By: Heidi Hopf
Growing up in Norfolk County is not something I know very much about. Although, being a city kid raised with country values I just figured that maybe I understood. It always seemed to me that maybe all those little towns sitting so close together would give a person a wider sense of community, a special kind of loving hardness that leads to a make-do attitude, and the overall idea that life is best lived slow. After my chat with country artist Cody James Wood, I realized I was on the right path.
While growing up in Norfolk, Wood was able to absorb and create a variety of music that not all musicians have the luxury of having directly at their fingertips. It all began with guitar lessons where he would insist on the first song he learned being “Man Of Constant Sorrow.” Then having the chance to solidify his country roots with friends of his deceased grandfather showing him the ropes by including him in their frequent kitchen jam gatherings.
Next, Wood would need to evoke that make-do country attitude after friends of family booked him to play a benefit gig in three week’s time. Unfortunately, he did not, nor had ever had a band. So he set out to scower his high school for bandmates and pull something together.
“So first day of school, I ran around the school and no one knew how to play. I went up to my buddy and said ‘hey you got a drum kit in your basement, right?’ … o.k. you’re the drummer.” bAnd so his first band Full Circle was formed and continued to work together for the next five years.
That farm country sense of community would appear when he met Mike Swanzey through playing in the hard rock band Morbid North. Wood explained the impact this union held for him. “I became really good friends with them, I also taught guitar for them. They would host open jams every Friday night in their parking lot just for the kids in downtown Simcoe and whoever else randomly came along. Right at the time, I needed to start that first high school band I was already going there. I wouldn’t be in bands or doing music if it wasn’t for him. I owe a lot to him.”
It was here that Wood would learn how to properly play Ragga Tone riffs from Jamaican gospel/reggae drummer as well as get involved with his next project a Prog-Metal band called The Shroud of Gaia. That band would go on to win a battle of the bands at The Hard Rock Café, gaining newly found mega fan Tyler Stewart of Barenaked Ladies, as well as playing Dream Theaters Progressive Nation at Sea Festival Cruise.
A year later Wood, left the county vibe and The Shroud of Gaia and moved to Brantford. Once here he returned to his country roots and began playing solo to make ends meet. “I had started writing and started playing guitar just at home and whatnot. I had all this gear at home just collecting dust. So ya… I needed to get by so I had to start playing.” Wood explained.
I’d never wish hardship on a fellow man, but if one man’s strife is another man’s pleasure, what a pleasure it is. His heartfelt originals and well-rehearsed covers will bless your ears and warm your heart. The well-written lyrics that nearly anyone can find a way to relate to, combined with his booming country bass voice, are always a treat for me.
Cody James Wood originals run strong with thoughts on the human condition, change, and longing. When asked how he handles his writing process he merely stated, “What writing process?” and went on with the interview. It was semi-refreshing to hear an artist admit they just allow things to come to them naturally. An indicator that this man understands the comfort of living slow and the desire to live it easy.
Not only does Woods provide solo acoustic performances but also fronts the three-piece outfit Three Legged Horse, as well as his new duet Northern South with country singer Jacqui Verelien.
Too many times the idea of becoming a product of your environment is thought of as a bad thing, but after listening to Cody James Wood, you’ll be thankful that you can’t always take the country outta the boy.
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