THE GOOD BROTHERS
The Good Brothers have gained a worldwide audience over the course of their accomplished career. It all started when twins Bruce and Brian Good formed a folk group with Marty Steiger and Bruce’s soon to be wife Margaret Queen. They were known as The Kinfolk and performed at folk clubs and coffeehouses in the mid to late 60’s.
In 1970 Bruce and Brian met James Ackroyd and formed a band simply called James and The Good Brothers. Their first show was at Maple Leaf Gardens with Grand Funk Railroad. Then came the cross Canada tour on the outrageous Festival Express with such bands as The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Ian & Sylvia and The Band just to name a few. With a little help from friends The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, they recorded their first album on Columbia records. What excitement – the gigs at San Francisco’s famed Fillmore West, the nights at L.A.’s Troubadour with John Hammond and Tracey Nelson, the shows in Northern California with The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and The New Riders of The Purple Sage.
Later, James would choose to remain in the U.S. while the brothers would return home to Canada and recruit younger brother Larry. This was 1973 and would be the beginning of a wonderful musical trip… The Good Brothers. The brothers’ first gig was the legendary Toronto club The Riverboat, on May 14, 1974. They played simple music, straight from the heart that encompassed country, bluegrass, folk and the occasional taste from their rock and roll songbook. Fiddle tunes flowed as did original and cover songs, highlighted by Larry’s banjo breaks, Bruce’s award winning autoharp styles, their unique sibling harmonies and enough on-stage energy to burn down the corn field.
It wasn’t long before The Good Brothers were packing Toronto’s fabled El Macombo five nights a week; breaking bar records, attendance records and exhausting determined dancers. Then there were eight straight Juno awards for Best Country Group, and headline gigs at Massey Hall, Roy Thompson Hall, The National Art Centre and the weeks at L.A.’s Universal Amphitheatre with (their mentor) Gordon Lightfoot. There was even a self-titled double gold album.
Fast-forward 30 years – and they’re still here. No long breaks for the Goods – they kept making records, and gigged relentlessly. More recently they were honoured by being the 2004 inductees into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame as well as two nominations for Country Group and Roots Artist of the year at the Canadian Country Music Awards. Next year they’re off on tour in Europe, again; this will be their 26th tour on the other side of the Atlantic. They’ve kept the flame burning, and the music going and those determined dancers have never stopped. The 80’s and 90’s came and went, and Canada’s musical soundtrack, through all those years, included The Good Brothers.
Yes, the times have changed – the music business isn’t like it used to be, and nor is most of the music. The brave days seem to have vanished, and the sheer joy of making music seems harder to discover. And yet…what’s this? The new album by the Good Brothers! One True Thing (voted Canada’s number one Independant Album of the Year 2003), as accurate a title as anyone could use.
The sibling harmonies are still there. The fleetness of banjo, guitar, and autoharp is joined by John P. Allen’s fiddle, and the guitar and mandolin of Travis Good from The Sadies, representing the next generation of the family.
More than half the songs on One True Thing are written by Brian and Bruce while the others include old classics like “Old Man at the Mill” and a rock song by Quebec’s own Michel Pagliaro. It’s still country, it’s bluegrass, it still works in bars and at folk festivals, and it still gets ‘em up dancing at jamboree.
The songs still come straight from their hearts to your tapping toes and the smile on your face.