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  • Annette Dawm

Getting to Know Devin Cuddy

Updated: Aug 24, 2019

People might know Devin Cuddy as the son of Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, however, he has spent the last several years playing his own music and creating an image for himself. According to Devin, having a famous family member in the music business has been “no doubt, a grand help because it can open a lot of doors that take awhile to open generally in the music industry. I’m very fortunate to have that, as well as a guiding voice through those doors, you know? He’s always been there for good advice, things like that, and I think I’ve had to carve my own space out for myself, mostly because the style of music I play is different.”

When it comes to The Devin Cuddy Band, he said, “We play kind of a blend of country, blues, New Orleans music and rock as well. So you know, I think it’s generally ‘good time’ music at the live show and I think if people like roots music in general, that they’ll be very pleased with what we bring to people. I think that’s where our strength lies.” The Devin Cuddy Band has become known for playing in Toronto, but for the most part, the show remains consistent wherever they go:

“We would make very, very minor tweaks depending on, like, if the venue is a theatre vs. a bar or something, but often we try to keep it the same because we think that we’ve got a good set/night of music put together and we wouldn’t want to change that from venue to venue too much because we want the experience to be the same….” He added that the band has worked on their set in order for everything to flow together, but they will sometimes change things up for song requests or if they feel they can add in another slow song.

Coming from a musical family¸ Devin recalled that his “first love of music” came from his dad’s CD collection. This is where he first discovered “Louis Armstrong and the early blues and jazz stuff coming out New Orleans. That’s my earliest memory of listening to and enjoying music.”

“In terms of being around it, I don’t remember my very first show because I was very young, but I have lots of fond memories of being around, certainly at The Molson Amphitheatre and Massey Hall as a kid while Blue Rodeo was playing…” he continued.

Attending The JUNO Awards is an annual tradition for Devin and his family and 2019 was no different. London, ON hosted the ceremony for the first time along with many other events including The JUNO Cup Jam, which was a concert entirely for cover songs. The Devin Cuddy Band was a part of every performance, backing artists like The Reklaws on their version of “Old Man” by Neil Young, and Jeff Giles’ take on “Sunglasses at Night” by Corey Hart. This was a big year for the song and Corey Hart, as he was inducted into The Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and Devin was able to witness that moment at the awards:

“I mean, it was a great performance all around... and I think there was an added bonus, especially for me and Jeff and our band from learning it… we learned the power of the song. It was a little before my time so, like, I had heard it, but I hadn’t really gotten into it. Then once we were learning it, I was like, ‘Oh, wow! This is great!’”

When asked about what makes his own live performances so much fun, Devin replied: “Well, generally what I enjoy about the live shows is, first of all, getting the reactions from the audience and getting to, kind of, feed off that energy, and also just to play music. I enjoy playing with other people and the energy that is created playing off the other people and having fun little musical moments with them. That’s kind of really what I enjoy. It’s just about playing and it makes it fun on that stage—and that night specifically, The JUNO Cup Jam, was a great example of that because we had all of those guests come up. We were playing different songs we don’t usually play (I would say somewhat on the edge of our comfort zone). We had prepared a long time for that show as well. So there’s something very satisfying about all this practicing and work coming to fruition and sharing our stage with friends that we wouldn’t share a stage with very often. It was a really fun night and I really enjoyed it, as always.”

Following all of the JUNO festivities in London, Devin traveled to Vietnam with his father and his brother to participate in Canada’s Great Kitchen Party, a charitable event that they have been a part of for nearly a decade. As he explained it, “Canada’s Great Kitchen Party is a charity that raises money for B2ten which is an Olympic funding foundation. Funds go to athletes and their training and MusiCounts which is The JUNOs’ charitable wing. [It] puts money into public school music programs, which are slashed and burned across the country on the daily. So, the trip is an auctioned trip where we’re the musical entertainment for the evening…. The trips are very fun. Overall, the whole charity is a good cause, you know? We’ve become attached to the Olympians through this, but MusiCounts has always been something very important to all of my family because we all benefitted from public school music. I played in the band for years, playing trumpet… and I think it’s a very important part of education that shouldn’t be taken away. I consider it to be as important as math or any other part of the planned school experience when you’re young. There are many parts of the brain and they all need to be activated when you’re in school. So, music is a very important one, I think. It is powerful in its own way and needs to be taught.”

Currently, Devin said that he is looking forward to the summer months for obvious reasons like the warmer weather and outdoor concerts: “…We have a lot of cool stuff coming up. Some of it hasn’t been announced yet…. Summer is great! It’s a big work time for musicians and everybody’s having a great time! You get to discover all sorts of wonderful festivals and smaller outdoor things that communities do all across the country. The communities come together and you get to be a part of that. So that’s one thing I love about the summer months and the weather’s not the worst. Being warm out is part of what puts all the smiles on everyone’s faces. It’s just an exciting time! I mean, I think if I were to pinpoint something specifically, is playing with Sam Roberts and Blue Rodeo at Budweiser Stage! It’s something I’ve been very much looking forward to. It’s a real honour to be a part of that show but I’m looking forward to everything that we’re doing! I can’t wait to kick it off!

Finally, if Devin Cuddy could offer his younger self some advice about entering the music industry, he would say: “Learning to travel is big. I’ve been lucky because I very much enjoy it. I recognize that it is one of the more challenging aspects of the music business, being in the van all day. I mean, you kind of need a peak level of energy at night, especially after a long day, so you know, just kind of managing that. You’ve just kind of got to hang in there. Entertainment in general is a hard business and you’ve really got to love it if you are going to pursue it, and you’ve got to make sure you pursue it for the right reasons…. That’s advice I’d offer anyone….”

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Photo by Annette Dawm.

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