The Sheepdogs, a southern rock band from north of the border, paid a visit to Lincoln Hall on Tuesday Night. They’re a throwback band that look and sound like a mix of The Allman Brothers Band and Eagles (a combination, by the way, that I believe essentially makes them Stillwater). On stage, they’re led by singer and guitarist Evan Currie. He has a traditional rock n’ roll voice: not particularly rangy, but deep, soulful and projecting. His live vocals were on par with his studio work, and I was pleasantly surprised with how good his bandmates’ harmonies sounded on the choruses. Their unified voice particularly struck me on the closing line of “Who?”, when they cut the instruments and finished a cappella.
Currie shares lead guitar with Jimmy Bowskill, who took the stage in a fantastic purple jumpsuit with floral embroidery. Rather than split lead guitar duties, they oftentimes played simultaneously. The resulting effect was harmonized guitars, as can be heard on the opening “Southern Dreaming.” The unsung hero on those “solos” was bassist Ryan Gullen. Gullen effectively took the place of a rhythm guitarist by keeping the melody going so Currie and Boswell could shred.
While Currie and Boswell’s guitar playing was front and center, the other bandmates did get their time to shine. On “I Ain’t Cool,” for example, Currie’s brother Shamus swapped keys for trombone. It was a nice change of pace a little past the show’s halfway mark; in addition to bringing in a new instrument, it was the song that best showcased the band’s harmonies.
While “rock is dead” think-pieces are cliche and largely inaccurate, there is some truth to the idea that The Sheepdogs are of another era. Their songs are predictable in a way that sounds distinctly like early 70s rock:
- Opening guitar riff
- First verse
- First chorus with harmonies
- Short guitar solo
- Second verse
- Second chorus with harmonies
- Longer guitar solo
- Closing chorus
- (Optional) Closing guitar solo
They are, however, experts at that formula, and I found myself drawn into the rhythm of the overall performance. There is a welcome dependability in knowing that the vocals will fill out during the chorus, and the guitar solo will hit on syncopated blues beats. The Sheepdogs are musical comfort food of the best sort.