For most people, “No” means “No.” But not Cale Dodds. When someone tells Dodds “No,” he hears “Not yet.”
It’s easy to see why nothing is off limits or impossible for the Georgia-born singer/songwriter. His tenacity is fueled by conviction and a deeply held belief that all his goals are always within reach. He approaches everything he does with a fierce discipline, an engaging personality, and the patience you acquire when you know what you are waiting for is worth waiting for.
“Every memory I have of growing up is getting a bucket of Hart’s chicken, and we’d get bait, and get in the boat, and we would stay out there and listen to country music all day,” recalled Dodds. “That’s how I remember falling in love with country music: fishing with my dad and my brother.”
The promise of good grades was enough one Christmas to convince his parents to purchase a guitar and drum set for Dodds and his brother, who were 12 and 13 at the time. “The back bedroom became the band room that day,” said Dodds, who recalled playing Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” “because that’s how you impress the girls in seventh grade.” Dodds emerged with a commanding stage presence and the confidence that comes with doing what comes naturally. In demand and willing to work, the brothers played a variety of clubs and venues. And even now, his brother plays drums in his band.
A gifted solo artist with a band-brain, he plays masterfully off the musicians who surround him and he creates a salon-style performance space where the audience is a welcome extension of the band. “The greats I grew up with -- Springsteen and the E Street Band, Petty and the Heartbreakers, and even Garth who had the same band for years -- each of them treat their band like he treats his audience – they are part of the show,” Dodds said. “Anybody who has had an impact on me were bands who had chemistry with the center guy. I need that.”
“The songwriter process to me is my favorite part,” he said. “I wake up with a song in my head. I have to write. I spend a lot of time working on ideas for songs and I’ve come to realize that I want to say things a little different and I want to say them from an honest place.”
When it comes to the songs featured on his debut, Dodds mines his own experiences from the lament of “Lying” about a couple lying on the hood of a car, but also avoiding the truth of where the relationship is headed. Or “All Over” where a fresh-ex is clearly over him, and has now turned her attention to someone else. Or the swagger of “People Watching,” which is not about watching other people, but being the center of attention.
For Dodds, humor is a way to connect: “I feel inspired and energized by people. I love the connection. I get a lot out of their stories in regards to what a song has done for them and to me, that is the whole point. I love the dialogue with people.”
Especially if they say, “No.”