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December 31st, 2017

Hey All.

A quick Year in Review.

January found me and The Beautiful, Beautiful Band in Vancouver for the recording experience of a lifetime with Bob Rock. The grin on Cory Tetford’s face as he shreds on one of the same guitars that fueled Mötley Crüe, The Cult, and Metallica solos is a picture I have carried with me all year. We all had a ball and it shows in the tunes I’d say.

In February, Cory, Kendel Carson and I, along with the most awesome Dustin Bentall, went South. Like, WAY South to Buenos Aires and Montevideo playing some concerts and raising money for Olympic Athletes with the Gold Medal Plates organization. I think it is fair to say we all felt pretty lucky to be there.

We hit the road in March for a few dates in Ontario, but mostly south of the border in the US. One of the highlights was the stop in NYC at BB Kings, where guests like Bob Hallett, Murray Foster, and some of the cast of Come from Away joined us on stage. After an Easter break in April, we got to open for Barenaked Ladies for a few US concerts in Ithaca and Burlington. Always fun to jam with the BNL Gents.

The highlight of May was a wonderful opportunity to speak at a Governor General’s Leadership Conference in Whistler, BC. What a thrill to be amongst so many motivated people. June found us overseas with stops in the UK and Germany while July kicked off with a great Canada Day gig in Moncton and a glorious week at Jackson-Triggs Winery and wound up with a super fun and sudsy afternoon at the Toronto Beer Festival.

My fav show in August was definitely in Winnipeg. As ever, the Winnipeg gang came out in droves for the Canada Games gig in the Forks. I can’t help but think how many of my Year in Review blogs have had a Winnipeg gig as a summer if not year highlight. What a town. Loves it.

Saskatoon is always a blast and we had a time at the CCMAs in September which led right into recording a new album for the Ennis Sisters. I can’t wait for you all to hear the new tunes and sounds that Maureen and the Ladies have come up with. Just a few days after that, a joyous reuniting of the Indoor Garden party gang took place overseas. I met up with Russell Crowe, Scott Grimes, Carl Falk and the usual gang with a special guest, the most awesome Lorraine O’Reilly subbing in for Pretty Woman Sam Barks. What a time we had in London, Leeds and Dublin.

After a brief break at home, it was album and book launch time in October. What a thrill to have both of them debut so strongly and especially to have the book still in the Top 5 on the bestsellers list. Somewhat of a marathon press tour took me through most of October and included many morning shows and nighttime literary events. They were long days, but it was so satisfying to have such interest in the sophomore effort as an author. Grateful, for sure.

One special day in the midst of it all was a stop in Vancouver to raise some funds for ongoing care for John Mann, Spirit of the West singer, who’s been dealing with early onset Alzheimer’s. What can only be called a dream cast assembled at the legendary Commodore Ball Room in Vancouver for a show of love and support like I’ve never seen. We recorded a special song and the mighty Shehab Illyas put together an incredible video that we’ll be releasing early in the new year. There should be a link of sorts to a donation page and we hope you enjoy the song and give a little or a lot to continue the cause.

And finally, December was all about the CP Holiday Train. For a fella who grew up in an all but train-less environment, it was amazing to ride the rails though the hills and plains and by the long and winding lakes and rivers of the West Coast of the Canada. Thanks to the kind folks at Canadian Pacific for having us aboard. Hope they have us back soon.

And that brings us here, to the last day of 2017. With snow covering the backyard rink that my neighbours unbelievably let me tinker with on their property, I am about to get dressed to head to Mallard Cottage to sing a few tunes with pals for a National CBC Special. Tune in tonight. You never know who you’ll see.

I looked at my flight segments on my Air Canada app shows that I took 106 Air Canada flights this year. By memory, I took one on West Jest, two on United, one on a South American Airline I don’t recall and one on Harbour Air. I have never done over 100 flights in one year and this year I did 111. Jaysus that’s a lot of flyin’. But a lot of fun too.

Much to come in 2018. The Come Out With Me Tour starts in Seattle in just a couple of weeks and should run for the better part of this year and maybe into 2019. All the Winter and Spring dates are on the site and we’ll be announcing Summer stuff real soon.

I’ll have exciting news about a Mental Health and Addictions fundraising project that myself and two friends have been working on behind the scenes for almost two years. I really hope you’ll jump aboard with us. So, stay tuned, I suppose for more news to come.

For now, I’d just like to thank you all as ever for the life I get to live. You are the only reason I get to do it. I am more grateful to you all than I can say, sing, or write. But, still, I’ll be out there real soon to show you as best I can.

Much Love to you all from Newfoundland.

Happy New Year.

Cheers,
Alan

Toronto Hotel

October 17th, 2017

Friday was the day for the release of the new album A Week at The Warehouse I couldn’t be more happy with response to all the new tunes. Today is the day for the release day of the new book, A Newfoundlander in Canada. Advance readers have been giving glowing reviews and I am excited to finally get the stories out there. As ever, there’s a nervous energy and an anxious hope that people enjoy what they read. I think that is inevitable for anybody like me who loves to make people smile. So, suffice it to say, with sincerity, I hope you like the book.

A Newfoundlander in Canada is really a journal-like account of my earliest trips across Canada. It tells the story of what the vast and varied country of Canada looked like to me, a fella from the far, far east of the country who’d never really been anywhere but Home. Combine with that, the fact that this fella was seeing the country, the one his family had only recently joined, out the window of a band van as a folk-based quartet tried to bring the music of an Island in the middle of the sea to the mainland of Canada, from Nova Scotia to British Columbia.

I am grateful to Martha, and Scott and Kelly and all at Random House Canada for all the help getting this done. Likewise, I am as grateful as ever to Bob Hallett who sat in front of me in the GBS van in more ways than one for so many years, as his memory is much better than mine.

A Newfoundlander in Canada available everywhere today.

Thanks All
Alan

Halifax, Nova Scotia | Fall

September 15th, 2017

Been listening to a lot of me lately, with a new album and a new Audio book in the works, so I’m excited to listen to someone else for a while this week. I’m in Halifax for a few days to record some new music for the Ennis Sisters. I feel so lucky to be a part of it all. I’ve been a fan of their singing and Maureen’s writing and guitar playing for over two decades. We’ve been writing and arranging new material over the summer and have descended on the Sonic Temple to lay it down with a killer band including Cory Tetford, Kris MacFarlane, Aaron Collis, and Ronald Hynes. Once again, I can’t believe my luck.

Back in my world, you can check out the newest track from the new album now—Fall. You can STREAM on my updated Spotify playlist, or PRE-ORDER the album on iTunes to download it for yourself now.

Fall is a song I wrote with two of my favourite writers in Newfoundland these days. Tim Baker has been the driving force and creative engine of Hey Rosetta! for many years. His versatility as a composer speaks for it self on every one of their beautiful and complex songs. Andrew James O’Brien could very well be the best lyricist in the province and you can hear his poetry on all the wonderful songs on the Fortunate Ones tunes.

I thought it would amazing to get them in one room to help me with a song. I had the idea for Fall for quite awhile. The central figure in the song is a person who has never really truly been in love, but desperately wants to be. The character in Tom Wait’s “I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You” has always fascinated me. Likewise, I studied The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in University and both characters struck me as people I’d want to write about myself. Not because they are like me, but because they are not.

Musically, I love slower songs in 6/8 time signature as they sound like powerful waltzes. It is quite common in Celtic music and when it occasionally crosses over into pop and rock, it can be brilliant. Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” might be the best example of this and has always been one of my fav songs.

When Tim and Andrew and I gathered, I sprung these two ideas and influences on them and we all ran with it. Trust me, they wrote all the good parts.

I hope you like Fall.

Cheers,
Alan

Bully Boys. A Modern Folk Song

August 18th, 2017

This morning, we released another of the tunes from the upcoming album A Week at The Warehouse. Just pre-order on iTunes and you’ll get Bully Boys along with the first single, Summer Summer Night. For those of you who have already pre-ordered, not to worry, you’ll get both songs as well.

I thought I should tell the story of the Bully Boys tune as it is a bit of an unusual one, especially for the folk minded among us.

Late in the Fall of last year, I met with Producer Bob Rock in Vancouver to review the stack of songs I had written for the project he’d agreed to produce for me and the band. He and I picked the ones we liked the most and considered if we had enough variety to make a well rounded album for a fella like me with influences and history from so many genres of music. A big fan of Folk and Celtic music, he asked if I had anything he’d not heard that came from that world.

I thought about it a minute and remembered the song Bully Boys. “Man, I have this song I wrote for a movie awhile back, but honestly can’t remember it all,” I said and sang him the chorus which he liked quite a lot, and continued, “I’ll go back to the hotel and see if I can dig up my verses and the tune and stuff. I’ll sing you the whole deal tomorrow.”

Back at the hotel I sat to remind myself what I had written seven or eight years ago in my trailer on the set of Robin Hood. There was a scene in the film where Robin, played by Russell Crowe, was joined in the hull of a ship by his Merry Men, played by Scott Grimes, Kevin Durand, and myself. The script called for the gents to be singing a song to celebrate, at long last, their leaving the wars in France and returning to their home in England. I wanted to be the one to write it, and successfully pestered the director and composer enough to give me a shot at it.

I figured it should have a sea shanty vibe as the boys were on a ship. I’d learned a bunch of Sea Shanties primarily from Sean, Bob, and Darrell in GBS and from masters like Fergus O’Byrne in St. John’s. I always loved the rhythm and call-and-answer of the song and especially the nautical terminology. One of my fav terms is “Bully Boys”, which in sailor terms means the group of loveable rogues one might share a ship with (perhaps I’ve always likened a tour bus to a ship, and touring musicians to roving sailors, but that’s for another chat). So I wrote:

Row Me Bully Boys
We’re in a Hurry Boys
We’ve got a long way to go
We’ll sing and we’ll dance
And bid Farewell to France
And it’s Row Me Bully Boys Row

I sat in the hotel and smiled recalling how much fun we had recording the demo on set in my trailer. I tried to recall the verses I had written, but honestly could not. I knew I had them on a drive back in St. John’s, but wanted to remember them quickly. I figured I could at least remind myself what parts of it made the film. I opened YouTube and typed in Row me Bu… By the time I got this far in the search bar, I was surprised to see several options pop up in the suggestions below. Some of them read, Robin Hood Bully Boys, others read Robin Hood Shanty, still more were Row me Bully Boys. I was intrigued.

I clicked on the first one and the scene from the film popped up. But I was somewhat shocked to see dozens of other videos of performances of the song. There were versions from English folk clubs, Scottish folk festivals, Croatian concerts, Serbian Shanty fests, American Medieval days, and on and on and on. I was honestly dumbfounded. How could there be so many versions of this song in the universe, when I, the fella who wrote it, could not even remember the words? Not to mention the fact that I suspected and confirmed after a quick look, that only the chorus and a couple of lines from two of the four verses made the cut of the movie.

I can only surmise that folks heard the song snippet in the film and liked it enough to add it to their repertoire. Since they did not know the full song, they adapted it and wrote extra verses and made it their own. For a fella like me, this is very exciting, because that is exactly how folk songs become folk songs. For hundreds, if not thousands of years, a person would hear and remember bits of a song and when get travelled or got back home, they might re-sing what they could recall and add a bunch of their own stuff to finish it up. Amazing that in this day and age of connectivity that this process is still alive and well.

I couldn’t have been more chuffed. I eventually found the four verses I wrote for the original submission to the film and recorded them and a bridge for the A Week at The Warehouse project, which comes out on October 13. As noted above though, you can hear this piece of modern folk music right now by preordering the album on iTunes, or streaming it here.

As ever, I’m grateful for you checking it all out.

Cheers,
Alan