Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sheepdogs Are Top Dogs

In recent years Super Channel has been the place to go for top U.S. imports and many fine foreign TV series as well.
Now it's time for the specialty service to shine in the dreaded area of "Cancon".
I'd like to direct you to a delightful rock documentary that premieres on Super Channel Monday December 16 at 8 p.m.
Titled The Sheepdogs Have At It, the group profile from director John Barnard looks at the meteoric rise of the Saskatoon based rockers The Sheepdogs.
Whoops, did I say meteoric?
Actually these guys had been struggling in a friend's basement for years before they hit pay dirt by winning a contest to be on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
They were very lucky to have some experience under their belts as they struggled across the nation opening to crowds that numbered from zero to 15 on a good night.
Too poor to afford a tour bus they made do with a van and frequently would return from gigs with absolutely no money in their pockets.
Barnard's inside story of how success affected them is a tightly edited chronicle of the rise and rise again of a group of veterans who chose to play music their way --or classical rock as they call it
Getting the cover was just the first step. they could have slipped back into anonymity faster than you can say "American Idol".
They quickly had to produce a record album for a major label that had to be a hit or they'd be finished before they ever really started.
Barnard cuts closely from interviews with doting parents to the managers and promoters who control the business tightly.
And we go on a road trip with the four fellas--Ewan Currie, Leot Hanson, Ryan Gullen and Sam Corbett-and we see the momentum as they sell out in Downsview, sell out in Nashville and New Orleans.
The fans discover them and become increasingly enthusiastic about what the foursome mean in terms of good thumping rock music.
If they had been mere beginners they would have been eaten alive by the all demanding biz.
But they have been together for years, they know what they want and that refusal to compromise could keep them professionally active at least over the next few years.
This well made documentary begins in August 2011 as they are among the contestants for RS cover consideration.
It zig zag backs to their roots as one mom takes us on a guided tour of her basement where they hung out for six very long years. Their first album was so rough they only had two microphones but they managed to sell 1,000 copies mainly at gigs and were on their way.
We listen as the booking agent tells what he's doing to keeping the momentum alive. We listen in to the vastly professional recording of their second album. And they even get a gig on Project Runway all dolled up in slightly ridiculous garb.
As an inside peek at the industry this one is tops but it also helps that the guys are articulate about what they want and how they know it's a tough road ahead for them.
Barnard directs effectively aided by cinematographer Dave Gaudet and editor Andrew Wall for Farpoint Films.
MY RATING: ***1/2.