On Thursday, Alan Doyle, The Beautiful Band and their contingent of two tour buses, two transport trucks, and two trailers were supposed to be all parked at Centre in The Square in Kitchener Ont., getting ready for another date on the most extensive tour he’s ever launched. The venue is a beautiful 2,047-seat hall fit for a symphony, but on this night fit for a sold out kitchen party.
But instead, Centre in The Square will be empty, and the Newfoundland troubadour who ironically has a hit called “We Don’t Wanna Go Home” is home, in St. John’s after the coronavirus pandemic has shut down pretty much every type of show around the world.
Doyle almost winced in pain when told tonight was the date for that Kitchener show.
“Sold out too, ugh,” as he face-palms via Facetime. “It is terribly disappointing not to be in Kitchener tonight. As I’ve been telling people when Alan Doyle or Jann Arden or Bryan Adams moves or cancels or postpones a tour date, there’s more than Alan Doyle or Bryan Adams or Jann Arden affected.”
He’s talking about the dozens of musicians, crew, managers, agents, theatre workers, bartenders and ticket holders for every tour around the world that are all now being told to stay home in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
But if you’ve followed the career of the boy on the bridge, you know he doesn’t do well doing nothing. The musician, actor, bestselling author and member of The Order of Canada added a new title recently: Online Busker, given to him by longtime pal Mark Critch.
This week, Doyle has been joined by hundreds of thousands of viewers every day around supper time for his Facebook Live series of tunes. In just a few short days the event has managed to raise nearly $30,000 for Kids Help Phone through his charity platform known as A Dollar A Day.
“I just figured a few hundred people might watch or whatever, but we’ve been having close to 100,000 engagements everyday on Facebook,” Doyle chuckles in disbelief, “and we’ve raised over $30,000 already, which is so fantastic. So keep it coming.”
The demand for services like Kids Help Phone has been staggering since the COVID-19 outbreak. Since March 12, the online and counselling service has seen a 397 per cent increase in phone, chat, and texting conversations related to COVID-19 and it continues to grow daily. The good news is, reaching out to Kids Help Phone is helping. After speaking with KHP, 99 per cent reported they felt less stressed.
“It’s a very simple thing, we just collect money from people and we deliver it to things like Kids Help Phone that are already doing the hardest work there is, the least we can do is give them a dollar today.”
As for Doyle’s stress levels, he says the thing that scares him the most is looking at a blank calendar but the Facebook shows are getting him through until the real shows return.
“We’re showbiz people you know, that’s what we do. We live to put on these shows and when you don’t get to do them it stings. So that’s one of the reasons why I’m happy to be singing a few songs for a good cause to shine a bit of a bright light on a dark day, that’s what we do here in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Doyle also has a message for everyone out there as we all try to get used to being apart together.
“I think it’s just important to remind everyone that the best defense we have right now is to listen to the learned medical advice and stay in, stay home, wash your hands, and stay clear of people for a little while and we’ll come out the other side of It and we’ll be all right.”
It’s really not “The End Of The World As We Know It” after all.
The series culminates on Friday with a special concert in his studio. You can watch it live here and donate at adollaraday.ca/kidshelpphone