Alan Doyle had long forgotten about “Bully Boys,” the traditional sea shanty song he wrote for a scene in the Robin Hood movie he acted in a few years ago.
But, while creating his upcoming album, that was the song that came to mind when producer Bob Rock asked whether Doyle had anything more traditional available to record.
“I went back to him and said, ‘I can’t remember. I can’t remember how the verses go, I’ll have to go have a look,’” Doyle explained, over the phone from Placentia Bay, in rural Newfoundland. “It had never been recorded other than my original demo that I submitted for the movie. I went to find it and couldn’t immediately, so I looked online to see the clip from the film to see what had made it — because I couldn’t remember either what had made the movie; it’s been so long since I’ve seen it — but when I looked on YouTube there were all these other versions of the song.”
Fans from Serbia, England, Japan and numerous other places across the globe had taken the short snippet that made it to the screen, wrote their own verses and filmed themselves performing it.
“It was really wild,” the Newfoundland native said. “For a fella who’s charmed by folk music and the way that folk songs made their way around the world throughout history, in sailor’s quarters or on the back of a boat… to learn that that journey is just as alive today as it was then, albeit in a digit and different form, that’s fascinating to me.”
“Bully Boys” will be one of many catchy folk tunes that Doyle will bring to the Whistler Olympic Plaza stage when he performs as part of the free Whistler Presents Outdoor Concert Series next week (Aug. 26).
Doyle’s Whistler performance will cap off a packed summer that brought him to stages across Canada and Europe, including the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg earlier this month. Fresh off his recent appointment to the Order of Canada; it’s been a busy few months for Doyle.
The former Great Big Sea frontman and his band, the Beautiful Gypsies, will no doubt have the crowd on their feet with a setlist ranging in influence from celtic and country to folk and rock during what Doyle’s describing as his “last party of the summer.”
Party guests can expect to hear material from Doyle’s solo career and hits from the Great Big Sea catalogue mixed in with a few “really traditional Newfoundland” tunes.
“It’s still my goal to give the greatest kitchen party in the history of the world every night,” he said with a laugh.
Not only will it be Doyle’s last show of the summer, but it’ll be among the last before his upcoming album’s Oct. 13 release date. Produced by Rock (the man behind Metallica’s The Black Album), A Week at the Warehouse was recorded over — you guessed it — a one-week period at the Warehouse Studio in Vancouver this past January.
“It was just an incredible experience for all of us to be in what’s one of the greatest studios in the world with one of the greatest record producers of the world, making a record,” Doyle explained. “I wanted this new record to sound like the way our band sounds in concert, so people have a really good idea of what they’re going to see when they come see me and my beautiful band… if we played every song perfect, this is what it would sound like.”
Catch Alan Doyle at Whistler Olympic Plaza on Saturday (Aug. 26) at 7:30 p.m.