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A ‘true hard-working, road-hardened troubadour:’ musicians remember Dallas Good

The Sadies were the first band to “take a chance” on the Sheepdogs in 2011
The Sadies lead singer Dallas Good poses for a photograph in Toronto on Wednesday, January 25, 2017. Good, singer and guitarist of Canadian rock/alternative country band the Sadies has died of natural causes at age 48, the band says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Fellow musicians are remembering Dallas Good as someone who fostered community within the Canadian music scene, supported new artists and gave them a chance to showcase their skills.

Good, the singer and guitarist of rock/alternative country band the Sadies, died Thursday of natural causes at age 48.

The Sadies posted the news on their social media accounts Friday afternoon, saying in a Facebook post that Good had been under doctor’s care for a coronary illness discovered earlier this week.

The band, made up of Good, his singer/guitarist brother Travis Good, bassist Sean Dean and drummer Mike Belitsky, formed in Toronto in 1994 and released their first album “Precious Moments” in 1998.

And they had served as inspiration for other Canadian acts since.

“We kind of grew up idolizing and watching (them),” Ryan Gullen, bassist for the Sheepdogs said in a phone interview. “Their albums are amazing and their live shows were something you could only aspire to.”

Gullen said the Sadies were the first band to “take a chance” on the Sheepdogs in 2011, inviting the then little-known rock group from Saskatoon to tour with them through Western Canada.

Gullen said the gig was “huge affirmation” for the Sheepdogs, adding that Good and the Sadies quickly put their star-struck nerves at ease by welcoming them “with open arms” and taking them for drinks after the first show.

The Sheepdogs’ time with Good was cut short when he broke his leg before the tour’s second show. Still, Gullen said, it was the start of a bond that grew stronger over the years.

“We became part of their community, and I think that’s the biggest piece of what you can say about Dallas and the Sadies,” he said. “They really bred community. They welcomed people in and they supported people.

“It wasn’t about getting bigger for them. It was about surrounding yourself with good people and building them up, which is sort of lost in a lot of ways with a lot of musicians.”

Eamon McGrath, a musician and writer from Edmonton, remembers when Good broke his leg on tour. He also recalls Good’s triumphant return to the stage months later in Saskatoon, wearing a cast under his suit that extended past the top of his knee.

McGrath opened for the Sadies at that show — one of his many times playing with the band.

“I don’t even understand how he got a suit on over that cast and played the entire show,” McGrath said. “A ripping, loud, energetic, Sadies show, dripping in sweat … That probably would have been unspeakably uncomfortable.”

McGrath said he always felt “like a giddy schoolgirl” when he could play alongside the Sadies.

“They were, in a lot of ways, like the last holdout of true hard-working, road-hardened troubadours,” he said.

The Sadies were still performing weeks before Good’s death, and had released a new single, “Message to Belial,” in January.

They were among the acts at a virtual edition of Guelph, Ont.’s Hillside Inside festival earlier this month and were listed on the bill for Winterruption, a music festival in Edmonton that runs March 31 to April 3.

They were set to play Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern this April, a make-up date for shows that had been postponed in December.

“We have no words for the shock we are all feeling,” the band’s Facebook post read Friday. “The stage is dark today with the all too soon passing of one of music’s brightest lights.”

Gullen described Good’s voice as having an “incredible low, almost haunting” quality.

Not the typically loud, boisterous frontman, Good was a “stoic, calculated performer,” Gullen said, showing the world “you don’t have to be Mick Jagger to lead a band.”

McGrath said Good transcended multiple music genres, noting he also played with Moncton, N.B.-based psychedelic band Elevator to Hell, instrumental Toronto rock group Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, and Toronto indie rockers the Unintended.

“(The Sadies) were as much a punk band as they were a country band,” McGrath said. “Their musical ability in terms of guitar playing, I mean, they make the most technical death metal bands look like incapable students.”

Dallas and Travis Good came from a strong lineage of musicality. Their father Bruce played in the Juno-winning bluegrass outfit the Good Brothers alongside his siblings while mother Margaret has appeared on recordings with both her husband and her sons.

The Sadies’ 2017 album “Northern Passages” was recorded in the Good parent’s basement in Newmarket, Ont.

The band collaborated with many other homegrown acts, including Buffy Sainte-Marie, Blue Rodeo, Neil Young and the Tragically Hip, with whom they toured extensively.

The band teamed up with Hip frontman Gord Downie for their 2014 album “And the Conquering Sun” — an extensive project that took seven years to complete.

Good also worked as a producer, helping Canadian sister trio The Garrys with an album they released this fall.

Julie Maier, one of the band members, called Good a “wish-list producer” and said the band was thrilled when he agreed to work with them. His down-to-earth nature — Good only asked for Red Rose tea when the Garrys offered to provide food and drinks in studio — struck her and her sisters.

“He was just such an unpretentious person,” Maier said. “He was just the farthest thing from a diva.”

His contributions to Canada’s music scene are unparalleled, McGrath said, noting how the Sadies toured the country “relentlessly.”

“They never discriminated against their audience, never looked down on any town as small or as big as it was,” he said.

“They laid the groundwork for being Canadian artists.”

Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press

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