[Ross MacDonald was out again to take photos, this time for a show featuring The Sheepdogs and Boy Golden. Text by Karen Coughtey. – AC]
Manitoba native Boy Golden led the crowd in a service of the Church of Better Daze. With his curly mullet and black and white checked psychedelic print shirt, Boy Golden brings to mind an older era and there’s a real country twang to his brand of rock.
Boy Golden is your typical guitar playing frontman, but he took a seat 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 feel nostalgic after an instrumental bit in the middle of the song offered the opportunity for many in the crowd to shout out and the song included beautiful harmonies with backup singer Fontine.
Fontine took centre stage to sing a cover of Emmylou Harris’ ‘Rhythm Guitar’; she brought the house down and is clearly an artist to look out for. Her powerful voice is astounding and although uniquely her own, brings to mind the voices of classic female country singers like Loretta Lynn, Tanya Tucker, or of course the aforementioned Emmylou Harris.
Boy Golden closed out the set with their upbeat single ‘Church of Better Daze’ and if the cheers from the crowd are any indication it (and the whole set) likely inspired many to join the congregation.
If Boy Golden wasn’t enough of a call back to classic country rock, Saskatoon’s The Sheepdogs appeared to walk right out of the early 70’s on to the stage backlit with diamond shaped screens with lights zigzagged through like a favourite pair of argyle socks or sweater.
They walked out beers held high in a cheers to the crowd who immediately knew the party was about to start. And that it did.
The National Arts Centre is a unique venue in which to see a rock show as it is best known as a venue for the National Orchestra. Lead vocalist Ewan Currie mused several times about the impressiveness of the room and how he felt he should be performing something more classical or operatic. It was clear the audience was also unsure how to act in a space where normally formal wear and best behaviour is the expected norm but a few brave (or brazen) souls broke the norm for everyone and as the night went on more and more people could be seen standing or gravitating to the side aisles to dance and it wasn’t too long until the entire hall was on its feet.
Nearly every song included long showcases of the band’s incredible instrumental abilities, and the newest member of the band would draw the loudest cheers. Ricky Paquette hails from Gatineau, QC just across the river from Ottawa and the crowd was extremely proud of their hometown man and deservedly so. Ricky joined the band in 2022 and there is no question why he was chosen. His talent is incredible and was evident in every number but particularly in his feature guitar solo late in the night which was the definition of face melting and garnered him a very enthusiastic standing ovation (who knew that strings could bend that much and not break?).
Ricky was not the only one to get special attention though. Band member and brother of Ewan, Shamus Currie took the lead vocals on ‘Are You A Good Man?’ and the band switched things up on ‘So Far Gone’ to let drummer Sam Corbett move to the front of the stage to play some keys and other percussion instruments (and start the drum machine), he also performed an excellent feature drum solo near the end of the night, both members have new albums in the works.
The crowd loved The Sheepdogs classic ‘Feelin’ Good’ and ‘I Don’t Know’ but also went wild for a mashup of ‘HMS Buffalo’ and ‘I’m Gonna Be Myself’ that had an instrumental cover of The Allman Brothers’ ‘Jessica’ snuck in as a bridge between the two.
Those who left before the encore missed out on a true highlight of the night as The Sheepdogs had Boy Golden join them on stage for a cover of Neil Young’s ‘Are You Ready For The Country’. Boy Golden would take over the keyboard from Shamus who would pick up a trombone. His trombone solo and Fontine taking lead vocal for a verse made the performance truly special and I’m sure many were hoping this night of excellent music, in which we were transported to another time far from the realities of 2023, could go on a little longer.
- Ewan Currie – lead vocals, guitar
- Ryan Gullen – bass, backing vocals
- Sam Corbett – drums, percussion, vocals
- Shamus Currie – keys, trombone, guitar, percussion, backing vocals
- Ricky Paquette – guitars, backing vocals
- Boy Golden (Liam Duncan) – lead vocals, guitar, keyboard
- Fontine Beavis – vocals, percussion, guitar
- Roman Clarke – drums, backing vocals
- Corey Hykawy – bass