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Live at Billy Bob's Texas: Cross Canadian Ragweed

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Album Review

Some time ago, much of what used to be called folk-rock/singer/songwriter and light pop/rock music retreated to Nashville and Austin and started to be considered as vaguely country in style. If Cross Canadian Ragweed's major-label debut album is to be taken as an example, what used to be thought of as mainstream or classic rock is doing much the same thing. The Oklahoma-based rock quartet, who issued four low-budget albums independently, is here working for a new Nashville entity called Universal South, an imprint of the Universal Music Group run by Tony Brown, who brought such mavericks as Lyle Lovett and Steve Earle to Universal's MCA Records when he was there, and Tim DuBois, formerly of Arista Nashville and a proponent of Texas songwriters like Robert Earl Keen. In Cross Canadian Ragweed, they have found what is essentially a Southern rock bar band led by a good singer/songwriter/guitarist, Cody Canada, who probably has at least as many Bruce Springsteen records in his collection as those of the Marshall Tucker Band and Waylon Jennings. Road veterans, the musicians have a tight ensemble sound that showcases Canada's twangy lead guitar playing, his light baritone (which is often reminiscent of Earle's, though not quite as nasal and accented), and his thoughtful songwriting. Unsurprisingly, as a lyricist, Canada is concerned with that constant young man's struggle, breaking free of society's constraints, but he has a good eye for detail and an ear for a telling phrase: "You're always 17 in your hometown," if a bit overused in leadoff single "17," is an excellent way of putting the challenge of small-town living. Still, what impresses most is the overall sound of a band who has forged a distinctive style within a conventional genre through years of playing. This certainly doesn't sound like anybody's first album.


Formed: 1994 in Stillwater, OK

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Cross Canadian Ragweed established themselves as a relentless touring band throughout the Texas/Oklahoma area and then broadened their reach, nationally releasing several albums of rabble-rousing alt-country. Formed in 1994 in Stillwater, OK, the band took its name from those of its members: frontman and lead guitarist Cody Canada, drummer Randy Ragsdale, rhythm guitarist Grady Cross, and bassist Jeremy Plato. Though the band toured heavily from its inception, establishing a particularly strong fan...
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Live at Billy Bob's Texas: Cross Canadian Ragweed, Cross Canadian Ragweed
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