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We ain’t done yet

Almost 20 years in the business and they've still got it. Image: news.youngtownmuseum.com
Almost 20 years in the business and they’ve still got it.
/Image: news.youngtownmuseum.com

The Sadies have put in their dues

Article: Dana Morenstein – Contributor

It’s an hour before show time, and The Sadies drummer, Mike Belitsky, is sitting somewhat awkwardly on a foldaway chair, being interviewed. When told that he doesn’t seem as wild as most rock n’ roll drummers, Belitsky laughs nervously and responds, “No, not at all”.

The Sadies have paid their dues. They’ve been playing music together for nearly twenty years now, having backed acts like The Tragically Hip and Neil Young.

“This is us almost twenty years later,” Belitsky says. “We started playing together in ’97 but Dallas and Shawn started the band as a two piece in ’94. Then it just kept growing from there.”

Has the Canadian music scene changed over that period?

“Definitely,” Belitsky replies. “The whole music industry has changed, I don’t think it’s exclusive to Canada. There used to be a music industry and now it’s like, the actual kingpins of the industry seem somewhat powerless, putting all the onus and responsibility to carve your own career and create your own niche back on the artist.”

Belitsky recalls that “Back in the early to mid-nineties, record labels had a lot of money. They were throwing it around and signing a lot of bands for a lot of money. It was just like a heyday. And then people started figuring out how to get music for free.”

Belitsky is right; a lot of artists who once relied heavily on record sales have had to find other ways to gain recognition and earn a living.

“A lot of bands who were around then and are still around now have had to reinvent their approach to putting out music. In a way, I think that bands can’t really make records anymore and just rely on sales. They have to play shows, and one thing we’ve always done is play shows, so for us, it’s been life as usual.”

The Sadies are old hands when it comes to performing. Original, perhaps, is the most accurate adjective to describe them. Their music—which, truthfully, is a bit of an acquired taste—is a mixture of rockabilly, psychedelic, and country.

At their recent Regina show, billed as “An Evening with the Sadies,” there were no bizarre or outrageous stage antics. Instead, the band seemed very familiar with their work and with one another, and they played without many interjections and just one short break between sets.

One highlight of the show was Travis Goode’s guitar riffs. His guitar work is, simply put, amazing. The evening’s atmosphere was relaxed, and most people stood around, nodding their heads or stomping their feet quietly to the rhythm. If you were looking for a mosh pit, you wouldn’t have found it here. Their fans seemed much too polite to do such a thing, but hey, anything is possible.

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