Highlights: Alan Doyle Brings His Band to White River Junction

  • Alan Doyle and his Beautiful Beautiful Band perform Friday night at the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction. (Courtesy photograph) Margaret Malandruccolo photograph

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/26/2018 12:04:58 AM
Modified: 4/26/2018 12:05:05 AM

By any other name, The Beautiful Beautiful Band would sound as sweet to its leader, Alan Doyle.

By its original name — The Beautiful Gypsies — it struck a sour note with at least one of the Newfoundland-born folk-rocker’s fans of Romani heritage in 2017.

“In my culture, that word is for the most respected people,” Doyle, whose parents came to North America from Ireland, said during a recent telephone interview in advance of the band’s visit to the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction on Friday night. “They’re the lucky ones: the music-makers, the wanderers who get to go from place to place.

“But as soon as she told me that her people consider it a slur and wished we would change it, I went, ‘Well, OK.’ ”

Such a gesture wouldn’t surprise fans of Celtic-grounded Canadian music who have been following Doyle since he co-founded the Newfoundland-based Celtic rock ensemble Great Big Sea in 1993, at age 24. He is no stranger to taking on social causes or standing up for people living on the margins.

In 2016, a video of his new band’s song Beautiful to Me went viral, after Doyle wrote it in response to the efforts of North Carolina’s governor and legislature to prevent cities and towns from letting transgender people choose which public bathrooms to use. It includes this refrain:

Come one, come all

Come big and small

Let all the colours of the rainbow fly

Bring the fellas and the girls

And the dreamers of the world

So far, such open advocacy of social justice doesn’t seem to be hurting turnout. A number of shows on the current tour have sold out, including tonight’s at the Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield, Maine, Saturday and Sunday in Boston, and four of the first five stops in Canada next week.

Doyle — who bears a facial resemblance to 1980s pop singer Huey Lewis while belting lyrics at a higher volume and with a little extra growl — attributes a lot of the demand to his years with Great Big Sea, which sold out Lebanon Opera House in November 2008 and quickly filled the parking lot at Suicide Six Ski Area in South Pomfret in September 2010.

A new generation of fans, meanwhile, seems to appreciate his work with younger bandmates Cory Tetford on guitar and mandolin, Shehab Illyas on bass, Great Big Sea alumnus Kris MacFarlane on drums and Kendel Carson on fiddle.

“Everybody in the band was my first call for each role,” Doyle said. “They were the dream team I wanted, and I couldn’t believe I got ’em.”

“I was so lucky to get to do this once. I’m glad people are still coming out.”

Alan Doyle leads his Beautiful Beautiful Band into the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction on Friday night at 8. For tickets ($37.50 plus service fee and sales tax), visit ticketfly.com. For more information, visit kconcerts.com and alandoyle.ca.

Best Bets

Wearing a wetsuit, Seth Parker Woods plays a cello made of dyed-black ice in a recital entitled “Iced Bodies” tonight at 7 in the atrium of Dartmouth College’s Black Family Visual Arts Center in Hanover. Dartmouth professor Spencer Topel adapted the music from a 1970s work of the Fluxus collaborative of artists, and attached transmitters to the cello, which will melt during the performance to represent the thawing of what Woods describes as the formerly “frozen” voices of the Black Lives Matter movement. Admission is free. The artists will answer questions about their project at 6, in the student gallery of the visual arts center.

Folk singer-songwriter John Gorka brings his velvety voice back to the Flying Goose Brewpub & Grille in New London tonight at 8. To reserve tickets ($25) and learn more, visit flyinggoose.com or call 603-526-6899.

Chelsea artist Tracy Penfield dances in the premiere of Passing, an exploration of end-of-life issues that she created with California dancer-choreographer Tamara Hurwitz Pullman, at Chandler Music Hall in Randolph on Saturday night at 7:30.

The Chandler commissioned the work, in which a troupe of six dancers will join Penfield onstage, with accompaniment from the quartet of cellist Liana Muse, multi-instrumentalists Carl Pepperman and Maesa Pullman and clarinetist Phil Thorne. Admission for adults is $30 in advance and $35 at the door, while all student tickets cost $10. To reserve seats and learn more, visit chandler-arts.org or call 802-728-6464.

The performers also will host a free workshop at 2 p.m., on storytelling and movement; to join it, email emily@chandler-arts.org or call 802-728-9878.

On the theme of “Take Me to the River,” the Bel Canto Chamber Singers perform at the First Congregational Church of Lebanon on Saturday night at 7:30 and on Sunday afternoon at 4. Admission is $10 to $15.

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer Pat Alger shares songs and stories with Grammy-winning producer and Sharon resident Jim Rooney and Vermont multi-instrumentalist Chris Brashear on Sunday night at 7 at Barrett Hall in South Strafford. To reserve tickets ($15), visit mtnfolk.org. Admission at the door is $20.

The Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph lowers the curtain on its annual Issues Play Series on Sunday night, with a staged reading of Bethel native Maura Campbell’s Cross Talk. The play, which starts at 7:30 in the Chandler’s Upper Gallery, follows a young man’s struggles to adjust to life after drug rehab. For tickets ($5 to $12) and more information, visit chandler-arts.org or call 802-728-6464.

Looking Ahead

Shaker Bridge Theatre will open its production of Quechee playwright Mike Backman’s Sunset at Whitney Hall in Enfield next Thursday night at 7:30. The drama, which follows two Mormon missionaries seeking converts in West Virginia, one of whom is simultaneously questioning his faith and his sexual identity, runs through May 20. To reserve tickets ($16 to $35, plus $2 for each online order), visit shakerbridgetheatre.org or call 603-448-3750.

The Randolph Singers will join the Vermont Philharmonic at the Chandler Music Hall in Randolph on May 5 at 7:30 p.m., to perform works by Johannes Brahms and Frank Foerster. To reserve tickets ($5 to $20) and learn more, visit chandler-arts.org or call 802-728-6464.

Bridgewater comedian Collen Doyle will host a night of stand-up at ArtisTree Community Arts Center’s Grange Theatre in South Pomfret on May 5. The laughs start at 8, following an hour of drinks and live music. Admission is $15. For more information, visit artistreevt.org or call 802-457-3500.

Theater/Performance Art

Pentangle Arts puts the exclamation point on its production of the musical Hair this weekend, with performances at the Woodstock Town Hall Theatre at 7:30 tonight, Friday night and Saturday night, and at 4 on Sunday afternoon. This stage celebration of the late 1960s counterculture includes nudity, violence and references to sex and drugs. For tickets ($25 to $40), visit pentanglearts.org or call 802-457-3981.

Northern Stage continues its interpretation of the Michael Frayn play-within-a-play farce Noises Off at the Barrette Center for the Arts over the coming week, including performances this afternoon at 2 and tonight at 7:30. The show runs through May 13. For tickets ($15 to $59 including sales tax), visit northernstage.org or call 802-296-7000.

A cast of 13 teen actors from around Sullivan County performs Moises Kaufman’s The Laramie Project on the Amplified Arts stage at 31 Pleasant St. in Claremont this weekend. The play, inspired by the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man in Wyoming, is a joint venture with the Claremont-based TLC Family Resource Center, which promotes tolerance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth. While Friday night’s show is sold out, tickets ($4 to $12) are available for the performances on Saturday afternoon at 1 and on Saturday night at 7:30. To learn more, visit amplifiedartsnh.com.

Valley Improv hosts its monthly open practice in the ArtisTree Community Arts Center’s Grange Theatre in South Pomfret on Tuesday night from 7 to 8:30. Admission is free.


Guitarist John Stowell joins pianist Sonny Saul for a session of jazz at Saul’s store, Pleasant Street Books, in Woodstock, tonight at 7. Admission is free.

Rockin’ Ron the Pirate, Barry Hayes and Michael Hahn perform on the gazebo in Bradford, Vt.’s Denny Park on Friday afternoon, during the Kite Day celebration benefiting the Summer Street Music Series. The party begins at 2:30, with rentals of kites and sales of ice cream going toward payment for the series’ visiting musicians.

Fiddler Siena Kaplan-Thompson leads the White Mountain Ceili Band, an Irish instrumental ensemble, into the Sunapee Community CoffeeHouse in Sunapee Harbor on Friday night at 7. While admission is free, donations are welcome.

The Americana duo of Danika Holmes and Jeb Hart performs at the ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret on Friday night at 7:30. For tickets ($20) and more information, visit artistreevt.org or call 802-457-3500.

The Che Apalache quartet plays its blend of bluegrass and Latin music on Friday night at 7:30, in the Upper Gallery of Randolph’s Chandler Center for the Arts. Tickets cost $17 in advance and $20 at the door. To reserve seats, visit chandler-arts.org or call 802-728-6464.

Singer-songwriter Alissa Coates performs two HopStop concerts for children on Saturday, the first at 11 in the morning at Dartmouth College’s Alumni Hall in Hanover, the second at 3 in the afternoon at the Claremont Savings Bank Community Center in Claremont. Admission is free.

Cellist Ronald Lowry and pianist Lois Shapiro play works of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms at the North Universalist Chapel in Woodstock on Sunday afternoon at 2. While admission is free, donations are welcome.

The Dartmouth College Gospel Choir celebrates the work of lesser-known composers, especially women of color, on Sunday afternoon at 2 at Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover. General admission costs $10 to $15.

Labor organizer-turned singer-songwriter John O’Connor celebrates May Day by performing music and telling stories of the labor movement at Woodstock’s Norman Williams Public Library on Tuesday night at 7. Admission is free.

Pianist Sonny Saul joins bassist Peter Concilio for a set of jazz at noon on Wednesday at the Dartmouth Outing Club house in Hanover.


Fiddler Audrey Buddington and pianist Clayton Clemetson set the rhythm and David Kaynor calls the steps for Muskeg Music’s next contradance at Norwich’s Tracy Hall, on Saturday night at 8. Admission is $6 to $12.

The Moving Spirit Dancers perform three works by choreographer Peggy Brightman at Woodstock’s North Universalist Chapel on Sunday morning at 10, during the church’s annual service in celebration of spring. Admission is free.

Bar and Club Circuit

Guitarist Ted Mortimer and his Repeat Offenders quartet pull into Windsor Station tonight at 7. Following them to the venue over the coming week will be Adwela and The Uprising with a set of roots, rock and reggae on Friday night at 9:30; Green Mountain Roots on Saturday night at 9:30; and folk singer Joice Marie on Tuesday night at 6.

Guitarist Ted Mortimer and accordionist Steve Pixley play the Salt hill Shanty in Newbury, N.H., on Friday night at 9.

Saxophonist Mike Parker and singer-pianist John Lovejoy perform at the Farmer’s Table in Grantham on Friday night at 7.

Better Days covers rock and pop classics at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners on Friday night starting at 9.

Pianist Sonny Saul performs jazz at On the River Inn in Woodstock on Saturday and Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 9.

Saxophonist Michael Parker, bassist Peter Concilio and guitarist Billy Rosen play jazz at Carpenter & Main restaurant in Norwich on Tuesday night at 7.

Open Mics

Woodstock’s Jim Yeager hosts open mics on the following nights over the coming week: tonight at 7 at the ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret; at Bentley’s Restaurant in Woodstock on Monday at 7:30; at the Public House in Quechee on Tuesday at 6; and on Wednesday from 8 to midnight at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners.

Joe Stallsmith leads his weekly hootenanny of Americana, folk and bluegrass on Monday night at 6 at Salt hill Pub in Hanover.

Fiddler Jakob Breitbach leads a weekly acoustic jam session of bluegrass, Americana and old-timey music on Tuesday nights at 7 at The Filling Station Bar and Grill in White River Junction.

Tom Masterson hosts the weekly open mic at Bradford, Vt.’s Colatina Exit, Tuesday nights at 8.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304. Entertainment-related news and announcements also can be submitted to highlights@vnews.com.

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