Some might say that Devin Cuddy’s foray into making music was a matter of destiny. Since he is the son of Blue Rodeo founding member Jim Cuddy, it frankly would have been more of a surprise he chosen a career path other than music.
And while skeptics might openly wonder if Devin’s burgeoning career is simply a matter of his family name carrying him forward, we are here to set the record straight:
Devin Cuddy is the real deal. His knack for melody and penchant for finding an original voice stands front and centre on The Devin Cuddy Band’s latest record, Kitchen Knife.
Drawing influence from the worlds of country, New Orleans blues and Dixieland jazz, Kitchen Knife is the culmination of almost two solid years of seemingly ceaseless touring across Canada.
In fact, one of the only things that has kept the group at home in Toronto for any significant amount of time these last couple of months was waiting for the late July release of Kitchen Knife.
“The process of making a record and setting up tours is a long one. I’ve been staring down this album for a long time so rather than its release being a nerve wracking thing, it’s more of a relief that it is finally out,” Devin says.
Born the week that Blue Rodeo began recording their debut effort Outskirts, Devin was enrolled in piano lessons courtesy of his father around the age of 12.
Somewhat ironically, Devin didn’t care much for musical instruction. But around the time was 15 years old, Devin’s love of music blossomed as he discovered Louis Armstrong and other jazz greats in his father’s record collection. After graduating high school, Devin enrolled in the music program at Toronto’s York University, helping cement the path he currently finds himself on.
But because of his family ties and the legendary status that Blue Rodeo have earned within Canadian borders, Devin knew that going into music was going to bring an increased level of scrutiny to his work.
“I did start my career wanting to musically separate myself from my father,” he says. “The music I play is very different from what Blue Rodeo does, which has definitely helped keep the comparisons at bay. But I also realized that Blue Rodeo is family and rather than trying to run from that, I have found a good balance that I am happy with.”
Speaking with the Times & Transcript earlier this year when The Devin Cuddy Band accompanied Blue Rodeo on their national tour, Jim Cuddy said that he wants to be sure that he is always giving Devin the room he needs to grow as a musician and as a person.
“Over the years, I have learned Devin is not looking for advice. He is not looking for the advice of old timers,” Jim says. “Devin is very observant and knows what is happening around him and has a good understanding of how bands operate.”
Devin can appreciate his father only wanting the best for him. Devin acknowledges that his father has done a remarkable job ensuring that he is available should he need a resource or advice but more often than not, leaves him to his own devices.
“I think it’s hard for my father sometimes because his instinct is to nurture and not run the other way. He is happy to help when I ask. As a young musician, he is a wealth of knowledge. While he has been incredibly supportive, he has never been overbearing.”
A different wealth of knowledge that Devin chose to recently leverage was hiring Blue Rodeo co-founder Greg Keelor to produce his latest album, Kitchen Knife. After having initially tested the waters between them last November, Devin says recording with Greg was a terrific experience.
“When you are working with someone who has a long history of making great records, I think it would be totally expected to feel a little timid or nervous. I’ve known Greg my whole life, so to have him suggesting ways to make our songs better with his 30 years of experience, helped make the whole process of recording an album great.”
One of the most notable traits about Kitchen Knife is not so much who produced the record as the depth of the material featured on the album. This is not to infer that the quality of songwriting on The Devin Cuddy Band’s 2012 debut Volume One was somehow inferior to his newest album but there is a definite progression that cannot be denied.
“People have been saying that these new songs seem a little more personal and well-crafted,” Devin says. “I certainly hope that’s the case. As an artist or songwriter, you always want to feel as though you are growing through your work.”
What: The Devin Cuddy Band
When: Saturday Aug. 22, 9:00 p.m.
Where: Plan b Lounge, 212 St. George St., Moncton