Since their formation in 1994, Toronto’s Sadies have developed, even perfected, a style of music that is uniquely their own. Possessing a deep fondness and reverence for the best of country, bluegrass and blues (CBGB!), they are equally informed and influenced by everything from 60s garage and psychedelic rock (Pebbles, Nuggets, et al) to surf instrumentals and punk rock. You’re as likely to find an enthusiastic fan of Negative Approach or Crime as one of Santo & Johnny or Merle Travis within their ranks. It’s all relevant and it all fits and that sort of depth goes a long way in helping to understand how they came to develop such a broad platform from which to launch their own musical explorations.
Through a trio of brilliant albums that began with 2002’s “Stories Often Told”, 2004’s “Favourite Colours” and 2007’s Juno Award nominated, “New Seasons” – they finally topped themselves with 2010’s “Darker Circles” an accomplished album that received a Juno Award for Best Video and was short-listed for the 2011 Polaris Prize. “Darker Circles” was a departure from their previous releases, which despite having some fairly, er, dark themes and subject matter, resonated strongly with fans and critics alike. It stands out as the most fully-realized song cycle from the group – until now.
September 17th, 2013 will see the release of “Internal Sounds” an album that heralds a new level of achievement for The Sadies. This was largely due to refusing to be pressured by any deadlines but their own, taking their time over a period of nearly a year to get everything “just right” and using up every resource they had and every favour they could call in. “Internal Sounds” marks the first time Dallas Good has assumed the producer’s role and this helped craft a record that is the closest the band has yet come to capturing their sound on an album. Vocals are clear and prominent, guitars are positioned high in the mix and the album has a tone that is overall fuller and richer. Some key assistance was provided by Peter J. Moore (mixing/mastering) and Gary Louris (who has produced much of the bands past work) with some vocal coaching and control room refereeing. The resulting album greatly benefits from all of these considerations and is by far the most confident and assured of their career. The final track features an amazing vocal performance from Buffy Sainte-Marie that is a thrill to hear and a fantastic way to finish off the record.
The numerous collaborations that the band has been involved with over the years have resulted in some of the most surprising and fun work they’ve done. These feature a tremendous range of artists from expat British punk rockers (Mekons’ Jon Langford – “Mayors of The Moon” Album), L.A. troubadours (John Doe, formerly of X – “Country Club”), old timey R&B masters (Andre Williams – more on him later), to up and coming alt-country starlets (Neko Case “The Tigers Have Spoken” many tours and contributions to many of her solo albums). They’ve also worked extensively with ex- Pussy Galore founder and current Jon Spencer Blues Explosion frontman Jon Spencer’s “Heavy Trash” project with NYC guitarist Matt Verta-Ray – they’ve backed Matt and Jon extensively on tour and played on much of their “Going Way Out With Heavy Trash” album as well. There’s hardly ever been a band as versatile and adventurous as The Sadies which is why they don’t have too many peers with that kind of track record.
When Garth Hudson, organist with the Canadian rock institution, The Band, put together an all-Canadian collaboration album recently he leaned heavily on The Sadies, who, in addition to contributing their version of “The Shape I’m In”, backed the much-loved Mary Margaret O’Hara on her contribution “Out Of The Blue”. They also played with Neil Young on his rendition of “This Wheel’s On Fire”. This ultimately led to being invited to open for Neil Young and Crazy Horse all across Canada in late 2012.
The Sadies have also recently performed live on several occasions with former Guess Who founder and Canuck songwriting legend Randy Bachman where they were thrilled to get a chance to perform some of their own favourite super-obscure Guess Who songs with the man himself. Of The Sadies, Bachman has this to say; “It’s quite different when I play with The Sadies than when I play with anyone else. I love the stand-up bass, it gives an incredible gigantic bottom end sound. I think the two brothers Dallas and Travis are just amazing guitar players. They’ve got their own cool identity”.
The band continues to enjoy a long and fruitful relationship with 50s R&B legend Andre Williams. In 2012 the excellent “Night and Day” album was released to much acclaim. Previously they’d put together a country album with him, “Red Dirt” which was a blast for all involved and saw the band do several memorable gigs with Mr. Rhythm throughout the US & Canada before heading off to Europe for a well-received month-long tour playing the classic hits as well as a lot of the new material. Andre once said “You cannot find a better bunch of characters, men or musicians than The Sadies”.
Growing up in a musical family served the Good siblings well. Being the sons of noted Canadian country music icon Bruce Good and their singer / schoolteacher mom, Margaret and hanging out around their “Good Brothers” extended family, they learned a thing or ten about music. This helped them foster the broad appreciation and respect for the best of bluegrass, country and gospel that has continued to serve them well from an early age. Just this year saw the release of the Good Family Album via the Cowboy Junkies’ Latent Recordings label. The album features Dallas, older brother Travis, Cousin D’Arcy on fiddle and vocals, Mom, Dad & Uncle Larry (2/3 of the Good Brothers) as well as the rest of The Sadies. Everybody sings, everybody plays and it’s a diverse and entertaining collection of songs. No Depression raves “I almost defy you to listen to this album and not find yourself continutally gawping at the quality on display. A high-water mark for North American (not just Canadian) music.”
The Sadies have consistently pushed themselves forward into new areas while refining their approach to what they do – creating a constantly evolving catalogue of work and picking up legions of new converts with each successive tour. Their concerts, legendary since their earliest days have only gotten better over the years. Though the three-hour marathons of yore may happen less frequently, The Sadies have always prided themselves on a well-paced live show, starting off strong and gradually building things up to fever pitch then bringing it back home (often with a nice surprise or two along the way), before sending everyone home with a smile on their face. The live experience has it all, blistering instrumentals, country rave-ups, super-human guitar interplay and mind blowing psychedelic expeditions that can end up anywhere. There are not many bands that have been together nearly two decades that are truly making the best music of their careers, but The Sadies have definitely established themselves as one of the leaders in that very uncrowded field.
These fellows thrive by a simple rule, if you make a mistake in the studio, you do it over – but you don’t make mistakes onstage. The live show has to do everything the records do (just a little faster and a little drunker). They’re ready to hit your town in support of the release of the remarkable new album “Internal Sounds” this fall. If you’ve never seen them live, the time to change that is now – if you’ve seen them before, it’s time to take another look. And buy yourself a copy of “Internal Sounds” it might end up being the best record you’ll hear this year!
- Sat 2014Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, Ray LaMontagne, Daniel Lanois, Bruce Cockburn, Boris Brott, Los Lobos, Sarah Harmer, Ron Sexsmith, The Sadies, Gord Downie
Christie Lake Conservation Area, Dundas, ON, Canada