Like nearly every female in existence, my father rests on a pedestal. It sits high in the air and is fucking gilded in gold and shit. He unconditionally loved me through my insanely awkward first years and was the first man who wasn’t too shy or ashamed to hold my hand in public. He listened to my incessant talking as I grew older, most often about things he could give two shits about, and he was beyond supportive when I repeatedly claimed I would one day be a Missouri Junior Tennis champion. He has nurtured my dreams, first of being an astronaut and later, a writer. He is still angry I dropped out of college and now, I understand that the jibs and jabs he makes concerning this are not meant to hurt but are made because he simply holds me to a higher standard. That man fucking loves me, dude.
My massive love for my father began at birth, yes. But it is more than that. Like most everything in our lives, I can wind that deep love straight back to music if I work hard enough at it. He (and my mother) gifted me with the most solid foundation for a music lover in the form of sixties and seventies rock. Real, true music with a heart and legs to take you on a trip. When I was in my early teens and first falling head over heels for the tenants that originally made up the hippy counterculture, I stood in awe of my father. I carried a picture of that man, long-haired and with a look on his face that read I’m here for a good time and I don’t give a shit fire what you think of me, in my head and every now and then I’d notice it sitting ever so transparently over the picture of him I knew to be, of him as a rock and a steadfast tree against which we all leaned. I listened intently to stories of motorcycles and keg parties in fields. I listened to him list off his favorite bands and I investigated that music, all the while considering his time against mine and what that music might have meant then. How it meant so much more than the music I had, Jon Bon Jovi and Cyndi Lauper. His life as a young adult mirrored an Allman Brothers song — I could hear his freedom and his shucking of what was deemed acceptable in those words. I could listen to that classic and un-fucking-touchable Allman guitar sound at fifteen and feel my father there…
In more recent years, I’ve often lamented that there are no bands mimicking that sound. To do so and to rip it off as blatantly as I wished someone would might be disingenuous but still, I wanted that for my generation. For myself too, dammit. To be clear, it wasn’t so much the actual music of that time that I fell for, it was the sentiment behind it all. The sentiment that penetrated your bones as soon as that needle hit the record. The one that said do what you want, do what you feel is good, and fuck the squares. Though I’ll admit to occasionally standing behind bands and musicians that are the exact and perfect opposite of these ideals, that feeling is always there and I’m always longing for it. I’m looking for what my father had, those blessings in song.
Eventually, I was so desperate for it, I pined for even a shitty fucking Foghat rip-off. “Can it be that hard to make your own damn ‘Slow Ride’?!” I’d ask. But alas; you simply cannot fuck with the awesomeness of ‘Slow Ride’. And slowly but surely, I suppose I moved on from that dream. It was hopeless, musicians just didn’t have it in ’em anymore, it wasn’t possible. I got an Allman Brothers tattoo and let that shit go.
[Dudes, look at these guys. They like beer, joints, and they will fuck your woman. Obvs.]
In the year of 1974, a little spoken of music festival took place not too far from my home, in the town of Sedalia. It was called the Ozark Music Festival and chances are, your parents never told you about it. 50,000 tickets were sold; 350,000 people attended. It was an Ozark hippies brand of Woodstock and if you’re not aware, Ozark hippies are different from all other hippies. They’re better, in case you’re wondering. The astonishing bill included the likes of The Eagles, the Marshall Tucker Band, Springsteen, Aerosmith, REO Speedwagon, (pre-Eagles) Joe Walsh, and two other bands the Kramer family worships, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, billed as the home-state heroes. If I had a left nut, I’d give it to see that bill. Fortunately, my dad was born in the 1950s so he didn’t have to. He was there.
Chances are, The Sheepdogs would have found a lovely and fitting spot on that bill had they been born the same time as my father. I’m not sure how it came to be that I stumbled The Sheepdogs early this year and I’m not sure how it is that more people aren’t as in love with their sound and their vibe as I am. But from the first wail laid down over a higher than typical guitar chord, I was in love. I’d been gifted with a band making THAT sound and I imagine that the feeling I got when I listening to The Sheepdogs was the same feeling my pops got listening to the Allmans over 30 years ago, except that this was new and while it certainly invokes the past it still manages to do it in the absolute least offensive way. In all honestly, listening to this band gives me that same giddy feeling I get every time I throw down a live Allman album for some spin action on the record player. It is not the band, per say — it is the sound, the feeling, the overwhelming vibe that cannot be touched with words. It can only be heard and lived.
The Sheepdogs :: Please Don’t Lead Me On [MP3]
The Sheepdogs :: I Don’t Know [MP3]
The Sheepdogs :: Southern Dreaming (from Daytrotter) [MP3]