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Show review: John Doe & The Sadies in Northridge, California Nov. 20, 2010

John Doe & The Sadies
Plaza del Sol Performance Hall
Cal State Northridge
Northridge, California
November 20, 2010

While a 500 seat, sit-down college performance hall might not be the ideal location for the old-style country music collaboration of John Doe & The Sadies, it didn’t seem to bother the band a bit. From the opening song, “Stop the World and Let Me Off,” they played like it was some smoke filled small town bar on a Saturday night and they were the jukebox.

The Toronto-based Sadies were the perfect band for this project. The rhythm section of Mike Belitsky (drums) and Sean Dean (upright bass) provided a solid beat all night, with the Good Brothers, Dallas on guitar and vocals and Travis on guitar, vocals and violin, bringing the right amount of twang to the songs. Dallas was particularly good, combining the “tunka-tunka” Johnny Cash guitar sound with plenty of surf-punk reverb. John Doe’s voice, husky and full, is well-suited to bringing out the emotional nuance of the songs. But what tied the evening together was the choice of the songs, a mix of old country, X songs and material from The Sadies recordings.

The set list was a delight, with Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone,” Roger Miller’s “Husbands and Wifes,” Merle Haggard’s “Working Man Blues” and “Are The Good Times Really Over For Good” among the highlights. Travis Good took the lead vocals on the old Cowboy song “Big Iron,” and John Doe sang some heartfelt ballads like Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through The Night” and “Take These Chains from My Heart.” They tossed in a few old X songs like “Have Nots” and “The New World” and a few Sadies songs like “Tiger, Tiger” and the instrumental “The Sudbury Nickel” before finishing off the evening with a high energy encore of “Call of the Wreckin’ Ball.”

While this was a one-off evening (next up for John Doe was a West Coast tour with X and the Sadies off for a gig at Pioneer Town in Joshua Tree the next night), it truly was special and fun. They don’t play together often, so catch them if you can. [www.thesadies.net; www.theejohndoe.com]

—Jim Lee (Simi Valley, CA)

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