A little old, a little new set for StarNite
Deryl Dodd claims traditional music roots, while Cooder Graw is 'one big firecracker'

Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Aug. 28, 2004 -- Country music fans both young and not so young just may be in for a treat on StarNite of Hopkins County Fall Festival 2004.

Headlining the final night of the Fall Festival will be country music recording artists Deryl Dodd, with his band the Homesick Cowboys, and Cooder Graw, bringing one of the widest varieties of country music ever to the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center stage.

Comanche County native Deryl Dodd said the songs he will be singing will cover a wide range of styles and types of country music, but mostly music from his heart and soul.

"I couldn't sing anything I didn't feel," he said. "They're mostly songs I have written, or they are the songs that strike me and move me."

And, along with his own works, Dodd said his music comes from a wide variety of some of the best singers and songwriters reaching back to Hank Williams Sr.

"I grew up playing gospel music and bluegrass, and to me, it's all about soul - heart and soul - and every song I sing, that is what is conveyed, hopefully, to the audience."

Song stylings are influenced by Hank, but also many others from the rich history of music.

"It's between [Merle] Haggard, Hank Jr., Stevie Ray [Vaughn] and Lynyrd Skynyrd," Dodd said. "I just love country music and I feel like I am authentic about it. I've done it for so long, and I grew up with a musical heritage."

Although Dodd says he grew up with a musical heritage, he says it was not all professional. His grandfather was a Pentacostal preacher and played the fiddle, while an uncle played fiddle with the famous Light Crust Doughboys.

"Music was always a part of my growing up, and mandolins and banjos were around, not typical of a lot of homes," he said. "The gospel music I grew up to had that sound to it - everything is in the key of G, and that's what the banjo tunes to."

The trends in country music over the past decade involve a lot of visual effects and, at the same time, Dodd says deviated from the traditional country music he grew up with.

"It changed the heart and soul of it all," he said. "I refused to do that. I was trying to be an individual and put out music that touched me regardless. I wasn't in it to be a star. I had to stay true to the music that was in me, otherwise I wouldn't have done it and I have stayed true to this day. It's very neat how it has come around, and now there is a respect for what I have stood for, and it is very rewarding now to have people from old-school [country music] as well as today's [country music]."

His adherence to more traditional country music makes Deryl Dodd different from most performers today.

"That says a lot about what I come from and that I am not a 'Country Music 101 Singer' graduate," he said. "This is not about me and is not about me getting up there. Because I am true to something, they know the difference and they appreciate that."

Even with holding to his ties to the more traditional style of country music, Dodd has performed with many of the biggest names in the business including Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Tracy Lawrence, Don Williams and even Garth Brooks.

But when he is on stage, Dodd says, his performances are, to him, more than standing in front of a crowd singing.

"When I play, I like to involve everyone that's there," he said. "It's almost like being in a congregation. Even though there is a pastor up there, a choir up there, everyone is sort of talking about the same thing, and I guess that's what our shows are about."

Dodd's approach to country music will be countered by another group of musicians: Cooder Graw.

Paul Baker, Matt Martindale, Kelly Turner, Nick Worley and Kelly Test will bring still another aspect of country music to the stage, according to band member Paul Baker.

"It's loud, in-your-face country music - Make it loud, boys! - yet it's also thought-provoking stories of independence, heartache, tragedy and love, all crafted in song," Baker is quoted on the Cooder Graw Internet website. "It's hard-driving trucker songs and hard-rocking anthems, powerful ballads, wind-swept waltzes."

The band came into being only a few years ago and has already made a place in country music, having shared the stage with such greats as Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakum, Robert Earl Keen, Mark Chestnutt and Lee Ann Womack.

"We had no plan," said lead singer Matt Martindale. "We started jammin' together for fun, and then we decided to play for a little pocket money as a group at a small local club, and it clicked. I guess you could say that as individual musicians, we're no big thing, but all of us together make one big firecracker."

Tickets for the grand finale of Fall Festival 2004 are on sale now at the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center box office. Tickets will are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

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