In 1970 twin brothers Bruce and Brian Good of Richmond Hill, Ontario, met James Ackroyd from Winnipeg, Manitoba 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, Celtic 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, Brian’s finger picking and their unique sibling harmonies along with enough on-stage humour and 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 forty years – and they’re still here. No long breaks for the Goods – they kept making records, and gigged relentlessly. In 2004 they were honoured by being inducted 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. In 2015 they received a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Toronto Musicians Association and in 2016 were inducted into the North American Country Music Association International Hall of Fame in Tennessee. Next year they’re off to tour Europe, again; this will be their 39th 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 and millennium came and went, and Canada’s musical soundtrack, through all those years, included The Good Brothers.
Today the sibling harmonies are still there on their soon to be released sixteenth recording. The fleetness of banjo, guitar, and autoharp is often joined by the fiddle, mandolin and guitars. Their music lives on and the songs still come straight from their hearts to your tapping toes and the smile on your face.