The Sheepdogs and me, on a Wednesday afternoon


This is the text received Tuesday evening at 8:56pm: “Sheepdogs/Global thing is confirmed for 12pm tomorrow. Global will be around for about 11:30ish.”

Oops. Did I forget to mention that last month I began a contract at Propeller Brewery? I did, and it happens to be the most interesting place I’ve ever worked and right up the street, around the corner from my flat.

Sorry about that. Must have slipped my mind. (*burp*)

Okay, now that you do know, here’s the fill in. Back in January, I was feeling the pinch and started to look for work. Well, I found some. And now I have two contracts, one of which is at the Propeller Brewing Company.

Of the many happy outcomes of this contract, like getting to taste beer on a weekly basis, working for a brewery has vaulted me into the dubious position of being the envy of every male in my life, from sons to nephews to brother and an assortment of guy-friends, not to mention that I now know the proper way to fill a beer glass from a tap. And yah guys. I said from a tap because there are eight operational taps at Propeller, with eight different beers.

The beer business is a whole new level of fun and fascination for me, especially since its craft beer. Before I even started at Propeller, I was already making the rounds, tasting a different Nova Scotia brew whenever I went out to a bar. Like Ontario, the province is a hotspot, rife with incredible craft beers.

And now, I get to cozy up with the granddaddy of all of them, two days a week.

John Allen is Mr. Propeller, and he started the brewery in 1997. Before the beer business, he had an equally amazing and non-traditional career as a prop master in the movie world, which is what led him to beer. During breaks between movies, he worked on being a master home-brewer, and yah, turned out he was pretty darn good at it.

Bish, bam, boom and 19 years later, John has one of the oldest craft-brew operations in the East Coast, and yah, he still makes really good craft beer.

So, as it turns out, the text I received was to confirm that Global would be doing a promo piece with the band The Sheepdogs, right at Propeller, on Wednesday. The band would be playing two nights in Halifax, co-incidentally, at another spot on my street, less than half a block from my bedroom window, called The Marquee Ballroom.

Okay, did I know who The Sheepdogs were? Sort of?  Maybe? Okay, no. But I knew it wouldn’t be difficult to get the down low. I have something better than Google. I have my boy posse of sons, nephew and brother for mama-don’t-know stuff, and they are the best at providing intel on musicians.

My bro got back to me first, informing me that The Sheepdogs were the first unsigned band to make the cover of Rolling Stone. The Saskatoon-based band submitted their demo to a ‘Choose the Cover’ contest. Months of competition for the title later, miraculously, they won. After six years of  North American touring, hoping for that elusive ‘break,’ the Rolling Stone cover changed everything. Not bad for five guys from Saskatoon.

With this knowledge, my well-informed self dropped a text to sons Cary and Graham, in Toronto, to let them know about Sheepdog coming to Propeller. I gotta say. They went a little ballistic about their old mama’s latest news. Both were big fans, and Cary had seen the band in concert.

Now, Tuesdays and Thursdays are my usual Propeller days, but nonetheless, Sheepdog would be there on a Wednesday, and I planned to  be there too, in case assistance was needed to spit-shine the bar for the taping.

A little before noon yesterday, three of us, sales guy Andrew, or Coop as everyone else calls him, (not me cuz I’m old enough to be his mom), along with Ian, from the Retail Store (I could also be his mom) and me got busy polishing glasses, setting up signs, and generally prettying things up to the max.

(I’d like to say I did my full share of helping out, but I’d be lying. Although usually very reliable at throwing my hands into mix, I must admit to becoming distracted by the special Propeller Tool Kit, sitting on one of the tables. It’s actually a see-thru plastic box containing an assortment of chewy candy, such as coke bottles, raspberries, sour keys, fuzzy peaches and more for munching on by Propeller guests.

Yes, I was not a guest, but when candy calls to me, I must listen. The road to H-E-double-toothpicks, in my world, is paved with it, and I can only cease consumption when my teeth start to hurt or it’s gone, whichever comes first. )

Anyway, by noon, Global was there with cameraman/producer and morning anchor, Paul Brothers. Two of the guys from The Sheepdogs, Ryan Currie and Ewan Gullen, along with their Warner Rep, arrived shortly after. (Link at the end of my blog to check out the segment. And serving up the beer is Andrew.)

The boys good-naturedly played a game of Irish trivia led by Paul, and Andrew poured beer from the taps, while I stood on the sidelines, snapping photos, just happy to be there, on a gray Wednesday afternoon, on the day before St. Paddy’s.

You know, every week, just when I think there is no way I will top the week before, something drops from the sky, and I’m involved with, connected to or gob-smacked by some crazy, unexpected, serendipitous chain of events that keeps me smiling. Yet again, I was in the midst of another.

Once the shoot was finished, Ryan and Ewan took a photo with me and signed their John Henry’s for my sons, and then everyone was gone in a whoosh. Andrew, Ian and I watched the boys’ ginormous bus swallow them up and then pull away from where it had been waiting for them out the front, on  Gottingen Street.

Much later, in the wee hours of Thursday morning, I was woken up by a few people leaving The Sheepdogs’ concert at the Marquee. There was bit of yelling, a car starting and some laughter. I rolled over and pulled up the covers.

Boy, how things can change. A year ago, such days were the stuff of dreams.

Back then, I could never have imagined that I would ever be that someone, the one on the verge of a dream coming true. Perhaps in treading this path less traveled, it’s possible. Or maybe, this path is just that—the dream in progress—and who knows what might happen on the path?

With a lot of work, talent and maybe even, a little touch of magic, five guys from Saskatoon and a guy who wanted to make really good beer told me on Wednesday that, truly, dreams do come true.

PS In the spirit of full disclosure, I confess my new Halifax girlfriend-bestie is none other than Mrs. Propeller (a.k.a. Susan). Knowing her is how I was introduced to the brewery and John, but pinkie swear, she has absolutely nothing to do with me working there.

Link to the

Ever-intriguing music choices by Spencer Clerk:

Spoon – Inside Out
Sonic Youth – Reena

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