Cross Canadian Ragweed To Stop Touring

Hard-touring country rockers Cross Canadian Ragweed announced they’re coming off the endless road to allow drummer Randy Ragsdale to care for his son.  Ragsdale, who has an autistic son, let the band know that he needed to be at home with his family.

“For many years my band has been my top priority,” Ragsdale said in a press statement. “Being in a touring band you have to give it your all, give it 100%.”

Ragsdale went on to say that his 10-year-old son J.C. is struggling in his development and needs his father at home. He said he encouraged the band to get another drummer and forge on, but they declined.

“We’ve always said from the start, we’re Ragweed as the four of us, or not Ragweed at all,” said front man Cody Canada. Bassist Jeremy Plato added, “We’ve been at this for a long time, we’ve all had to spend time away from home missing birthdays, holidays? It’ll be good for us to have a breather.”

Santacular Christmas Song Countdown – #16 – Rusty Bladen

You will notice, if you are a longtime reader, I throw in a fair amount of unsubstantiated opinion on my way to passing along facts. In reality, if you have read the blog posts over the past year, you already know – via these little nuggets of insight that roll out of my brain, into my fingers and onto the computer – what I like. And trust me, this has everything to do with the song at #16.

If you listed the six (I needed six – five wasn’t enough) musical sounds/songs/albums/artists that are the influences behind this here Rockforward site, it would read like this:

1. The trio of Mellencamp albums in the mid 80’s – “Uh-Huh”, “Scarecrow” and “The Lonseome Jubilee”. Anyone who is 35+ that likes the music we do should recognize how much these albums – especially “Scarecrow” – influenced tons of Americana and roots-rock bands and fans.

2. Tom Petty. Anything Tom Petty.

3. Those late 80’s bands that came on the heels of Petty and Mellencamp (including Gear Daddies, Uncle Tupelo, BoDeans, Del Fuegos, Georgia Satellites, Jason & The Scorchers, Lone Justice, and regional/Indiana artists like Larry Crane, Duke Tomatoe, The Hammerheads, and Henry Lee Summer. That is some and there are more ) Alt-country before they called it that. Heartland rock at the time.

4. Springsteen – for the majesty of the rock and roll, the brilliance of the lyrics, and the passion of the live show. And for the lineage to bar band rock and R&B  (like the outstanding J. Geils Band)

5. Power Pop. I think Cheap Trick is woefully underappreciated. Rick Springfield’s “Working Class Dog ” album should be considered great power pop/rock. The Cars debut album is one of the best records in the rock music era. Matthew Sweet’s “Girlfriend ” record was killer. I saw the Romantics live at a bar in 1989 and they were loud, into the performance, and rocked hard, fast and righteously.

6. The current crop of bands that carry on the sounds: Bottle Rockets, Todd Snider, James McMurtry, Cross Canadian Ragweed, and Will Hoge among many more…

So that’s where I come from. And it leads to #16 on our countdown of 20 Christmas roots-rock songs. Indiana’s Rusty Bladen has been working for the past 20 years in the bars, clubs and parties throughout the state. I’ve known him that long, first meeting him when I was a radio jock down at WORX in Madison, Indiana – I was just out of college and had a Sunday night radio show and eventually did mornings for a couple years. He was just starting his solo career after a few years in cover bands. He now plays mainly solo live shows that are always high energy. His sound hits all of the influences I already cited.  His writing is blue collar.

About a year ago, he released “Feels Like Christmas”, a holiday album of 11 classic Christmas songs and one original – the title cut. That’s the one we have here. Mellencamp drummer Dane Clark produced the effort, and made it all sound really good.  A great country rock/heartland/Americana record. The record is simply my favorite Christmas album of all time. Overstatement? Nah.  Listen to the album.

Here’s the song, with it’s  fun, quaint, and homegrown video.

Roots Rock Notes: Gaslight Anthem live acoustic, Wilco on tour, Petty kicks back, Son Volt’s new album

I have your audio, your video, the news you didn’t know, and it’s all free. Unbelieveable, I know.
.: Hey, ho, rock and roll. Deliver me from nowhere… :.

•Brian Fallon and his band The Gaslight Anthem are one of the (deservedly so) hot bands right now – schooled in the art of the garage rock and the rock-with-a punk-edge bands like The Replacements. “I don’t think there would be a Gaslight Anthem without the Replacements,” Fallon told SPIN Magazine. He played an acoustic cover of the Minnesota indie band’s “Left of the Dial,” and it is posted on the magazine’s website.
Watch 3 song acoustic session including “That ’59 Sound” and “Left of the Dial”.

WILCO IN BLOOMINGTON w/ Hawk and a Hacksaw opening
•A legendary alt-country band, right? One step removed from Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy and his band are in Bloomington for a show at the Jeff TweedyIU Memorial Auditorium on April 16. It’s not sold out; kinda interesting. The band plays two nights in Milwaukee before coming to Bloomington, and both of those are sold out, though the proximity of Milwaukee to Chicago aids that sale. (you can hear two previous concerts on their website)

According to the band site, a still-untitled next Wilco album is nearing completion. Jim Scott and the band just finished mixing in Jim’s studio in Valencia, California. They list song titles, though the record isn’t sequenced and some titles may change:
Deeper Down
Conscript (aka I’ll Fight)
One Wing
Wilco (the song)
Country Disappeared
Bull Black Nova
Sonny Feeling
You and I

WILCO American Tour Schedule (from

→Son Volt will return this summer with their sixth-full length album. The new record is titled American Central Dust.

→Rosanne Cash is dipping back into her childhood for her next album, “The List”.”‘The List’ is based on a list my father made for me when I was 18 years old,” Cash tells Billboard. “He called it the ‘100 Essential Country Songs’ and said if I learned this list, I would be truly educated. We are culling about 15 songs from the list, and re-interpreting them, with the respect of an archivist…”.

→Ron Wood said that he’s recorded about a dozen songs for a solo album called “More Good News.” Produced by Bob Rock and Wood , with gueststhat include Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.

→Sister Hazel plays at the Bluebird in Bloomington on Friday night.

“We played on the last tour and there were some empty seats here and there and, well, there shouldn’t be any empty seats at an E Street Band show,” he told the LA Times. “I hold pride that we remain one of the great wonders of the world . . . so sometimes you got to remind people a little bit.”
read full story

The Beatles whole catalog is going to be digitally re-mastered and released on September 9. The remastered discs will be available individually in stereo and in two box sets – one stereo and another in mono. Please Please Me, With the Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night, Beatles for Sale, Help!, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, Yellow Submarine, The Beatles (The White Album), Abbey Road and Let It Be all get remastered, plus Past Masters I and II.

→The David Lynch Foundation’s Transcendental Meditation benefit in New York became a Beatles reunion of sorts as Ringo Starr joined Paul McCartney on stage for the show’s three-song finale at Radio City Music Hall
read story here

John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives
John Paul Keith is a native of Knoxville, TN, living in Memphis and has played in a lot of bands (The V-Roys, among others). Listen to his tunes on myspace and if you want to (BOOTLEG ALERT) download a free live album of his work, click on this link
“This was a gig I did in Knoxville at the Corner Lounge about 3 years ago, with a pickup band put together by Jeff,” Keith said. “This was an important gig for me at the time, because I hadn’t played my songs in public in about 2 years, and it was really great to play for the home folks. It really inspired me to get going again. Not long after that show, the One Four Fives eventually got together in Memphis.”

•Inside the randomness that is my digital library. Shuffling the iPod, and we take the first five tunes, starting now:

1. “Lookin’ For Love” – J. Geils Band
From a bootleg recorded in Detroit in 1977. They are the only band I have never seen live that I really wanted to. I grew up in Michigan, so word would filter out of Detroit that the band had played some four-hour show at a club. By the time they went big with Freeze Frame in 1980, the nastiness was a bit worn off. Their live albums before that, especially “Blow Your Face Out”, are essential.

After spending most of this decade on hiatus, they played the new House of Blues club in Boston in February and will return to Detroit to play the Fillmore April 24.. The HOB set was reportedly great, as the Patriot-Ledger described the band as “light-years beyond every expectation, inhumanly tight despite a lengthy hiatus, and palpably enjoying every minute of their return”.

2. “That’s What I Am” – Dan Baird
Off his first solo record “Love Songs for the Hearing Impaired”, this is a party song set to a Chuck Berry-meets-Replacements groove. The hit off this album was the cute but cool “I Love You Period”. I saw this tour in Fort Wayne, with a band that had (speaking of the Replacements) Slim Dunlap on guitar.

3. ” So Hard Done By” – The Tragically Hip
Who the hell is Tragically Hip, you ask? Probably one the most critically acclaimed rock and roll bands to come from Canada. Another show I saw in Fort Wayne (at the same bar as Baird too). Really underplayed on radio stations of America. They are like a Canadian Cheap Trick – been around forever, melodic songs, and great live show. They also harken back to the 70’s with echoes of REO along with a definite 1990’s alt rock taste, yet not overwhelmingly so.  I hear BoDeans in their music too.

4. ”Kiss Me in the Dark” – Randy Rogers Band
Some of that great Red Dirt country rock, out of Texas and Oklahoma. One of my favorite sounds is this little genre. Cross Canadian Ragweed, Stoney Larue, and Charlie Robison are just a few who have made a career touring Texas. Rogers has now been on Letterman and “The Tonight Show” in the past year.

5. “Fallen Angel” (live) – Poison
I’ve got no problem pledging my love to the golden age of Poison, and it survives, even through the whole Bret Michaels “Rock Bus of Love” thing. Part bubble gum rock, part heartland rock (the band is from Pennsylvania, in case we all forgot), and complete candy. Plus the original members are still together, so that counts fror something. Guilty pleasure? Your call.

Tom Petty
•Excellent interview with Tom Petty on his website from late last year that I just came across. It includes the greatest answer ever to the the following question:
Interviewer: “Tell me about a day-in-the-life of Tom Petty, off the road and out of the studio. What’s on the itinerary?”
Tom Petty: “It could be any number of things. That house I have on a lake plays a big role these days. I get some books, sit around and read for awhile, then maybe go out on my boat and try to catch a few bass, come in and watch a few movies in the evening, maybe smoke one, play guitar or noodle at the piano. But this not working thing is, for me, really harder than working” (laughs).

Read full interview (.pdf) – interviewed by Warren Zanes, former guitar player for Del Fuegos and now a Ph.D who teaches, and was a past VP of Education at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

BONUS: I am in Indianapolis. Heartland and shit. So I want to feature some Indiana roots rockers on the blog; there are many around who fit not-so-neatly into the Americana genre.  Look for them here soon.

“Check check. One-two.  Testing one-two…ssss. Ch…ch…Check.” 
Let’s make sure this thing is on…
Blue Flannel Shirt – Rusty Bladen

Roots Rock Blog: Pat Green, Henry French, Album Charts, 20 Questions with Cross Canadian Ragweed

From my blog for NUVO  in Indianapolis ( – check it out there a couple times a week for show reviews and info like this:

On the Americana airplay chart from Radio & Records, Otis Gibbs was at #5 with his “Grandpa Walked A Picketline” album. The Gourds “Haymaker!” album is in the top spot, as last week’s #1 album, “Little Honey” from Lucinda Williams falls to #4.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ “Raising Sand,” which won album of the year at the Grammy’s on Sunday, re-entered the Billboard album chart at No. 68, with sales of 9,000 last week. For the chart, most gains are a result of downloads on Sunday night after the show. The Fray earned its first #1 on The Billboard 200 with its sophomore self-titled album selling 179,000. Last week’s #1, Bruce Springsteen’s “Working on a Dream”, slips to No. 2 in its second week with 102,000 sold.

Great little “20 Questions” interview with personal fave Cody Canada of Cross Canadian Ragweed. They blew the roof of the Vogue in late 2008 and defy simple music pigeonholing – they just rock in an American rock and roll way. Check out interview here….

Choose Only One? Live Show Pick: Henry French and the Shameless  rocked Birdy’s on Saturday night (2.14). They have a great EP “Swagger and Sway”. One of those bands (Bodeans, Swinging Steaks, Replacements) that make hook-filled, guitar-driven, songwriting-strong heartland rock records. Hear more here.

Though he has always been my Bryan Adams of country music, I have liked Pat Green for a long time. says his new song “Country Star” (and watch some sidestage video – they come out to “Eminance Front”…) is “hooky, catchy and funny enough to move him from edgy Texas rocker to full-on Nashville phenom. And it’s about time.”He is great live, and I love Texas music, even if Pat has watered his down for more mainstream success. Jack Ingram has done the same. Still, would rather listen to those two than most of the glossy, sugary, disposable country music that is on the radio and dominate awards shows. Dann Huff produces (Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts are two other clients) so that means no rough edges. Still, worth staying on board with Green. Oh, and I liked Bryan Adams until he started to suck.

Randy Rogers Band received an Academy of Country Music nomination this week for vocal group of the year. They will lose to Rascal Flatts, but nice to have a rowdy Oklahoma/Texas/Red Dirt band get noticed.

Finally, an interesting into-the-head blog from Springsteen on his official site. Bruce blogging? Multiple albums in one year? Ten years ago, who would have thought those two could happen? Actually, a terrific blog. (Read it here) Bruce rarely writes prose, instead does interviews and writes songs. So it is a bit unsettling to read. But behind-the-scenes is what we want, right? Plus a striking photo gallery from Danny Clinch.