Recently on a Ship of Fools discussion about Celtic music, I was promoting Great Big Sea madly as I usually do, and another user confessed to having an “embarrassing schoolgirl crush” on GBS lead singer Alan Doyle. I posted, “Me too!” but I’m not sure the phrase is really accurate. When I was an embarrassing schoolgirl and had crushes, I would stare open-mouthed at the object of my affection as he passed in the halls, yet if given an opportunity to actually speak to him I would stutter meaningless syllables, unable to even string together a coherent phrase because I was so overwhelmed with the glory that was him. Now, as a poised and confident almost-41-year-old woman, I … well, actually, it’s pretty much the same story.
I have a long history of falling for local musicians and having heart-pounding brief encouters with them (for example, the never-to-be-forgotten Day Con O’Brien Winked At Me In the Royal Bank). Amazingly, for someone who’s lived in GBS headquarters since before they were famous, I’ve never actually met Alan Doyle face to face. (I have been in the soup aisle at Sobey’s with Bob Hallett, and while I don’t have an actual crush on him, I do have this whole tongue-tied thing going on will ALL celebrities I admire, so that was awkward).
ANYWAY. Last night Jason and I went to an event called “A Bulletin of Doyles,” featuring music and readings by a number of people, not all related but all with the last name Doyle. Almost all. There was some great harmonica music by Mike “Caribou” Stevens, who was onstage not because he’s a Doyle but because his organization, ArtsCan Circle, was one of the beneficiaries of the event. We also had readings from Marjorie Doyle and John Doyle of their latest books, three songs by the lovely and talented Dahmnait Doyle, and, at the end of the evening, my main reason for being there, a few songs by Alan Doyle and his dad, Tom Doyle.
We had bought tickets two weeks in advance, as soon as we heard about this, but we needn’t have bothered — they were still selling tickets at the door even though the Masonic Hall, where it was held, was incredibly overcrowded. Standing Room Only, I believe the expression is — and we stood. Actually I sat on the floor some of the time, and stood leaning against the back wall the rest of the time. Despite this inconvenience it was a great show and I definitely felt I got my money’s worth.
But the real news of the night was that, given the informal, down-home nature of the proceedings, the performers were all out hanging around with the rest of us when they weren’t onstage, so I had three perfectly good opportunities to speak to Alan Doyle. Three times he walked right past me, close enough to brush against my arm (he touched me! oh, he touched me!). Two of those times, he said something that might have been “Hey.” And I said … nothing, of course. This made me look like an idiot, but on the whole I think it was preferable to saying, “Ohmygosh you’re Alan Doyle, you’re so cool, I love your music, I gave birth while listening to Great Big Sea, I’m your biggest fan, I even read your tour blog, you’re so funny, you’re so cool….” Because, you know, celebrities love that kind of thing.
Still I was able to go away and brag that Alan Doyle touched me three times. Jason said, “Wow, he just can’t keep his hands off you, can he?” (Lest you worry about how my husband handles my schoolgirl crush on a handsome local musician several years younger than I am, you could ask him about Dahmnait Doyle. Ask him about what she was wearing last night. Apparently we’re each allowed our share of Doyles to fantasize about, as long as we both know with whom we’re going home at the end of the evening).
When Alan took the stage he and I reverted to our normal roles of performer and starry-eyed-fan and that was a much more satisfying interaction. He did two songs solo, then called up his dad, who claims to have taught him everything he knows. They did a couple of songs together (including “The Dutchman,” a lovely song that my dad also sings) and had the crowd laughing with their wit and their obvious affection for each other — lots of classic Newfoundland humour that probably went by too quickly for some of the mainlanders in the crowd to even grasp it. I wish I’d brought my camera so I could post a pic of Alan and Tom Doyle together, but a photo alone wouldn’t capture the fun of seeing them sing and carry on together.
I should add that the entire evening was made possible by the fact that my cousin Jennifer was at home babysitting for us, which gives me an opportunity (one day late) to say, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY JENNIFER!!”
Bottom line: Great evening, wonderful performances, well worth the $10 ticket — and Alan Doyle touched me three times!!!