Music certainly runs through the veins of brothers Dallas and Travis Good from the Toronto-based band The Sadies, which played a thrilling show at the Mercury Lounge in Goleta on Saturday night.
Their father, Bruce, and uncle Brian play in the country/bluegrass/folk music band The Good Brothers, proudly in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, and their mother, Margaret, has sung background vocals with various artists, including on many of The Good Brothers recordings.
So it is perhaps no great surprise that Dallas and Travis are amazing musicians themselves, but in a psychedelic/surf/country rock/garage direction. Points of reference include The Byrds and fellow Canadians Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, but ultimately the band, which also includes Sean Dean on stand-up bass and Mike Belitsky on drums, follows its own muse.
The Sadies have a distinctive instrumental sound, much of it courtesy of Travis’ Gretsch Tennessean guitar running through Fender Vibrolux and Deluxe Reverb amps, often with tasteful surf-music-inspired use of the tremolo arm, and Dallas’ Fender Telecaster, which at times will slap you with a blast of distorted sound. Then there is the brothers’ singing, with exquisite harmonizing that seems so natural that it must have a genetic component, and Dallas capable of a baritone worthy of Johnny Cash.
Early in the set, the band played the sublime “Translucent Sparrow” off my favorite Sadies album, Favourite Colours, with Travis continuing to harmonize despite being electrocuted by the microphone. That’s dedication to one’s art. Fortunately, the problem was quickly corrected.
They also played several songs off their acclaimed 2010 album, Darker Circles, including “Another Year Again,” “Cut Corners” and “Tell Her What I Said,” which was dedicated to opener Jesse Sykes who had treated The Merc to a generous helping of her alt-country songs.
There were also choice cuts from The Sadies’ 2008 album, New Seasons, including “What’s Left Behind,” the slower “Sunset to Dawn” and the instrumental “The Introduction,” with some smokin’ hot guitar from Travis.
There was more of Travis’ hot guitar on the instrumental “Ridge Runner Reel,” which kept getting faster until reaching breakneck speed. And Travis took over lead vocals for a few songs, such as Dex Romweber’s “Lonely Guy.” This was one of several interesting covers, including Gun Club’s “Mother of Earth,” The Band’s “Leave Me Alone” and Blue Rodeo’s “Palace of Gold.” One particularly cool cover was the Louvin Brothers’ “There’s a Higher Power,” with great vocals and Travis playing some mean fiddle.
As an encore, The Sadies played a punked-up version of the traditional folk song “Pretty Polly,” with Travis back on fiddle.
The family should definitely be proud of the Good boys.
— Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.