Commander Cody, the piano-pounding frontman of Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen, returns to The Palms Playhouse with his current band of Western Airmen for a high-energy evening of old favorites and new fare on Friday, June 22 starting at 8 p.m.
Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen formed in Michigan in the 1960s, then relocated to the Bay Area. They became an integral part of the burgeoning music scene, carving their niche with a combination of rock, country, boogie-woogie, jump blues and western swing.
With the Commander’s blazing boogie-rock piano lines and a cadre of talented musicians, songwriters and singers in the band – including Bill Kirchen, Andy Stein, Bobby Black and Billy C. Farlow – CCHLPA busted open genres and the charts with hits like “Hot Rod Lincoln” and albums such as “Lost In The Ozone,” “Hot Licks, Cold Steel, and Truckers Favorites” and “Live From Deep In The Heart of Texas,” which Rolling Stone dubbed one of the top 100 albums of all time.
“We had a great time,” said Cody, “and anyone could see there was something really going on here.”
In his shows, the Commander draws from this deep catalogue, and has a penchant for growling out arcane but juicy facts about some of the vintage blues and western swing covers and CCHLPA originals.
Born George Frayne, Commander Cody left his position as an art professor in Michigan when the band moved west, but has remained a force in both fields. His is a career trajectory that gives the lie to the adage of needing “something to fall back on” if a hoped-for career in either art or music doesn’t pan out.
Case in point: some 45 years after jumping feet first into the music world, some 30 years after jumping back into art, with innumerable hops back and forth, a couple years ago he kept a foot in each world when Commander Cody released a fresh album and George Frayne published a book of paintings called “Art, Music, and Life.”
Frayne sums up his duel careers in his book.
“I have been painting for a long time. I have been rocking for almost as long. The tales of adventures in both cases run together, and in some cases, intersect. Here are the stories and the art of these moments,” he writes.
Cody and his current band still fire up high–octane country/boogie-woogie/rock with Cody classics (“Lost In The Ozone Again,” “Beat Me Daddy Eight to the Bar,” “Midnight on the Strand,” “Riot In Cell Block #9,” “Seeds and Stems Again,” “Hot Rod Lincoln”) or songs from Cody’s newer releases.
Tickets are available for $22 at Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters, Armadillo Music in Davis, Davids’ Broken Note in Woodland, online via The Palms’ website and EventBrite, and at the door if not sold out.
For more information, visit palmsplayhouse.com and commandercody.com.