Ilya S. Savenok, Getty Images The sad news came across late Wednesday afternoon…
- Posted on May 19th 2011 9:15AM by Kenneth Partridge
As announced last night on the magazine's website and on 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,' shaggy Canadian rockers the Sheepdogs and Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Lelia Broussard have gained enough votes to move on to the fourth and final round of the 'Do You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star?' cover contest. The winner -- as determined by online voting that runs through July 1 -- gets not only a cover spread, but also a deal with Atlantic Records.
Representing Saskatoon, Saskatchewan -- a prairie town that's produced more NHL players than famous musicians -- the Sheepdogs were one of three rock acts to make the final four. Now that the votes have been tallied, and Empires and Fictionist have been eliminated, the public must choose between the Dogs' feel-good '70s boogie rock and Broussard's smart, tuneful indie-pop.
If the contest was tough to forecast back in February -- when the initial lineup of 16 contenders included rappers, urban-pop collectives and stadium rockers -- it isn't much easier now. The Bonnaroo performances are sure to factor heavily in this final round of voting, and while the Sheepdogs might have had the edge in previous years (when the Manchester, Tenn. festival catered more to the jam-band crowd), Broussard will feel equally welcome at this year's eclectic event, which runs June 9 through 12.
As part of the quarterfinal round, both acts put themselves at the mercy of Rolling Stone's panel of expert judges. Former Fall Out Boy singer Patrick Stump took a particular liking to Broussard, complementing the 21-year-old on her disarming stage presence.
"I like that you smiled," Stump said. "I thought that was a very simple thing, but it says a lot, and it was natural."
Touré, a Rolling Stone contributing editor who hosts video segments on the magazine's website, got a similar impression.
"There's a great charisma to you, and a great sweetness to you, and I like you, and I want to see more of what you have to say," he told Broussard. "And that you can't buy or make or manufacture. I think that's bigger than any individual song." Watch Lelia's Rolling Stone Reel
In a separate interview, Touré asked Broussard if she thinks she's ready for the added pressure that would come with winning the contest.
"It's been pretty great so far," she said. "People are responding well. There are always going to be people who are not going to be saying what you want them to say, and that's just part of life. This [contest] is maybe just something that magnifies it, but I think I have to be myself and do what I'm going to do. Everybody is going to say what they're going say."
In his generally positive assessment of the Sheepdogs, Touré's fellow Rolling Stone editor Christian Hoard wondered whether the scraggly Canadians crib a bit too blatantly from their heroes.
"You have a really nice affect, a good presence," Hoard said. "I find your sound to be very likable. It's a very specific rock from the '70s. I feel like when you step on stage it becomes 1974, and you're opening for the Allmans. For me, it's fairly easy to peg, and I'm not quite sure how I feel about that." Watch the Sheepdogs Rolling Stone Reel
Singer/guitarist Ewan Currie has never hid his band's affinity for Skynyrd or the Stones, but he doesn't see why the Sheepdogs should necessarily learn new tricks.
"You've got to play in the style that inspires you," Currie said, responding to Hoard's question. "We try to replicate sound and things from the songs that we love. I feel that we do it very genuinely, because it's from a place of love."
"I don't really think of where we're going in the grand scheme of musical history," Currie added. "It's more or less, 'Let's just write a tasty jam and see if people dig it.'"