The Sheepdogs suddenly were running around in a much bigger pasture.
It was back in August 2011 that the Sheepdogs, a previously largely unknown rock band from Saskatoon, graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. The group had won a contest, in which Rolling Stone picked an unsigned up-and-coming band for its cover.
Things changed for the Sheepdogs overnight. They had been given a golden opportunity. The question, however, was whether they could take advantage of it.
That’s the general setup of the documentary The Sheepdogs Have At It. An original production for Super Channel, it makes its TV debut on Monday, Dec. 16.
The Sheepdogs certainly have a striking look to them. If it were 1970, no one would blink an eye. But in 2013, the long hair and the beards certainly give the band a throwback vibe. In fact, their Rolling Stone cover featured the headline, “The Sheepdogs: A Very Hairy Rock & Roll Fairy Tale.”
That was part of the challenge the band faced in its early days. Early in 2011 they were touring in an oft-broken van, playing a vintage brand of music that they were told repeatedly had no future, especially if they ever hoped to grasp the holy grail of radio play.
When I’ve seen and heard the Sheepdogs – most recently it was when they performed at the Grey Cup in Regina – they bring to mind the Guess Who or the Stampeders (the band, not the football team). Their sound is a mixture of those two bands with some Southern rock thrown in for extra spice.
The Sheepdogs Have At It follows the band members – Ewan Currie, Leot Hanson, Ryan Gullen and Sam Corbett – into a Nashville recording studio as they make their new album with producer Patrick Carney from the Black Keys. The doc also tells the tale of the band’s origin and features concert footage from across North America.
The overall impression is that the Sheepdogs are neither sheep nor dogs, but rather their own unique breed of Canadian animal.