For the B’ys of Great Big Sea: thanks for all the good times!

This article that showed up on the OKP Facebook group this morning has a quote from Alan Doyle in it that makes it pretty much official now: Great Big Sea is done.

I’m not surprised by this. I’ve seen this coming since Séan McCann stood down from the band, and really, I had suspicions of it being on the way even before the 2013 XX tour. But part of me wishes it would have come a bit sooner, and I note we still haven’t had any sort of official announcement via the band newsletter, the band website, or anything of that nature. So people coming to the greatbigsea.com website still won’t have any actual idea that the band’s pretty much done.

But it is what it is, and I feel it’s important now to take a few moments to celebrate what this band has meant to me in the last fourteen years. They’ve brought me huge amounts of joy. They’ve led me to making lifelong friends, to learning brand new instruments, to discovering the dynamic energy of Newfoundland traditional music in general, and most of all, to looking forward to the yearly outing to a concert where I could bounce and sing at the top of my lungs. And sometimes more than one concert in a year.

They led me to founding the Three Good Measures jamming group, and I’m proud to this day of all the fun we had making those MP3s.

They made a guitar player out of me! And they are, of course, responsible for why my best guitar is named General Taylor.

Me and the General
Me and the General

They led me and Dara and a bunch of our friends to have ridiculous amounts of fun participating in the fan song contest in 2010, when Safe Upon the Shore came out.

(Not to mention that we also had a bunch of fun making the blooper reel for these shenanigans, too!)

And of course, Alan Doyle does still hold the record for killing me MOST DED WITH SWOON in any given concert, thanks to our getting him to sing “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. Okay yeah sure, this was an Alan Solo show, but I include this because it’s all part and parcel of the joy these guys have brought to my life!

Which of course also leads me to add that I was also very, very grateful to finally get pics of myself with Alan AND with Séan.

And last but most DEFINITELY not least, these boys are very specifically responsible for why Christopher in Faerie Blood and Bone Walker is a Newfoundlander and a bouzouki player. They are why the very first scene of Bone Walker is, in fact, at a Great Big Sea show, even though I don’t call them out by name. And they are why the third book of the Free Court of Seattle will be set partially in St. John’s, and why Dara and I had such an awesome time in 2012 going there for the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival. Where, I might add, we saw them sing on their home soil, with the added special bonus of Darrell Power showing up to help them sing “Excursion Around the Bay”.

(And man, it was satisfying to see Alan’s doubletake on the stage when he came out and saw Dara and me there, faces he usually saw on the other side of the continent. ;D Particularly since this was only a few months after the Elvis incident!)

And in fact, they did “Excursion” TWICE.

It is part and parcel of life that all good things must eventually come to an end. But the music still lives on in my collection, and in my fingers. I will still come to both Alan’s and Séan’s shows when I can. And I know that whenever I pick up one of my guitars or flutes or whistles, when I start singing “Ordinary Day” on a walk to or from work just because I can, it’ll be because these guys kindled that within me.

Thanks b’ys. From the bottom of my heart. <3

Book review: Where I Belong, by Alan Doyle

As I’d already posted, I pre-ordered Alan Doyle’s new memoir Where I Belong straight off of greatbigsea.com, and that book got here yesterday, woo! (Although I only wound up getting it out of the mailbox tonight, since I worked from home yesterday and forgot to check the mail.)

But in the meantime I also pulled down the ebook via Kobo, since I wasn’t about to try to take a signed hardback anywhere in my backpack. And I’ve gotta say, I was expecting the read to be delightful–but hadn’t really quite grasped how fun it would be to go through a few hundred pages’ worth of Alan essentially telling us all about the first half of his life.

I already knew the man has a command of language; I have, after all, been following his blog posts on greatbigsea.com and his own site for years now. And I’ve been to many a GBS concert in which he’s launched into amusing tales while at the mike. I’m very, very familiar with the cadences of his voice at this point, after 14 straight years of Great Big Sea fandom.

And reading Where I Belong pretty much was just like hearing Alan tell a very long tale at a kitchen party, I swear. His voice came right through into his writing, and it was made all the more delightful by assorted pictures of his young self and assorted family members. At the end of each chapter came an additional anecdote, often tying into Great Big Sea, that gave the overall narrative good structure and eventually brought us to the big turning point of Alan’s life: i.e., the founding of the band that would make him, Séan McCann, Darrell Power, and Bob Hallett famous.

Some of this stuff I already knew, just from being in the fandom as long as I have. Some of it, though, I didn’t–particularly Alan describing the poverty of his early life. Boy howdy can I sympathize with that. And now that I’ve actually visited St. John’s, bits of the book kept resonating for me. Particularly Alan’s tale of the first visit he ever made to O’Brien’s–which has sadly now gone bankrupt. :( I’ve been in that store. And I have a very healthy respect for the significance it’s had to the history of music in St. John’s.

Those of you who’ve read Faerie Blood and who will hopefully be getting Bone Walker by the turn of the year–you also know my Warder boy Christopher is a Newfoundlander. And reading Alan’s book, for me as an author as well as a GBS fan, kept triggering little moments of “ah yes, this would be important to Christopher and all of his family”.

So yeah. Absolutely required reading, if you’re a Great Big Sea fan. And I’d even recommend it if you’re not a GBS fan, just on the strength of Alan’s storytelling. The man does have a way with a word. And I’m hearing rumors he may be already thinking of writing another one.

To which there can of course be only one proper response: yes b’y.

And here: both of my copies of the book, the signed one from greatbigsea.com, and the ebook on my Nook HD!

Where I Belong, in Stereo
Where I Belong, in Stereo

For the Great Big Sea fans, hey look! Alan Doyle, author!

Those of you who’re in Great Big Sea fandom undoubtedly know this already, but just in case you don’t, Alan Doyle is releasing a memoir in October! It’s to be called Where I Belong. Alert fans will note that this is the same title used by one of Alan’s songs on his solo album Boy on Bridge, and it’s about the importance of family collections even when a Newfoundlander wanders far from home. A fitting title indeed for a personal memoir.

GreatBigSea.com announced today over their newsletter that the book’s now available for preorder directly on their site, in hardcover form. So just for giggles, I went and poked around my various favorite ebook sites, and I’m seeing available on a lot of the major ebook sites as well. Here’s a roundup of places I’m seeing for sale!

GreatBigSea.com

Amazon US (Kindle and hardcover)

Amazon CA (Kindle and hardcover)

Barnes and Noble (hardcover only, no sign of a Nook version yet)

Powells

Chapters CA (hardcover and ebook, note that Chapters sells ebooks via Kobo)

iBooks US

iBooks CA

Kobo US

Google Play US

These are all the various links I can get at, browsing on computers in the States. If anybody in Canada or elsewhere wants to add links to this list, drop ’em in the comments!

AND! For those of you who’re on Goodreads, be advised that there is a giveaway in progress for both United States and Canadian readers! So if you don’t want to commit to buying a copy yet, you might want to jump in on this.

As y’all know, I am a voracious buyer of books, not to mention a longstanding voracious buyer of anything with Alan’s name on it. It tickles me deeply that I get to throw some of my book-buying money to Alan’s first venture into writing, and I very much look forward to having a signed hardcopy and a digital version. ‘Cause I ain’t taking a signed hardback on a bus commute!

A LOT of visitors coming by to read about Sean McCann

I’ve had a massive uptick lately in people hitting my three previous posts about Sean McCann leaving GBS, here and here and here. And what I’m sensing here is quite a few people who might perhaps be looking for answers as to why exactly Sean bailed on the band–and what Great Big Sea’s fate will be now that he’s out.

On the latter question, there has still been no formal announcement through official GBS channels. I’ve seen nothing posted on the site’s news page, and nothing’s come across the newsletter either. The most official thing I’ve seen on the matter is Alan Doyle’s most recent post to his personal blog, From the Road, which you can see on the Great Big Sea site here or on Alan’s site here. Alan basically says that the band is on hiatus again, and goes into some detail about what he, Bob, Murray, and Kris are up to. He does also mention Sean’s leaving, that Sean is about to release a new CD (today, in fact, as of this writing, up on his bandcamp page), and that he wishes him well.

Sean himself in the meantime has started talking to the media. So if you haven’t seen it already, an interview he did on the matter is over here. He’s saying pretty much what I expected, which is to say, creative differences. And he, like much of the fanbase, is going a bit “buh?” at the silence on greatbigsea.com about his departure.

‘Cause yeah, you’d think they’d have issued some sort of formal announcement by now. o.O

But, be that as it may, I’ll continue to relay any news I come across. If you’re on Facebook, you might consider dropping by the OKP group there since that’s become the more or less de facto replacement for the OKP forums that used to be on the Great Big Sea site. This is where I’m getting my most recent news. You can find that group here.

The most important thing about the Great Big Sea show tonight

Internets, my usual full concert report will be coming about tonight’s Great Big Sea show in Edmonds real soon–but before I post that, I have to post this, because THIS was the high point of the evening and I’m still trying to ramp down from the outburst of ZOMG in my system.

As you all know, I’m a novelist. I’ve completed five novels, in fact. Verbosity is my primary superpower. I have a LOT of words in me. So you’ll know that if other people’s pictures are worth a thousand words, this one, coming from me, is worth an entire trilogy. This happened after the GBS show in Edmonds tonight, when I and several other fangirls were hanging out by the band’s tour bus!

Anna and Alan Doyle
Anna and Alan Doyle

Thirteen years. THIRTEEN YEARS I’ve been in this fandom and I’ve finally scored not only the opportunity, but also the gumption to ask Alan Doyle to his face if I could have a picture with him. He promptly said “sure!”, invited me to get in close, and put his arm around my shoulders. I handed my phone off to my friend Helen, who then needed me to unlock it for her ’cause duh right access code. THEN she had trouble finding my camera app, so she made cracks at me about how “should I draw this out a little longer?”–’cause Alan was standing there with his arm around me the whole time. I chirped, “I’M GOOD!”

There was laughter, and the picture was finally taken. One other girl in the group also snapped a pic which she promised to send me, so this wasn’t even the only one!

(ALSO! There was bonus Murray! Most of the group wanted pics with Alan, so after I got my turn I turned to Murray and asked him about his fundraising efforts for his Cocksure Lads movie–his mockumentary about a fictional 60’s British rock band. Great fun. I was in on round one of that fundraising and I’ll be chiming in on the second one too. Because Murray is awesome.

Also, mad props to Foster when I told him I was annathepiper on Twitter and that we’d chatted some about Tolkien. He remembered that. YAY!)

So yeah. This was a TRIUMPH. Making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS.

Also note: I neither confirm nor deny any rumors of high-pitched squealing and a victory dance as soon as we were out of range of the bus.

Alan Doyle kills me DED FROM SWOON, 5/22/2012

Those Francophone boys I’ve fallen in love with these past many months may have been heavily distracting me, but I’m tellin’ ya, people, when it comes to downright ability to take me right out at the knees, The Doyle Himself is still unparalleled. I still prefer him in the company of Great Big Sea, just because the classic style of GBS music–i.e., the irrepressible, roar-at-the-top-of-your-lungs trad–is more my thing than his solo style.
But that said, Alan Doyle by himself is still pretty damned swoonable, and we did have great fun at the Tractor last night. Dara and I got up by the stage, right in front of Alan’s mike, along with fellow fangirls Jaime and Sara. I’d never been to a show at the Tractor Tavern before, and it was an amazing switch from what I’m used to these days, with Great Big Sea playing the Moore.
Alan’s opening act was this young man named Dustin Bentall, and he was good, but I was more actively impressed by Kendall Carson, the fiddle player who first played with him and then with Alan’s full band. She was GREAT.
Then of course Alan came out and we all went nuts. I’m still getting to know the material on his new album, so except when he jumped over to do a few Great Big Sea songs, I was mostly singing along on what choruses I could pick up. Until he got to the part of the show when he was taking Twitter requests. Of which there were three.
I, being, well, me, asked him for “Trois Navires de Ble” (because yeah, spot the girl in this audience who’s been passionately absorbing French Canadian music the last many months, wut?) or “alternately, anything by Elvis” (because I’ve been dying for years to hear Alan sing something by him). Dara, being Dara, promptly decided to ALSO ask for “anything by Elvis”, and got Jaime and Sara to do so too, just so we could twitterbomb Alan in the hopes of getting him to make a joke about it.
We didn’t expect him to actually take us up on it. He made a wry crack about how “there was some collusion” in the audience, at which point the four of us all shrieked happily.
And then this happened. And I died DED OF SWOON. This is Lynda Elstad’s video of the full song.

And THIS is Dara’s version, which is much grainier and isn’t the full song, but DOES have cuts to me for reaction shots of OMG OMG OMG OMG. Note how I keep biting my hand. This is because I’m trying desperately not to squeal at the top of my lungs, or maybe trying to keep from dropping dead RIGHT THERE ON THE SPOT, because O. M. G., Internets, Alan Doyle sang “Can’t Help Falling in Love” because we asked him to.

Sara and Jaime shoved me right up in front of them–I’d been standing behind them up until this point–and kept holding my arms to make sure I wasn’t about to keel over. They and Dara told me after that my eyes were HUGE.
The rest of the show, it was great and all (and I DID quite like Alan’s cover of Russell Crowe’s song “Testify”, which was rockin’), but none of it topped this: being right in front of Alan’s mike as he crooned an Elvis song. And not just any Elvis song–the seminal, most swoonable, most iconic Elvis song ever. And I sang harmony back at him, because good gods how could I not? And my eyes were full of stars.
ETA: And I had to add in a couple other comments about the show as I remembered them, just because for reasons I can’t get into yet aside from this show, THIS WEEK HAS BEEN AWESOME and my brain is quite scattered!
Awesome thing #1: Alan kept having trouble tuning his mandolin, and made a joke about how ‘I LOVE WATCHING PEOPLE TUNE THEIR INSTRUMENTS!’ Dara yelled back at him, “We tune because we care!” And he heard her and agreed, “We tune because we care!”
Awesome thing #2: Alan also kept making charmingly self-deprecating jokes about how as we were the very first show of the very first tour of the Alan Doyle Band, we got to see all the screwups and “the terror in our eyes”, and how in four or five more shows they’d get everything right, but we were getting all the good stuff. Also he kept repeating how “there’s only one first night!” When he joked about wondering “oh God what have I done?”, a guy in the audience yelled back, “Something awesome!” And Alan was all “I feel the love in the room!”
Awesome thing #3: Being that close to Alan meant I got a good look at the guitar strap he was using, a leather one, with his name embroidered on it in green down near where it connected with the neck of his guitar! And it was pretty cool seeing him play mandolin, even if I lamented the lack of his usual bouzouki.
Awesome thing #4: At the end of the show, Alan looked out at us all and said he saw several familiar faces, all of us who’ve loyally come to Great Big Sea shows. (heart) (heart)

Alan Doyle! May 22nd! The Tractor Tavern in Seattle! BE THERE!

And speaking of things that will involve so much awesome they will violate all laws of space and time, the most belovedest of my beloved B’ys, The Doyle Himself, is about to launch his solo tour for his forthcoming album. First stop?

RIGHT HERE IN SEATTLE, BABY! At the Tractor Tavern! :D

Be advised that tickets go on presale TOMORROW AT 10AM for greatbigsea.com members! If you’re in my usual social circles you’ve already seen me squealing about this all over the Net today, and you may have been been emailed to check on your level of interest in this show! will be buying tickets on my behalf tomorrow at 10am sharp, since it conflicts with my morning standup meeting at work. If you haven’t already checked in with me and you want in on this ticket purchase, let me know NOW!

If you’re going to be at the show anyway, please let me know as well because I’d love to look for known faces, and because showing our support for Alan in as big a group as possible will ROCK!

Day of Bouzouki Player Awesomeness, Part 2

So yeah! Those Beaudry boys? Making a powerful showing today. But they have their work cut out for them when it comes to the OTHER bouzouki player I adore. ;) (Well, the other one who isn’t like, y’know, my partner and stuff, she said, looking meaningfully at …)
Y’all saw my post asking for Newfoundland band recs, right? So this morning, I think to myself–what the hell, I’ll go straight to the source. Alan, Bob, and Sean are on Twitter, I’ll ask them what THEY think we should be listening to while they’re on hiatus!
This was the result. \0/

What what wait that actually WORKED?
What what wait that actually WORKED?

The Doyle Has Spoken
The Doyle Has Spoken

I leave it as an exercise for you, O Internets, as to exactly how high-pitched my squee went. (Remember: I’m a piccolo player!)
I proceeded to get in several more Newfoundland band recs from Twitter folk as well, but as promised to The Doyle, I went and promptly checked out The Once. They are notable because Mr. Bob Hallett himself is their manager, so of course big ol’ GBS connection right there. I’ve now listened to the samples of their first album on iTunes, and yeah, I’ll be buying this. Their lead singer has a lovely voice, and while they don’t have the kind of raucous energy I love so much about the B’ys, they are very, very good. They remind me a lot more of oh, say, Solas, and that’s good, because I like Solas! And I’ll be making a definite point of checking out their new album when it drops next month!
For general reference, the other artists and bands that have been thrown at me on Twitter to check out are: Amelia Curran, Jim Fidler, the Novaks, Matthew Hornell, Hey Rosetta! (who I actually already previously knew about but had not checked out in depth), Andrew James O’Brien, Tarahan, and the Navigators (who I again also previously knew about).
Many thanks to @GBSIndyFan and @barbekresla, who threw me the Twitter recs!
Not all of these acts are trad–the Novaks appear to be more rock, and iTunes seems to think Jim Fidler is reggae. Dunno about Matthew Hornell or Amelia Curran yet either. But I’m going to give them all a shot! (Though in the case of the Navigators, I’m apparently going to have to work a little harder because their albums are not on iTunes.)
So yeah! Great big pile of Newfoundland band recs! And a tweet from The Doyle Himself! What a way to end a week! \0/

Great Big Sea at the Moore in Seattle, 3/12/2011 (Part 3 of 3)

In which our heroine is super-late posting the last bit of the concert writeup from the 12th, she admits! But I beg your indulgence, my fellow GBS fans, for lo, I have been stricken this last week or so with the plague. STRICKEN, I tell you. Handsome and talented as The Doyle is, not even he can make me string coherent thoughts together when I’m in a Sudafed-and-Nyquil-induced coma. And I’m assuming y’all want me to finish this report off with something a bit more substantial than “mmmm Alan is so pretty mmmm”, anyway!

Continue reading “Great Big Sea at the Moore in Seattle, 3/12/2011 (Part 3 of 3)”