We, as a society, do not always take well to the idea of inherited privilege. Perhaps we think it’s undemocratic; it conjures up some collective memory of monarchy that we’d rather not think about. Still, whether it’s nepotism or genetics, there are all too many examples of hereditary success.
Perhaps the place we would be least likely to think of as an example of this is the world of the arts. Our popular artists and musicians exude independence, but as often as not, their talent has been stewing in a family gene pool for a few generations.
It would be cynical and unfair to suggest that the Sadies would not have achieved the success they have today had two of them not been descended from Canadian country icons the Good Brothers, but Dallas and Travis Good’s musical upbringing can only have helped them along the way. Dallas Good is very aware of it. “There is definitely a sort of lineage,” he said. “Whether it’s a sort of inbred, twisted gene-pool nightmare or some sort of celebrated monarchy, I really can’t say.”
Dallas Good is a vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist for the Sadies, Toronto’s critically acclaimed indie/alt-country group. He is also the son of Bruce Good and the nephew of Brian and Larry Good, the eponymous members of country group the Good Brothers. Dallas Good was never inspired to rebel against his parents by forsaking music. In fact, he feels lucky to have had the upbringing he did. “Just the other day,” he said, “I found reel-to-reel tapes of my grandparents playing with my father and uncles when they were little kids.”
He was initially averse to his antecedents’ choice of genre, but he eventually warmed to it. “My hatred of country and western music was strictly my own choice,” he said, “and even in that, I couldn’t run fast enough from the devil.”
Dallas and his band mates, Travis Good (guitar, vocals and fiddle), Mike Belitsky (drums) and Sean Dean (standup bass), are now touring in support of their latest album, Darker Circles, but they will also release an album with Dallas and Travis’s parents, Bruce and Margaret Good.
“We’re making a record this year which will be the Sadies with my mother and father and a cousin and an uncle and all kinds of horse shit under the moniker ‘the Good Family,’” said Dallas. It’s a move toward a less-common but still persistent model of performing, but it’s not the first time the Sadies have done anything like this. “My mother contributes to most of the Sadies’ records,” said Good. “My father does at times.”
Darker Circles is being hailed as a leap forward in the band’s songwriting. “We had a lot more time to work on the [songwriting] rather than the [instrumentals], deliberately,” said Good. Indeed, the Sadies’ instrumental prowess is undisputed. They have played with many other prominent groups and are the preferred backing group of Neko Case. Good says that the lack of lyrical content in the band’s side projects has allowed them to focus on their own lyrics. “That was a product of having not too long ago created a soundtrack of entirely instrumental music. It gave me a chance to actually do some rhyming for a change.”
When they come to Winnipeg, the Sadies are playing at the West End Cultural Centre, which is something of a departure for them as far as local venues go. “We’re excited about it,” said Good, who was eager to convey his affection for the Pyramid Cabaret manager Dave McKeigan. “We really love the Pyramid [ . . . ], but we’re focusing on trying to play slightly different types of shows on this tour.”
The Sadies playing Feb. 11 at the West End Cultural Centre.