Cody Canada Talks About The Past and Present

Former Cross Canadian Ragweed singer Cody Canada's current band, The Departed, is a properly named one. In May of 2010, Ragweed, or CCR as many fans still refer to them, were arguably the most beloved of all Red Dirt acts. It was then the band made national news by announcing they would be taking a break from touring after 16 years in order to allow the band's drummer and founding member, Randy Ragsdale, to stay at home in Oklahoma and help care for his special-needs son.

At the time, the announcement was presented as something akin to an amicable family decision. Guitarist Grady Cross was quoted in an official statement from the band as saying, "I'm sure we'll be back on the road soon."

Now, almost two full years removed from the biggest break-up in the young Red Dirt scene's history, Canada is rolling in a new direction. The Departed's 2011 debut album, This Is Indian Land, comprised of cover songs from some of Canada's Oklahoman musical heroes, has been well-received and the band, which includes guitar virtuoso and songwriter Seth James, keyboardist Steve Littleton, drummer Dave Bowen and fellow Ragweed alum Jeremy Plato, has been a steady draw on the road. Even though Canada is enjoying himself and feels rejuvenated by this still-fresh pursuit, it's clear there are some remnants from the past that must be addressed before he can move ahead.

Canada (behind the wheel) and The Departed.
Canada (behind the wheel) and The Departed.

"There was one person who really wasn't happy, regardless of what the situation was," Canada says over the phone as he and The Departed gear up for a run of shows with Shooter Jennings. "Once things started getting uncomfortable and just weren't going right, Randy said he wanted to go home and take care of his family. When Ragweed played our last show, Randy came up to me and said, 'You know, my family isn't 100 percent of the reason for this. I just didn't want the band to go out like that,' which I knew.

"So I said, 'Here's how we should say it: If we say it's a break-up, then it looks really bad, and if we say it's a hiatus, people will think one day, we'll get back together.' But that's not how it was, or how it is now. We just wanted to protect the name of the band."

The reason for the band's discomfort was friction, which had been building for months as the group played to the biggest crowds of their careers.

"It's been long enough and I'm tired of covering up for a certain guy," Canada says, detailing the circumstances that brought an end to his first band. As popular as Ragweed had become, most fans simply accepted it was indeed Ragsdale's need to be home with his family as the only reason the band shelved themselves.

Citing legal advice to not speak specifically about which band member Canada was experiencing the most creative and personal friction with, he instead refers to a show where three of the four Ragweed members performed after the break.

"Three of us did a show in Steamboat [Colorado] earlier this year as Cross Canadian Ragweed," he says. "And the three of us are cool with each other."

The member who didn't perform in the short-lived reunion: Ragweed guitarist Grady Cross.

"There was one person who wasn't happy from an artistic or business perspective," Canada says. "We decided that in order to press forward as individuals, we should just split it. I'll just say that the person in question was uncomfortable, and it was time to move on. It's not fun to play music when one person from the band isn't into it."

Before Canada and Plato could forge ahead with a band that was only beginning to find its footing in a live setting, Canada had to also have a tough talk with the drummer he had known since kindergarten.

"Once 10 months or so had passed after the break-up, Randy called me and said, 'I can't take it, I miss playing music too much, is there a spot for me?' We had talked about the possibility of doing a double-drum thing, but I had to tell him that, 'There are more people in The Departed than there were in Ragweed, and some of the places we're playing have stages that can barely fit our gear. I just can't afford to feed your kids.' He understood, and he's been playing with Stoney [LaRue] since."

While The Departed features a few Ragweed tunes in its set list, and Canada understands fans will always hope to hear their favorite CCR tune, he's excited about working with longtime friend Seth James. In fact, the seeds for The Departed were planted well before Ragweed's collapse.

"About two years before Ragweed ended, Seth and I were kicking this idea around for a band," he says. "And, no offense to the guys I was playing with at the time, but I was getting kind of bored, so we decided, 'Why don't we record something? Life's too short for us not to record some stuff together.' When Ragweed tapered off, I called Seth and said, 'Man, I think this is more of a life than a project.' And he said, 'I'm in.' We're now sitting on 25 to 30 new songs. We're both really excited to get creative."

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13 comments
Susan Edgar
Susan Edgar

I wish Cody, Randy, Grady, Jeremy, Seth and all of the rest the best! It's not our place to judge. We all have our reasons for doing what we do. Yes, I do miss Ragweed. Happiness and All The OtherThings was one of the best albums of all times and I am also loving CodyCanada and The Departed's new music. Cody is an exceptional writer and musician and also puts on a fantastic show. If you are ever in Yukon, go visit Grady's 66 and go see Cody Canada and the Departed every chance you get. I wish you ALL the best!Love,Crazy Susan :)

Bksorsby
Bksorsby

The Departed are outstanding as the album speaks for itself. We have had the privlege of seeing Cody and Seth perform a few times before This is Indian Land was released. We could see the amazing talent and connection they had together. We have also seen the Departed. If you have a love for good music and great talent this is it. It does not take away from Cross Canadian. Past it past and this is their present and hopefully future for a long time. We as fans do not ever really know what goes on behind the scenes nor should we in my opinion! Enjoy their God given talents and enjoy the music! Can't wait for their next release with some of all their music on it!

Lappo
Lappo

If Cody's goal was to come off as a prick, job well done. Seriously, what was the goal here? What was the point of the article? 1 sided hit piece against a guy you spent half your life on the road with. Sad.

Monica
Monica

Thanks for sharing and doin this interview, Cody. I heard about this on the Ranch the other morning and decided to read for myself. I think you guys are all very talented musicians and I'm happy for the direction all of you have gone. As long as you keep makin music you love you'll be happy and so will the fans! I see the posts below and seriously hope those people understand they don't know the whole story- and probably never will. I hope you guys all find peace with each other long term. Don't let the negative people get I you- you're on the road doing your thing and they can't even post their real name!

heyhey
heyhey

the most negative person in the article is....drum roll please...cody canada...tis well and good to keep things private, however, to infer that one member was responsible and then to childishly and negatively not even say THEIR REAL NAME is repugnant and disgusting...

Jeremy
Jeremy

I'm happy Cody shared this. It's unfair for him, Plato and Ragsdale. They've been getting asked about a reunion for 2 years!! Obviously the break up had other contributing factors, but the fans deserve to know what happened. Cody didn't throw anyone under the bus, he just told the truth. As far as not having Ragsdale in Departed, he was basically saying he couldn't pay him enough to support his family that's all. I'm happy they've all found a new home to make outstanding music. And it speaks volumes that Grady Cross is the only member not playing anymore.

Boopyle
Boopyle

why did you feel the need to put gradys head on the block? i mean how old are you ! do you really think your fans give a f#%k if you and grady dont get along any more !! come on cody not cool not cool at all! i bet randy loves you saying you cant feed his kids! remember it was randy who started ccrw!and everyone knows his the best! and i for one i'am happy stoney has him ! grow up !!

heyhey
heyhey

this mans been stabbed thirty times in the back and everyone agrees it was a suicide pact...you make me want to puke, cody canada...

DJ Mike T
DJ Mike T

Great article Cody, we love y'all!

Mike TodaroSanta Fe, Texas

Mark Robertson
Mark Robertson

Cody, I had a feeling when you said there was one member that was unhappy, the first person who came to mind was Grady. Glad Randy has a place with Stoney, but I am looking forward to seeing your new group play. I loved Ragweed and I am sure that The Departed will kick some serious ass. Best of luck to you and Jeremy. PEACE!!!

 
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