Great Big Sea: from kitchens to Mosaic Place

Austin M.
Austin M. Davis
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Great Big Sea's twentieth anniversary tour includes a stop at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw on Oct. 29.

Great Big Sea’s Alan Doyle believes diversity is the Canadian music industry’s greatest strength.

“It used to be that you could drive down to the Main Street of Toronto and have a car radio on, and there would be a radio station — this happened to me one day — a radio station played an Our Lady Peace song, a Great Big Sea song and then a Celine Dion song,” Doyle said.

“I said ‘well, there you go. There’s exactly one country on Earth where that could happen, and it’s Canada.’”

Even though radio has changed some since then, Canada has been good to Great Big Sea over the last 20 years.

“Canadians love Canadian music,” Doyle said. “Canadians are very welcome and very supportive of regional music. If it’s good.”

Doyle, Great Big Sea’s lead singer and frontman, spoke to the Times-Herald by phone from his home in St. John’s, NL. He was “solo daddy-ing” for his seven-year-old son for the week while his wife was away.

Doyle said it was very nice to spend some time with his son before heading back out on the road for Great Big Sea’s 20th anniversary tour. The tour includes a stop in Moose Jaw at Mosaic Place on Oct. 29.

Doyle credited his appreciation of playing smaller cities in Canada to his upbringing in Petty Harbour, NL.

“I’m from one of the smallest places in Canada. I grew up in a fishing town with 440 people in it, so Moose Jaw’s the big city, man,” Doyle said.

All told, the band will be on the road for more than 100 days.

“It’s been going so well,” Doyle said. “The vibe in the room has been one of mutual appreciation and celebration. It’s perfect.”

Doyle said the 20 years Great Big Sea has been performing for have been a “master class” in how to play different venues around the world.

When asked if there’s a type of venue he prefers to perform in, Doyle said, “a full room. That’s what I like.”

If it’s tough to imagine Great Big Sea performing in a “jazz club with 60 people in it,” it’s nearly impossible to picture the band’s earliest days.

“We always started as a very approachable, accessible kind of band because we played music in kitchens for God’s sake,” Doyle said. “It’s not like we learned to play in a conservatory somewhere.”

Austin M. Davis can be reached at 306-691-1258 or follow him on Twitter @theAustinX.

Organizations: Great Big Sea, Our Lady Peace, Times-Herald

Geographic location: Canada, Toronto, Moose Jaw Petty Harbour

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