Alan Doyle has traveled all over the world, but he has only made two stops in Alabama in his 23 years as a musician: one at The Nick in 2003 and another opening for Hootie and the Blowfish in Tuscaloosa. The second trip, Doyle said, opened his eyes to the state’s passion for football.
“I’ve been to several of the biggest football towns in the U.S.,” Doyle said. “It’s an amazing thing, to think where I come from, that much infrastructure for a college university sport is unfathomable. In Canada, we don’t even have pro sports teams close to that.”
Doyle will return to Alabama this month along with his band, the Beautiful Gypsies. They are performing a two-night set at Hoover’s Library Theatre over St. Patrick’s Day.
Doyle began his career in 1993 as lead singer for the Canadian band Great Big Sea. Years later, he formed a friendship with one of their biggest fans, actor Russell Crowe. He has written and performed with Crowe over the years, and the two remain friends.
After more than two decades with Great Big Sea, and albums selling over 1.2 million copies worldwide, Doyle began his solo career in 2010. This January, he debuted his second solo album, “So Let’s Go.” It has already received a nomination for a Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy) for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year.
Doyle said after branching out on his own, he contacted some “hotshot friends” to form his band, Beautiful Gypsies. Comprised of former bandmates and people he had been wanting to tour with, their show features a mixture of Doyle’s songs along with Great Big Sea tunes. Doyle sings and plays guitar, bouzouki, mandolin and banjo.
In addition to his musical career, Doyle’s resume also includes actor and author. He has starred in stage, television and film productions, and wrote his first book in 2014. “Where I Belong” focuses mostly on his years growing up in Petty Harbour, Newfoundland.
“I’m from a little fishing town of 500 people,” he said. “Growing up there was really different than most people my age. My life was much more similar to my father’s friends than my own. The town was one of the last ones to modernize in any way.”
Doyle said all the music he learned as a kid was from his parents. His mother was a piano teacher and her favorite instrument was the piano accordion, which is still one of Doyle’s favorite instruments as well.
“It is quite Irish. I learned mandolins and accordions and sea shanties and Irish songs,” he said. “Folk music was a big part of my young life, and I have always played it in my adult life as well.”
He describes his music as “kind of a modern interpretation of what people would know as Atlantic seafaring music, and includes lots of chanting and influences of Irish culture.
“There are a lot of accordions and fiddles and even in the pop, country and rock and roll songs, there is always a tinge of Celtic and Irish sounds. It’s very vocal-based, and the audience is often encouraged to sing a lot. It’s a very including kind of music.”
Doyle said he loves traveling and is thrilled to get paid to go around the world and see things and meet people.
“I always say my biggest blessing is that I get to do this for a living and get to see the world. Not only do I get to see a town, but I have a reason to be in the town that day. I get to leave a little part of myself there, and in a strange way I feel like I’m a part of it for 24 hours. I love that feeling,” Doyle said.
- WHERE: Hoover Library Theatre
- WHEN: March 17-18 at 7:30 p.m.
- TICKETS: $25
- WEB: hooverlibrary.org/thelibrarytheatre/2015-2016/alan-doyle