In The Sun

Currently enjoying the last few breaths of a grand vacation with family and friends. Just wanted to drop a quick note on a couple of things.

First of all, this weekend, one of the most influential bands of my life are playing their last show. And they are going out with such grace, class and style, that we should all give them a standing O. Spirit of the West were the first Nationally successful band that I ever saw on TV or in person that made me feel like I could just be myself, and play music on instruments that came from my backyard and sing songs about stuff that happened to me. Being from Newfoundland, I was lucky to have local heroes of mine like Ron Hynes and the Wonderful Grand Band and Figgy Duff, but the first band I ever saw play folky celtic music on the National Music Video stations alongside all the hair metal and rock in the 80’s was Spirit of the West. As soon as I saw John Mann strum an acoustic guitar solo in Save this House, or Geoffrey Kelly play a ripping flute tune in the rowdy Home for a Rest , I felt like the path to a life in music for me got a little clearer. Perhaps I didn’t need to look or sound like Whitesnake and pretend to be from LA afterall.

I got to see them live a few times and in the fall of 1995 (I think), Great Big Sea got to open for the Gents across Ontario and even a wondrous homecoming at the old Memorial Stadium in St. John’s. Over the years, we became and remained great friends and have toured and recorded together many times. I have not the words to tell you how many life and musical lessons I’ve learned from them.

This weekend they wrap up an amazing run that would be a fantasy for just about every one I ever met who picked up a guitar and dreamed a big dream. A few health issues including John’s well publicized Alzheimer’s condition has taken the band off the road earlier than many of us fans would have hoped, but the songs will be sung and resung for as far and long as any of us will see. So stoked to have a couple of the Beautiful Gypsies, Kendel and Kris, helping the Gents out in the final few shows.

Serious congrats to John, Geoffrey, Hugh, Vince, and Tobin and all the other past and present members of the band.

Whoever said ‘Don’t meet your heroes’, never met Spirit of the West.

Also, big shout out to Beautiful Gypsy Cory Tetford out with the most awesome Matt Andersen this week.

As for me and all Beautiful Gypsies, we hit the road starting Thursday in Buffalo. Some of the shows are Sold Out and more are very, very close so grab a tic quick if you can make it. All the details on the tour page here.

I’m back to the palm trees and that for a few more hours. (have I mentioned here that I might be the luckiest fella on earth?)

These so called vacations will soon be my death.

See you back out on the road soon.



I have been home for over a month. For someone who flies about 100 times a year, a near five-week stint sleeping in your own bed is a rare occurrence. I’ve heard it said that the longer you are home, the harder it is to leave, and I can feel it this morning. Creatures of habit, we humans get used to things, don’t we? Used to the routine of getting up and ready for Grade Four, walking the dog that hill or around that lake. Used to the familiar smiles on Water Street and the wink from the old Skipper who’ s Irish Setter, I swear does the same. Used to a kiss on the face from the fairest one of all in the morning or evening, or better yet, for no reason at all.

There’s a sting that comes with leaving home after you have been there long enough to get used to it, and long enough for home to get used to you. A sting that does not come when you are at the airport six or eight times a month. The early rises don’t help either. Can’t risk waking up the Prince for a final peek before tiptoeing into the cold morning air to an airport cab. Can’t drop into Mom’s and stand in her kitchen ripping handfuls of warm bread off a fresh loaf and refusing sit and eat a proper slice because you ‘don’t really want any.’

But sting or no, early or no, off we go. And I suspect the sting will fade with coffee and the site of the top of the clouds as we roll off again for another tour. A smile will come with the undeniable realization that I’m still in the game. Excitement will come when I see the Beautiful Gypsies at YYZ. And maybe even a fist pump will come when our tour bus rolls across Texas and the South US for the first time in WAY too long.

Truth be told, I cannot wait to bring this whole new thing to Texas, Nashville, Atlanta and beyond. Even typing those words eases the sting a little and I suspect chord number one will be just what the doctor ordered.

This trip includes a couple of private functions this week in TO, as well as a big day to push towards the skeleton of Book 2 before flying South to start the Tour proper. It also includes a trip to the Bahamas and the Junos, where a nomination and a gig at the songwriter’s circle should kill any lingering sting, for sure.

All the dates are on the tour page. Got a few pals in the South US? I’d be grateful if you sent them our way.

Yeah, it stings a bit this morning, no doubt. But I am reassured by the same question as ever.

Is there anyone luckier than me?


Flying Home

Splitting the Holidays between sand and snow, this year. Or at least, I thought. Looks like very little, if any snow has fallen in my absence. Merry Christmas either way, I figure.

In these last few hours of 2015, perhaps its time for a year in review.

Early in January I gathered with the Beautiful Gypsies to learn some new tunes from the soon to be Released SO LET’S GO CD and prep for the upcoming tour. It would be a quick dance as the CD dropped on the 20th and off we went on tour starting in Kitchener the next day. The first leg of the tour plowed through the heaviest wintertime in Southern Ontario I’ve ever rolled in. Our tour bus was snowed in on a couple of occasions and actually frozen stiff outside one theatre. But the warm reception made up for it all, which was especially welcomed, as one is never sure how a new CD or band or both would be received. Highlights on that first leg included a triumphant gig at home at Holy Heart and a Sold Out show at the legendary Danforth Music Hall in Toronto.

I recall the following weekend having a most adventurous trip to Whitecourt, Alberta. What should have been an 8 hour travel day turned into a 24 hour travel day thanks to some inclement weather. But with an ambitious driver and a very patient and eager Whitecourt crowd, I went on a couple of hours late to a hero’s welcome. Turned out to be a wicked night, that led us to an amazing day in Prince George at the Winter Games.

The second leg of the tour started in snow as well. Night one in Denver was a stormy affair as we rolled West though Phoenix and into LA for an awesome mini Indoor Garden Party with Russell, Scott, Sam, Carl and a few more. What a laugh. A Sold Out gig in Vancouver really made us feel like the momentum of the CD and tour was picking up. Same reception in Saskatoon and Winnipeg and we were in full swing.

We played Chicago on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. That was interesting. Saw a lot of strange stuff down the back alleys of the club district as folks obviously started celebrating LONG before me and The BG’s hit the stage. In retrospect, we probably should have played at noon!

The third leg of the SO LET’S GO Tour was a series of absolute home runs with sell out shows in New York, New England, and all through Atlantic Canada. I have to note that it was really cool to get back to the Ram’s Head in Annapolis as it has always been one of my fav venues in the US. But the Home away from Home gig in Halifax was the highlight for a few reasons. The Sold Out show might be one of the best shows I’ve ever played in my life. I was just so grateful to be there and honestly felt like everyone in the room felt the same.

But more than just a good show, that evening announced a special arrival of Spring for me, as I felt that the rebirth of my life in a band was for real. If the whole tour hinted people might still want to hear me sing and play outside the GBS Mothership, this night in Halifax confirmed it. I never really confessed to anyone how terrified I was at the thought of GBS retiring after Sean’s departure. Touring in a band in a van or bus with a gang of fellow fools is not just a musical passion of mine. It has become my way of life. I still love the rolling cavalcade as much as I did when I dreamt of it as a 10 year old. And when GBS finally rolled with a crew and side players on a bus all over the place, I took a knee and thanked my lucky stars, and have thanked them every night from the bus bunk since. As it became more and more evident that the GBS Mothership would be tied up, I wondered if that treasured way of life for me was over.

On that night in Halifax, the very city that gave me and the boys our first Canadian applause, I sat in the dressing room after the show and let myself believe that I might actually get a second chance. Alan Doyle and The Beautiful Gypsies it is. I’m ever grateful to Kendel, Cory, Shehab, Kris, Todd and Paul for sharing their time and talents with me. Off we Go.

We bolted back to Toronto to record a cool TV show with CMT and shoot a wicked video for 1,2,3,4 ft. Ed Robertson. Check it out here.

Thanks to Ed and the CMT gang, especially Joel and Melissa for their constant support and amazing talents.

The early part of the Summer, saw another rebirth as I finally got to play in Germany again after more than a decade away. Me and the Beautiful Gypsies not only rocked The Black Sheep festival, I got to see one of my all time fav bands, The Hooters. Can’t tell you what it meant to me in the 80’s to see a band on MTV playing instruments I was familiar with like, mandolins, melodicas, accordions and the like. Following the German triumph with the Beautiful Gypsies, I jumped a train to France and joined Allan Hawco and Mark Critch to help them with a documentary about the Newfoundland Regiment in WW1. It was incredible to walk in the footsteps of history and getting to sing the Ode to Newfoundland at Beaumont Hamel will no doubt be one of the professional highlights of my life.

Finally got to play Stanfest, and Cavendish in early July. Both festivals have been on my wish list for a long time and they served as a great launch point into a great summer of festivals all around. The CNE in Toronto was one of the biggest crowds I’ve ever played for. Amazing to me that after two decades it still feels like momentum is building. Thanks so much.

To kick off the Fall, I loved hangin with the country crowd in Halifax at the CCMA’s, but of course any excuse to go to Halifax is grand with me. Especially loved the gig Kendel and I did with Cory at the Lower Deck. So cool to sing on that legendary stage. How many smiles and laughs and good times have been had in that room, I wonder?

Next up was the thrill of a lifetime, really, with a 5-week opening slot on the Barenaked Ladies Tour. I had not done an opening tour since GBS opened for Runrig in 2002, I think. I forgot how much fun it can be to try and win over some folks who weren’t quite sure what they were in for. These runs are especially awesome if the headliner treats you well. And that would not begin to describe the way we were hosted by Ed and the BNL guys. We were guest of the who camp. They asked us on stage to play with them every night. They invited us into their homes and made us all feel like partners in crime. Thanks to the whole cast and crew for showing us such a grand time.

I’ve been off the road a for a few weeks and just wrapped up a radio show for CBC and submitted an early chapter for Book 2 and heading home for the snowy part of Christmas vacation. The plan was to be off the stage for the better part of a month and hitting the road later in January, but the phone rang a week or so ago with a last minute request to come to Niagara Falls for New Year’s Eve.

A flurry of emails rounded up The Beautiful Gypsies and as quick as that, we’ve got one of the premiere NYE gigs in North America. I’ve played this gig before with GBS and loved it every time. There’s something about being so close to the iconic Falls that gives a sense of occasion that I imagine is similar to being in Times Square or historically on the St. John’s Waterfront. (sadly, in recent years, there has been no city sponsored waterfront party in St. John’s…don’t get me started…nice fence though) So, I’m grateful the Gypsies for dropping their plans at the last minute to come rock the Falls with Down with Webster, Dennis de Young, and Tom Cochrane.

As I type, I’m sitting on a plane flying north from Fort Lauderdale to Halifax on my way to Home after a fun beach week with mine and my sister’s families. I spent most of Christmas Day in the pool or in the ocean with The Prince, when we weren’t building Lego, chasing a BB8 robot, or riding bikes and scooters in sunny 25C weather. It was a super fun and active day without much down time. But there was one moment of perfect peace. I sat on the sand and watched my wife and son, along with my sister and brother in law, and my perfect 6 month-old niece wading in the warm water kissing the white beach. And it was then, as they were silhouetted by the sun setting on the evening ocean, that once again, a question came to me, as it has so wonderfully often.

Is there anyone, anywhere as Lucky as Me?

Thank You All.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.



There’s barely a leaf left on the trees on my street and the backyard is quickly going from flowery and green to branchy and brown.  There’s a snowstorm forecasted for tomorrow. My 9-year-old son is already planning our snow day activities. I’ve heard Christmas music playing in stores and restaurants for more than a week. Perhaps most telling, there is a wind shifting up form the harbor that announces, without question, Winter is Coming. Very soon we’ll have the dawning of a New Year and I’m hoping 2016 was every bit as adventurous and fun as 2015.

The SO LET’S GO tour has been the thrill of a lifetime, and the few weeks on the road with Barenaked Ladies was a dream come true. I got home in time to send off a hero of mine, and the Ron Hynes celebration at the Basilica was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever been a part of.  I’ll have more to say about that in the future, as I need more time to consider the whole deal.

I’ve just finished a few back and forth texts with my manager, Louis, talking about some exciting Summer 2016 gigs that are already on the books. Most notably, a main stage Saturday afternoon slot at the incredible Boots & Hearts Festival in August. So thrilled to be a part of this amazing lineup, which includes some of the biggest names in country and roots music. Many more in the works for the summer, so stay tuned.

Thankfully, I don’t have to wait till the snow melts to get back out there with the beloved Beautiful Gypsies. By afternoon on Friday, December 4th, a pile of new shows will be up for sale. They go from Ontario and Atlantic Canada all the way down to South Florida.  Me and the BGs will be playing tunes from my two albums, some Great Big Sea faves, traditional Newfoundland songs, and even a fun cover or two to make for the greatest kitchen party in history. Rolling into some really new places in the southern US, so please spread the word to some new faces who might come along for their first time. I’m totally happy to sign a CD or book, take a photo or just say Hi after any of these shows. Just hang around and we’ll get together.

All the dates and venues are noted here.

I’ve got to put away the leaf rake and get out the snow shovel.  Loves it.