Cody Canada and the Departed, Sons of Bill
Sons of Bill brought their trademark high-energy set to their old stomping grounds while opening for Oklahoma’s red-dirt legend Cody Canada and his new band the Departed on March 25.
The Sons started off with “Charleston” and marched through other old favorites and a few songs from their new record, due out in August, including the well-loved “Santa Ana Winds.” The familiar faces of hardcore SOB fans were everywhere, a testament to their popularity in Charleston. By the end of the short opening set, the band and most of the smiling audience were drenched in sweat.
Cody Canada fronted the country rockers Cross Canadian Ragweed for 15 years, but he recently left the band in December to start a new project he’s always wanted to do. With the Departed, he’s put together a crew of friends and colleagues to make a tribute to his old-time Oklahoma roots. The result is This is Indian Land, a 15-song collection of covers of old Okie songs due out in June.
With Seth James on guitar, Cross Canadian Ragweed holdover Jeremy Plato on bass, elder statesman Steve Littleton on B3 organ and keys, and Dave Bowen on drums, the guys have traveled in the same circles for years.
An early highlight was “True Love Never Dies,” one of two Kevin Welch songs on the new album, where Canada put some soul into his singing and Littleton laid down badass organ chops. The full sound of the organ was in effect. His solos were fantastic.
Before breaking into another highlight, Randy Pease’s “The Ballad of Rosalee,” Canada thanked the crowd for listening to the new stuff.
With a great double-time beat, they rocked the classic “Rosalee.” The few diehards in Cross Canadian Ragweed shirts in the front loved it.
While the musicianship was solid, the body language of the band was tired and fatigued. They lacked the charisma that so engages Sons of Bill with their audience.
As the show went on, James and Littleton each sang a song. Canada did a few alone, too. They seemed a little lackluster, losing a good portion of the crowd.
Although the members of the band have been doing this for decades, it’s fair to chalk it up to them being a new group that’s still developing the right chemistry. But in future performances, they would do well to showcase these songs with the energy they deserve.