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Great Big Sea

Great Big Sea Biography

The sea chanty tradition of Newfoundland is fused with the spirit and energy of contemporary rock and popular music by Great Big Sea. Their hard-driving approach has not only made them popular in their homeland, where they've been nominated for four Juno awards, but, has brought them a growing recognition throughout North America and Europe. British music magazine, called them, "a high spirited and richly expressive acoustic quartet who reinvent traditional Newfoundland music, lending it a powerful and resonant contemporary charge." The inspiration for Great Big Sea was sparked during informal, kitchen party, jam sessions in the Newfoundland fishing village of Petty Harbor. In an interview with the Toronto Star, guitar, mandolin and bouzouki player Alan Doyle said, "We started out with a simple goal of playing the old songs but picking them up, where need be, with modern tempos". Doyle, whose mother is a piano teacher, learned piano and drums as a youngster. His most natural musical voice, however, was expressed on the guitar. Having joined his uncle's rockabilly-meets-traditional Newfoundland music band, the New Standells, at the age of fifteen, he formed a duo, Staggering Home, with John Benton, while attending St. John's University. The other members of Great Big Sea -- Sean McCann (tin whistle, bodhran), Bob Hallett (button accordion, fiddle and mandolin) and Darrell Power (bass) -- initially played together in Celtic rock band, Rankin Street. Hallett and McCann had previously played in a traditional, politically-slanted, group, The Newfoundland Republican Army. Soon after releasing a self-titled, self-produced, album in 1992, Great Big Sea signed with Warner Brothers Canada, who reissued their debut album. Enthusiasm for the band's hard-driving sound and close-knit harmonies continued to spread. While their second album, Up, released in September 1995, took nearly a year to sell 100,000 copies in Canada and be certified platinum, their third album, Play, released in June 1997, was certified platinum within three months. By February 1998, Play had sold more than 200,000 copies. Releasing their first United States-distributed album, Rant And Rave, a compilation of tunes from their previous album, in 1998, Great Big Sea spent many months touring the U.S..The following year, the band released their fifth album, Turn, produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos and Tragically Hip fame. The album included a traditional French tune, "Trois Navires De Ble," recorded with the Chieftains. The live effort Road Rage was issued a year later. Sea of No Cares, which appeared in 2002, marked their first with Zoe. Michael Phillip Wojewoda (Barenaked Ladies, Jane Siberry) produced the band's seventh album, 2004's Something Beautiful. ~ Craig Harris, All Music Guide

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