Goodbye to Ragweed

I was in Las Vegas over the Labor Day weekend and I had a Cross Canadian Ragweed shirt on one day.
“You must be from Texas or Oklahoma,” a woman on the monorail said to me with an accent that suggested she was from one of those two places herself.
I said no, just a fan from Salt Lake City.
Her statement, however, somewhat epitomized the career of the Oklahoma-based quartet. They’re a band that always seemed to be on the brink of mainstream success. But somehow, mainstream radio outside of Texas and Oklahoma mostly managed to ignore them.
Now, sadly, the last chapter of Cross Canadian Ragweed may about to be written.
Sunday, Ragweed will play what could be their final show.
For 16 years, Cross Canadian Ragweed have been one of the hardest touring bands in the nation without exception, consistently playing 200 to 250 shows a year. They either play country music with a rock edge, or rock music with a heavy influence from the Red Dirt Music scene, depending on your point of view.
Ragweed’s history in Utah goes back to the days of the old Dead Goat Saloon. In January, they played a sold out show at The State Room with plenty of people waiting outside the doors hoping for an extra ticket. If it was indeed their last ever Salt Lake performance, it was a nice way to go out. Fueled by the crowd response, the band put on one of their best shows ever in Utah.
In May, Ragweed announced they were going to take an indefinite leave of absence. The decision came after drummer Randy Ragsdale told the rest of the band he needed to spend more time at home with his 10-year-old son who has autism. Rather than find a replacement drummer, the band remained loyal to each other and decided it would be a good time to take a break.
Ragweed quickly reworked their remaining shows, which were already booked through October (including another Salt Lake appearance), and cancelled all but a handful of dates for 2010. Their last show is Sunday in Chicago at Joe’s Bar.
The band’s name is a combination of the names of the members: Cody Canada, Grady Cross, Randy Ragsdale and Jeremy Plato. Canada and Plato have already announced plans to form a new band. That band, with the current working name of The Cody Canada Band, will perform at the Steamboat Music Festival in January.
Cross Canadian Ragweed are a band that may not be well known in Utah or who got the mainstream breakthrough they deserved. But they left a legacy of quality, timeless music that provided enjoyment for a lot people. It’s not too late to discover this band. Who knows? Maybe Sunday will just be the start of a long break and Ragweed will be back in a few years. And if they do, hopefully there will be more fans in Utah anxiously awaiting.

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