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"We're really proud of the fact that we're from Saskatchewan" - The Sheepdogs to play Moose Jaw and Prince Albert this month

by Scott Roos

photos by Matt Dunlap

Saskatoon’s The Sheepdogs over the years have become as synonymous with their home province of Saskatchewan as wheat fields and bunny hugs. They are critically acclaimed, having won Juno awards, Western Canadian Music Awards and even some recognition from High Times Magazine "Doobie Award" which in the form of a fully functioning bong. They’ve had multi-platinum album sales. They’ve traveled the world and proudly represented their home province along the way.

“We're really proud of the fact that we're from Saskatchewan,” Sheepdogs bassist Ryan Gullen told NSMZ in a recent telephone interview, “Every night, every show that we do we fly a Saskatchewan flag on stage. It's like a thing we've done for well over a decade at this point. We're very proud of that part of us.” 

Now, whilst many would argue that it all started when they graced the cover of Rolling Stone twelve years ago for those in the know, even with members coming and going, the core group of Ewan Currie, Ryan Gullen and Sam Corbett have always remained constant and singular of vision. It’s that vision that’s kept the band going and enabled the band to remain popular and relevant all these years.  In fact, this year will mark the 20th anniversary of the three of them originally getting together.

“I think a big part of (our longevity) has to sort of be that unified vision of wanting to pursue the same thing and having the same interests and desires and things like that,” remarked Gullen, “We're just friends that are sort of united in the love of rock n roll music. Our band literally started as three guys who were 19 and sort of living in Saskatoon trying to figure out where we were going in life and sort of deciding if we wanted to try to do something different…. We started out (wanting to) just play music and hang out and drink beers or whatever. I think this sort of mentality has never really left that still to this day is what we are as a band in a lot of ways.”

The band’s sound is definitely rooted in the prairies but also firmly dwelling in the classic rock revivalist camp. The comparisons to The Guess Who are valid to be sure. There’s also those pinches of The Allman Bros in there. You could dissect what they do all day but essentially, when it comes to The Sheepdogs, it’s good time, feel good music imbibed with a sort of positivity uniquely their own. Some of that magic element in their sonics, as Gullen describes, is related to the cold winters. Some of it is related to the insular nature of growing up in a smaller centre like Saskatoon and the band essentially deciding to march to the beat of their own proverbial drummer. 

“In the early more formative years (we were) sort of listening to music, enjoying music, playing music, playing music together and I think it sort of created an interesting bond that maybe is lost a little bit in other places where you can actually go outside in the winter. I mean you can do things outside (in Saskatchewan) but depending on the month it's not super enjoyable,” Gullen added.

Now on the heels of their 2022 release Outta Sight, the band’s planned Canadian winter tour is a bit of a “tip of the cap” to smaller centres to “pay it forward” to their fans. 22 dates are set including a stop at Moose Jaw’s Mae Wilson Theatre on January 24th, and Prince Albert’s  EA Rawlinson Centre for the Arts on the 25th. Alongside Currie, Gullen and Corbett will be newest addition to the band guitarist Ricky Paquette, who joined the band in 2022, as well as long time keyboardist Shamus Currie, who joined in 2012.

“I think one of the things that we really took to heart from growing up in Saskatoon is that we really wanted to continue to recognize obviously that places like Toronto and Edmonton and Calgary and Winnipeg and whatever aren't just where the music fans are. People that wanna do things are in places like Prince Albert that have the EA Rawlinson Centre that could totally host an act and is a great place to perform and a great place to go see a concert. So we really took that to heart and have kind of made efforts over the years to try to NOT just play major markets and try to play in smaller places because it's fun. We are in the business of wanting to travel around and find people that love rock n roll music as much as we do and that doesn't necessarily only have to be in the cities,” Gullen explained. 

The band, you can tell by Gullen’s tone, is looking forward to playing these dates especially on home soil. Both the Rawlinson and the Mae Wilson are first rate venues that are comfortable to take in a concert at and sound great. If you go to either (or both!!!!) shows you are guaranteed to have a good time. 

“.... We just want to go and play music for people and show people a good time and give people an escape from the druthers of regular life….” Gullen Said, “If you like rock n roll music and you feel like you want to escape the January blues and just come and rip some beers or not and get lost in a good night that's what we're here to do.” 

For info on Moose Jaw tickets click HERE

For info on Prince Albert tickets click HERE

For a full list of Sheepdog’s tour dates, you can check HERE

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