December 3, 1998

Live from The River Music Hall with Great Big Sea, by Bob Stuart on WXRV 92.5, Boston, MA

[Note: A Real Audio version is available on Mike's Great Big Download Site.]

BS: 92.5 The River, Bob Stuart live in the River Music Hall, my guests, Great Big Sea - they're here, their CD is "Rant & Roar". their fourth overall CD, their third major label release, and they have a show at The Paradise tonight.  Welcome, you guys...

GBS: Great to be here.

BS: It's good to have you.  Let's just start by introducing the members of the band - we'll start with you in the maroon shirt.

AD: I'm Alan Doyle from Petty Harbour, Newfoundland; to my immediate right is Mr. Darrell Power from Outer Cove, Newfoundland; Sean McCann to my immediate left from Gull Island, Newfoundland; and from St. John's, the capitol city, the multi-instrumentalist, Mr. Bob Hallett.

BH: Thank you Alan.

BS: OK, very good...

AD: It's worth noting, actually, that we have a significant studio audience - can we hear from the studio audience?  (Audience cheers and claps loudly)

BS: (laughs) Absolutely, they're very passionate, as well they should be.  You guys are from Newfoundland, as you just said.  There's a real vibrant music scene up there, and it's very unique, it's very different from, let's say, a music scene in a big city.  Can you describe the differences?  I was very charmed by reading about the scene up there.  What are the differences in the music up there and the way it's played?

AD: Well music, I think, in a lot of the urban centers comes from studios, and comes from radio halls, and comes from different concerts and stuff.  Whereas most of the music in small communities in Newfoundland is generated in kitchens, and in households, and we learned a lot of stuff from our folks, and our grandparents.  Music was always a way to entertain ourselves, kind of locally as opposed to a formal industry as it is in most of the urban places.  So it tended to be a little bit more informal, and probably a lot more fun.

BS: How much of your music has been influenced by that, would you say?

BH: Well certainly, I mean we came out of the whole Newfoundland tradition, so it's a big mix of it, you know, we try to make pop music but keep it fairly grounded in the traditional Newfoundland music we heard growing up.

BS: Interesting.  Interesting concept.  And there's some songs that you do on your CD, which is "Rant & Roar", which are old, traditional songs, right?  I mean, these aren't your songs, technically, so do you go to anybody for royalties or permission to do these songs?

DP: Well, you know, we're always... a lot of the songs that are in the Newfoundland tradition, they have not been recorded before, and they have not been published before.  The author is often very hard to track down, so to date, the tunes that we have found, we have not been able to find an author for.  So that's the way it is, the sad fact is that millions of tunes have been written in Newfoundland dealing with Newfoundland topics and are sung all over the place, but the authors have been sort of lopped off somewhere along the way.

BS: Well let's have you do a do a song right now from the CD, "Rant & Roar".  What are you gonna do for us?

AD: We're gonna play the first song from the record, called "Ordinary Day", and again it's sort of a pop song that we added all the Celtic and our own Newfoundland elements to.  It kind of reflects a blind optimism that is prevalent in Atlantic Canada.

BS: Great Big Sea here, on 92.5 The River, in The River Music Hall.

>>>Song played: "Ordinary Day"<<<

BS: (as audience cheers and claps) Yes indeed! 92.5 The River, live in The River Music Hall with Great Big Sea - you guys are amazing!

AD: Thank you very much!

BS: You're a lot of fun to listen to and watch, and your harmonies are just... wonderful.

AD: Like we say, we grew up in a tradition where singing was a big part of the music tradition.  So even when we write contemporary songs, we try to write 'em with really big choruses and we always invite people to sing along because we always treat music as an inclusive thing.  All of our concerts are more like, we find ourselves more like facilitators of celebration, rather than performers, and the biggest voice in the house is the crowd, no doubt about that!

BS: You have some very unusual instruments here, some of the more... of course you have guitars, but...  who wants to describe some of the instruments that you're playing here?

AD: Bob is the best one because he plays them.

BH: Well we have a lot of folk instruments, I mean, the button accordion which I just played, and...

BS: What was it called, again?

BH: A button accordion, it's kind of the opposite of a piano accordion, it's sort of like a big harmonica that you play with buttons.  The bouzouki is originally a Greek instrument, but it's kind of been celtified, I guess, over the last hundred years, into sort of a bass mandolin for lack of a better term.  The tin whistle I'm going to play now is a very simple, very old instrument, but very beautiful, very delicate...

BS: Let's hear a little bit of that now, if we can, the tin whistle - it looks like a flute... (Bob plays the tin whistle) Isn't that nice - let's hear it for the tin whistle, ladies and gentlemen...

BH: Sure you wouldn't like a bit more?

BS: Now, is that like a penny whistle?

BH: Yes, it comes under many names, this is a penny whistle - I'm afraid now this one cost me more than a penny - but a very beautiful instrument, albeit simple.

BS: OK. And a Celtic drum, is that what you were playing before?

SM: That's a hand drum that's composed of a wooden frame and a goat's skin.

BS: Really?

SM: Yeah. The goat has been relieved of its skin and it's now been put on the frame of the drum.  It's a very old instrument.  It's found in many countries, it's been around for thousands of years.

BS: Incredible.  Let's have you do another song, guys.  What are you gonna do now?

AD: We're gonna do "Fast As I Can", another song from the Rant & Roar record.  This one never worked out the way we kind of meant it, it was supposed to be a love song, and it kind of turned out being an anti-love song...

BS: (laughs) Sometimes those are the best kinds of love songs!

AD: Who knows? Who knows! I'll let the folks at home judge for themselves.  This is called "Fast As I Can".

BS: On 92.5 The River, Great Big Sea live.

>>>Song played: "Fast As I Can"<<<

BS: (as audience cheers and claps) 92.5 The River, live on The River Music Hall with Great Big Sea.  I'm gonna make a prediction, you guys.  I think you guys are gonna be big in the States. (AD laughs.) No, I really do, you're unique, you're fun to listen to, and I think, even though you're very unique musically... Who wouldn't like you?...  just so mass appeal.  You've already been nominated for four Junos in Canada, and you've got a few other awards up there...

AD: Yeah, there's a bunch of East Coast awards and stuff.  We've been lucky to get a few trophies here there and everywhere all over the world, as close to home as Newfoundland and as far away as Poland, so it's always fun to get a pat on the back no matter where it comes from, I suppose.

BS: Oh yeah.  Your music is traditional, it's very... Newfoundlandish if I can coin a term...

AD: Sure.

BS: but you also have some radio rock influences too.  What are some of your...

AD: Like most people, we grew up listening to the radio, as well as having the traditional influences from our folks and from our families and from Newfoundland.  We also grew up listening to the radio, and I guess...

BS: Who are some of the people that you...

AD: Well, we listened to a myriad of different stuff, between the four of us, and we disagree on who are the best bands and stuff like that.  There's a couple of bands we kind of do agree on, like we always like a lot of the Brit rock bands, like Queen, and The Police, and stuff...  bands that were very attentive to studio and making amazing layered music and varied music in the studio but when the curtain came up, showtime was a totally different thing and I always admired the showmanship of bands like that as well. We listened to so much different stuff, and I guess Great Big Sea ends up being a conglomeration of all of it.

BS: Yeah. Beautiful.  Great Big Sea, they've got a show tonight at the Paradise, go see 'em. The name of their CD is Rant & Roar", and we're gonna go out now, we're gonna play a single from the CD, "When I'm Up".  We'll play that right now.  Thanks, you guys, for coming, it was a pleasure having you.

GBS: Thanks for having us, thanks...
AD: It was a treat.

BS: And come back again when, well I was gonna say when you're big and famous, you can come back again any time.

DP: How about tomorrow?

BS: (laughs) I think we can fit you in!  Anytime.  Thanks again, you guys.

AD: Cheers.
DP: Thanks Bob.

BS: Great Big Sea at the Paradise tonight, 92.5 The River.

>>>Song played: "When I'm Up"<<<

Back to News and Reviews
Back to GBS Boston home