The Sheepdogs

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The Sheepdogs
The Sheepdogs.jpg
The Sheepdogs performing in August 2011
Background information
Origin Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Years active 2006–present
Members Ewan Currie
Ryan Gullen
Sam Corbett
Jimmy Bowskill
Shamus Currie
Past members Leot Hanson
Rusty Matyas

The Sheepdogs are a Canadian classic rock band formed in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 2006. The group consists of lead singer and guitarist Ewan Currie, bass guitarist Ryan Gullen, drummer Sam Corbett, guitarist Jimmy Bowskill, and Shamus Currie, brother of lead singer Ewan Currie, playing trombone, keyboards, and tambourine.[1] The Sheepdogs became the first unsigned band to make the cover of Rolling Stone in 2011 and have since grown to popularity in Canada and the United States.

Frontman Ewan Currie describes the band's retro, guitar driven blues-rock style as "pure, simple, good-time music". Their distinctive sound has been called the "Guitar-mony" because of the use of harmonies in guitar solos and vocals. The Sheepdogs consider their style to be somewhere between the riff heavy bombast of Led Zeppelin and the melodies and harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.[2] Currie often credits groups Sly and the Family Stone, Humble Pie, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and The Allman Brothers Band as influences on his style.

The Sheepdogs tour frequently between recordings, and have played at a number of large festivals including South by Southwest in Austin, TX, Edgefest in Toronto and Ottawa's Bluesfest and City Folk Festival.


Ewan Currie was born in Australia, but moved to Saskatoon at 11 where he met Ryan Gullen.[3] The pair went to different middle schools but met in a regional music program once a week where they both played clarinet. Currie and Gullen grew to be close friends at Evan Hardy high school in Saskatoon; in their spare time they learned to play guitar. Currie played defensive line for the school's football team and appeared in a number of school theatre productions.[3]

Currie and Gullen met Sam Corbett while attending the University of Saskatchewan, and the three decided to form a band. Corbett had an old bass guitar and a gift certificate to a local music store, so they rented a drum kit and started playing in Corbett's parents’ basement with Corbett on drums, Gullen playing the bass, and Currie playing a recently purchased electric guitar.[3] They honed their skills playing seventies blues-rock songs as well as newer material, including covers of the early Black Keys and Kings of Leon, while also writing their own music. Currie, Gullen, and Corbett called their trio The Breaks and released an EP in 2006.[3]

In the summer of 2006, Currie, Gullen, and Corbett spotted Leot Hanson playing acoustic guitar at a party.[4] Hanson was playing a Kings of Leon song from their[clarification needed] first album and the trio joined in. The next day, Hanson joined the band and they changed their name to The Sheepdogs.[4]

The band's name is inspired by a story from Currie's childhood. A young Currie, left playing in his front yard had wandered off down the street, and when his frantic mother went searching for him, she found him in a park playing with a big friendly sheep dog. Currie described the incident in an interview with the National Post, saying: "I’ve always felt like those dogs were especially benevolent and sort of watched over me."[5]

Musical career[edit]

After Leot Hanson joined the band in 2006, The Sheepdogs independently released their first album Trying to Grow, which they recorded at Cosmic Pad Studios in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Two years later, after almost constant touring, The Sheepdogs returned to Cosmic Pad Studios to record their second full-length album, Big Stand. The first two records were small affairs, including artwork by friends and family, and were mixed by the band.

The band's third studio album, Learn & Burn was initially released in 2010, then re-released in 2011 following the band's winning of Rolling Stone's "Choose The Cover" competition. The album peaked at No. 14 on the Canadian Albums Chart, and won the award for Rock Album of the Year at the 2012 Juno Awards. The album's first single, "I Don't Know", won the Juno Award for Single of the Year. On February 5, 2013, the album was certified platinum in Canada.

In early 2011 The Sheepdogs were traveling hours by road from Saskatoon to small gigs in Calgary or Toronto in their 1995 Dodge 3500 touring van. The band was in debt after making an expensive trip to Los Angeles to play for a crowd of industrial workers that they had been told would be a big break.[6] Things were about to change though; an agent that the band had met in Toronto submitted a demo tape to Rolling Stone's "Choose The Cover" competition. The Sheepdogs beat fifteen other bands to get the contest win and were featured on the August 18, 2011 cover of Rolling Stone, the first unsigned act to do so. During the competition, the band made appearances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and performed at the Bonnaroo Music Festival as well The Osheaga Festival in Montreal, Quebec. Following their win, the band signed with Atlantic Records, and recorded a new album which was produced by The Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney in Nashville.[7]

In 2011 The band's Five Easy Pieces EP debuted at No. 7 on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 3,300 copies.[8] The song "Who?" from this EP was featured in a scene of the second episode ("Tell-Tale Hearts") of season 12 of the hit CBS series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation which aired on September 29, 2011. Their song "Learn My Lesson" was also featured in the opening montage of the sports video game MLB 12: The Show.

The band was nominated for three 2011 CASBY Awards, and in September they won all three: Favourite New Artist, Favourite Indie Album, and Favourite New Album.[9] The Sheepdogs also won Rock Album of the Year at the 2011 Western Canadian Music Awards.[10]

On April 1, 2012, The Sheepdogs won three Juno Awards, Rock Album of the Year, Best New Group and Single of the Year; the group was touring in Australia with John Fogerty at the time and were unable to attend the ceremony.[11] The Sheepdogs played several festivals in summer 2012, including the Catalpa Music Festival on Randall's Island in New York City in July.[12] On September 4, 2012, The Sheepdogs released their self-titled album on Atlantic Records, once again produced by Carney.[13] The album was recorded during an intensive two week session with Carney at Haptown Studio in Nashville, Tennessee. The Sheepdogs was the band's first album with a major record label. The album featured the gold-certified songs "Feeling Good" and "The Way It Is".

The Sheepdogs have often worked with CBC Music, a branch of CBC/Radio-Canada that highlights Canadian artists through sessions and videos posted to YouTube and the CBC website. In 2012, the band played a live session on the roof of the CBC Toronto building. The 18-minute recording was posted to CBC Music on September 4, and featured four songs from The Sheepdogs album: "The Way It Is", "Feeling Good", "Ewan's Blues" (featuring a trombone solo by Shamus Currie), and "Alright OK". The band finished the set with a cover of The Band's hit "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down". The last two songs of the session also featured fellow Canadian artist Travis Good from the country/rock group The Sadies.

In 2013, CBC Music flew the band to Memphis, Tennessee, to record a number of songs at the iconic Sun Studio.[14] The sessions included covers of three Elvis Presley songs which were originally recorded by Presley at the studio: "That's All Right", "Heartbreak Hotel", and "Hound Dog". The session also included the band's own songs "Javelina!" from The Sheepdogs and "Hang On to Yourself" from their first album Trying to Grow. The band visited Presley's home at Graceland, Beale Street, and the popular Memphis restaurant Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken where they recorded intros for each of the songs.

In November, the song "The Way It Is" was incorporated into a television commercial aired nationally for Cadillac ATS automobiles.[15]

"Feeling Good" was chosen by CBC as the accompaniment for a montage of the women's hockey final during their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.[16]

Hanson left the band in July 2014 shortly after he opened the Capitol Music Club, a bar and music venue in Saskatoon.[17] Following the departure of Hanson, Winnipeg guitarist Rusty Matyas, a friend of the band, stepped in as guitarist for the tour promoting The Sheepdogs.[18] Matyas eventually joined the band as a full-time member and has served as guitarist since 2014, including on The Sheepdogs' fifth studio album Future Nostalgia. As the band found a new balance, Matyas and Currie split the lead guitar parts, playing back and forth or in harmony on most of the band's songs. Matyas also features in some of the band's earlier songs, including "Crying" and "The Contenders" on the band's second studio album The Sheepdogs' Big Stand released in 2008. Shamus Currie, younger brother of lead singer Ewan Currie, has toured with the band since the release of their fourth studio album The Sheepdogs.[19] Shamus Currie's trombone features prominently in the band's live performances of the song "Ewan's Blues" in which he usually takes center stage, often ending the song with a solo version of his brothers' a cappella outro. Shamus Currie has also featured on a number of the band's early albums; Currie's trombone can be heard on the song "Black and Tan" from The Sheepdogs' Big Stand, and "Rollo Tomasi" from Learn & Burn.

In May 2015, the song "Feeling Good" was played each time the Canada men's national ice hockey team scored during the 2015 IIHF World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic.

The band released "Downtown" on July 3, 2015, the first single from their fifth studio release Future Nostalgia, dispelling any rumors that the band had been set back by the loss of guitarist Hanson. In the weeks leading up to the release of Future Nostalgia, the band released an official music video for the single on their YouTube channel. The video features the band members playing "Downtown" in an office setting and making a general mess of the place as people try to go about their monotonous business.

Future Nostalgia was released October 2, 2015 from the independent label Dine Alone Records and Warner Music Canada. The 18-track record was well received by reviewers and fans, nearing the top of the iTunes Canadian charts. Future Nostalgia was recorded in a rented cottage in Stony Lake, Ontario, and produced by lead singer and songwriter Ewan Currie. Currie explained the choice, saying: "We wanted to cut out all the noise and get back to a place where we could just fully immerse ourselves in music." The band worked on the album full-time in Stony Lake, wanting to find some middle ground between the informal garage sound of the platinum-certified Learn & Burn and the whirlwind sessions in Nashville with Carney which produced The Sheepdogs. The album streamed for free the week prior to its release on CBC Music, a platform that the band has used a number of times in the past.[20]

In November 2015, award-winning blues guitarist Jimmy Bowskill from Bailieboro, Ontario, joined the band in advance of the European leg of their Future Nostalgia Tour, playing guitar and pedal steel.

In December 2015, the band appeared on CBS This Morning as a part of the Saturday Sessions music series. They played three songs from Future Nostalgia.[21] The appearance marked the first time that the band had appeared on network television in the United States since featuring on the cover of Rolling Stone and appearing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2011.

The Sheepdogs performed at the Stanley Cup 125th Tribute Concert in Ottawa, Ontario, on March 17, 2017.[22]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions Certifications

Trying to Grow
The Sheepdogs' Big Stand
  • Release date: April 12, 2008
  • Label: Self-released
  • Formats: CD, digital download
Learn & Burn
  • Release date: February 23, 2010
  • Label: Self-released
  • Formats: CD, digital download
The Sheepdogs
  • Release date: September 4, 2012
  • Label: Atlantic
  • Formats: CD, digital download
1 23
Future Nostalgia 11
Changing Colours
  • Release date: February 2, 2018
  • Label: Dine Alone
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Title Details Peak chart positions

The Breaks EP
  • Release date: 2006
  • Label: Self-released
  • Notes: Released as The Breaks
Five Easy Pieces 7 18
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Year Song Chart peak Certifications Album


2011 "I Don't Know" 48 3 2 Five Easy Pieces
"Who?" 10 5
2012 "The Way It Is" 59 1 1 The Sheepdogs
"Feeling Good" 70 1 1
2013 "How Late, How Long" 21 3
2015 "Downtown" 12 4 Future Nostalgia
"I'm Gonna Be Myself" 10
2016 "Bad Lieutenant" 28 19
"Back Down" 46
2017 "I've Got a Hole Where My Heart Should Be" 10 1 Changing Colours
2018 "Nobody" 7 9
"—"denotes a release that did not chart.

Music videos[edit]

Year Video Director
2011 "I Don't Know" Davin Black
2012 "The Way It Is" Randy and Jason Sklar
2013 "Feeling Good" Matt Barnes
"How Late How Long"
2015 "Downtown" Michael Maxxis
2016 "I'm Gonna Be Myself" Sean L.T. Cartwright
"Bad Lieutenant" Michael Maxxis



Year Title Role
2012 The Sheepdogs Have At ItIMDb Themselves


Year Title Role Notes
2011 Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Themselves June 15, 2011 (season 2, episode 459)
August 2, 2011 (season 2, episode 483)
Project Runway Themselves, David Bliss, Bernie Baksa "Image Is Everything" (season 9, episode 9)[33]
the neighbors dog Themselves "The Sheepdogs"; screenplay by Bernie Greenfield and David Bliss (season 2, episode 1)[34]
2012 MTV Live (Canada) Themselves September 22, 2012, season 7

Awards and nominations[edit]

The Sheepdogs awards and nominations
Awards and nominations
Award Wins Nominations
CASBY Awards
3 3
CBC Radio 3 Bucky Awards
Western Canadian Music Awards
1 1
3 3
Awards won 7
Nominations 8
Year Nominated work Event Award Result
2011 Themselves CASBY Awards[9] Favourite New Artist Won
Learn & Burn Favourite Indie Album Won
Favourite New Album Won
Western Canadian Music Awards[10][35] Rock Recording of the Year Won
Themselves CBC Radio 3 Bucky Awards Best Live Act Nominated
2012 "I Don't Know" Juno Awards Single of the Year Won
Learn & Burn Rock Album of the Year Won
Themselves New Group of the Year Won


  1. ^ "Saskatoon's the Sheepdogs land cover of Rolling Stone". The Globe and Mail, August 1, 2011.
  2. ^ "The Sheepdogs dig in with Future Nostalgia | National Post". Retrieved 2015-11-15. 
  3. ^ a b c d Scaggs, Austin (2011-08-18). "Page 6 of Meet the Sheepdogs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2015-11-15. 
  4. ^ a b Scaggs, Austin (2011-08-18). "Page 7 of Meet the Sheepdogs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2015-11-15. 
  5. ^ "Canadian rock band The Sheepdogs reminisce as they ready for 'Future Nostalgia'". 2015-09-18. Retrieved 2015-11-15. 
  6. ^ Scaggs, Austin (2011-08-18). "Meet the Sheepdogs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2015-11-15. 
  7. ^ "Patrick Carney Producing New Sheepdogs Album". Rolling Stone. January 4, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-06. 
  8. ^ John Williams. "CANOE - JAM! Music - Artists - Sheepdogs, The : Sask.'s Sheepdogs make top 10 debut". Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  9. ^ a b "102.1 The Edge Announces the Edge CASBY Award Winners". Broadcaster – Canada's Communications Magazine. Retrieved 2011-09-23. 
  10. ^ a b "WCMA Announces Awards". Broadcaster – Canada's Communications Magazine. 
  11. ^ "Feist wins Juno for artist of the year". CBC News. 1 April 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  12. ^ "The Sheepdogs Interview with New York Music News". August 6, 2012. Retrieved September 22, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Review – The Sheepdogs (self-titled)". September 4, 2012. Retrieved September 22, 2012. 
  14. ^ Archived from the original on October 6, 2015. Retrieved October 10, 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ "2014 Cadillac ATS "That's Mine" Commercial Song". Retrieved 2014-04-26. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "The Sheepdogs 'parting ways' with guitarist Leot Hanson - Saskatoon - CBC News". 2014-07-02. Retrieved 2015-11-15. 
  18. ^ Archived from the original on February 28, 2015. Retrieved March 1, 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ "Sheepdogs confirm split with guitarist Leot Hanson | CTV Saskatoon News". 2014-07-02. Retrieved 2015-11-15. 
  20. ^ Archived from the original on October 6, 2015. Retrieved October 10, 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Metric, The Sheepdogs, Bobby Bazini & Kevin Bazinet to perform at Stanley Cup 125th Anniversary Tribute Concert - Canadian Tire Centre". Canadian Tire Centre. Retrieved 2017-03-06. 
  23. ^ a b c d "The Sheepdogs Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved February 13, 2018. 
  24. ^ a b "Canadian album certifications – The Sheepdogs – The Sheepdogs". Music Canada. 
  25. ^ "The Sheepdogs Album & Song Chart History – Canadian Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-01-25. 
  26. ^ "The Sheepdogs – Music Charts". Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  27. ^ "Canadian Active Rock & Alt Rock Chart Archive: Alternative Rock – January 3, 2012". America's Music Charts. Retrieved January 3, 2012. 
  28. ^ Rock, Canadian (2012-09-25). "Canadian Active Rock & Alt Rock Chart Archive: Alternative Rock – September 25, 2012". Retrieved 2012-09-25. 
  29. ^ "Chart History". Retrieved 13 September 2018. 
  30. ^ "Canadian digital download certifications – The Sheepdogs – I Don't Know". Music Canada. 
  31. ^ "Canadian digital download certifications – The Sheepdogs – The Way It Is". Music Canada. 
  32. ^ "Canadian digital download certifications – The Sheepdogs – Feeling Good". Music Canada. 
  33. ^ "Project Runway: Image Is Everything". Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  34. ^ "the neighbors dog: The Sheepdogs". Retrieved October 24, 2011. 
  35. ^ "Night Belongs to Manitoba". Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on October 26, 2011. 

External links[edit]