They say the first band you’re in should be a cover band, and while in a lot of ways my musical history is the opposite of typical, in that way, it wasn’t. The first band I was in was Three Good Measures, and it was a mostly-Great-Big-Sea cover band. We did some other music as well – Billy Bragg, non-GBS Newfoundland trad, a couple of Popular Monsters tracks, Ivar Haglund (no, really, “Acres of Clams”), things like that.
But the majority of material? Great Big Sea. When we came back as Twelve Good Measures for a one-shot video contest? Great Big Sea.
Most people, I think, if they were honest with themselves, knew that the last GBS tour was a farewell tour. They’d just released a box set that had very little new new material – plenty of unreleased old stuff, but very little new. We saw them at the tour’s start, Tor Bay, Newfoundland, and it was like going back in time to 1998. (Which was awesome.) Darrell Power, the original bassist, even came back for “Excursion Around the Bay,” his old signature song with the band:
Later, on the other side of the tour, we saw them on the other side of the continent, in Vancouver, at the Expo. That was a lot less like 1998, but it was still a great show.
But they never called it a farewell tour. And even after they lost Séan McCann, they didn’t make it official. With only half the original band left – and with Séan being so critical to everything they were – I didn’t see any way they could honestly continue.
Finally, almost two years after their last show, Alan Doyle has said it – Great Big Sea is retired. I’m fine with that; they had a hell of a run (20 years is a lot) and the last couple of real albums, honestly, sounded to me like they were finished. They sounded like they wanted to do other things.
While it’s sad – they meant a bunch to me as a band, and as a musical force – it’s good to have official word, and it’s good – as Alan said – not to see anyone “fighting over the spoils.” Anna has her own thoughts on the statement over at her blog, including video of the time she almost died from swoon.
I’ll miss them. With the possible exception of DEVO, I’ve never seen any band before or since do a live show with as much impact, and who knows when I’ll ever see it again. But hey, I got to see it, and more than once. So thanks for everything, guys – it’s been great.
Meanwhile, the other band I’m in now – Leannan Sidhe – has a show today with several other bands at Shoreline Community College. 4-6pm, I’m not sure when we’re on. C’mon by!
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