The Country genre today is one destined for the Dewey decimal system stretching on aisle after aisle with artists ranging from Hank Williams to Jewel. Establishing a pleasantly unique sound amid this influential mass is not an easy task for any artist, yet its one Cody Johnson Band has accomplished in a respectable way. Fusing country and rock is no new concept, but rarely is it done to the quality by which Cody will soon be known. Cody and the band blend County and Rock; creating something new while still respecting the roots of both genres and styles. There are times their sound seems fit for Nashville radio and others it is unmistakably Texas Country/Red Dirt. The 23 year old artist’s freshly energetic blend uniquely bridges generation gaps between fans. At his concerts you will see teenagers and parents alike singing his songs side by side. Nowhere was this more apparent than when Cody was asked to play to 6000 students at the 2007 Texas FFA Convention in Corpus Christi by several adult fans of his in the FFA administration. Also worth mentioning is when Cody and the boys played several songs with presidential candidate Mike Huckabee at a campaign rally at Texas A&M University in College Station with Huckabee playing Bass.
Cody is making good connections with other talented musicians and has opened for successful artists such as, Kevin Fowler, Aaron Watson, Brandon Rhyder, Stoney LaRue, Zona Jones, Band of Heathens, Jason Allen, Bleu Edmonson, and several others, including Roger Creager. Roger, his band, and his administration all have taken a liking to Cody and the boys and seem to have taken them under their wing providing numerous opening and networking opportunities, advice and experience.
The energy and excitement Cody displays during a concert brings to mind legendary performers such as Garth Brooks, Chris Ledoux, and even Jim Morrison. He specializes in getting the crowd involved and drawing them into the show and fans seem to all pile up at the front of the stage begging to get closer. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the intimate acoustic performances this group gives. With Cody at the center, Matt on one side picking lead and singing harmony and Nathan on the other side playing what seems like an infinite number of sounds on an African Djembe; catching an acoustic show with this group rivals an MTV unplugged session. They still play their own music but also divulge into covers ranging from Hank Williams to Seether, even applying that signature sound to the covers they play.
Cody has been playing guitar, singing and writing since he was twelve years old. Over his 23 years he has written over 200 songs. His entire family is talented in music but Cody is the first Johnson to try to make a living at it. Cody and Nathan met in Huntsville while Nathan was finishing his Marketing degree in January 2006 and they started the band in May of 2006 with Cody’s dad Carl Johnson on Bass. They played as a 3 piece for a year and released their first album together titled Black & White Label. With this album, things started picking up and they decided to add a lead guitar player so Cody turned to his old high school buddy, Matt Rogers. With the addition of Matt, they decided to record a new album at a live venue. So in May of 2007 they recorded the Live and Rocking at Shenanigans Album. Seeing the popularity of this album, Carl realized that they had grown out of just playing for fun on the weekends and was forced to quit the band for his career and family commitments. The guys put an ad on Craig’s List for a bass player which was answered by Danny Salinas solidifying the four piece for another year.
In September 2008 the band embarked on their first professionally produced album. They hooked up with producer Keith Davis in Austin and recorded Six Strings One Dream, which was released September 2nd 2009 with their debut single “Another Try” reaching the Texas Music Chart only weeks after release climbing to #28. Their second single “Nobody to Blame” climbed up to #7 and their third single “Pray for Rain” is already in the top 10 just weeks after release. What’s important to note is that the band financially backed this entire album from idea to finished product and even promotion with only their personal money through savings accounts, personal loans, gig money and part time jobs.
Members of Cody Johnson Band start with Nathan Reedy on drums. Nathan’s taste in rock continually shapes the songs Cody writes and is largely responsible for their country and rock blended “signature sound.” In fact, a majority of their songs are written and arranged in an “on the fly/improv” manner on Cody’s back porch with Cody singing and playing guitar and Nathan playing the Djembe. Nathan’s influence is most apparent in songs he and Cody wrote together such as “Take the Devil Home,” “A Bottle and a Bible,” “Texas Kind of Way,” and the song the new album got its title from and the bands first Top 10 hit “Nobody to Blame.” The prodigy Matt Rogers’ mathematical and systematic electric guitar playing gives each song its flavor, while his harmony vocals flawlessly blend with Cody’s voice. Danny Salinas on bass shakes the walls with the grooves he and Nathan hammer out in the pocket. 2010 along with the release of Six Strings One Dream has brought on additional key members. One is Jody Bartula on Fiddle. Jody began playing at the age of 7 and has shared the stage with artists such as Daryl Dodd, Jarrod Birmingham, Zona Jones, Django Walker and many more. For the past year he has been playing for Texas singer/songwriter Jason Allen touring regionally and in Europe. The second is the power house addition of Jeff Smith on lead guitar. Jeff started playing guitar at 8 and performing live at 9 years old as a singer/songwriter. He lived in Nashville for 3 years as a recording artist for Showtime Records where he learned crucial fundamentals about the music business and what it takes you to be a successful musician. His talent has been demonstrated in the presence of the industry’s most familiar artists such as Merle Haggard, George Jones, Tracy Byrd, Jason Aldene, Mark Chestnut, Gary Stewart and Asleep At The Wheel just to name a few. For the last 10 years he has been traveling North America and overseas with Nashville Recording Artist Zona Jones until recently committing to the CJB full time. The calculated mixture of these 6 members and the talent and experience they bring with them has been the vital part of the bands recent quick and upward movement.
You can hear Cody Johnson Band’s music, browse photos, buy merchandise and see their schedule at www.thecodyjohnsonband.com, and www.myspace.com/codyjohnsonband. You can purchase digital copies of their music through itunes. Their music can also be bought on ourtracks.com where they are always in the top 3 selling artists. Be sure to call your local radio stations to request their music, or log on to radiofreetexas.org and bigstar97.com. They shouldn’t be hard to find because no matter where you go in Texas lately, there’s a lot of talk and buzz about Cody Johnson Band. As Andrew Griffin from the Red Dirt Roper described them, “A relatively new face on the Texas/Red Dirt scene that is bound to gain increasing attention in 2010.”