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the sheepdogs rock minneapolis

October 8, 2012

A love affair that started last spring was consummated last night, when I finally got to see The Sheepdogs live. And they didn’t disappoint. Back when Rolling Stone announced the contestants in their “Choose the Cover” contest I did my homework and listened to the samples of each artist, starting out with a deeply ingrained bias for Northwest bands. Then I listened to The Sheepdogs – the hairy dudes from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan with their revivalist take on Southern rock, and my mind was made up. This was my horse in the race, and I dutifully cast my vote for them week after week.

I was obviously pumped when they beat out the other contestants and emerged victorious, landing a record deal with Atlantic and the prized “cover of the Rolling Stone.” Since then I’ve been waiting for our paths to cross to catch them live. Especially so after hearing their latest, Patrick Carney produced, album – which is killer. Luckily for me they rolled though Minneapolis last night.

7th Street Entry is a tiny downtown venue attached to the legendary First Avenue club. It’s the kind of sweaty place with low ceilings, black walls, and an endless stream of PBR tall boys coming from the bar. While the room was packed, The Sheepdogs deep, rich sound seemed much too large for the space. I imagined it oozing like hot rock & roll honey out the doors into the frigid Minnesota night. I found myself fantasizing about seeing them at an outdoor venue, sipping a boozy sweet tea. All that long hair on stage needs a summer breeze to really do it justice…

The band was fabulous though, delivering a solid set that was dead-on to their album sound. I think what I like best about them is that they harken back to those sweet golden teenage years of rock & roll, after the infancy of Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, when it was just stretching its legs and learning the power of combining a Marshall amp and a Gibson Firebird. Just a bunch of long-haired dudes who love to play and are damn good at it.

If you have the chance to see The Sheepdogs near you, definitely take it. I have a feeling that they’ll be playing bigger venues on their next U.S. go-round…

West Coast: they’re headed your way next. Portland friends should definitely jump on their show this Saturday at the Doug Fir. 

See what I mean about the hair? — Photo by Sarah Fawcett, Red on Black Music

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