Tonawanda News — When it came time to decide whether to be a professional musician, Hallet never looked back.
“When I was a kid I lived in a much more isolated place, and traveling was a huge goal. In Newfoundland, being a musician was considered an absurd ambition. We might as well have said we were going to become professional wrestlers. Professional musicianship was an adjunct to being a fireman or other job. The idea that we have been able to do it as a living, much less for 20 years, that’s the career highlight. It never ceases to amaze me.”
Great Big Sea’s success story is far from typical.
“If you want to rock star you don’t pick up an accordion. The fact we were able to establish ourselves in Canada, then Europe, America and Australia with our niche was quite a surprise to us. It wasn’t the old way where you had a radio hit and then developed a following, we established ourselves as a great live act. Built a following and the radio airplay and other stuff came afterward. We knew we could stand in front of an audience and make them love us.”
Hallett notes that other bands have followed the same model.
“The music business is always on a corporate trajectory, but there are artists that push back. We make very personal music, it’s not auto tuned or pre-programmed. A band like Mumford and Sons does the same thing, they are genuine and play their own instruments and know how to perform in front of an audience.”
Great Bug Sea’s genuineness doesn’t always require them to play any instrument at all.
“We sing a cappella quite a bit, and America associates that with barbershop and glee club stuff. What we do is the stuff we heard on the wharfs and the pubs when we were kids. It’s powerful and very masculine. The audience is always taken aback when they hear the five of us even if it is on the album. It’s genuine and that is part of our motto, being genuine and that has kept us around for 20 years.”
And it looks like they will be around for at least 20 more.
Thom Jennings writes a weekly column on the music scene for Sunday Lifestyle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.