Great Big Sea bandleader Alan Doyle thought it would be simple to write his 2014 memoir “Where I Belong,” about growing up in Petty Harbour, Newfoundland, where he worked dockside by day and played folk music by night. But the deeper he dug into it, the more significant his upbringing became. That carried over into his second solo album, “So Let’s Go,” in which he pays tribute to his young life. He says, “Like, let’s treat some guy from a small town in Newfoundland like it’s really important, and have these huge, pop-sounding productions surrounding just some guy whistling and playing his mandolin.”
From the stomping “1,2, 3, 4” to a coliseum-monstrous “My Kingdom” and even the sea chantey “Laying Down to Perish,” this record feels really special, right?
It does. It really does. I’ve never worked so hard on a record in my life, never tried to constantly up the bar as much as I did on this one. I suppose I felt like it was a little bit of a statement. I felt like I needed to say, “Guys, I’m serious about this!” And secondly, I felt like, within the scope of my career, if not now, then when would I make a great record? This is the time, isn’t it? But it just turned out to be harder than I thought.
What was so difficult?
Excluding songs that you thought were really good. I walked away from 41 songs after recording 53 demos. There’s a beautiful song I still sing in concert, called “I Am a Sailor” that became a bonus track for the record. But I said, “Let’s make up our minds. We’re going to have the 10 best songs on the album, period.” But that process of elimination was hard, even for an old dog like me. So I talked to my manager, a producer friend, and the A&R guy at the record label and said, “I need you to be brutal with me.” And they were.
Your acting career is buzzing. You still play Wolf Redmond on the ironically-titled Canadian TV show “Republic of Doyle,” right?
That’s right. They just filmed their last season and the series finale last summer, and it aired right before Christmas. But the franchise goes on. They’re developing a series of movies now. And I play a little cameo as a bartender in my friend Murray Foster’s new film “The Cocksure Lads Movie.” But I don’t actually look for that kind of work. It just finds me now and again. I still believe that music is my job. And my only job.
IF YOU GO
Where: Yoshi’s, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland
When: 7 p.m. March 1
Tickets: $24 to $54
Contact: (510) 238-9200, www.ticketfly.com