Less than three weeks after being nominated for a JUNO Award, the Toronto-based group, The Sadies, will be gracing the stage of the Orono Town Hall this Saturday, February 23.
Band members Travis Good, Dallas Good, Mike Belitsky, and Sean Dean learned that they were nominated for the Canadian music industry awards, in the category of “Roots and Traditional Album of the Year: Group” while touring Spain.
The band, which plays an original mix of ‘60s-flavoured psychedelic rock, country, and traditional American roots music, has just returned from a tour of Europe where they were promoting their latest album, “New Seasons” (on the Outside Music label).
Travis plays fiddle, and shares vocal and guitar duties with his brother Dallas, who also plays keyboards, while Belitsky plays drums, and Dean plays upright bass.
Travis, who spoke by phone recently from his home somewhere out in the countryside in the 705 area code, said the new album is being received well by both the critics and fans.
“It seems to be going very well. Each album does better than the one before. It’s been nominated for a JUNO, so I guess that means people like us,” he said with a laugh.
The album has also gained a positive review from Rolling Stone magazine, as well as a nomination from Chart Magazine in the 13th Annual Year-End Readers’ Poll.
While on tour, The Sadies performed 19 shows in 19 days, including stops in the Netherlands, Britain, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy and Spain. This is not the first time the hard-working group has toured Europe.
“We’ve been there a bunch of times, probably a dozen times. It was all right, but we didn’t get a chance to see much. We did 19 days in a row. It looked nice out of the window of a van,” said Travis.
The Sadies played a variety of venues in Europe, according to the guitarist.
“It varied,” Travis said of the size of the clubs they played. “Some bars, a lot of theatres, maybe from 200 to 600 people. We did some of the shows with Heavy Trash, Jon Spenser’s band, in Italy, Holland, and France. But Spain we did by ourselves. We had been in Spain last year to record the album. We recorded half of it in Spain, and the other half in Toronto.”
Playing at the Orono Town Hall will be a homecoming of sorts.
“A lot of our friends come out to the Orono shows,” says Travis, as the location draws people from both the Toronto area, and the Peterborough area.
Fellow musicians often show up at The Sadies’ live performances to join the band on stage. Greg Keelor, guitarist and vocalist with the acclaimed band Blue Rodeo, is one such example. Keelor, who lives in the area, has joined The Sadies for all three of their previous performances at the Orono Town Hall.
“It’s always a treat when Greg’s around,” said Travis, who noted that this time around, Keelor will be on tour with his own band and unable to make the show.
But Travis was hopeful that other special guests might make an appearance in Orono. “Dad has the night off,” he said, of his father Bruce Good, who along with Travis’s uncles Larry Good and Brian Good, are better known as Canadian Country Hall of Fame members The Good Brothers. His mother, Margaret Good, also sings, with a particular affinity for gospel and traditional roots music. “So I’m hoping Mom and Dad will be there,” said Travis.
The Sadies appreciate the Orono Town Hall as an appealing venue in which to play. With a maximum capacity around 150 people (check that!), the hall keeps its intimacy while providing good acoustics.
“It’s an exceptional room,” said Travis. “It’s nice sounding. It’s really a neat old room. There’s not many like it. There’s a couple out west, but not too many in Ontario. Mostly we play in bars.”
Despite the accolades for the new album, Travis agreed that The Sadies are one of those bands that are even more impressive when seen live.
“I felt that way about every band I ever liked. It’s always about the live show. It was how I felt about The Ramones, and The Grateful Dead. That’s always the way it was,” said Travis.
It is at their live shows that fans can truly appreciate The Sadies’ archivist approach to their music. Whether they are doing a cover of The Byrds’ “I Was Not Born To Follow,” or Pink Floyd’s “Lucifer Sam,” the band captures the sound of the original while putting their own stamp on it.
“That’s us genuinely trying to be faithful to the original. It has a lot to do with our particular guitars and amps, so whether we’re playing psychedelic rock or country, at a certain volume, it always ends up sounding like The Sadies covering The Byrds,” said Travis with a laugh
Whatever the reason, The Sadies sound – while uniquely their own – harkens back through the archives to the roots of American music. A typical set list from their live shows proves they are accomplished players, as they charge through the genres of country, traditional gospel, spaghetti-western instrumentals, rockabilly, roots, psychedelic rock, and plain old rock’n’roll, all with Neil-Young-inspired abandon. No matter what they are playing, you get the feeling that they are totally into it.
Like Bob Dylan & The Band on their pioneering recording, “The Basement Tapes,” The Sadies refuse to follow mainstream music trends, but rather have become students of popular music. What makes them worthy of a JUNO nomination is the fact that while they reference the sounds of the past, they make them something new which is all their own.
The show at the Orono Town Hall is sold out. For those who have a ticket, the doors open at 8 p.m.
The 2008 JUNO Awards show will take place on Sunday, April 6, in Calgary, AB., and will be broadcast live on the CTV television network.