Great Big Sea star talks solo disc

JANE STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:49 PM ET

It was three decades ago that Alan Doyle was actually Boy On Bridge, also the name of the Great Big Sea frontman's just released first solo effort.

Doyle only recently found it was a credit he got on his Internet Movie Date Base (IMDB) page listing him as an extra on 1981's A Whale For The Killing starring Peter Strauss, filmed in his hometown of Petty Harbour, N.L.

"Myself and my cousin Denny were about nine or ten or something at the time, and they grabbed us and said, 'Hey you want to stand on the bridge there and throw rocks out?'" remembered Doyle, 43, seated in an adinrondack chair under a pink umbrella on Toronto's Sugar Beach.

"And I kind of forgot about until I looked at this page."

The bridge itself, however, has more significance to Petty Harbour, as it used to divide the Protestant and Catholic neighbourhoods.

"My generation, most of that was all gone," said Doyle. "I can't tell you how many hours I spent standing on that bridge in my little fishing town of 500 people wondering what's next? ... And to learn, twentysomething years later, I've been titled 'Boy On Bridge,' without me even knowing it was a little bit of a shock. If I had to draw a picture of myself as a young boy, that's exactly what I would do."

Doyle, who begins a west to east Canadian solo tour on Wednesday (May 23), says the timing was right to go out on his own this year since 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of St. John's Celtic-rock band Great Big Sea. The band will be celebrating with a box set and tour.

"The Boy on Bridge project was part record, part travelogue of what I do if I have a few weeks here and there to go work with friends who live in different parts of the world," said Doyle.

His far flung collaborators included Canadians Colin James, Hawksley Workman, and Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy, Nashville-based East Coaster Gordie Sampson, L.A.-based TV composer Mike Post and his longtime Australian movie star pal Russell Crowe.

Doyle and Crowe co-wrote Testify and recorded it in Vancouver with James on guitar, while the actor was shooting the new Superman movie in which he plays The Man of Steel's father, Jor-El.

The musician and the actor's relationship goes back almost a decade when the two met at the NHL Awards in Toronto and Doyle went on to to co-write and produce some of Crowe's album, My Hand, My Heart.

Eventually, the friendship led to Doyle being cast in Ridley Scott's 2010 version of Robin Hood in which Crowe played the titular character -- "They needed an Irishy sounding fella who knows how to play the lute," Doyle explained.

"It was terrifying," he admitted. "I was anxious about it. 'Hello, Cate Blanchett (who played Marian), nice to meet you. Let's go over our lines.' ... Being in that movie was like learning to drive on a Cadillac."

And just last year Crowe, Doyle and Robin Hood actors Kevin Durand and Scott Grimes appeared together on the first show of the third season of CBC-TV's Republic of Doyle, which is shot in St. John's.

"I called Russell, and he said, 'Yeah, send me the script. Can we do it in a week?'" said Doyle. "It's like, I'm sure they would film you in an hour if you'd do it!'' And literally weeks later, the boys in Republic of Doyle are like, 'Wow, it's Russell Crowe on our film set.'"

ST. JOHN'S PAP DOESN'T BOTHER CROWE

St. John's, Newfoundland's so-called paparazzi pounces whenever Aussie actor Russell Crowe comes to town to visit his pal Alan Doyle of Celtic-rock band Great Big Sea.

NOT.

Doyle remembers the first time when he and Crowe were walking down the main drag of Water street and a local CBC crew wanted to take pictures to post on their website.

"I said, 'I think he's just laying low,'" Doyle told QMI Agency. "They said, 'Okay cool.' And they get back in the van and drive off. And Russell says to me, 'That's your paparrazzi? When we say, 'No,' they leave? What nirvana have I found myself in? That's it?'"

Crowe appears on Doyle's just released first-ever solo effort, Boy On Bridge.


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