It was the night of October 4th, 2012, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and I was about to embark on a musical journey with the rock ‘n’ roll Saskatchewan-native band, the Sheepdogs. The doors of the concert venue, the Grog Shop, opened at 8 p.m., the concert started at 9 p.m., and there I was with my sister standing outside the building at 6:30 p.m. I saw a few members of the band pass us outside and I was starstruck. Before I knew it, 8 o’clock rolled around and it was time to go in, but the George Harrison-looking man still wouldn’t let anyone through the doors. It was about 8:20 p.m. when we finally got into the building. I made sure we were close to the stage because this would be the night I finally saw my all-time favorite band.
Opening for the Sheepdogs was a Cincinnati-native band, Buffalo Killers. At 9 p.m. they went on. They had a psychedelic Neil Young-inspired sound blended with hard guitar riffs mixed into blues-rock. They were a trio and made it work with their rhythm and togetherness. I was very impressed with their song, “Get It.” The drummer had the open-mouth, constant movement “Keith Moon face” going on during the show and I absolutely loved it. They played until about 10 p.m. The room was built up with anticipation. The Sheepdogs’ set lists were being taped down, amps worked out and beer set on the stage: it was time for the ultimate show to begin. It was the moment I had been waiting for…THE SHEEPDOGS! I was full of so much emotion. I had been listening to this band for two years prior to seeing them and it was a dream come true. I actually joined the Sheepdogs fan club late because their first independently-recorded album came out in 2007. (Of course, I have all of the albums purchased now).
There they were: Ewan, Leot, Ryan, Sam and good ole Shamus—it felt so surreal—I thought I was in a dream. The crowd was pumped up, the instruments were getting ready to go and the rock ‘n roll began. “How Late, How Long” was first on the list to be played. The beginning riff of that song could make the Earth move, it was so powerful. The harmonic band got into their groove. Well, they were even better live. They worked so well together as a band and the music just moved you. Ewan’s voice was so prevailing and sounded like no other. With the guitar sounds of Ewan and Leot together with Ryan on the bass, it was such a compelling sound. Leot’s guitar solos were sublime. I really enjoyed when Ryan and Leot did the back lean on each other with their guitars in the air. Sam’s drumming on “Feeling Good” was beyond astounding; It was a spellbinding to watch that song be performed. For a moment in time, Ewan stepped away from his guitar and went to the keyboard, and Shamus played the horn; “Ewan’s Blues” was about to be performed. The lights went down and it was Ewan’s time to shine. It was majestic. I loved every minute of it. The night got better throughout each song. At times, Ewan would raise her beer and give a cheers. The room was electric. I was so beyond impressed that it didn’t feel like real life. When I heard the beginning riff of “Javelina” I knew we were in for something good. I had loved that song to begin with and now it was being performed right in front of me. Leot’s distorted guitar vibes on the full instrumental song were mind-blowing. I was mesmerized. Energy was definitely alive in the room, but the number of songs remaining was dwindling down. Hours of music had been played, and “I Don’t Know” started; it was their last number. It has an Allman Brothers and Southern rock twang to it. It is one of their more popular songs, so more people sang along and really got into the groove. And then, it was over. I was so sad that it had ended. There they were, the Sheepdogs, leaving the stage. The crowd’s clapping wouldn’t stop. The people, including myself, wanted more. The Sheepdogs came back on stage. Ryan said they were going to perform some Neil Young and Ewan walked out smoking a joint and placed it on an amp. They invited Buffalo Soldiers to come on stage. They were hesitant at first but they went up. There were eight bearded men on stage and it was about to get wild. Ewan’s bluesy voice combined with others, three guitars, a bass, tambourine, drums, keyboards and clapping was completely amazing. I loved every minute of it. They oozed soul, blues, and rock and roll. Sadly, after that encore, it really was over. The sweaty crowd of people ranging from all ages was slowly dispersing.
Now, it was time for me to meet each member of the band. I wasn’t going to leave Cleveland without seeing these musical geniuses. I was a nervous wreck. As I kept my inner Sheepdogs super fan in control, I met each member. The drummer, Sam asked my sister and I if we enjoyed the show and I anxiously replied, “yes.” When I talked to Ewan, we discussed the film, Almost Famous — which made my night because for those who have seen the film, I feel as if I am to the Sheepdogs as William was to Stillwater in the film. He had the total rock and roll vibe to him; he was great. Ryan and I discussed Rolling Stone and how I am studying magazine journalism at Kent State University. Leot was occupied by some middle-aged woman who kept talking to him, so their sound guy came up to me and said “What are you doing just standing here? Go talk to them.” That was such a confidence boost. I loved him for that. He then told Leot we wanted to talk to him; Leot needed a smoke, so he said to follow him into the back room. There we were in the back room with the guitarist and also the bass player. I felt like I was in a movie, I was hanging out with two rock stars as they had a cigarette break in the back room where there was a cooler full of beer. Leot was great to talk to and he and Ryan both signed my set list. I thanked them and now my eventful night had come to an end. I was in total shock for the next 24 hours. I had seen and met my favorite band, the band I had supported during their competition for Rolling Stone, the band who had made music come alive again in the era of Justin Bieber and rap music. The Sheepdogs were the real rock and rollers. They brought GOOD music back into this generation and I thank them for that. I hope they become the next Rolling Stones and keep making albums and touring until they’re in the their 70s. This was definitely a night I would never forget.