I think the first thing you’re going to notice about the Sheriffs of Nottingham is that there’s a black guy in front of this band singing rock music.
That’s just not something you see every day, and the thing about the Sheriffs is that it’s not a gimmick. It’s not Hootie. It’s not lame. It’s honest, good rootsy blues rock music.
Justin Jamerson (vocals and rhythm guitar) is an incredible front man. He was absolutely no shame when he’s on that stage, and he’ll do whatever the music makes him feel like doing. There’s a fearlessness about him that I think people respond to. When he’s up there completely letting go with the music it makes the crowd want to do the exact same thing. His personality is like the fifth member of the band, it brings this whole other element to what they’re doing.
And if you see them live, you’ll see what I mean. But what I think you’ll also see (or hear if you check out their 2009 EP “Hard Places”) is that the musicianship of everyone in the band is on par with that personality. Of course my mind goes to Kyle Fagala first, who’s an excellent drummer and singer, because that’s what I do. But Kevin Lipe (lead guitar) and Curry Smith (bass) are really solid and equally as talented. And incidentally just really good dudes, too. I’ve played shows with them and they’re really good dudes. Each of them has something unique that they’re bringing to the table and it combines to create something that’s soulful, driving, dirty rock and roll.
I really dig their original material but when I think of the Sheriffs one particular cover they do comes to mind – “I Got Mine” by the Black Keys. Every time I see it, it’s sick. The first time I ever heard them do it, it was like, damn, that makes perfect sense. I think of them as this place where Lenny Kravitz and that Black Keys meet, kind of droning but driving at the same time.
What’s also interesting to me about these guys is that they’re all grown up, responsible dudes. They’re dentists and first grade teachers but that doesn’t keep them from writing good songs and putting on a great live show. They’re talented musicians and they’re creating a sound that is unique in the city but also uniquely Memphis.