Great Big Sea musician Bob Hallett finds touring in support of book a huge change from musical work
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The cover of Bob Hallett's book, Writing Out The Notes: Live in Great Big Sea ... and Other Musical Misadventures.
Touring in support of a book is far different from touring with a band in support of a new album, Bob Hallett is learning.
For one, you field questions, do readings and take responsibility for your success or failure all alone.
“It’s a massive change. In the band, I’m part of a gang and there’s always someone there to watch my back professionally and artistically,” Hallett said. “The success or failure of this is going to rise or fall on my own efforts. That doesn’t bother me, but it definitely makes me a little more thoughtful.”
Hallett has recently released his first book, “Writing Out the Notes: Life in Great Big Sea and Other Musical Misadventures,” featuring tales of the band’s 18 years together, on the road and in the recording studio. He’ll do a book signing in St. John’s Saturday.
Although known as Great Big Sea’s multi-instrument guy — he plays bouzouki, fiddle, tin whistle, accordion, flute and bagpipes — Hallett was actually Bob the Writer before he became Bob the Musician.
It was the musician role that got him the fame he now enjoys, and which became his main love.
“The thing (about writing) is it’s really a solitary activity, and while it’s satisfying, it can also be lonely and boring,” he explained.
Still, writing is something he likes doing and he’s already got another couple books he’s working on. He goes back and forth between them, falling in and out of love with the ideas for each, he said, but hopes to have one of them completed in the next six months or so.
They’re works of fiction this time, he explained, and he’s never shown them to anyone.
“I’m so nervous about it,” he said. “It’s an ambition that’s going to be fulfilled eventually — hopefully this (current book) will give me a kick in the backside to actually get it done.”
Book tours are also different from CD tours in the way the product is received by audiences, Hallett said he’s finding, since people choose what to read differently than they choose their music.
“You only buy books that sort of personally speak to you. Some of the conversations I’ve had have been really interesting. Sometimes what people got out of the book isn’t what I thought they would, or parts they liked the most weren’t the parts I thought they’d like the most. People certainly got the funny stuff, but what a lot of them said was, ‘I went digging out the records I had when I was a kid,’ or, ‘I went and listened to the first record my mom gave me.’ The book is essentially about music and memory and how the two, for me, are intertwined, and it created a completely different experience for them. That’s not what I was thinking about when I wrote it.”
Hallett will sell, sign and read from “Writing Out the Notes” — and maybe perform a few tunes — at Fred’s Records on Duckworth Street Saturday at 2 p.m. Published by Insomniac Press, the book sells for $19.95 and is available at bookstores.