Like most young musicians with famous-musician parents, Devin Cuddy has gotten used to the fact that his name comes with some baggage.
Unlike most young musicians with famous-musician parents, however, the son of Jim Cuddy -- born the same week Blue Rodeo began recording its landmark 1987 debut album, Outskirts -- doesn't make a point of distancing himself from his dad.
"As your career grows and you get more attention, you definitely become more aware of it," he says of his family name and the CanRock connotations it carries. "But it's afforded me a lot of great opportunities." In January, the Devin Cuddy Band opened for Blue Rodeo on its arena tour in support of In Our Nature.
"Over the past three years I've made more music than I ever had with my father. I haven't felt the pressure or the shadow."
That speaks to Devin's confidence in his own skills as a musician, but it helps, too, that the Devin Cuddy Band isn't a next-gen Blue Rodeo. The younger Cuddy's weapon of choice is the piano, and the music he creates with guitarist Nichol Robertson, drummer Zack Sutton and bassist Devon Richardson draws as much inspiration from New Orleans jazz as it does from honky-tonk haunts. It's an old-school sensibility that has already earned the Devin Cuddy Band plenty of accolades; the band's 2012 debut Vol. 1 netted a Juno nomination.
The Devin Cuddy Band's sophomore album, Kitchen Knife -- due out July 29 via Cameron House Records -- is another Juno baiter. Helmed by Greg Keelor (there's another one of those great opportunities), the album sees the band fine-tune its singular sound, and will doubtless be the record on which the Devin Cuddy Band transitions from emerging to established act.
Cuddy says working with Keelor at his famed farmhouse studio was a natural fit.
"He's a guy I've known my whole life, so there was no kind of shy intimidation," he says. "He's been doing this for 25 years. He took a front seat when it was appropriate and a back seat when it was appropriate."
Being comfortable in the studio was crucial, especially since Cuddy decided to head into Kitchen Knife without a blueprint.
"The first time around, the songs were all ready to go," he says. "We'd played them a lot and laid them down quickly. For this record, I didn't really share all the songs with the band heading into the studio. Each song was arranged as we heard it. I think we got a more natural sound."
Still, recording wasn't without its challenges. "It was stressful," he acknowledges. "I was worried that we wouldn't like what we got or we wouldn't be able to settle on anything.
"It was actually reassuring in the end. When you arrange in the studio, everyone's natural inclinations come out. I felt like everyone was on the same page."
And Cuddy is thrilled with the end result. "It's nice to enjoy what you're peddling," he says with a laugh. "I was totally prepared to not enjoy it."
The Devin Cuddy Band plans to tour in support of Kitchen Knife well into fall, with an eye toward booking its inaugural U.S. tour.
"I look to the States for musical influence so I'd be interested to see how they take to the music," he says. "But Canada is where I'm from and always who I'm making music for."