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Alan Doyle brings new tunes and old faves

Newfoundland folk-rock veteran performs free concert at Whistler Olympic Plaza

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A great big sea doesn't separate singer-songwriter Alan Doyle from Whistler — more like a great big continent.

He's at home in St. John's, N.L., prepping for a show in Toronto before flying on to the West Coast at the end of the week.

Asked if he ever gets used to travelling, first as lead singer with Great Big Sea and now in a successful solo career, he calls it a thrill.

"It's No. 2 after getting to play music for a living," he says.

"It's not only visiting places, but it's also revisiting places. I find it thrilling to go to a city that is far away from home and have familiar things to do. It's so satisfying, getting off a plane in Vancouver and going to Sophie's Cosmic Café, because I always do. Or knowing a bartender in New York City. It's more genial.

"And when you're travelling with a band, you're there for a reason and it's a good reason: to give people a good time. If it goes well there will be people wanting to show you their back yard. It's a fortunate blessing."

Doyle and his band perform a free concert at Whistler Olympic Plaza on Saturday, Aug. 26, at 7:30 p.m.

Both his latest music and popular songs from Great Big Sea will be part of the set, he says.

Earlier this summer, Doyle was given the Order of Canada for both his musical career and for charity work, a big part of his life.

When his manager rang to tell him the Governor General's office wanted to talk to him, he thought he was in trouble.

"It was a surprise. I didn't know I was up for it. I was delighted," he laughs.

"I thought I might have said something stupid about the Governor General or the Queen."

He is most thrilled to be recognized for charity work, having supported a wide number of projects in Newfoundland and beyond, including a new mental health initiative that is soon to be announced in his home province.

Asked where the desire to help came from, Doyle says he recently thought about the moral compass his parents instilled in him while growing up in the small community of Petty Harbour.

"Whenever there was something wrong, whenever disaster struck or a house burned down, they were the first to open their doors or cook a lot of soup and go to the place," he says.

"It's not just my little town. Newfoundlanders in general. We're unfazed by hard times and we're kind of good at them. How we can turn the darkest night into a bit of bright light is legend now."

Doyle is about to release his latest solo album in October, A Week at the Warehouse, so named after the Vancouver recording studio where he put together the album. The first single from it, "Summer Summer Night," a story from his youth about memories of beach fires and friends, has already been released.

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