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The former frontman for Great Big Sea is promising one heck of a show in Charlottetown tonight in what will be a milestone performance for the artist.
Alan Doyle will perform at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in a show that just happens to mark the 25th anniversary of his first-ever show in the P.E.I. capital.
“Look out, you’re getting the biggest kitchen party that I can give ya,’’ Doyle told The Guardian in a telephone interview from his St. John’s, N.L., home.
Back in 1994, Great Big Sea began a circuit of shows that saw the band play numerous times at the Lower Deck in Halifax and at various Maritime universities, including UPEI.
“We’d go over to P.E.I. and we got a couple of gigs around noon or lunch time, like happy hour gigs, over at The (UPEI) Barn, and then we’d go play a weekend at the Olde Dublin (Pub). Then we’d go back to the Lower Deck again. That was our circuit,’’ he said.
For those not old enough to remember, the Barn served as UPEI’s student centre until it was torn down and replaced by the W.A. Murphy Student Centre in 2002.
“The first time I played on Prince Edward Island and the first time I was ever on Prince Edward Island would have been in March of 1994. Holy frig, that’s 25 years ago! That’s exciting, I never thought about that.’’
- Alan Doyle
“The first time I played on Prince Edward Island and the first time I was ever on Prince Edward Island would have been in March of 1994. Holy frig, that’s 25 years ago! That’s exciting, I never thought about that. It’s 25 years ago to the month since I first went to P.E.I.’’
The iconic Newfoundland singer-songwriter said the audience on Saturday night can expect to hear a real mix of music, from material off his three solo albums to songs off Great Big Sea’s catalogue and a bunch of Newfoundland songs, as well as a few surprises. He’s touring in support of his third album, “A Week at the Warehouse’’.
“It’s really a varied musical night. It’s the same kind of inclusion and energy the Great Big Sea concerts always had. All that stuff with me there comes with me still. (I’ll be) trying to get people to sing along, which is not usually very hard in Charlottetown.’’
A duo known as Cassie and Maggie will open the show. Doyle said the two sisters are gifted Celtic musicians from Nova Scotia, who play guitar and fiddle, as well as sing.
Doyle, who grew up in Petty Harbour, N.L., has a busy tour schedule that started in Glace Bay, N.S., on Friday night. After he entertains the Charlottetown audience, it’s off to play Pictou and Truro before heading south to Nashville and then off to Europe. His schedule will prevent him from coming to the East Coast Music Awards in Charlottetown in May.
Doyle still loves playing live but admits that touring at 49 (he turns 50 in May) is much different than it was at 25.
“There are things that are more difficult about it. I didn’t have a kid then and I wasn’t married then. You didn’t miss your family because you didn’t have one, but I do miss them now and I find that, physically, travelling is harder,” he said, adding he still loves performing in concerts as much as he did when he was 20.
Doyle went solo in 2014 when Great Big Sea stopped performing together. His three albums have been well received.
“I had hopes that (the albums would do well), but who knew if people would come? And who knew once they came if they would like (my songs)? It’s such a relief. I feel like I’m getting a second kick at the can, and we all know how hard it is to even get one.’’
Doyle isn’t just a musician. He’s also appeared on TV and in the movies and he’s authored two books, with a third in the works.
“I haven’t got a clue what it's about yet,’’ he laughs. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a lot about how Newfoundland fits in the world to me in this come-from-away age.’’
The show begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Homburg Theatre.
- The following musicians form Alan Doyle’s band:
- Kris MacFarlane, drums
- Cory Tetford, guitar, vocals
- Kendal Carson, fiddle
- Todd Lumley, keyboard, accordion
- Shehab Illyas, bass