Alan Doyle: Live at The Barns at Wolf Trap

Alan Doyle

For Team GDW, one of our primary music-related goals coming out of the pandemic era was to brush off the rust and get back into the saddle – the concert-going saddle, that is – and even more importantly, to catch up with as many of our favorite artists as possible. Having all that downtime during the dark days of the global reset (2020/2021), we drafted an informal (yet comprehensive) list of artists, with plans to scratch as many names as possible once we find ourselves at one of their shows.  

We’ve been fortunate to revisit that list on a regular basis and take the Sharpie to names as tickets were bought and shows were attended. Perusing the (diminishing) list of names that remain, one continued to stand out – the popular Newfoundland folk-rocker Alan Doyle – who, according to our Roll Call of Concerts here on the GDW site, we last caught in concert six years ago. Wow! Time really has flown by. Suddenly, a date with Alan Doyle was long overdue, and with a stop on his US spring “Welcome Home” album tour in Vienna, VA (on a Sunday night to boot), the name Doyle is now proudly covered by a fresh coat of black ink on that informal list. 

With the release of “Welcome Home” back in February – his fourth solo studio album, in addition to the huge twenty-year back catalogue of albums recorded and released with Great Big Sea (GBS), Alan (guitars/mandolin/bouzouki/vocals) was more than eager to bring a solid mix of new tunes, old tunes, and GBS tunes over the course of 95-minutes to a packed house at the historic Barns at Wolf Trap. Joined on stage by his longtime touring companions (unofficially ‘The Beautiful Band’) – Cory Tetford (electric guitars/vocals), Kendel Carson (violin/guitar/vocals), Todd Lumley (piano/accordion/vocals), Shehab Ilyas (bass) and GBS bandmate Kris MacFarlane (percussion) – the six musicians launched immediately into the new material with “Dancing Like We Did Last Night,” adding further cuts throughout the evening that included the title track “Welcome Home,” “Yours And Mine,” and “Long Night.”  

Alan Doyle and band

Midway through their second number, the popular fan favorite “Come Out With Me” from Alan’s 2017 “A Week at the Warehouse” album, the artist took a moment to address the room: “Here we are, in one of the most beautiful venues in America. My God, how lovely are you all? And she’s sold out to the doors, thank you very much, let’s get it on…” Having toured these parts relentlessly prior to the pandemic, Doyle was eager to reconnect with his audience, conversing frequently between songs and sharing that jovial, authentic Newfoundland sense of humor we’ve come to expect.  

“Hello, my name’s Alan Doyle from Petty Harbour, Newfoundland, and it’s a privilege to be here tonight,” he declared. “Well, I’ve got a hell of a lot of things to talk about here this evening. First of all, Jesus, it’s the summer here!” Chuckles circulated through the historic barn in no time – and yes, we had pleasant weather in Vienna. “It’s minus 600 in St. Johns, Newfoundland. We’ve been on the road a lot this winter, and when you’re gone as much as we’ve been, morale can be a bit low at home, you know? And spring…in St. Johns is not the best. I swear to God, I took the train from New York and when I walked out of the train station in Washington, and the heat smacks me in the face like those doors, not five seconds later before I got in the car, my wife Joanne phoned me. I said, ‘what’s up,’ she’s like, ‘ugh, oh my God, it’s sideways, it’s snowing’.” Another pause as the laughter intensified. “She said, ‘what’s it like there,’ and I looked at the cab driver and I said, ‘the shits girl, sideways rain here, terrible altogether.’ I said no sense looking it up on the internet either.” 

Alan Doyle

Prior to the performance of “How Did We Get From Saying I Love You,” another new album tune (complete with some gorgeous vocal accompaniment from Kendel), Alan took time to explain how the new album came to life. “We got together, for real, in a studio, not during the pandemic where we emailed tracks back and forth for two years. We swore that when we got a chance to get together and make a record, we would do it.” he shared, before turning the focus to this specific song. “It seemed like only days ago we had so much to say / Did we take it all for granted? / Did it all get thrown away? / “It calls for rain this afternoon,” you finally replied / And there was such a stuttering silence that I felt my mouth go dry.” “I started writing this song before Great Big Sea was started,” he added. “This one stayed with me, and I was grateful that the beautiful band up here agreed to put a new spin on this old tale.” “We’ll just talk about the weather, ‘cause there’s not much more to say / How did we get from saying ‘I love you’ to ‘I’ll see you ‘round someday?’.” 

It was not only the new tunes that Alan chose to discuss in detail, sharing (in comedic fashion) that he felt that “My Kingdom” should have been a lock for the ending of the ‘Game of Thrones’ television series. As the performance of this song ended, Alan gestured with his hands, before adding: “See what I mean, the credits are just going up there right now. Well, it’s their loss, anyway. I’m sure that all the people on Game of Thrones were at home when that came on Spotify or wherever they happened to hear it and went ‘Shit.’ In my mind, that’s how it went.”  

Fun and frolics aside, Alan took a heartfelt moment to thank the crowd for coming out on this warm Sunday evening. “Welcome Home is the name of the record. Welcome Home is the name of the tour. And Welcome Home is the song [that are] the words we love to say the most, because we’re gone all the time and it’s nice to be welcomed home,” he shared. “And it’s nice to be welcomed to this magnificent home tonight. Thank you so much for making us feel so welcome.” 

Alan Doyle

You cannot deny the additional burst of energy that circulates through the room whenever Doyle breaks into a popular GBS tune, as the fans reveled in cuts such as “Lukey,” “Captain Kidd,” and “The Old Black Rum.” “And now, if you don’t mind me being so bold, I’d like to say that I think things are going well so far,” Alan would jest at one point. “So, it would be a shame if it all went off the rails right now, and I assure you it’s a distinct possibility. We’re about to go down the dusty halls of…my memory, which is a dangerous place for anyone to go. We’re gonna do some songs that myself, and Sean (McCann), and Bob (Hallett), and Darrell (Power), and the GBS lads played when we first came to the Washington DC area.” Dialing the intensity to the maximum, Doyle and his bandmates offered up an uninterrupted medley of GBS favorites to raise the roof. Oh, and talking of raising the roof, don’t think we didn’t notice the nice segue into “1, 2, 3, 4” to blow that dial up completely, the band going all out before taking their bows and exiting the stage. 

A standing ovation naturally lured Doyle back to the stage, initially sans the band to deliver a solo-acoustic performance of “Boston and St. Johns,” before encouraging his friends to join him once more for “a pair of dance tunes.” The invitation was extended to Adam Baldwin, the popular Nova Scotia folk-rock artist currently touring with the band as the opening act, and together the seven musicians on stage sent everybody home with “I’ve Seen A Little” from Doyle’s 2012 “Boy On Bridge” album, and one final GBS number, the crowd fave “Ordinary Day.” Known for his selfless nature and willingness to let each of his bandmates have considerable time in the spotlight, Alan yielded a verse from these two final songs to his guest companion (great job Adam), demonstrating once again his passion for the music, and the sharing of these good times and memories with those on stage around him. Thanks for visiting Alan, and for making this evening in Vienna much more than just any old Ordinary Day.  

Set List: 

  1. Dancing Like We Did Last Night 
  2. Come Out With Me 
  3. Captain Kidd 
  4. When I’m Up – I Can’t Get Down
  5. How Did We Get From Saying I Love You?
  6. My Kingdom 
  7. Yours And Mine
  8. Lukey 
  9. Somewhere In A Song
  10. Shine On 
  11. The Old Black Rum 
  12. Long Night 
  13. Welcome Home 
  14. Consequence Free 
  15. It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (R.E.M. cover)
  16. The Night Pat Murphy Died  
  17. 1, 2, 3, 4 


  1. Boston And St. Johns (solo) 
  2. I’ve Seen A Little (ft. Adam Baldwin)
  3. Ordinary Day (ft. Adam Baldwin) 

Photo Credit: Artist Website (Tour Poster) 

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

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