No Mercy on a Friday with Doghouse Rose
The rockabilly formula of a cute flower-in-her-hair lead singer, tattooed stand-up bassist, and stoic guitarist seems to be one that’s working these days; every city has at least one of these groups ready to take the Friday night masses into Saturday morning. That formula is working particularly well for Doghouse Rose, who played the Dakota last week. Doghouse Rose is Ontarian group who’s taking it far past rockabilly into country, country noir, and rock. When I got there a few songs in, the party was already going: lead singer Sarah Beth entranced the crowd, while bass player Jefferson Sheppard occasionally interrupted with a few tricks of his own, the highlight being a twist of the instrument to lay it on its side so Sarah Beth could climb on it to deliver a verse. Although these two front members were responsible for spectacle duties, drummer Carl Welch kept the whole thing together with his easy groove. Meanwhile, their guitarist stood off to the side, often seeming to be an onlooker until he jumped in with a killer solo that should have been impossible with such a casual demeanour.
The Friday night Dakota crowd is a tough one: you’re up against after-workers who are lingering post-happy hour, walk-by traffic from the popular Dundas-Ossington strip, drunk university kids looking forward to their late-night meal at the Lakeview Diner around the corner. There were even couples tucked into the back benches, making out, with eyes only for each other. Still, the band drew everyone’s attention with covers of Johnny Cash and George Jones that carefully edged around the trap of cliche. Clearly grateful for their fans in the audience and the chance to play their first Dakota show, Doghouse Rose was on fire. I hope they return soon.
In the meantime, check out their website, and song “No Mercy”.