Team GDW tend to get a little excited when the Jackson-Triggs summer concert series is formally announced each April.  This venue has a solid reputation for bringing in top class Canadian music to their wonderful outdoor amphitheatre, and with limited seating, the events have a tendency to sell out very quickly.  We have learned to review the schedule and make some very quick decisions in order to secure our tickets.  A cursory glance at the artists on offer for this summer was cast, and my pulse quickened a little upon noticing that The Sheepdogs were included in the series.  Purchasing tickets to this show became our top priority, and once secured, we knew that this particular Friday night in Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON was going to be a good one.

Prior to late 2013, we had no knowledge of The Sheepdogs.  We had the good fortune of catching a live feed of the 2013 CFL Grey Cup on TV here in the US, and the pre-game festivities included a small set from this amazing ‘nostalgic rock’ band from Saskatchewan.  Performing both “Feeling Good” and “I Don’t Know,” we became instantly addicted to this retro-rock outfit.  Completing their retro vibe with era-appropriate attire and looks, this band just oozed similarities to stadium rockers of decades past (think The Allman Brothers and The Grateful Dead).  We found their CDs on a following trip to Canada, and knew right then that we had to see this band live one day.

As the concert time rolled around, we arrived at Jackson-Triggs on a warm and cloudy late afternoon, promptly making our way to the amphitheatre to pick out some of the best seats.  With a last minute addition of an opening act, we were treated to five songs from Lindsay, ON natives The Kents.  Opening with their popular “Is There Anyone,” the band worked quickly through their original material, before offering the brand new track “Smoke” to close their set.  We have stated many times in our posts that we always appreciate taking time to enjoy an opening band, but wish that the announcement had been made a little earlier in order to have familiarized ourselves with their music.  The Kents fulfilled their warm up duties with an enjoyable set, and we have since noticed that they have received recent airplay on the SiriusXM station “The Verge.”

After a brief intermission, The Sheepdogs graced the stage at Jackson-Triggs, and performed a 21-track set list that drew upon material both new and old.  Still promoting their most recent “Future Nostalgia” album, tracks from this offering would dominate, although popular tracks from previous albums were naturally added into the mix.  Three new tracks were also included, along with an encore that would see the band perform a cover version of The Allman Brothers hit “Whipping Post”.  We were particularly pleased to see Jimmy Bowskill once again (having seen him twice with Blue Rodeo and with Kathleen Edwards earlier this year), especially loving the opportunity to see him perform the lead guitar duties with this band.  For one of the new tracks, Jimmy would demonstrate his mastery of the pedal steel, much to our delight.

Leading off immediately with the early hit “Who,” The Sheepdogs worked through recent hits “Bad Lieutenant” and “Downtown” (the latter allowed bassist Ryan Gullen the chance to amaze with his mastery of both the instrument and the authentic seventies persona).  Brothers (or should that be ‘Bros’) Ewan and Shamus Currie did not miss a step all evening, with flawless guitar, keyboards and vocals.  Shamus would even take center stage with his trombone for “Ewan’s Blues,” and fill in as a third guitarist for rhythm duties on the new track “Nobody.”  With a tale from Ewan about a two day drive from Saskatchewan to Denver, CO, his yearning for home prompted both the new track “Take A Trip” and the arduous task of making the return trip with a solid, nonstop 17-hour drive home.

Venturing back and forth between their lighter side (“Southern Dreaming” and “Plastic Man”) and their all-out retro rock material (“How Late, How Long” and “I’m Gonna Be Myself”), The Sheepdogs did not let off the gas pedal throughout this show.  And as if seeking to further provoke memories of that aforementioned Grey Cup performance, they would eventually close out with both “Feeling Good” and “I Don’t Know” in succession.  Leaving the stage to a very loud (and truly deserved) ovation, The Sheepdogs would return for that one track encore with their Allman Brothers cover.  While there was never any doubt that this would be nothing less than an evening of amazing musicianship, for us, it was the added dimension of their dress and persona that whisked you away back to an era of polyester suits and flared pants.  This was more than just another concert – this was an exercise in travelling back in time, and an absolute delight to experience.  Once again, we have encountered a live band who have totally captivated us, and left us with an immense desire to see them on many future occasions in order to experience this some more.

The Sheepdogs Set List:

  1. Who?
  2. I’m Gonna Be Myself
  3. Bad Lieutenant
  4. Downtown
  5. The Way It Is
  6. Southern Dreaming
  7. Same Old Feeling
  8. Right On
  9. Back Down
  10. ***New Track – Title Unknown***
  11. Plastic Man
  12. I Don’t Get By
  13. Nobody ***New Track***
  14. How Late, How Long?
  15. Learn & Burn
  16. Take A Trip ***New Track***
  17. Ewan’s Blues
  18. Help Us All
  19. Feeling Good
  20. I Don’t Know

Encore

  1. Whipping Post (Allman Brothers Cover)

~ M

Visit The Sheepdogs’ website.

Buy “Future Nostalgia” on Amazon.