There are some people who have just lived such a fascinating life, you get the instant feeling that if you settled in with a blanket and cup of cocoa around a campfire, they could regale you with stories for hours on end!
Jim Canody is one of those people.
Though he and his wife Sherry retired to the lake 5 or 6 years ago, his story actually began not far from here in Pittsylvania County, where he was raised. Jim is self-taught musician who started “playing around” with a guitar and singing at a young age. Over the years he gradually added new instruments, songwriting, and a bucketload of skill to his repertoire.
As a teen, he started playing gigs in local venues. His love of music and the money he was making from performances left other former career aspirations in the dust. He was destined for the stage. Around 20 years old, he moved to Texas and met Mickey Gilley, musician, and owner of the honkey-tonk bar portrayed in the movie Urban Cowboy. It was just the connection that he needed. Having the opportunity to meet, play with, and learn from some of the biggest names in the business during his 12 years in Texas really catapulted Jim to the next level in the music industry.
He reminisces fondly about his time on the road (though he admits it's not nearly as glamorous as it seems!). There was the year spent touring all over Europe, the opportunity to be a surrogate (fill-in) member of Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, creating a band with a girl from Spain named ChaCha, and a good long run in Branson, MO when it was first gaining popularity. Eventually though, he was drawn back closer to home to be near his aging parents here in Virginia.
Though now bearing the title “retiree”, who loves his boats and fishing from the dock, I can tell Jim couldn't stay away from the music scene if he tried. It's in his blood! In this season of life, he is partnering with his wife Sherry (pictured with him above), a retired nurse and creative who, only recently, began to dive into music and songwriting more seriously. The couple have two different music rooms in their home: an acoustic and an electric - for whenever and however the mood strikes to create. He's a friends-and-family performer now. Playing mainly small parties, though recently you could find him on stage again acting and singing in Linda Kay Simmons' dramatic reading play “Lightening Shall Strike”!
Giving back to the world that gave him so much is something that seems to come naturally to Canody. He is so encouraged and excited about the local talent here at SML! You'll find him manning the Open Mic Nights at Hot Shots this summer (held every other Saturday from 5-8pm). I know I'm looking forward to seeing the musicians that come across that stage! An avid supporter of live music venues, outdoor amphitheaters, and cultural centers, he thinks the addition of the SML Center will be such a boon for our community - especially with regards to the performing arts.
When asked about some advice he might pass along to up and coming musicians, a few things that came to mind were:
Stick to your craft and your unique style. Don't let the trends carry you away. Stay true.
Enjoy! If you don't truly LOVE it, then a career in music is not for you.
Try not to make it all a party.
Finance your own career. The money isn't there like it was in the 60s/70s when he was first starting out. The talent scene is so super saturated right now, so keeping your day job might be a wise idea!
Thanks, Jim and Sherry, for sharing a little slice of your life with me.
And if you see Jim out and about here at the lake, be sure and ask him about that time he lived on a sunken ship that somehow involved gangsters, a Spanish mistress, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash!