For longtime fans of Newfoundland combo Great Big Sea, frontman Alan Doyle has some good news and some bad news. On the upside, he has a rollicking new solo effort out, his third — the Bob Rock-produced “A Week at the Warehouse” — which captures Great Big Sea’s kinetic Celt-rocking spirit. On the downside, when the band’s original member Sean McCann left in 2013 after two decades, he and co-founder Bob Hallett discussed amicable ways to continue without him. “We couldn’t come to an agreement so there was nothing left to do but move on,” says Doyle. “So it’s all good, everybody seems to be quite happy doing what they’re doing, and the door is still wide open.”
Most folks enjoy spending their Christmases at home. But you took off on a Canadian Pacific Holiday Train tour across Canada?
Yeah. It’s a special train with a band that raises money around the holiday season, and it’s like a big rolling Christmas tree that chugs into town. One of the sides of the cars folds down, and bang, there’s a band up there, they play for an hour, then they fold it up and it rolls on down the track to the next town, where you do it again. So you live on the train for 10 days, from Calgary to Vancouver, right through the Rockies. It was amazing.
Did you also recently receive the national honor of being named a Member of the Order of Canada?
That’s true — for my commitment to regional culture and work on the national charity scene. And it was quite an honor. I got a call from my manager, and he said, “The Governor General wants to speak with you.” And I instantly thought that I was in trouble, like, “What have I said about the Queen?” But I called and discovered that I was getting a medal instead.
Plus, you just published your second book, “A Newfoundlander in Canada.”
Because it was Canada’s 159th birthday, I thought it would be a really cool thing for people to see Canada the way it looked to me when I saw it for the first time. Because my way of discovering Canada was pretty strange, through regions, looking out the window of a band van. And the geographical things shocked me the way they would anyone, like the prairies or the Rocky Mountains. No photograph or video can describe how that feels.
How did you keep the energy level so high on “Warehouse”?
It’s totally live off the floor. We did it with Bob Rock in this old-school studio in Vancouver, with hardly any computers. You just put the band on the floor and then go. It was really fun.
IF YOU GO
Alan Doyle & The Beautiful Gypsies
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Jan. 19
Tickets: $26 to $28
Contact: (415) 885-0750, www.eventbrite.com