One of the great live bands of this era show the world how it's done. Canada's Cosmic Keepers of the Country Flame, The Sadies, gather many of their talented cohorts and light the flame for an enthralled crowd for two nights at Lee's Palace in Toronto, and burn it down.
Dallas and Travis Good (along with indispensables Sean Dean and Mike Belitsky on bass and drums, of course) have a helluva doctor's bag of tricks: Bluegrass, Country, Surf, Psychedelia, Spaghetti Western, Rockabilly--it gets hilarious in the course of a breakneck evening how many genres these guys rip through like a pack of wild dogs just trying to have a good time.
Steve Albini and Don Pyle with Ken Friesen in the sound truck outside did a stellar job of capturing all the fine points and the fire, as did Brian McCullough on Front Of House, by the hysterical sounds of the crowd. Together they really, really, put you there.
There are so many different kinds of jams going on within this double disc, it's mind-bending. They rock so hard and dirty with John Spencer and Matt Verta Ray of Heavy Trash, and then they go to church with the family (literally) on "There's A Higher Power." (Their mom Margaret Good joins Canadian Hall of Famers The Good Brothers, who are Dallas and Travis' father and uncles.) The sweetness of Neko Case and Kelly Hogan with Garth Hudson on the Roger Miller B-side "Home" is precious, and they launch on the record right into Neko's "Hold On, Hold On" from her righteous CD Fox Confessor Brings The Flood. We do not have anything in the States that even resembles the breadth and certainly not the vibe of The Sadies.
But wait, there's much more. The cavalcade of stars includes John Langford, Rick White from their psychedelic side project The Unintended, Blue Rodeo's Greg Keelor, The Jayhawk's Gary Louris (doing a mighty fine version of their song "Tailspin"), Maud Hudson, and members of The Deadly Snakes.
Since The Sadies are, first and foremost, a remarkable live band who pride themselves on 50-song sets and playing lots of side projects with their far flung friends, The Sadies In Concert is the best way to get into this fantastic band. We love them, to death. • Frank Goodman