At this time of Covid, singer, songwriter and bestselling author Alan Doyle is feeling everyone's pain. Off the road and spending more days at home than he has since he was a child hawking cod tongues on the wharfs of Petty Harbour, he misses the crowds and companionship of performing across the country and beyond. But most of all he misses the cheery clamour of pubs in his hometown, where one yarn follows another so quickly you have to be as ready as an Olympian at the start line to get your tale in before someone is well into theirs already. We're all experiencing our own version of that deprivation, and Alan, one of Newfoundland's finest storytellers, wants to offer a little balm.
"All Together Now" is a gathering in book form - a virtual Newfoundland pub. There are adventures in foreign lands, including an apparently filthy singalong in Polish (well, he would have sung along if he'd understood the language), a real-life ghost story involving an elderly neighbour, a red convertible and a clown horn, a potted history of his social drinking, and heartwarming reminiscences from another past world, childhood - all designed to put a smile on the faces of the isolated-addled.
Alan Doyle has never been in better form - nor more welcome. As he says about this troubling time: We get through it. We do what has to be done. Then, we celebrate. With the best of them.
I'm a fan of Great Big Sea and had seen them many times in concert over the years. I discovered them in the mid 1990s when they were just starting out. Alan Doyle was one of the members in Great Big Sea and this is his third book. I had tuned in to his online chat last week with the Toronto Public Library so was looking forward to reading his book.
Alan's not used to not touring and admits that he needs to keep busy. So he wrote this book telling stories as if he was sitting in a pub with his buddies. They include meeting Jeff Healey and escorting him to the washing (and not knowing whether to turn the light on for the blind man), touching the Grey Cup AND Anne Murray in Toronto, digging a basement when he and his brother were kids (his parents like to keep them busy), his first visit to London, England, (and his first time out of Newfoundland) and thinking he got ripped off his last 20 pounds from a French busker, acting with Russell Crowe and more.
I liked the writing style ... it was humorous ... and I enjoyed this book as it was light and lively. I bet Alan would be a fun guy to sit and have a beer with. As a head's up, there is swearing.