Singer/guitarist Dallas Good doesn’t have the usual circle of friends, and over the last eight years, The Sadies—the Toronto foursome he started with his brother Travis—have served as a backing band for a remarkably diverse, accomplished group of musicians. For their new live album, In Concert, 23 of these musicians rejoined the band over two nights in its hometown, with everyone from alt.country icons Neko Case and Gary Louris to cowpunker Jon Langford and The Band’s Garth Hudson stopping by to sit in.
“We’re back to the point where we owe people a lot of favors, but we didn’t going into making this record,” says Good about the band’s decision to call on such an all-star cast. “What I was really shocked about was that everybody did it. Put it this way, the music industry is a whole lot of talk, and this goes to show that my circle of friends and peers actually do their job.”
For a notoriously adventurous live act, often playing 40 to 50 songs in a single set, a live album is the perfect canvas for The Sadies to spill their eclectic mixture of twanged-out country rock, swaggering surf riffs, hazy garage-psych and note-perfect Western swing and bluegrass.
“Having Garth there, you couldn’t help thinking about The Last Waltz,” says guitarist/?ddler/vocalist Travis, visibly hesitant to compare his album to such a canonized live recording. “I tried to avoid thinking about it at all costs, but when Garth Hudson showed up it was like, ‘Well, we’re going to have to cover The Band at some point.’ [They eventually played “Evangeline.”] But we sure didn’t set out to do it that way.”
Having served as Neko Case’s backup band for the live The Tigers Have Spoken, The Sadies were prepared for the rigors of having every note and word recorded for posterity. “There is that tension that a lot of performers don’t deal with, and I’ll be honest about it—I was nervous about making a live record with Neko about six months before we recorded it,” Dallas admits. “I know that a lot of people have hated their experiences making live records. We just made sure there was a lot of alcohol backstage.” Matt Fink