Shaggy Sheepdogs reeling from contest fame

Ewan Currie, who hails from the Canadian prairie town of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, won’t batten down the hatches for another bleak winter. Instead, the lead singer of the roots-rocking Sheepdogs has purchased a plane ticket for an exotic, and much warmer, getaway.

“I’m coming to San Francisco around Christmastime, and I’m going to use it as a chance to get away and kind of collect my ideas for the next album,” he says. “I love the musical history there, like Sly and the Family Stone, Santana, Creedence. It’s got some mojo, so I figured it’d be a cool place to go, somewhere I’d feel comfortable.”

The Sheepdogs, though, first will hit The City on Monday, opening for Black Joe Lewis at the Fillmore, and backing their U.S.-introductory EP for Atlantic, “Five Easy Pieces.”

On his December vacation, Currie — who visited San Francisco two years ago with an ex-girlfriend and fell in love with it — will be going stag.

“I spend all my time around the guys in the band, and we get along fine,” he says. “But I’m looking forward to just doing something completely by myself.”

The 27-year-old ex-bartender will have a lot to reflect on, looking back over a surreal 2011.

After three albums up North, the Sheepdogs entered Rolling Stone magazine’s recent Garnier Fructis-sponsored “Choose the Cover” competition, and gradually defeated 15 other artists to win the cover spread, plus a contract with Atlantic.

“We’d spent the better part of four, five years going back and forth up in Canada, doing it the slow, long, hard way,” he says. “So we saw this contest as an opportunity to get written up in the greatest rock magazine of all time. And winning? It’s just made a world of difference for us.”

“Pieces” cuts like “Who?” and “I Don’t Know” are beefy slabs ofSkynyrd-Allmans blues.

Yet one fussy designer actually covered his ears upon first hearing the Sheepdogs during their appearance on “Project Runway,” in which teams had to create flashy new wardrobes for the band. Currie was teeth-gritting gracious in his awkward, ill-fitting suit.

“We come from a prairie city with a good working-class element, but we’re not naive and we’re all smart guys,” he says. “Still, ‘Project Runway’ was like nothing we’ve ever done before.”

Garnier also sent the Sheepdogs plenty of complimentary hairproducts.

“But we’re looking pretty shaggy right now, because we’re in tour mode,” Currie says. “So we’re back to our usual denim and boots, and looking like we just rolled out of bed!”

IF YOU GO

The Sheepdogs

Opening for Black Joe Lewis

Where: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Monday

Tickets: $29

Contact: (415) 346-6000,www.livenation.com

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