he would describe the music, and he said, 'It's as honest as the dirt is red,'" Canada says in a telephone interview.

Canada says growing up as a musician in Oklahoma opened his eyes to all types of music, and that openness allows him to explore new things when it comes to writing and recording.

"I was influenced by everyone from Merle Haggard to The Who," he says. "I think it's a good thing. I've never angled for a particular sound."

Today he finds influence by listening to new bands and music at the many summer festivals The Departed is asked to play.

"I'm a listener," he says. "I love to discover new music."

Canada's latest project is a solo live acoustic CD, which he recorded last weekend in Texas.

"I've done a thousand acoustic gigs, but I've never recorded one," he says. "I like the storytelling part of music, but I've never really sat down and explained my songs."

Personally, he doesn't like to hear the back story behind songs he likes, but he did always wonder about one in particular.

"There is this song by a friend of mine named Will Kimbrough called 'Hill Country Girl.' I bet I listened to that a thousand times, and I couldn't wait to find out who she was. I went to see him one time in Nashville, and he said it was about a girl who just walked into a bar while he was soundchecking, and she was so beautiful he decided to write a song about her. I was hoping for more."

Sometimes it's better to not know where a favorite song came from, he says.

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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