Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Billy Joe Shaver, Robert Earl Keen, and now Cody Canada.
Cody Canada’s name has been etched alongside these greats and many others as a MusicFest tribute artist. MusicFest, an iconic music festival that takes place in Steamboat Springs, Colorado every January, is one of the biggest events of the year for the Texas/Red Dirt scene. Hosting all of the biggest acts on the scene, The MusicFest and its participants also pays tribute to a legendary artist each year whose impact deserves recognition.
Cody Canada, an Oklahoma native who has achieved legendary status by way of Cross Canadian Ragweed and now with his band The Departed, received the honor in 2020. One of the first artists to take Red Dirt music national, Canada was without a doubt one of the most important artists on the scene throughout the 2000s, and he still remains a huge influence on independent country music.
A year after the festival’s tribute to Canada, in a year where the event unfortunately had to be cancelled, a tribute album of songs he has written or co-written performed by other Texas/Red Dirt artists at The MusicFest 2020 has been released. The Years: A MusicFest Tribute to Cody Canada and the Music of Cross Canadian Ragweed hit Spotify on January 8, and it includes 17 fantastic covers of songs that deserve to be covered much more than they are.
Here are some of my favorite covers from the album.
“Johnny’s Song” – William Clark Green
“Alabama” – Courtney Patton
A stripped-down version of Ragweed’s most streamed song, Courtney Patton’s rendition of “Alabama” is incredible.
“The Years” – BJ Barham
Barham took to Instagram on the 8th when the album was released to pay homage to Cody Canada, and to share some highlights from his year.
“Every January, for the last eight years, we’ve made our way out to Colorado for the annual Music Fest in Steamboat Springs, CO. Every year, the festival pays tribute to a singer/songwriter and last year the recipient was our buddy Cody Canada.
Unlike most of the people on this tribute, I didn’t grow up with Cody’s music. We didn’t become friends until after his band, Cross Canadian Ragweed, had broken up. I originally turned this tribute spot down because I didn’t want it to seem disingenuous, but Cody kept asking me to play a song. I told him that the only way I would do it was if he picked the song for me. I didn’t want to do one of his hits or a crowd favorite.
Instead, I wanted to do the song that he was most proud of as a songwriter. He picked “The Years” and that’s the song I did. I’m honored to have been a part of it and proud to call Cody Canada one of my closest friends in this business.”
“Constantly” – Parker McCollum
“Sick and Tired” – Wade Bowen and Jamie Lin Wilson
“Don’t Need You” – Read Southall Band
Read Southall Band has been touted as the next Cross Canadian Ragweed before, and while there will never be another Ragweed, this cover certainly helps their case. RSB’s cover of “Don’t Need You” sounds very similar to the original version.
All of the other songs are definitely worth a listen, too. Here is the whole tracklist.
1. “Constantly” – Parker McCollum
2. “Bang My Head” – Copper Chief ft. Cody Canada
3. “Don’t Need You” – Read Southall Band
4. “Fightin’ For” – Reckless Kelly
5. “17” – Jamie Lin Wilson
6. “This Time Around” – Randy Rogers
7. “42 Miles” – Casey Donahew
8. “Sick and Tired” – Wade Bowen and Jamie Lin Wilson
9: “Carney Man” – Mike McClure
10. “Breakdown” – Bruce Robison
11. “Alabama” – Courtney Patton
12. “Johnny’s Song” – William Clark Green
13. “On a Cloud” – Doug Moreland
14. “Run to Me” – Bri Bagwell
15. “Broken” – Stoney LaRue ft. Cody Canada
16. “Dead Man” – Jade Marie Patek
17. “The Years” – BJ Barham