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Cody Daniel: A Simple Choice, Family First

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Cody Daniel: A Simple Choice, Family First

By Johnny Griffith

The life of a musician, committed to performing live, is a tricky one. Very few are fortunate enough to be able to just rely on music to make ends meet. The rest are forced to juggle several chainsaws at once, (i.e. family, work, music, family) in order to do what they love a few times a month. It’s a challenging path that many have stumbled on while walking, yet for Kaufman singer-songwriter Cody Daniel, the choice was, and still is, simple: family first.

Born and raised just outside Terrell, Texas, in the community of College Mound, the 24-year-old Cody Daniel, graduated from Terrell High School where he played football, tuba in the marching band, and bass in the jazz band. He started playing guitar around his sophomore year and picked up singing right before his junior year. After a couple of years of playing talent shows and events around the community, Cody started playing the bar scene right out of high school and was leaning toward making a run at a music career when he learned he was going to be a father. Recognizing the importance of his next choice, he put the gigs on hold and devoted his time and efforts to raising his son and working.

Now, after a 4-and-a-half year hiatus, Cody is back on stage performing around East Texas all while juggling work and parenthood; but fully committed to making all three work for his foreseeable future. We caught up with him in between gigs this month to get to know Cody and see how he manages it all so well:

Johnny: When were you first drawn to music?

Cody: For as long as I can recall, I’ve been drawn to music. The way I express myself musically has just changed over the years. Growing up, I used music as an escape. I’d listen to it to dive into good emotions or run away from bad ones. That’s one reason I’ve always listened to all types of genres. It wasn’t until I was 16 that I picked up guitar and started writing songs. That’s when I realized that I didn’t have to just escape from emotions, I could actually pour them into my music. I started performing regularly this past August, and the more I perform, the more I realize that it is just another way of expressing myself. People seem to feed off of the emotions I portray on-stage, and in-turn I feed off of theirs.

Johnny: What were some of your influences early on that shaped your musical direction?

Cody: My earliest musical influences were actually bands like AC/DC, Def Leppard, and Metallica. I obviously grew up listening to a lot of country as well, but I really fed off rock music. So, I naturally fell in-love when I got turned on to the Red Dirt music scene. I can still go back to the first time I heard Ragweed: I was riding back roads in Able Springs with my Aunt and her now husband. The fact that those guys were both country and rock-n-roll just blew me away. I think that was the night I realized that I wanted to play music for a living someday. Sitting here looking back though I couldn’t pinpoint one, two, or even a handful of direct influences. I just write, and I just play, and I just sing. All the greats of all of the genres that I’ve jammed to have helped influence the artist I am today.

Johnny: How would you describe your music now and how has it evolved over the years?

Cody: Whoa. Uh…that’s a little tough. When I first started writing, I just wrote songs to write them. I mean, I was 16 or 17 and I had gone through some adversity and experiences, but I didn’t really know what life was all about, you know – and I still don’t! As the years progressed and I went through more and more, I started really feeling my songs. I even started connecting with songs that I had written years before. I feel like I still write in a similar style now, but it feels different for me. It makes me a little anxious thinking of how the next eight years will evolve me. Exciting stuff!

Johnny: Are you primarily a solo act or do you collaborate with other musicians regularly?

Cody: For the first few months I was strictly a solo act. Not necessarily intentionally, but I was so focused on getting comfortable being in-front of people and building a good set list that I didn’t really have time to even think about practicing with anyone. The last couple of months I’ve been playing with my good buddy, Colton Mathis. We mostly do song swaps and really just get up there, jam, and have a good time. After performing in concert band, jazz band, and Texas Country bands when I was younger, I realized that it’s really hard to find musicians that you truly click with. Everyone that’s been to one of our shows always ask if we’ve been playing together for years. That means a lot to me. Hopefully in the future, we can find some other guys to form a band with that mesh as well, and we can all just get up there and have fun with us.

Johnny: How much original music do you typically try to work into a set?

Cody: Man, not nearly as much as I could. I’ve been writing for eight years now and have a lot of tunes saved up, but I’ve only been performing for five months. I’ve been using the shows I do now to do mostly dancing songs, fun covers, and sing-alongs. I’ll typically slide three to four originals in once I know I have the crowd’s attention. And, I’ve been slowly working on an EP. Hopefully, one day I can do a full show of originals and hear the audience singing along with them.

Johnny: Do you typically play in the immediate vicinity or do you get the opportunity to travel?

Cody: I’ve been mostly playing in my county and the adjacent counties, but I have gotten out a little further and am openly seeking gigs elsewhere. I’m at the point right now where I will play anywhere. I’ve done restaurants, bars, private parties, festivals, you name it. I haven’t turned down a venue yet, and I don’t plan on it. I just want to be heard, man. I recently had my first travel night for a gig. It wasn’t a necessity, but I felt it was far enough to take advantage of and get away for a whole night. Having a 4-year old it’s hard to commit to traveling, but I think he and I would both love some gigs that involve getting away and going on some adventures. He’s still young, but he’s made it very clear that he’s my right-hand man and that I have his full support.

Johnny: What are some of the challenges of balancing the passion for music with the responsibilities of being an “adult?”

Cody: I have to say, it’s not too hard balancing adulthood and a passion for music. Not for me, at least. Yeah, I work 55+ hours a week at my day job and typically play once or twice a weekend, sometimes more. Honestly, as tiring as it gets those shows on the weekend are my wind-down time.

The real struggle comes with parenthood. I’ve loved playing and performing in front of people since I started, but once I had my son, I put the performing side down. I went almost four and a half years without playing a gig. I missed it all the time, but it was what I felt was necessary. I focused on being a father and adult until I felt like I, and my son, were at a point where we could add the music into the mix. Now that raising him and working a full-time job is second-nature, I can afford to go out and perform because I love to. Not because I have to. I make it a point to make sure he never feels, or is, neglected. If he ever gets to that point then I won’t hesitate to make a change to the adult or musician in me. I absolutely love music, but I’m a father first and foremost.

Johnny: What have been some of your best memories on stage? Off stage?

Cody: Okay, so like I said, Colton and I have a blast on-stage together. The first show we did together was at Boondocks on Cedar Creek Lake. The turnout was great. We had been up there playing for a bit and between songs Colton was doing fillers. Well, I jumped in and played the riff to “Play that Funky Music,” which Colton quickly picked up on and joined. Anyway, so we do the first verse and chorus. When we circle around to repeat the chorus, Colton leaned over and told me to stop playing. The ENTIRE bar belted out every single word to the chorus and then finished the song with us. It was greatness for me. I had never had that much reaction from a crowd. I’m still pretty new to gigging and shows, so I get excited over these things. I probably always will.

Johnny: What have you been most proud of in your musical career to this point?

Cody: I’d have to say I’m most proud of the fact that I haven’t tried to force my music career and also that I was practical enough at 19 to realize that I was going to have to put it down for awhile. Now, I just do it because I love it. I just get up and pour my heart out every weekend. I get called out all the time on the funny faces I make when I sing, and that’s okay with me.

It’s hard as a musician these days. There’s a lot of competition out there and there’s a lot of people who just naturally have what it takes. Even playing the small local scene like I do, it’s hard not to try to compare yourself to the big dogs in music and naturally follow in their footsteps.

I have to say, man, I’m blessed to have the full-time job I have. I give props to those guys out there that are grinding their teeth and banging strings night in and night out to pay the bills. Those guys are a different kind of ‘strong’ and I’m lucky to say I share the scene with them.

Johnny: What do you have in store for 2018?

Cody: I have a big show in January where I will be competing in the Texas Spotlight Championship on January 13th. After that, I plan on getting at least a three to five song EP out by the end of spring. I’m definitely going to be writing some new songs. I’d like to pick up a new instrument. Who knows what else. I live my life a quarter note at a time.

All jokes aside, I’m excited about this coming year. Whatever it holds, I will make the best of it and just enjoy the ride. Like I said, I just play because I love to…whatever else comes from it is just a bonus.

For news and upcoming gigs, check out Cody Daniel on the web:

 

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Around East Texas

July 26th: Daddy Daughter Date Night returns to the Rose Garden Center

Tickets are now on sale for the Daddy Daughter Date Night sponsored by the Tyler Parks and Recreation Department and Chick-Fil-A. The special event is on Thursday, July 26 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Rose Garden Center, 420 Rose Park Drive. Tickets can be purchased at http://daddy-daughter:eventbrite.com for only $20 per dad and daughter. Several seating times are available to choose from on Eventbrite.

Each dad and daughter will enjoy an evening “Under The Sea” with a meal provided by Chick-Fil-A and Smallcakes. There will be photo opportunities, which are included in the ticket price. Live entertainment and a craft project for dads and daughters to work on together are lined up and surprises to take home.

“It will be a great night for dads to treat their daughters like a princess, hang out with the Chick-fil-A cows and have great one-on-one conversation throughout the evening,” said Debbie Isham, special events/recreation manager.

This event is sponsored by the Tyler Parks and Recreation Department, Chick-Fil-A, Smallcakes, Evoynne’s Florist, Flowers and Gifts and All American Tent and Party Rental.

For more information, please call Debbie Isham, special events/recreation manager at (903) 531-1214.

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Around East Texas

Make a Splash This Summer at The Waterpark at The Villages Resort

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Silverleaf’s Waterpark2Did you know there’s an indoor waterpark in Flint that features a lazy river, waterslides, a wave pool and many other attractions? The Waterpark at The Villages Resort offers 25,000 square feet of fun for the entire family, making it one of the largest in Texas. The 19,000-square-foot, glass-enclosed recreational area is climate-controlled for year-round fun, with a retractable roof that allows for open-air excitement in the summer.

Splash, float, slide or just relax at The Waterpark at The Villages Resort – this is an amusement park for the whole family. The waterpark features a lazy river with a whirlpool for tubers as well as four exciting three-story waterslides. Meanwhile, a forest ranger children’s playscape offers a giant 10,000-gallon bucket dump, three kid-sized body slides and life-size figures of bears and moose.

For guests who just want to relax and watch the fun, there are plenty of lounge chairs and seating areas with tables surrounding the pool areas. Casual dining is also available, including Subway® and pizza.

There are men’s and women’s changing areas complete with lockers, restrooms, and showers. The Splash Store provides guests with any last-minute essentials needed for an exciting day of family fun.

The waterpark is a great venue for your next family reunion, work party, birthday party, or other gathering. The Party Room is ideal for a party up to 12 guests, while the entire waterpark can be reserved for up to 1,200 guests.

The waterpark, which first opened its doors in January 2008, is located on the grounds of Holiday Inn Club Vacations® Villages Resort. This family playground is a prime Texas vacation destination, featuring spacious villas and fun-filled amenities and spanning nearly 3,000 acres among the woods along Lake Palestine.

The Waterpark is open daily 10am-9pm. Tickets are $10 for observers, $21.95 for under 48” tall, $24.95 for others. Twilight Passes are $18.95 for under 48” tall, and $21.95 for others 4-9pm.

The Waterpark at the Villages Resort is located at 18270 Singing Wood Ln., Flint. For more info call (903)534-8400 or go to waterparkatthevillages.com

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Around East Texas

The 70th Season Begins at Tyler Civic Theatre Kicks-Off July 26th

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The 2018-2019 season begins with a lot of fun!

Single show tickets are available for $18 for adults and $15 for students. FLEX Pass are available for multiple performances. Tyler Civic Theatre is located at 400 Rose Park Dr., Tyler, next to the Tyler Rose Garden Center. For more info or tickets call (903)592-0561 or go to tylercivictheatre.com. The 2018-2019 productions are:

July 26th-August 12th (Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30pm): “Singin’ in the Rain” – The “Greatest Movie Musical of All Time” is faithfully and lovingly adapted by Broadway legends, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, from their original award-winning screenplay in “Singin’ in the Rain.” Each unforgettable scene, song, and dance is accounted for, including the show-stopping title number, complete with an onstage rainstorm! Hilarious situations, snappy dialogue and a hit-parade score of Hollywood standards make “Singin’ in the Rain” the perfect entertainment for any fan of the golden age of movie musicals.

September 6th-9th (Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30pm): “The Touch” by Mike Hargrove – “The Touch” tells the story of a grandmother with a healing touch – a secret “gift” her own grandmother helped her to discover and understand. An accident on the family farm brings opportunity for restoration of body and soul that spans four generations. Hope is found in a family secret buried beneath decades of doubt and skepticism. Playwright, Mike Hargrove made his final edits to the script only five days before his untimely death in January 2017. DeAnna Hargrove is honored to present her husband’s story for the first time in the theatre he fervently supported alongside her.

October 5th-14th (Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30pm): “Dial M for Murder” – Tony Wendice has married his wife, Margot, for her money and now plans to murder her for the same reason. He arranges the perfect murder. He blackmails a scoundrel he used to know into strangling her for a fee of one thousand pounds, and arranges a brilliant alibi for himself. Unfortunately…the murderer gets murdered and the victim survives. But this doesn’t baffle the husband: He sees his hireling’s death as an opportunity to have his wife convicted for the murder of the man who tried to murder her, and that is what almost happens. Luckily, the police inspector from Scotland Yard and a young man who is in love with the wife discover the truth, and in a scene of almost unbearable suspense they trap the husband into revealing his guilt, thus freeing Margot.

November 6th-7th (school shows) and November 8th-11th (Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30pm): “Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs” – The classic children’s tale of Snow White, seven dwarfs, a magic mirror and an evil queen comes to Tyler Civic! Supposedly disposed of by the wicked queen, Snow White finds her way to a happy glen and the home of seven friendly dwarfs. A deadly apple casts her into a deep sleep, from which she is revived in time by her devoted prince.

January 13th-14th (school shows) and January 15th-20th (Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30pm): “The Taming of the Shrew (Condensed)” – This season TCT performs a hilarious, but seriously abridged version of Shakespeare’s classic “The Taming of the Shrew.” The 45-minute play preserved the original language along with all the major plot turns, but condensed it down to a one-act play and is a perfect introduction to the Bard for participant and audience member alike.

February 8th-17th (Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30pm): “On Golden Pond” – This is the love story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, who are returning to their summer home on Golden Pond for the 48th year. He is a retired professor, nearing 80, with heart palpitations and a failing memory but still as tart-tongued, observant, and eager for life as ever. Ethel, ten years younger, and the perfect foil for Norman, delights in all the small things that have enriched and continue to enrich their long life together. They are visited by their divorced, middle-aged daughter and her dentist fiancé, who then go off to Europe, leaving his teenage son behind for the summer. The boy quickly becomes the “grandchild” the elderly couple have longed for, and as Norman revels in taking his ward fishing and thrusting good books at him, he also learns some lessons about modern teenage awareness – and slang – in return. Date Night for Valentine’s Day will be February 14th with a Dessert Theatre. Tickets are $24 for adults, $20 for students.

March 8th-17th (Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30pm): “Bus Stop” – In the middle of a howling snowstorm, a bus out of Kansas City pulls up at a cheerful roadside diner. All roads are blocked, and four or five weary travelers are going to have to hole up until morning. Cherie, a nightclub chanteuse in a sparkling gown and a seedy fur-trimmed jacket, is the passenger with most to worry about. She’s been pursued, made love to and finally kidnapped by a twenty-one-year-old cowboy with a ranch of his own and the romantic methods of an unusually headstrong bull. The belligerent cowhand is right behind her, ready to sling her over his shoulder and carry her, alive and kicking, all the way to Montana. Even as she’s ducking out from under his clumsy but confident embraces, and screeching at him fiercely to shut him up, she pauses to furrow her forehead and muse, “Somehow deep inside of me I got a funny feeling I’m gonna end up in Montana …” As a counterpoint to the main romance, the proprietor of the cafe and the bus driver at last find time to develop a friendship of their own; a middle-age scholar comes to terms with himself; and a young girl who works in the cafe also gets her first taste of romance.

April 11th-14th (Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30pm): “The Complete Works of Shakespeare – Abridged” – Come see all 37 Shakespeare plays performed in 97 minutes! Three madcap men in tights weave their wicked way through all of Shakespeare’s comedies, histories, and tragedies in one wild ride that will leave you breathless and helpless with laughter. An irreverent, fast-paced romp through the Bard’s plays, “The Complete Works of Shakespeare – Abridged” was London’s longest-running comedy.

May 10th-19th (Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30pm): “Groucho Marx, A Life in Revue” is a stage play written by Groucho Marx’s son Arthur Marx and Robert Fisher with musical direction by Jim Grady. It is a look at the life and career of the famous entertainer Groucho Marx of the Marx Brothers and “You Bet Your Life” fame. It opened off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on October 8, 1986 and played 254 performances closing on May 3, 1987. This inspired bio musical about “The One and Only” begins with Groucho as an old man doing his famous Carnegie Hall show. It then goes back to the beginnings of the Marx Brothers and their struggles to make it in vaudeville, their rise to stardom and their eventual break up. All classic Groucho songs are included. One actor plays Groucho, another plays Chico and Harpo, and one actress plays all the wives, girlfriends and Margaret Dumont. A hit in New York, across the U.S. and in London, this show will delight Marx Brothers fans and the as yet uninitiated. The performance on Sunday, May 12th (Mother’s Day) has an optional pre-show brunch. Tickets are $34 for adults, $30 for students. Also, a dinner-theatre opportunity will be available for Thursday May 16th performance.

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