Over the years I have seen many different bands. There have been nights I have witnessed greatness, meltdowns, forgotten lyrics, surprise guests, and I am sure other things that I can't remember as I type this. I meant to write this article about The Departed when they played at The Palace and when they played at Sam's Burger Joint's Americana Fiesta deal, but I get distracted easily and kept putting this on the backburner. When my friend Tonya and I went to The Lone Star Music awards The Departed won a few awards with Cody Canada winning musician of the year, I got to thinking about how long I had been listening to some variation of what we now know as The Departed. When I talk about what I have been listening to for the last ten years Cody Canada is one the names I come back to time and again. Whether we are taking about Cross Canadian Ragweed or The Departed. My first introduction to Ragweed came at the hands of my friends now ex-boyfriend who was a rodeo cowboy with some pretty good music taste even if he and I couldn't see eye to eye on anything else. When I first heard the name Cross Canadian Ragweed, my first thought was really how good could these guys with the goofy name be? So I did what I typically do. I avoided listening to them any way I could. I had more than a few chances to see them, but I flaked out at the last minute. Fate stepped in though and I didn't avoid the chance to see them when they came down to River Road Icehouse one summer night. I was convinced to go, so go I did. Keep in mind this was the summer after high school and those parents of mine kept me on a short leash (a short leash I broke away from any time I could). If they knew I was going to New Braunfels I wouldn't have been able to go (also keep in mind if I listened to my mother I would have never gone past the sidewalk in the front yard either)...so I did what any girl who rebelled would do I said the concert was in town and I would be home by midnight. That didn't happen of course...good times...At the time I also thought New Braunfels was a world away. Now for me it is like driving to the north side. I can't remember who opened the show that night but I remember when the band stepped on the stage. The first riff from the guitar was different from what I had heard from the radio I was listening to at the time. I was mesmerized from that point on. I made my way to the front of the stage pushing past the smelly tubers, pushy people, and who ever else was in my way to the front of the stage. There I stood witnessing Cody, Grady, Jeremy, and Randy play those songs I shunned. Suddenly the band with the goofy name stood for something to me that night. I bought every Ragweed album they put out, every bit of merch I could afford, and was at every show they played in town. I felt like the cool kid cause I knew who these guys were. I wore my shirts with pride and slapped a ragweed sticker on my little gold car (the original Goldie). When I got my truck affectionately named Goldie also, another sticker went on that. From Ragweed I learned about Boland, Stoney, Wade, Bleu, Reckless Kelly and learned about their influences from Oklahoma, Texas, and beyond. Their songs were the soundtrack to my twenties. When I was angry I had Don't Need You or Leave Me Alone, when I was sad about a guy I had Broken, Lonely Girl, Jenny, Alabama...Without Ragweed I wouldn't know the genius of Tom Skinner. When I heard of the breakup of the band I wasn't even sure I could handle it. I mean who was I going to see all the time now...It was only fitting that my friend who drug me to first ragweed show was the person that I drug to my last ragweed show. Sitting there in the crowd at Whitewater it was closing out a little chapter in the life of Lauren. It was time to move on to a new show. With Cody and Jeremy joining forces with Seth James, Steve Littleton and now Chris Doege they have created something special...Something I always appreciated about Ragweed was they always were quick to show audiences where their influences came from. When This is Indian land came out I remember my die hard ragweed friend telling me she didn't like the cd. I had the chance to see The Departed in Gruene I think before that cd came out. I already knew some of the songs that were going to be on the cd and while it wasn't the same band I was used to I wasn't ready to throw in the towel on the band like some. This is Indian land was an homage to the heroes of an Oklahoma scene that helped make the music we have available to us possible. Many of the same songwriters I listened to or wanted to know more about were on this cd. With Adventus the guys showed us what the wait for their own album was for. Songs like Blackhorse Mary, Prayer for the Lonely, Demons, and Hobo were quickly added to any all playlists I have. While it isn't the band I grew up with it The Departed is now the band I am getting older with. When I asked the members of The Departed about doing solo things they all have the same commitment to this band. Which is good cause this fan can't handle another break up.
Here are the pics my dear friend Tonya Hill took that night at The Palace.