Band likes odds in Bonnaroo battle

Saskatoon throwback rockers the Sheepdogs have made the finals of a Rolling Stone competition that will give the shaggy-haired group a coveted spot on the main stage at the Bonnaroo music festival and a shot at a deal with Atlantic Records.

Saskatoon throwback rockers the Sheepdogs

Saskatoon throwback rockers the Sheepdogs

Saskatoon throwback rockers the Sheepdogs have made the finals of a Rolling Stone competition that will give the shaggy-haired group a coveted spot on the main stage at the Bonnaroo music festival and a shot at a deal with Atlantic Records.

Oh, and if the rockers win they’ll also become the first unsigned act ever to grace the cover of the iconic music magazine.

The field of 16 competitors has been narrowed to two, with the Sheepdogs vying for the contest’s top prize against Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Lelia Broussard. Both artists’ Bonnaroo performances will be streamed on the magazine’s website, with fan votes determining the winner.

And Sheepdogs bassist Ryan Gullen likes his band’s odds.

“All along we’ve said that if we can get to Bonnaroo, we’re going to bring it — hard,” the personable Gullen said over the line from Saskatoon on Wednesday, the excitement palpable in his voice.

“We really felt we could win a lot of people over with our live performance because we’ve been kind of crafting our live show for a long time. That’s our time to shine. We really feel strongly about that sort of thing.

“Plus, Bonnaroo, with Neil Young and Buffalo Springfield and people like that playing, and My Morning Jacket and Black Keys — that’s sort of our crowd, right?”

Indeed, the Sheepdogs signature musical blend — shaggy, blues-infused rock that harkens back to such ’70s favourites as the Allman Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Big Star — seems a perfect fit with Bonnaroo, which runs from June 9-12, even though the increasingly diverse festival will also feature the likes of Lil Wayne, Arcade Fire, Eminem and the Strokes this year.

The contest began back in February with 16 acts, and has now been narrowed to two.

In the meantime, the Sheepdogs have shmoozed with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, opened for Bachman & Turner, collaborated with Grammy-winning producer and Fountains of Wayne songwriter Adam Schlesinger and watched as interest in their band exploded worldwide.

“It’s been phenomenal,” said Gullen, 26. “A big part of the reason why we wanted to do this — aside from the cool perks about doing it — is just exposing our band. It’s so difficult for a Canadian band to get exposure in the U.S., to break in.”

“We get emails and Facebook messages all the time now: ‘Come to Georgia,’ ‘come to Alabama,’ ‘come to Texas.’ It’s really exciting for us because those are places we’d like to go and tour, and it’s nice to know we’ve already started establishing a fanbase in those places.”

The winner will be crowned on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, with the subsequent cover feature appearing in the Aug. 18 issue of Rolling Stone.

Of course, the Sheepdogs still have one hurdle to overcome: Broussard, who has won a considerable following of her own with her charming, winsome tunes.

“She seems like a very confident singer and she definitely fits that good-looking female niche as far as singer/songwriters go, so it’s going to be interesting,” said Gullen when asked to size up the competition.

“We’re going to be playing back to back at Bonnaroo. We’re feeling kind of like, we’re bringing the rock live show, so we’re feeling confident about that.

“Not to trash talk the competition or anything, but you know what I’m saying. It’s cool, we’re looking forward to getting onstage and playing for a ton of people and just being like: ’This is our music — BAM!’

“That’s where we’re coming from, and hopefully that will help us out in the contest.”

And for what it’s worth, the Sheepdogs don’t plan on messing with any part of the formula that’s brought them this far.

So fans won’t see any flashy new performance wrinkles or a deviation from the band’s time-warped sense of style (bell bottoms and free-roaming beards being the norm here) designed to win over the online voters who will decide their fate.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nearly five per cent of Alberta businesses did not survive the first 10 months of the pandemic. (Black Press File photo).
Nearly 5% of Alberta businesses closed during 2020 pandemic

Will more closures happen before it’s over?

Red Deer Rebels forward Arshdeep Bains eyes a loose puck in front of the Medicine Hat Tigers net Saturday night in WHL action at the Centrium. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels fall short in 12th straight loss

Tigers 5 Rebels 2 (Saturday) Tigers 3 Rebels 2 (Monday) The Red… Continue reading

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. announces signage along Alberta border to discourage non-essential travel

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Red Deer property owners will receive their 2019 property assessment notices in the next few days.  (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer awaiting more details on how federal budget impacts city

The City of Red Deer is awaiting more information on how much… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Letters
Letter: Restrictions have nothing to do with religion

Many have framed the closure of GraceLife Church near Edmonton by Alberta… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Thanking volunteers in Red Deer

National Volunteer Week is April 18 to 24. At the Canadian Cancer… Continue reading

Letter to the editor
Letter: Good on MLAs for speaking out

This is a letter in regard to MLAs not standing united behind… Continue reading

Treena Mielke
Family: Happiness can be found in many ways

I’ve heard it said that necessity is the mother of invention. I… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators' Connor Brown, right, scores on Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during second-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Alta., Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Connor Brown scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 4-2 win over Calgary Flames

Connor Brown scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 4-2 win over Calgary Flames

Canada head coach Bev Priestman reacts during the women's international friendly soccer match between England and Canada at Bet365 stadium in Stoke on Trent, England, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Priestman says her goal is to help Canada move up the Olympic podium after back-to-back bronze medals at the 2012 and 2016 Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rui Vieira
Olympic soccer draw will allow Canadians to start planning on and off the pitch

Olympic soccer draw will allow Canadians to start planning on and off the pitch

Federal government’s extension of CEWS in budget is some good news for CFL franchises

Federal government’s extension of CEWS in budget is some good news for CFL franchises

Canada's Brendan Bottcher dropped a 6-3 decision to Scotland's Bruce Mouat in the men's final of the Humpty's Champions Cup. Bottcher makes a shot against Scotland at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Friday, April 9, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Mixed results for Canadian teams at Champions Cup as Homan wins, Bottcher loses

Mixed results for Canadian teams at Champions Cup as Homan wins, Bottcher loses

Most Read