Lawyers Who Rock: The Band: Shovelman 814, The Musician: Barry "Hound Dog" Engel
by Mindy Marks
A "relatively ugly" statue inspired the name Shovelman 814. At the band’s first gig, a school function at the Holiday Inn on Colorado Boulevard, a four-foot sculpture of a person made of shovels was unsuccessfully being auctioned. When no one bought the sculpture, the band chipped in for it. Eight-Fourteen was the room they were staying in and unlike most rock stars, they arrived early and left the room cleaner than they found it.
Barry "Hound Dog" Engel, a founding member of Shovelman 814, got his start at age 12 when he played in an Omaha-based band called The Invaders. At a young age, Engel found himself traveling (due to older band members and trusting parents) throughout the five states surrounding Nebraska to play with The Invaders.
Today Engel is an integrated estate planner by day and musician by night. Engel is the guitar player and lead singer in Shovelman 814, and writes and records his own acoustic music in "Hound Dog Studios LLC," his basement recording studio.
Shovelman 814 primarily plays covers and the sound is rock and roots-rock with a country flair. The cover songs vary from Eric Clapton and Dire Straights to Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan. They have played Denver’s Hard Rock Café three times, Majestic Saloon, some private parties, his children’s school functions and a funeral.
"The funeral was a solemn event, but his (the deceased) friends were ready to celebrate life," said Engel. "We played a few 50-year-old birthday parties because the age groups we appeal to range anywhere from 20s to 60s."
The group doesn’t get too wild — the extreme was Engel bleaching his hair platinum blonde for a show.
"I got some odd looks from clients for the following months, but you have to have fun," said Engel. "The comment we hear from people is ‘Boy, it sure looks like you guys are having fun.’ You have to have fun."
Balancing a busy law practice and family life sometimes leaves little time for band practice and gigs.
"Sometimes as much as music should be a priority, it takes the last seat in the last row," said Engel. "That’s not how it should be, but that’s the reality of it. The medicinal value of it is very high."
The band is comprised of people from an array of professions. "We don’t have any other lawyers so we’re doing well," jokes Engel.
Shovelman 814’s claim to fame is playing with East Coast singer and songwriter Willie Nile, who has played with bands like Pete Townshend of The Who and Bono, when he came to town.
Individually, Engel has recorded somewhere between 30 and 40 original songs of a "less rowdy" variety. His solo work focuses on blues/country rock, blues rock, and rock ’n’ roll.
"It’s a great way to stay sane," said Engel, whose guitar collection numbers 30.
Shovelman 814 is working on replacing a band member and is taking a break until the end of the year. To learn more about Shovelman 814, visit http://shovelman.com.