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{Off The Cuff} Ragweed Rewind

Over the past fifteen years, Cross Canadian Ragweed, has carved themselves from a garage band of teenagers into one of the most finely shaped rock bands in America…or the world. What may seem like hyperbole to some is in fact backed up by the facts that the band has set several concert attendance records, released several critically acclaimed albums, blazed a trail to a major label deal, played in every corner of the country and heavily influenced just about every band to come out of Texas and Oklahoma over the past ten years.
The band built on the foundation laid by folks like Mike McClure and the Red Dirt Rangers among others to develop their own sound that was steeped in 90’s alternative rock just as much as it was the canon of Guy Clark. They were able to take the art of of traditional folk/country singer songwriting and pair it with rock guitars. In many ways, they not only reinvented what many knew as country music; they breathed life into the long stagnant sub genre of southern rock.

Due in large part to Ragweed’s musical acumen and rapidly growing fan base, the Texas/Red Dirt scene blossomed over the past decade. Their music has opened up venues that were previously shuttered, helped open music business companies that otherwise wouldn’t exist and they have been often imitated by many upstart bands who attempted to recreate the same rowdy country-rock assembled by Ragweed. In addition to the many copycats, Ragweed has lent a musical hand to many bands and have bolstered the careers of Randy Rogers Band, Wade Bowen, Micky and the Motorcars and Stoney LaRue among others.

Webster’s defines “band” as a company of persons or, sometimes, animals or things, joined, acting, or functioning together. These four guys were a band in the truest sense of the word. They functioned together…onstage or offstage they were brothers in arms fighting for music they believed in and people they believed in…each other. Cody Canada was the consummate frontman who became as adept at whipping crowds into a frenzy as he did delivering heartfelt lyrics. Grady Cross was the yin to Cody’s yang, always balancing the twin guitar attack with a grounded approach that always supported the music first. Jeremy Plato redefined bass playing in a scene full of on-the-1 thumpers, as well as, delivering some of the most solid backing vocals in a touring band. The guy who kick-started the whole thing, in more ways than one, was Randy Ragsdale who seemed to be the glue that held things together as bottles flew and life interrupted their traveling party at times.

Beset by various tragedies including the death of Randy’s young sister Mandi in a car accident, the band never hesitated to use their burgeoning notoriety for a good cause. They have played countless benefits and raised untold amounts for various charities. This facet of their career inspired many other bands and fans to help others in need.

The story of Cross Canadian Ragweed hasn’t found an ending yet; they are just on a hiatus. Together or individually, these four guys, their family and crew will continue to make an impact on the Texas/Red Dirt scene they helped to grow.

(photo credit: Dallas Morning News)

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