Hailing from Saskatoon in Canada, the Sheepdogs have been playing their unique brand of country infused blues rock since 2006. The band came to catch up with Orange at Black Deer Festival just outside of Tunbridge Wells. Jimmy had just played the Main stage on the Sunday before sitting down with us to chat about how he started playing guitar and how the AD30 is perfect for his playing.
How did you start playing guitar?
I guess I was inspired by my dad’s good friend at the time, he is a fantastic guitar player. He played an old 65′ Telecaster and it was just the most beautiful guitar, he is a very soulful player and him and my Dad would play and sing, that was kind of my first inspiration to play.
What were your influences when you started playing?
I listened to Hendrix, Cream and Zeppelin, all that kind of stuff, Free! Traced the routes and got into the blues pretty heavy. So I was emulating people like Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Sutton Hose and then into 50’s and 60’s with Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf. All that kind of stuff.
How did you join the band?
It’s kind of funny, they had a guitar player leave about 2/3’s of the way through an American tour and they were in a bind. I was good friends with their guitar tech at the time, he bet a weeks wages that I would be a good fit. So they called me up and gave me all the material the night before. I stayed up the night before and learnt everything I could as best as I could. We did one rehearsal and then we did the rest of the tour and I have been with the guys ever since.
How are you finding the festival so far?
Saw Kris Kristofferson, that was pretty amazing! That’s been kind of a dream of mine to see him, I’m a big time fan. It’s a gorgeous festival, beautiful landscape and a laid back vibe, its nice.
What’s your set-up on stage?
It’s not too complicated, I use an old Les Paul, pedal wise an MXR dyna comp for soloing, playing slide and for sustain overall. I have fuzz pedal, a delay, a tube screamer and tuner, I play an Orange AD30. I just love the sound of those power tubes, so I was looking for something that was kind of along those lines but a little more controllable and a lot more volume, so I could get more headroom. It was the perfect amp.
What do you usually look for in an amp?
It has to be reliable and versatile, I have a simple setup, I am a volume control player. So I need an amp to be nice and gainy, but I can dail it back on the guitar and it can be shimmering clean too. In order to have that you have to have headroom otherwise your tone gets too compressed. So there is kind of a happy medium between gain and headroom, I find that amp does it perfect.
What makes the AD30 so suitable for your genre?
It’s that EL84 breakup, it just does something different than any other power tube. It’s a little tighter, a little more top end response and the clarity suits that music fine. It gives me a lot of control, the top channel is great but its pretty gainy for what we are doing, so I use the bottom channel all the time. I will dial it back for different tunes and change the gain structure.
What else makes the AD30 so great?
It sounds fantastic but it’s also super reliable. We do roughly 200+ shows a year and I’ve used mine for the last three years, I have just had to change tubes. That is just super reliable and does exactly what I want it to do every night.
How does it feel being part of the Orange family?
It feels great, love representing fantastic amps that make me sound better!