Time Warp with The Sheepdogs

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Article and Photo Credit: Mariko Margetson

The Sheepdogs, Canada’s favorite 70’s tribute band that isn’t a cover band were back in town to play to a groovy crowd at Vancouver’s Malkin Bowl on Saturday, September 1.

Anyone in need of a healthy dose of moxie should spend an hour with Terra Lightfoot, the magnificent, guitar shredding vixen that opened for them. As a bonus, they will also get to hear some seriously soulful vocals with husky hints of blues near the edges.

Like her name suggests, Ms Lightfoot is a fan of the great outdoors and she dedicated her second song of the evening “Drifter” to open our hearts the way that nature had opened hers earlier that day. Mission accomplished, thanks mostly to the incredible venue 2,000 of us found ourselves at that evening. The Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park is hard to beat, nestled among some old growth within a stones from the ocean and downtown Vancouver.

For her final song of the evening, Lightfoot formed the Stanley Park Choir from the audience and belted out a tune she proclaimed was “woman’s song about doing whatever the f*ck you want” because there aren’t enough songs about that topic today.

And what does this tall, sultry vixen want to do? Love in vain of course,  like any woman with a true rock and roll soul.

She was the perfect warm-up for the Sheepdogs, who made their second visit to Vancouver since the release of their most recent album, Changing Colors.  I’ve been a fan of the Sheepdogs since “I Don’t Know” hit the airwaves some eight years ago and Saturday they were absolutely oozing with swagger. They’ve always had an element of cool to them that is hard to describe, but perhaps there was something about this late summer night that seemed to portray the quintet from Canada’s heartland in exactly the right light. Something that highlighted their distinctive classic rock sound and played tribute to the time and place we found ourselves.

A Sheepdogs show is the greatest hits of the 70s that aren’t from the 70’s, obviously inspired by the Allman Brothers, the Band, and a little CCR.  The first two songs in the set spoke of restless love; the kind of love experienced on the road, in transit, or under the fading light of the sun’s last hurrah of the day. A beautiful, bittersweet kind of love.

The rest of the night had a similar groove, celebrating personal freedom and enjoying the moment. Following that good feeling.

Frontman Ewan Currie and lead guitarist Jimmy Bowskill move in tandem near the front of the stage, each with a custom Gibson Les Paul nestled in their arms.  They even have matching outfits – dark suits embroidered with flowers and in Curries’ case, white doves.  Bowskill sports a white cowboy hat while Currie’s shaggy yellow locks tumble freely around his face.

Bowskill literally glides up and down the stage while shredding the crap out of that Les Paul of his. Seriously. From far away it looks like he’s on a track or something. Ewan Currie is impressive in every sense of the word. From his strapping stature to his slightly opiated gaze, to the way he can belt out a tune in that signature bedroom howl.

Ryan Gullen lets it all hang out, laying down bass lines that run up and down the harmonized guitars.  Ewan’s brother, Shamus does at least triple duty… guitar, keys and trombone, while Sam Corbett keeps the beat and everyone on track.

The crowd is enthusiastic; dancing and singing along the while the band plays hit after hit. Ewan Currie explains that they want to play as many songs as they can because we aren’t here to be lectured, we’re here to hear good music.  I know I am. They ended the night by inviting Terra Lightfoot back to the stage and throwing down a fantastic version of the Allman Brother’s classic “Ramblin’ Man”.  Judging by the smiles as the crowd filed out of the park, people were feeling like it was the Summer of Love.

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