Concert review: The Sheepdogs and Boy Golden in Ottawa
[Ross MacDonald was out again to take photos, this time for a show featuring The Sheepdogs and Boy Golden. Text by Karen Coughtey. – AC]
It was the pride of Saturday night’s Canadian Prairie Night at the National Arts Center in Ottawa as The Sheepdogs https://thesheepdogs.com/ and opener Boy Golden entertained a lively, sold-out crowd.
Manitoba native Boy Golden led the crowd at a Church of Better Daze service. Boy Golden is reminiscent of an older era in his curly mullet and black and white plaid shirt with a psychedelic print, and his brand of rock has a real country edge.
Boy Golden is your typical guitar-playing frontman, but he sat down to play the keys on “Something To Work Towards” and his massive hit single “KD and Lunch Meat.” He spoke about how ‘Smoke On The Breeze’ always makes him nostalgic after an instrumental part in the middle of the song gave many in the crowd a chance to scream out loud and the song featured beautiful harmonies with backing vocalist Fontine.
Fontine took center stage to sing a cover of Emmylou Harris’ “Rhythm Guitar”; She brought the house down and is clearly an artist to watch out for. Her powerful voice is amazing and while uniquely her own, she is reminiscent of the voices of classic country singers such as Loretta Lynn, Tanya Tucker or of course the aforementioned Emmylou Harris.
Boy Golden ended the set with their upbeat single “Church of Better Daze,” and if the crowd’s cheers are any indication, this (and the entire set) likely inspired many to join the congregation.
As if Boy Golden wasn’t enough to call back classic country rock, Saskatoon’s The Sheepdogs seemed to take the stage straight out of the early ’70s, backlit with diamond-shaped screens with lights emitting like a favorite pair of Argyle socks or a sweaters were pulled through .
They walked out, beers held high, and cheered on the crowd, who immediately knew the party was about to begin. And it did.
The National Arts Center is a unique place to see a rock show as it is best known as the venue for the National Orchestra. Lead singer Ewan Currie reflected several times on the impact of the room and how he felt he should perform something more classical or operatic. It was clear the audience was also unsure how to behave in a space where formal attire and best manners are usually the expected norm, but a few brave (or brazen) souls broke the norm for all and in the course As the night progressed, more and more people could be seen standing or crowding the side aisles to dance, and it wasn’t long before the whole hall was on its feet.
Almost every song featured lengthy showcases of the band’s incredible instrumental prowess, and the band’s newest member drew the loudest cheers. Ricky Paquette hails from Gatineau, QC, just across the street from Ottawa, and the crowd was rightfully extremely proud of their hometown man. Ricky joined the band in 2022 and there’s no question why he was chosen. His talent is incredible and showed in every number but especially in his late night feature guitar solo which was the definition of face-melting and earned him a very enthusiastic standing ovation (who would have thought strings could bend so much and not break?) .
Ricky wasn’t the only one who got special attention, though. Band member and Ewan’s brother, Shamus Currie, took on lead vocals on “Are You A Good Man?”. and the band changed things up on “So Far Gone” to have drummer Sam Corbett up front on stage to play some keys and other percussion instruments (and start the drum machine), he also played an excellent feature -Drum solo near the end of the night, both members have new albums in the works.
Audiences loved the Sheepdogs classics “Feelin’ Good” and “I Don’t Know” but also went wild for a mashup of “HMS Buffalo” and “I’m Gonna Be Myself,” which was an instrumental cover by The Allman Brothers included. ‘Jessica’ crept in as a bridge between the two.
Those who left before the encore missed a real highlight of the night when The Sheepdogs brought Boy Golden on stage for a cover of Neil Young’s “Are You Ready For The Country”. Boy Golden would take over the keyboards from Shamus, who would take a trombone. His trombone solo and Fontine taking lead vocals for one verse made the performance very special and I’m sure many were hoping that this night of excellent music, taking us to another time far removed from the reality of 2023 were relocated, could go on a little longer.
The German Shepherds
Ewan Currie – Lead Vocals, Guitar Ryan Gullen – Bass, Backing Vocals Sam Corbett – Drums, Percussion, Vocals Shamus Currie – Keyboards, Trombone, Guitar, Percussion, Backing Vocals Ricky Paquette – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Boy Golden (Liam Duncan) – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards Fontine Beavis – Vocals, Percussion, Guitar Roman Clarke – Drums, Backing Vocals Corey Hykawy – Bass