Written by Eddie Ferranti
Jul 25, 2008 at 08:00 PM
ImageHad a mixed bag of an evening in Houston recently at the Showgrounds. Rosie & I went out early to the Sam Houston Race Park where the Showgrounds is located inside the racing oval.  As always, we received VIP treatment from Gina Rotolo. GR and Mandy Love are a breath of fresh air as far as treating the media such as ourselves in an orderly fashion.

The evening was surprising pleasant with a breeze kicking up most of thee evening. One of the coolest deals about coming early is that once the gates open (8:30pm), you can go into the concert area and still play the ponies!  The girl accepting your bets was beyond helpful with the not too sharp on betting public, too.  Better yet, when you placed your bet and grabbed a cold beer, you could wander out to a bird’s eye view of the stretch run of the horsies!  You were right next to the tote board.  I grew up going to the horse track with my dad and to be so close and hear the “thunder of the hoofs” was beyond a  cool memory for me.  This reviewer actually came out $11 to the plus side, too!  “Almost” enough to cover two $6 beers…Oh yeah. there was a gig, too.

The band this evening was Cross Canadian Ragweed.  Rosie had turned me on to their latest CD, “Mission California”, awhile back and I’ve been spinning it off and on for the past 3 months.  Their combination of rock and country was interesting and I thought they would play well live.  From that stand point they did not let me down at all.  Ragweed seems to be still trying to figure out what they want to be on stage from my perspective. They came out “Goth Country” like, with DARKNESS  and red backing lighting for the most part of the first 3 songs when photographers (like yours truly) get to shoot pics. Puzzling at best while bands like these approve folks to promote them, yet jack them off with zero lighting.  Oh well, being the photo wizard I am (HA!), I still managed to control my redass and get some worthwhile shots.

The Oklahoma foursome has been banging it out for 13 years and 6 studio albums (8 total).  To be this talented and be under the radar this long is rare. Frontman Cody Canada is the real freakin’ deal.  This baritone baddass has the rare trifecta of singer/songwriter/kick ass guitar player.  The dude stirs the drink as far as mixing the tight ass tunes with a bunch of punk like attiude.  They kicked butt on new ones like “In Oklahoma” and “Jenny”. From the opening bell, I could not believe how hard these guys can ROCK.

Hell a good friend of mine told me he saw them do an encore in Forth Worth of Nugent’s classic “Stranglehold”.  I bet it was sweet.  The refreshing aspect of this group is rocking and still being able to hear the lyrics on CD’s. On that aspect live this night, they were a bit too loud, which is common these days at concerts for 35 and under crowd. If you listened from the back concession area, the sound was crisp and clear. A shame really.  This a band that I believe will soon shed the label of “cult-band standing” if they play their cards right. I would really like to give them another shot in a smaller venue next go around. Keep up the good work Showgrounds!  Until the next one I’m out…