In that post, I questioned whether winning such a contest could put a glass ceiling over a band’s reach for the skies of stardom — giving them exposure that money just can’t buy and a fast-track shot at stardom they’d have to otherwise keep working at for years to achieve (if they were to achieve it at all), but at the same time potentially limiting the scope of their success to only 15 minutes of fame and forever stigmatizing them as musical game-show contestants. Basically, I asked if gracing the cover of Rolling Stone was worth the risk of becoming the next Flickerstick.
Of the 16 bands to take that risk, The Sheepdogs — a rootsy Canadian retro-rock troupe with an unabashed affinity for the audio/visual idioms and aesthetics of “Stairway”-era ’70s radio rock — garnered a whopping 1.5 million votes from fans and Rolling Stone readers, prevailing as the contest’s victors and appearing on the Aug. 18, 2011, cover of the magazine.
Not only did the self-proclaimed “meat-and-potatoes” rockers go all in and all the way in the competition, they also had the stones to do so with a name like The Sheepdogs — a moniker that sounds like it was lifted from a shortlist of fictional bandnames that Cameron Crowe had considered for Almost Famous.
I can respect that kind of self-on-sleeve moxie.
So far it seems as though the gamble is paying off for these fuzzy-mugged Canucks. They toured their native Canada opening for Kings of Leon last Fall, and another Nashville- and sometimes-New York-based rocker, Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney, produced the band’s forthcoming major label debut, Learn & Burn. The album was recorded in Nashville and is currently slated for release sometime later this year. Coincidentally enough, in my April post on the RS contest, I used producer Carney’s band as an example of how, in the post-Napster era, promoting your music via uncool means — like licensing songs for use Ghost Whisperer episodes and Zales ads — doesn’t necessarily create a perception of uncoolness or stigmatize your credibility like it did in decades past.
Despite diving headfirst into the echelons of Rolling Stone cover shoots, major label deals, star producers and arena tours, The Sheepdogs are introducing themselves to Nashville in the exact same way most bands that are new to the city do — by appearing at The Basement’s New Faces Nite, where you can catch them Tues., Jan. 24.
So if you're curious as to whether or not The Sheepdogs are the real deal, then head on down to the 'Sment and evaluate them up close and in the flesh, for free. No word yet on when they will make their 8 off 8th debut.