Cody Canada and the Departed came back to Dallas with outstanding opening acts, Buffalo Ruckus and Shane Smith and the Saints.

The typical late-arriving Dallas crowd wandered in during a fabulous opening set by Buffalo Ruckus. They brought their fans from Denton, Texas, and delivered seven original songs and an incredible version of the Allman Brothers’, “Whipping Post.”

Austin-based Shane Smith and the Saints followed with an outstanding set of their own. They played 13 Texas country songs with some terrific jams, a real enthusiasm for performing, and a stage presence that rivaled better-known artists. These two bands are worth watching to see how they fare in the future.

A big walk-up Saturday night crowd packed the Gas Monkey Live, where the staff proved that great service is still alive and well. Cody Canada and the Departed appeared onstage from the cover of darkness and immediately captured the audience when they opened with “Dimebag,” a tribute to the late, great (and Dallas’ own) Dimebag Darrell.

They continued to keep the crowd buzzing with several Departed songs, which are more rock-oriented than Cross Canadian Ragweed, the former band of bassist Jeremy Plato.

The first half of the two-hour concert filled the arena with terrific music that defied labels. “Worth The Fight,” a Red Dirt country song has elements of both country and Southern Rock in it, along with exquisite keyboard work by Ross Smith.

Cody showed his wide-ranging musical abilities on “Deal,” a song with a catchy hook that moved the general admission listeners to dance. Heads bobbed on “Comin’ To Me” and “Great Big Nothin'” followed by “Hammer Down,” a pure country number that got the cowboys moving.

The crowd roared when the band began playing one of their seminal songs, a fantastic cover of Todd Snider’s “Betty Was Black (And Willie Was White).” The lyrics of this statement song of acceptance were mesmerizing.

The night then took a turn toward Outlaw Country when Mr. Plato sang covers of Johnny Paycheck’s “A-11” and “11 Months And 29 Days.” You knew Johnny was a member of outlaw royalty when Willie Nelson once brought him onstage by saying, “You talk about outlaw, I don’t stand a chance!”

The remainder of the night was country; Texas Country, Red Dirt Country, and Southern Rock, all to the delight of their dedicated fans. Cody added fuel to the fire as the swing dancers created a dance floor for the jam that took place within “Lighthouse Keeper.” It turned into a honky tonk for “Late Last Night,” another dancing song with girls twirling and guys drinking beer because they had absolutely no rhythm.

The audience buzzed for “Years,” a Doors-type song with a 70s vibe. The very underrated Ross Smith shined as he made everyone think of Ray Manzarek at his finest.

The Departed continued with various forms of country for several songs, accompanied by ladies in shorts and short skirts (both with boots) and lots of dancing and swaying to the music. Strong lyrics, rocking instrumentals, and a powerful stage presence highlighted the final few songs. “Years,” “Soul Agent,” “Easy,” and “Inbetweener” were hits with the attentive audience. The crowd sang every word of the last song of the set, an enthusiastic version of “Maybe I Miss Your Body.”

Everyone yelled for more, and they got it when the band came back with a knockout version of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Real World.” This came complete with extensive solos, jams, and Eric Hansen getting a chance to shine on drums.

They continued their 30-minute encore with an extended version of “Sister,” with dueling guitars punctuating a long and rocking jam session. They saved the best for last, though, as the Departed absolutely nailed “Not For You,” a Pearl Jam song that rocked an appreciative legion of fans.

It’s difficult to label a band such as Cody Canada and the Departed as they play so many styles and genres of music in the ten studio albums Cody has amassed with both of his bands. They draw from all brands of country music and the last 40 years of rock and roll.

A prolific touring band, they’re constantly evolving and putting together a show that entertains multiple cross-sections of listeners. They’ve got a rabid following and are gaining new fans with each album and every live show.

Special thanks to Brice and Rachel of Gas Monkey Live. Catch a live show there and enjoy the band and the hospitality.

Thanks also to Bryan, the sound engineer for Cody Canada. for the much needed assistance.

Joe Guzman, of National Country Review, was on hand to capture the event.

Cody Canada and the Departed
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Buffalo Ruckus
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Shane Smith and the Saints
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Gas Monkey Live
Website | Facebook | Twitter