My love for live music runs deep. I’m not talking about those big stage concerts where the music overpowers the vocals and everything sounds overproduced like it does on mainstream radio. I’m talking about what happens on the small stage. Where the fans and artists have a much closer connection.

My first introduction to real live music was a Jason Boland acoustic show for a friend’s birthday my Freshman year of college. Couple that with my move to the home and heart of Red Dirt music, Stillwater, OK, and I’ve been sold ever since. Get out there on the dance floor, give us a little room, and we can two-step and (at least attempt to) swing dance all night til we feel like our feet will fall off the next morning.

Before I left Tennessee, I had the great opportunity to sit in on a show from one of my all-time favorites – Cody Canada. I’ve followed this guy since the early music of Cross Canadian Ragweed and now love the Southern Rock/Bluegrass feel of his latest chords as part of the Departed.

I’m a big fan of Cody Canada, but I’m becoming a big fan of Seth James as well. This guy can sing some soulful ballads. These are probably my two favorite songs of the set. These are just the acoustic versions, but hearing them live will send chills down my spine.

It was a Tuesday night show in Knoxville, so a large crowd really wasn’t expected, but ended up, only about a dozen of us were in the building when Cody Canada, Seth James, Jeremy Plato, and the guys took to the stage. They cut their set list in half, come off the stage, and picked up the acoustics and picked away for a few hours singing most of my favorites. It wasn’t the biggest nor loudest concert I’ve ever been to in my life (and I went to several in Stillwater), but boy it was one of those nights that will stick in my mind forever. It was the last time I’ll get to see them together like this, because Seth recently announced that he’ll be leaving the Departed for his own solo career. Admiring these guys on the stage and then having them get off and strike up conversations with me like it was just another night on the town was a pretty awesome experience. I’m pretty sure I wore a big grin on my face and appreciate those guys so much for taking the extra effort and time to make a stop in Knoxville for such a small crowd.

Cody Canada and Seth James

Cody Canada and Seth James

Cody Canada and Seth James

The Red Dirt and Texas regional artists don’t make a killing making music. They’re on the road nights are year than most people can count. But I’m pretty sure they have some of the most genuine, passionate fan bases of any music sub-genres across the country. At least I’m sold on it.

Here’s hoping I get to catch more live music like this in Montana!