Team GDW were very excited last year when The Sheepdogs were announced as one of the events on the annual Jackson-Triggs summer concert series calendar.  As one of our concert-going highlights in 2017, we were amazed at the live experience this band provides, and had long kept our fingers crossed that they would be invited back to the venue for the 2018 season.  With the season schedule arriving in our email earlier this year, a quick glance confirmed that our wishes had been granted, and the purchase of tickets were quickly made to relive the experience one more time.

Blessed with amazing weather once again for a perfect evening outdoors in the Niagara peninsula, if there was one thing that stood out from the off-set, it was that The Sheepdogs knew exactly what to expect this year.  Lead singer Ewan Currie had even mentioned last year that playing at a winery was a new experience for them, and gave the impression at that time of being a little unsure (if only for the first one or two tunes) of how they would be received by a wine clientele.  Needless to say, the audience were familiar with the band, and were there for a great outdoors rock concert at the Jackson-Triggs amphitheater.  This time around, The Sheepdogs had no such reservations, strapping on their instruments and bringing an energy level that was off the charts from the opening riffs.

Twelve months ago, during their debut performance at this venue, The Sheepdogs shared a few unreleased compositions, that have since become well-known releases from their latest “Changing Colours” album.  Hits such as “There’s A Hole Where My Heart Should Be,” “Saturday Night” and “Up In Canada” were no longer unknown entities, making the set appear much more seamless this time around. Brothers Ewan (vocals/guitar/keyboards) and Shamus Currie (keyboards/trombone/vocals), and bandmates Jimmy Bowskill (lead guitar/lap steel/vocals), Ryan Gullen (bass/vocals) and Sam Corbett (percussion/vocals) would share nineteen of their original hits, before offering up a lively cover of the Allman Brothers hit “Ramblin’ Man” as their encore performance to close the show.

With no shortage of hit songs under their belts, The Sheepdogs satisfied their fans all evening with popular tracks such as “Bad Lieutenant,” “How Late, How Long” and “Downtown” thrown into the mix. But once again, aside from knowing exactly what to expect with these particular tracks, it would be those opportunities for individuals to shine that really added to the experience.  From Jimmy’s amazing work on the lap steel during “Part Time Love” and short-lived lead vocals during the encore, to Shamus taking center-stage with his trombone for both “I Ain’t Cool” and “Help Us All,” The Sheepdogs displayed their incredible diversity at every opportunity on this given night.  With the arduous task of keeping the rhythm in check, Sam and Ryan pounded away relentlessly; Sam’s closing drum solo on “I Don’t Know” bringing the crowd to their feet, and Ryan’s non-stop ‘energizer-bunny’ bass skills both being amazing to watch.  These five gentlemen have not only carved a strong musical identity right now, but combine to produce some simply outstanding retro-rock music that demands to be heard live.

Whether performing their earlier hits such as “Southern Dreaming” and “I’m Gonna Be Myself,” or recent cuts like “Kiss The Brass Ring” and “Let It Roll,” this is music that keeps the audience engaged all evening.  Factor in those special moments during tracks, such as the additional guitar work from Shamus during “Nobody” or the cranking up of the intensity during the distorted introduction to “Feeling Good” (and one that always reminds me of Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit In The Sky”), The Sheepdogs are on top of their game right now, and already have me eagerly awaiting the winery summer-concert listings for 2019.  With unofficial reports of this band being invited back for two consecutive nights next season, we know that another evening at the Jackson-Triggs amphitheater is pretty much guaranteed.

The Sheepdogs Set List:

  1. Who?
  2. I’ve Got A Hole Where My Heart Should Be
  3. Saturday Night
  4. Bad Lieutenant
  5. Downtown
  6. The Way It Is
  7. Cool Down
  8. Southern Dreaming
  9. Up In Canada
  10. Kiss The Brass Ring
  11. I’m Gonna Be Myself
  12. Take A Trip
  13. Let It Roll
  14. I Ain’t Cool
  15. Help Us All
  16. How Late, How Long
  17. Feeling Good
  18. Nobody
  19. I Don’t Know

Encore:

  1. Ramblin’ Man (Allman Brothers cover)

 

Martin Noakes

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.