Last night I was sitting at my kitchen table discussing music over a bottle of Jameson with Ewan Currie and Sam Corbett.
The Sheepdogs began their musical journey in the small city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan back in 2005. Currie, lead singer and guitarist, confesses that it was never an easy road to follow: gig after gig brought bad luck, closed venues and practically non-existent crowds. It was not until a random dude the guys met at a party unknowingly submitted their demo to a battle-of-the-bands contest that their big break would finally come. Following a series of performances, photo shoots, and interviews, the Sheepdogs beat out 15other artists to become the first unsigned band in history to make the cover of "Rolling Stone".
The first time I saw the Sheepdogs live, it was during a torrential downpour over Randall's Island in New York City. Luckily for me, thousands of people dressed in yellow ponchos were huddling under concession tents before the Sheepdogs' set, granting me easy access to the front row. The cards were in my favor, because as soon as the Canadian classic rockers took the stage, the sun began to poke out and it was time to boogie.
I took it as a good sign of a great performance when I caught myself grinning from ear to ear throughout every single song, despite being completely soaked in a full denim outfit. Ever since the moment the music ended that July evening, I began counting down the days until I could see them next. Last night, the wait was over.
If you closed your eyes during the first 30 seconds of "Feeling Good", you would swear Dan Auerbach was the person responsible for the noise erupting into your eardrums. It is no surprise, given that Black Keys' Patrick Carney is the producer of the latest Sheepdogs album. So come one, come all, music hounds: do yourself a favor and give this one a listen. Guitarist Leot Hanson will not let you down.
To Hanson's left, standing at center stage is the mammoth 6 foot 3 front man, Currie. As if he was not enormous enough already, his hair nearly doubles his stage presence. When he breaks into the funktastic "The Way It Is," his gigantic voice roars so loudly it takes you over as you are forced to sing along with him as the beat rises and falls at all the right times.
But do not let Currie's size intimidate you. He is a laid back dude who loves to kick back and chain-toke doobies. As he does this, he plugs his iPod into the dock and my dream of getting inside the musical genius of a rock star comes alive. Ewan's preferences are rooted in soul, jazz and female prowess. "I love Carole King and Aretha Franklin," he explains. "You can't help but worship Aretha Franklin, man."
Stellar performances from the Sheepdogs were "Who", "Catfish 2 Boogaloo" and "Southern Dreaming" which had drummer, Corbett, standing on his drums, banging his sticks together as the entire audience clapped along to end the set.
But not for long. Only two minutes had passed until a "Who let the dogs out?" chant was started somewhere in the back of the crowd, demanding an encore. The Sheepdogs came out to please with an unforgettable rendition of "I Don't Know." The jam is filled with "guitarmonies" as the guys like to say, and is easily one of the best tracks off the 2010 independent release, "Learn & Burn".
The Sheepdogs have been heavily influenced by some of the greatest artists that we all know and love. "Led Zeppelin is my second favorite band I think," Corbett shares, leaving me in suspense as to what band could possibly top Zeppelin. There is only one answer: "The Beatles are number one for me. I guess it's cliche, but the White Album is my favorite," Corbett adds. Ewan can relate, as he describes Paul McCartney as a real live superhero.
If you can get down to the likes of the Allman Brothers, Neil Young or Link Wray, welcome these southern country-blues revivalists into your music collection.
Next stop: Canada.