2009 Artist Lineup

Cross Canadian Ragweed

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Cross Canadian Ragweed knows all about the ritual of keepin’ on — and leaving nothing in reserve. The Oklahoma quartet has been pushing it to the metal for 13 years, through four studio albums, an equal number of live sets and 260 or so nights on the road every year. They don’t skimp. They don’t compromise. They play, and live, with genuine abandon and wouldn’t have it any other way. “Man, there were never any other options but to stay together and play music,” says frontman and songwriter Cody Canada. “We’ve always wanted to do what we’re doing. We never thought we would be Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, but we always wanted to be around for along time.” “We figure if we’ve been around for 13 years, we’ll be around for 30.” The key is that Canada and company — guitarist Grady Cross, bassist Jeremy Plato and drummer Randy Ragsdale — keep doing it better each time out. The latest evidence of that is mission california.., the most ambitious and accomplished album CCR has made to date and a triumph by any musical measure. Its 14 tracks — from roadhouse rockers like “Record Exec,” “Smoke Another” and “Deal” to the buoyantly poppy “NYCG” and gentler moments such as “Dead Man,” “Soul Agent” and “Lawrence,” which features longtime friend LeAnn Womack — find the group assured and upbeat, even when Canada’s lyrics are attacking personal turmoil and music biz tribulations. “I think it’s the most personal album we’ve ever recorded,” Canada says. “Lyrically it’s more personal. A lot of the songs I write are about what’s going on around me and not about myself; this one I had some things happening within my family that made me kind of step back and look at what’s going on in my life and write about it.” Canada adds that “time and sobriety” were the keys in making mission california. successful. For starters, CCR chose to again work with fellow Okie Mike McClure formerly of the Great Divide, a longtime compatriot who was newly sober as the band started to work on its new songs in December. “He was with us on our first gig. He knows exactly what we sound like and want to sound like,” Canada explains “We’d never been shitfaced in the studio before,” Canada notes, “but when (McClure) was drinking we’d drink with him just to cope.” “But this time around he was three months focused and 100 percent sober. That helped a lot. We felt born again on a lot of these songs on the record.” CCR and McCLure hit Strate Studios in Santee, California, near San Diego, in March. They cut the basic tracks in five days, then spent the next 20 polishing them and making adjustments — a luxury the group never had before.”We never really had time to do studio stuff ’cause we were always worried about getting back on the road,” Canada says. “This time we’d record, sit back and listen and say, ‘Nah, that’s too digital. Let’s yank that and do something different.’ It was us sitting back and really listening for once and really harnessing it on a studio record.” CCR has been working towards this point since forming in 1994 in Yukon, Oklahoma, and subsequently developing its craft in the potent Stillwater scene and building an audience with its relentless touring schedule. The band had built a buzz on college radio even before its debut set, Carney, came out in 1998 on its own Underground Sound label. The group’s self-titled 2002 set brought it into the Universal Records South family, which also released 2004′s Soul Gravy and — 2005′s Garage — both of which debuted in the Top 10 of Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart –and last year’s concert souvenir Back To Tulsa: Live And Loud At Cain’s Ballroom. “The years,” Canada says, “have taught us to be patient and you’ll find yourself.” And, he adds, “it’s no small matter that the four members of Ragweed have made that journey together.” “We’ve been friends since we were 10 years old,” Canada explains, “so all the penny-ante bullshit, the arguing over stupid things, we got that out of the way a long time ago. We’re lucky to have the same group of guys in the band for so long and get along so well.” “Sometimes we overlook it. But when we stand back and look at the whole picture and realize how lucky we are to have grown up together first and then had a band and still be together after all this time. It’s a pretty special thing.”

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