Cross Canadian Ragweed, Drowning Pool and Kinky Friedman on Their Worst Gigs Ever

Categories: Interviews

Caity Colvard
Cross Canadian Ragweed on a better day.
When things go horribly wrong and then keep going that way, there's no better strategy to maintain your sanity than to think about the story you'll have. Music writer Jon Niccum has collected a bunch of those stories from musicians and published them in a book called The Worst Gig: From Psycho Fans to Stage Riots, Famous Musicians Tell All, which you can buy here. To give us the flavor, Niccum's shared a few Texas-centric anecdotes. Below, you'll find Cody Canada talking about Cross Canadian Ragweed's shitty experience in Nebraska. Then Dallas' Drowning Pool tries out some misguided stage banter, and noted politician and dog-lover Kinky Friedman gets belligerent on SNL.

The group Cross Canadian Ragweed was cooked up by singer Cody Canada, guitarist Grady Cross, drummer Randy Ragsdale and bassist Jeremy Plato---its name derived from a combination of Cross, Canada and Ragsdale. The band honed its sound in the early 1990s while based in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2001, the members relocated to Texas, developing a rabid following---in part because of extensive touring---before disbanding nine years later. The quartet became emblematic of the American Red Dirt movement known for merging country and rock.

"It was Gordon, Nebraska. It was the biggest shithole gig we've played. We'd been on a seven--week run...Everybody was missing home and missing families. We'd actually come home for one day for a friend of ours' birthday party. Then we turned around and went to Gordon, Nebraska. We'd just been there. It was under one hundred miles from Sturgis [South Dakota], and we'd just played Sturgis. We thought, 'This better be a pretty kick--ass gig if we're taking two days off just to drive.'

"We got there and it was in an outside rodeo arena. The trailer we played on had particleboard sides and roof, and they had gotten it stuck in all the cow shit and horse shit earlier that day. They were trying to pull the stage out and they swung shit all over---so it was green, dried crap. They asked us to have a bite to eat because they were cooking steaks. We were sitting in the horse--stall area, and there were flies buzzing all over the food. People were actually sitting in piles of horse shit.

"The guy walked up to our road manager and said, 'You know, Randy Travis said this is the worst gig he ever played.'

"We thought, 'Why in the hell would you repeat that?'

"They were harping on us all day to play country--friendly songs for the crowd because there were a lot of older people there who were sponsors. But we said, 'You hired us, so we're going to play what we are.'

"Halfway through the set, the guy came up to our road manager and asked if we could finish the night playing nothing but Willie Nelson---which if it was our idea, we'd have done it.

"That was the worst gig ever. Usually our contract is ninety minutes, and we play two hours and fifteen minutes. But that was one of those where right when the clock hits that ninety--minute mark, 'We're out of here!'"


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