Music News & Reviews

The scoop on Cody Canada? Red-dirt roots

Cody Canada said that his songs “reminds (listeners) of what country music was.”
Cody Canada said that his songs “reminds (listeners) of what country music was.”

Most people might not find inspiration in a spat between their children, but most people aren’t red-dirt rock ’n’ roller Cody Canada.

“My youngest yelled, ‘You’re not the boss of me,’ at the other one. And that song (“Boss of Me”) kind of wrote itself right after the argument between those two,” he said. “It was a sibling spat that turned into a rock ’n’ roll thing.”

The 39-year-old lead singer and guitarist will take the stage Tuesday at the Stoney Inn with his band, the Departed, for an unscripted show that’ll throw in the old – some songs from the songwriter’s Cross Canadian Ragweed days – with the new: freshly written, unrecorded songs the band debuted on its current tour.

“In the beginning, I didn’t want to do those old songs just because a lot of folks thought I was going to fail without Ragweed,” he said in a phone interview this week. “(But) I had folks in California tell me that it wasn’t the band they missed hearing, it was the songs.”

The Departed has released three albums since forming in 2011; its most recent, this year’s “HippieLovePunk,” reached the ninth spot on the U.S. Country Billboard charts.

Canada and his bandmates’ country isn’t characterized by that made-for-radio Nashville sound; its foundation is grittier, with roots in the red dirt of Oklahoma, where Canada told “Rolling Stone” his heart is, and in Texas, where he has lived for 13 years.

It’s been easy, he said, to stick true to his red-dirt roots because it’s the music he’s passionate about and the band does it as a team.

“There’s so many people that hear this kind of music and then never go back to the Nashville stuff, ’cause it reminds them of what country music was,” he said.

“When I first realized I could write my own stuff and play what I wanted to and by my own rules, I knew that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

Canada finds inspiration across genres, citing the Who, Pearl Jam and the Eagles as well as country legends Steve Earle, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.

“You could tell that (the things Haggard wrote about) really happened to him. It was therapy for him to get out,” Canada said. “I just followed suit and started writing about things that I needed to talk about.”

Canada’s sons, who are 7 and 10 years old, are involved in theater and playing guitar. Canada said they follow in his footsteps when it comes to music: “They know what bad music is.”

“It’s not because I’m saying (Nashville country music) is bad,” he said. “They’ve just listened to such good stuff since they were born that they know what a real song is.”

Ashiah Scharaga: 916-321-1673, @AshiahD

Cody Canada and the Departed

Where: Stoney’s Inn, 1320 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento

When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 18

Cost: $15; 21 or older only

Information: 916-402-2407l