Live Last Night: Cross Canadian Ragweed

Cross Canadian Ragweed, a leader of the guitar-based regional rock clique known as Red Dirt bands, doesn't get commercial radio airplay. If any of the veteran Oklahoma quartet's romantic or druggie anthems makes the playlist of a college station in College Station, that's good enough for CCR.

It's all about the live show for this bunch; three of the group's nine albums were recorded in clubs or dance halls. But Wednesday at the Birchmere, CCR showed itself to be a bar band with arena band tendencies. Frontman Cody Canada kept the club's front room full of rapture for two-and-a-half-hours.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

Canada led his followers, a hard-drinking and devoted bunch, in singalongs of the rolling-papers-and-bongs chronicle, "Boys from Oklahoma," and the tale of road romance, "Alabama." He did it while oozing stardom even beyond that name of his, which he swears is real.

Canada has let people in tattoo parlors do godawful things to his body over the years. But despite all the tagging, Canada, with necklaces and bracelets and earrings and long, dirty blond locks, is a very pretty dude -- in a '70s, Steven Tyler sort of way.

And he loves his work.

His guitar break during the straight-ahead rocker "Lighthouse Keeper," like most of his solo runs, climaxed with Canada's whole body quivering and his head tilted upward with his eyes rolled back in his head. His stage presence and Big Rock antics were impossible to resist.

Guys in cowboy hats and boots pumped their fists and the girls in licensed CCR wear -- and only a couple years past their sorority formals -- screamed sweet nothings at the stage all night long.

As a bar band would, CCR threw a lot of covers into the set. Some were a little obvious: Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," the Doors's "L.A. Woman" and snippets of the Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil" and the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" showed up. But, best of all, CCR jammed through a 10-minute version of Ray Wylie Hubbard's murder song, "Wanna Rock and Roll" that had the club shaking. Hubbard's a hippie songwriter and another Oklahoma native that only a small portion of the outside world knows anything about. But that doesn't mean he ain't great.

-- DAVE MCKENNA

By J. Freedom du Lac |  February 26, 2009; 1:31 PM ET Live Last Night
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