On The Shocking and Sudden Death of Dallas Good of The Sadies

photo via James McCaffrey

There is nothing else like The Sadies. There will never be anything else like The Sadies ever again. When it comes to electrical instrumentation and the pinnacle of composition in the country/roots/mod/surf/punk space that The Sadies created for themselves out of whole cloth, they are the fathers and the Kings, leaving the souls of fans shaken, and fellow musicians bowing in their wake. And now, one half of the brother duo who comprised the nucleus of this transformational North American band has left us, and tragically too soon.

Brothers Dallas and Travis Good are the sons of musicians Margaret and Bruce Good, and nephews of Brian and Larry Good, who are all members of the long-standing Canadian country, bluegrass, and folk group The Good Brothers. Perennials of the Canadian country music scene from the late 70’s well into the mid 90’s and still active today, Dallas and Travis grew up in The Good Brothers orbit with music all around them, stoking their imaginations.

But when these two brothers broke out on their own, what they created couldn’t be compartmentalized in any single roots genre, though it was intrinsically influenced by all of them. First forming in 1994 in Toronto, and releasing their debut album in 1998, the music of The Sadies had a way of spellbinding you from a technical complexity, without compromising whatsoever on the soul essential to the medium. They expressed emotion with innovation, and in a way that was intellectually stimulative as it was creatively inspiring.

This is the reason so many fellow musicians gravitated to this band as collaborators. With drummer Mike Belitsky, and bassist Sean Dean, they backed up on tour or otherwise collaborated with Neil Young, Kurt Vile, Neko Case, Justin Townes Earle, Jon Doe, Blue Rodeo, Buffy Sainte-Marie, The Tragically Hip, Jon Langford, and many others. If you wanted to take your project or tour to the next level, you called on The Sadies. And perfectly uninspired by notions of becoming rich and famous, they did everything sincerely from the love of music.

Wherever Dallas Good was, he was immediately the coolest son-of-a-bitch in the room. Too intense and focused to ever smile on stage (or perhaps anywhere else), his guitar acrobatics always came across as effortless, and nobody ever looked more sharp in an embroidered Nudie-style Western suit, which he wore religiously on stage. Dour and demure, mystery emanated from Dallas Good’s being, and infused into the music.

The cosmic connection Dallas had with brother Travis was downright paranormal. They were more like an extension of the same person as opposed to autonomous beings, illustrated through their haunting harmonies, and when they would play each other’s guitars with one hand on their own instrument, and one on the other’s. That conjoining of talent forged through blood is one of the many things that makes the news of Dallas Good’s passing so tragic.

“It’s with unfathomable sadness that we announce the sudden passing of Dallas on Thursday, February 17th,” the band said on Friday. “Forty eight years old, he died of natural causes while under doctor’s care for a coronary illness discovered earlier this week. A son, a brother, a husband, a friend, a bandmate, a leader, a force to be reckoned with, we have no words for the shock we are all feeling. We join the rest of our music community and fans in grief. The stage is dark today with the all too soon passing of one of music’s brightest lights. We love you Dallas.”

No word on if, or how the Sadies will move forward without him. The band had just released a series of new singles, including one in January called “Message to Belial.” But with so many collaborations accomplished, and so much influenced sowed in the music of others, the legacy of Dallas Good and The Sadies is secured as an imposing edifice in North American roots music.

Still, this news hits harder than most, not just because of how young Dallas Good was, and how unexpected this news is. It’s because few, if anyone could do was Dallas Good could do, and nobody could do what he did with his brother Travis. It was not of this world. And now, it no longer is.

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