TORONTO — As he puts the finishing touches on his debut album, pianist-singer Devin Cuddy doesn’t mind that much of the talk over his burgeoning music career centres on his dad, Blue Rodeo frontman Jim Cuddy.
“Not at all. He’s been a big part of my life, a big supporter as well,” Cuddy, 25, said this week before he played at a luncheon announcing the latest inductees to Canada’s Walk of Fame.
“When I was born they were doing (their debut album) Outskirts, so my whole life they’ve been a big band and a part of Canadian culture, and so I don’t know it any other way — wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Cuddy studied jazz music at York University and has had steady solo piano gigs around Toronto. He also played piano on several tracks for his dad’s latest solo album, Skyscraper Soul, and noodled a bit on his 2006 release, The Light That Guides You Home.
His dad has influenced him in many ways, he said.
“Musically but also just I think my passion for music grew out of being surrounded by it for so long,” said Cuddy, noting he and his siblings (a 23-year-old sister and a 20-year-old brother) developed their musical tastes by picking through their dad’s vast collection of CDs.
“We all play instruments so I would say that would probably be the biggest influence, for sure, as well as his professionalism and his career, and (Blue Rodeo’s) impact on Canadian culture.”
Members of Blue Rodeo are like family, said Cuddy, noting he and his siblings still go to all their Toronto shows and would sometimes be on the road with the group for short periods of time as kids.
“That was really fun and it seemed very normal because that was just the way it always was, and I’ve always known all the guys in the band my whole life and all the people around them,” said Cuddy.
“It was a really fun experience and you get to meet really cool people. Sometimes you realize later on how cool that experience might have been, reflecting on it more so than when we were there as 10, 12, 13 year olds.”
Cuddy describes his sound as a blend of country, New Orleans and blues.
He recorded his upcoming album at Blue Rodeo’s Woodshed studio in Toronto and plans to release it in early September under the Devin Cuddy Band.
“It was the first time for me being in there doing my thing and being the boss, so that was fun in itself as well,” he said of the recording session.
“It was very comfortable because I’ve been going there recreationally and professionally since it’s been open, so it seemed like the most natural place for me to do it, especially a first record.”
Though he also plays a bit of guitar and mandolin, piano is Cuddy’s first love. It’s an instrument his dad made him and his siblings play when they were young, he said.
“We were all told to play piano and we were told that, ‘You’ll never meet anybody in your life who regrets taking piano lessons,’ which I still to date haven’t,” said Cuddy.
The elder Cuddy even became inspired by his son’s playing.
“I think there was a time when I was getting heavy into studying music and piano and he wanted to improve his chops as well and he used that as a way to motivate him,” said Cuddy.
“He was, I think, listening and then he’d go down (to the studio) and play and I would listen and then I would go down and play and he would listen and stuff.”