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Toronto's the Sadies relishes ties to Buffalo music fans

To call Toronto’s Sadies chameleonic would suggest the band's adept at adjusting to its surroundings. But this would be misleading.

Throughout the band's accomplished 20-year career, sibling guitar marvels Dallas and Travis Good, bassist Sean Dean, and drummer Mike Bilitsky haven’t had to amend their style to fit in anywhere. They’ve simply been able to use their signature blend of country, roots and surf rock to make any venue their own — and earn a number of high-profile collaborations along the way.

With a few dizzying clips of guitar strings, clubs or concert halls become roadhouses, and listeners can easily understand why Canadian record royalty like Randy Bachmann and Garth Hudson have sought to work with the scorching quartet.

The Sadies next stop: Buffalo Iron Works (49 Illinois St.), where the Juno-honored act will perform for Cobblestone District visitors at 9 p.m. Feb. 19.

Coming off 2013’s “Internal Sounds” and its “And the Conquering Sun” album with the Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie — which they performed together at Canalside two summers ago — the band’s back on the road while working on new material.

Sadies drummer Mike Belitsky took some time to discuss the band’s live reputation, some of its favorite collaborations and its common bond with Buffalo. 

Question: For many, the Sadies have always been a must-see live band, one that can turn the most expansive venue into a rollicking barroom. When did this reputation start, and how has it been able to flourish?

Answer: I think it started from us playing long shows and turning people who had never heard of us into fans or converts. If there were 10 people at a show 20 years ago, they'd tell friends and, the next time [we played that city], there'd be 20 people there. It started at a grassroots level by building a fan base with good shows, and them sharing that experience.

Q: Along with an extensive recording history, the Sadies have been able to collaborate with a list that includes such luminaries as Neil Young and Neko Case. What is it about the band that melds so proficiently with different artists?

A: I think it's because nobody tries to meld us when we collaborate with them. We’re asked to collaborate with people because of who we are, not what we can become.

Q: Is there a particular instance of collaboration that stands out?

A: No, they all have either immediately or have grown to be as equally important as far as experiences go. Working with Jon Langford (of the Mekons), for example, is something that is ongoing, even though we've only made one record. I would say the same thing about John Doe (of X) and Neko [Case], even though we haven't collaborated with her in some time. No door is ever shut there.

And I don’t know if we'll make an album with Neil Young, but that song we did (Young’s cover of the Band’s “This Wheel’s on Fire”) had a huge impact on me because it was working with someone who is such an influential person for so many people around the world.

Q: The band's currently recording new music. Will it transition from or relate to 2013's celebrated "Internal Sounds," or will it veer in a new direction?

A: I feel we are progressing and are better with each record. Our goal [with the next album] would be to achieve that. I don't know if we’re going in a new direction musically, but I don't know how to define us at all times, anyways. We're just always trying to get better and improve our recording outputs.

Q; The band's played Buffalo many times, from the 9thWard to Canalside to Mohawk Place. What is it about the city and its venues that make it receptive to the Sadies' style?

A: It seems like there are a few cities in North America where people have a really ingrained connection with their own city. It seems like the one in Buffalo is that of a commitment to the city, and a commitment to staying. I feel like that is what the connection is to our band. That we are obviously, as a band, committed to what we do and to staying together.

Not many bands stay together as long as we have, and I’m sure there are a lot of people who have left Buffalo. But the ones who've stayed would appreciate our commitment to what we do.

Music Preview

Who: The Sadies

When: 9 p.m. Feb. 19

Where: Buffalo Iron Works, 49 Illinois St.

Admission: $15

Info: buffaloironworks.com

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