Cody Canada just might be the perfect performer to help launch Joe’s Bandstand, a new venue for live music in Old Town.
The location’s owners are focusing on the Red Dirt country genre that’s been thriving for years in other parts of Wichita. Canada helped make popular a song – “Boys From Oklahoma” – that practically defined the genre.
“That’s kind of what we’re shooting for,” said David Allan, a partner in Joe’s Bandstand. “We’re shooting to bring people downtown that normally wouldn’t come down here.”
Canada recorded the song – a paean to a substance that was recently on the minds of Wichita voters – while part of Cross Canadian Ragweed. The Stillwater, Okla.-based singer now heads up the Departed, which will perform at Joe’s Bandstand on Monday.
In a telephone interview from Lincoln, Neb., Canada said he’s appeared here at least a half-dozen times for shows at the Cotillion, as part of his past or present band.
“Kansas has been good to us,” he said. “It’s so close to Oklahoma. We started in Stillwater, really not that far away.”
Canada was lead singer and songwriter for Cross Canadian Ragweed from 1998 to its breakup in 2010, helping sell more than a million albums. He started the group as a 17-year-old, heavily influenced by performers such as Merle Haggard and Todd Snyder.
“I grew up on good music. I’m really fortunate. I had country on one side of the house and ’70s rock and roll on the other side.”
In January, the Departed released a new 11-track CD, “Hippielovepunk,” a title that speaks to some of the other influences on what’s basically a country-rock band.
“We’ll be playing the new records, and we’ve already started with some new material,” Canada said of what the audience at Monday’s show can expect.
Canada said his songwriting has evolved, partly in response to the birth of his children, now ages 6 and 9.
“I’ve moved on a little bit, especially on this latest (CD). I’m guessing I’m watching too much television. The news just depresses me. Instead of writing depressing songs about what’s happening in the world, I’ve tried to make them inspiring – ‘let’s join together and fix this thing.’”
Canada said he’s still trying to build the Departed up to the level reached by Cross Canadian Ragweed. During the current band’s first couple of years together, he refused to play songs by Cross Canadian Ragweed. But many are back on the playlist now.
“There are some nights that are heavy on Ragweed, and some nights where there’s just not a need,” he said. “It just depends how we feel that day.”
With a laugh, he added: “Since I did that, our crowds have gotten bigger.”
That sounds good to Allan, one of the partners in Joe’s Bandstand.
The venue is an expansion of Joe’s Oldtown, the bar and restaurant next door, and has room for about 200 people, a stage and a dance floor. Any overflow can spill into Joe’s, to which it’s connected.
Allan said he’s looking to attract the country rock-loving crowds that flock to Club Rodeo, the Cotillion and – before it closed – Denim and Diamonds. For some reason, those people haven’t been going to Old Town to hear music, he said.
Because of its size, “We don’t have to put 2,000 people in here to make money,” he said.
Instead, the idea is to offer Joe’s Bandstand, which opened March 21, as a weekday venue for touring bands on their way to gigs somewhere else.
“We’re hoping to catch the up-and-comings, get them a little more exposure,” Allan said.
Allan said he has friends in the music industry helping put out the word about Joe’s Bandstand and is also working with several talent management agencies.
Local bands will play most weekends. The Aaron Woods Band, which is based in Stillwater but includes members with Wichita roots, plays Saturday. Local singer-songwriter Timmy Jonas and his band, the Whiskey Militia, will open for Canada.
“It’s a building process,” Allan said.
If you go
Cody Canada and the Departed
With: Timmy Jonas and the Whiskey Militia
When: 9 p.m. Monday
Where: Joe’s Bandstand, 218 N. Washington
Tickets: $10 and $15 at the door or selectaseat.com (ages 21-plus)