Twenty years after he got his start playing in the rowdy pubs in St. John's, Alan Doyle is one of the most recognizable and enduring voices in Canadian music. The Great Big Sea singer is extremely proud of his East Coast roots, but acknowledges that the Newfoundland he grew up has gone through a trans-formative change. In this clip, he explains why he no longer feels the need to 'defend his backyard' and reveals why his famous friend and collaborator, Russell Crowe, has an affinity for Atlantic Canada.
He's in the red chair tonight, along with author Russell Banks.
On Newfoundland's economic boom:
St. John's is booming man, I mean the North East Avalon of Newfoundland is booming. I mean, I remember coming to Toronto for the first time and learning how much my friend's houses were - you know - like 'how much is your house? Your house is $700,000?!' That sounded impossible to me. But right now, a bungalow in St. John's is half that. Primarily because of off shore oil revenues - and a few other things ... natural resources of various kinds, and because of the hard work of the cultural community of St. John's (pause and laughs), the economy is great.
On defending his home province:
It's an odd thing to remember those early interviews - in the early 90's - and feeling like we had to introduce not only ourselves, but introduce the province to the rest of the country. And you know, we often found ourselves defending the province back then, and trying to you know, fearing off snickers - you know "I'm from such-and-such, and you're from Newfoundland," and now it's like the opposite. You get people apologizing to be from somewhere: "...but I'd really like to be from Newfoundland."
I think 10 years ago, if I was on this show and you'd made a booze reference, I would have got my back up about it .... I would feel the need to sort of defend our backyard or whatever. But I feel like we don't need to introduce ourselves to the country anymore. I think Newfoundlanders have been funny for a long time primarily because we've been so good at dealing with hard times.
On Russell Crowe's affinity for Newfoundland:
I think he sort of saw the old world kind of rough-and-ready people who were used to dealing with hard times, hard work, hard play, kind of people, and I think he saw an affinity with it. You know, he saw a place that was not unlike the parts of Australia that he grew up in.
Alan's on tour at the moment. Check out the Canadian dates below:
May 24 - Calgary, AB - Grand Theatre
May 25 - Edmonton, AB - Starlite
May 26 - Saskatoon, SK - The Odeon Events Center
May 27 - Winnipeg, MB - The Garrick
May 31 - Toronto, ON - The Mod Club
June 2 - Montreal, QC - L'Astral
June 8 - Moncton, NB - Capitol Theatre
June 9 - Halifax, NS - Casino Nova Scotia Schooner Room
June 10 - St. John's, NF - Club One
July 4 - Ottawa, ON - Ottawa Bluesfest - Claridge Homes Stage