Cross Canadian Ragweed

If this Oklahoma foursome isn't careful, it could become country music's Next Big Thing. These latter-day Creedence-style red-dirt rockers turn out tunes loaded with style and lyrical smarts, a musical tightrope act most of CCR's peers avoid. Lurking just beneath the surface of the radio-ready words, melodies and harmonies is a kick-ass band ready to bust loose. The longtime juxtaposition of its underground-phenom status and major-label affiliation will eventually close the door on its cult-band standing. Frontman Cody Canada is largely responsible for the group's success. He mixes tight songs with an ample dose of attitude — which is well represented on the band's most recent album, Mission California. Cross Canadian Ragweed's dual nature carries over to one hell of a live show.

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Duane Verh