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Portland Scat-man Cody Weathers Plays With Heart

Posted on 30 January 2010 by Tim

One hardly hears about scat these days. For me, I’ve only seen scat performed in movies. Honestly, I didn’t even know people still performed it. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised to hear Cody Weathers, Portland’s scat-man.

Cody grew up in Denver and moved to Portland for college. He began performing about 20 years ago as a drummer but “was forced to become a passably-competent rhythm guitarist out of the necessity of accompanying myself solo.

I was really curious how someone comes to the genre and apparently, Cody was drawn to scat by his music teacher who introduced him to a wide variety of styles. Here’s what Cody said about it, “I had a really great music teacher in high school – voracious listener, one of those people who just passionately introduces you to things with the kind of outright fervor that disarms the baseline resistance to change of even the laziest bum (read: me).

I was the drummer for his jazz choir, and he used to lend me these tapes of Al Jarreau, Clark Terry, Bobby McFerrin, Ella Fitzgerald, et al. As a budding singer, I loved the not only the fertile melodic aspects of their soloing, but also the phonetic creativity of their peculiar syllabaries. I monkeyed around with it back then, either as a novelty or else in the pre-lyrical stage of songwriting as a melodic placeholder; but when I switched to being primarily a solo acoustic performer, that’s when it seemed like the natural tool for me to stretch songs or provide the melodic relief normally reserved for guitar solos. So curiosity followed by necessity, then finally embracing it as a part of my musical identity,” says Cody.

DESCRIBE THAT NOISE:
Hard rock sensibilities fused with acoustic upbringing and jazz acumen operating in a truly independent consonant harmonic system. [from CodyWeathers.com]

As a one man band, there can’t be too much conflict or drama. But do you ever get lonely and collaborate with others?

Sure; frequently as a player, occasionally as a writer. While I love the control and the challenge of playing everything in the studio, I have missed the camaraderie I used to enjoy playing with Flip Nasty back in Denver. In fact, I recently put out some feelers and invited two phenomenal new players to join my live shows (bassist Tim Krajcar and percussionist Evan Whitacre as The Men Your Mama Warned You About). They’re very flexible, like-minded improvisatory players, and having their two extra sets of fresh ideas in the mix each night has been a great boon to the variability I want to achieve from show to show. I never thought I’d be willing to relinquish playing the drums or arranging the bass, but their talents have sold me on probably recording my next album as a band and stepping back out of the complete auteurship I’ve hitherto embraced.

Are you working on a new album? If so, what is it titled and when can we expect to hear it?

I just finished two separate side projects, and I’m working on compiling a new live album as we speak. First, I collaborated with my lyricist friend, Cat Mayhugh on the second of our Sunhouse Branch albums, Cinema, a prog-rock song cycle exclusively in odd- or mixed-meter inspired by the films of Werner Herzog. That album is available completely free, both to stream and to download.

Second, I completed a separate, power-pop/hard rock solo album, Häårdvârk, under the band name UFO Catcher. It’s been mixed, and should be duplicated and up on CDBaby in the next few months. A bunch of preview tracks are up on MySpace in the meantime. I had selected a bunch of live acoustic solo tracks to release as a free album, but then I started playing with Tim & Evan, and the tracks we were getting were –frankly– a lot more interesting, so I think I’ll be retooling that album for a Spring release under Cody Weathers & The Men your Mama Warned You About. Still probably free. Check back to CodyWeathers.com for more information and for some new live videos of the kind of stuff we’ll be including.

Where have you toured and performed?

Anywhere coffee and muffins are sold throughout the West and Midwest. In my earlier years, I had greater range to my travels, but these days, with a family and a mortgage, I stick pretty close to home. With the new band, I think you’ll probably see us ranging out as much as we can manage up and down the I-5 corridor, and perhaps Central and Coastal Oregon. We’ll also look to branch more into full-band venues.

What’s the craziest thing that has happened at a show?

That’s tough – my folks are so polite and well-behaved ordinarily. Once, playing a show in Houston, my set got delayed, and delayed, and delayed while the prior act methodically shot her infinitesimal portion of a 30-second national TV commercial (“new music you’ll find at Major Retailer X”). The director – who may have been Iggy Pop (you can’t tell me otherwise)– ultimately took almost three hours of footage, including a lot of disconcertingly-phony pickup shots of rock-and-roll posing and crowd shots of the bewildered, bored followers of the act in question, now forced (and not too kindly) to method-act excitement from some earlier show they’d enjoyed. I’ve seen the resulting TV spot, and it’s literally 2-4 seconds of montage which must’ve cost in excess of $100,000 to obtain.

But then, when we finally went on, I think her audience was so tired of getting yelled at, and so grateful just to have someone playing a comprehensible “show” for them instead of the piecemeal herky-jerky performance that is a music video shoot, that they immediately embraced our set as if we were the buzz-laden sensation they’d come to hear. It was awesome. And those unpredictable gigs where the audience is really in and the music is really on are the tantalizing pure joy that makes up for all the other struggle and apathy of trying to ignore my otherwise obvious artistic unimportance.



You can find Cody on Facebook and MySpace.

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