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Great Big Sea still inspired at 20

For Journal Register Newspapers

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Great Big Sea's Bob Hallett says it hasn't been hard for the Canadian folk-rock group to stay motivated during its 20 years together.

"I think for us there's just a real burning desire to be on that stage," says Hallett, 45, who's been with the group since its 1993 debut in its home town of St. John's Newfoundland. "We just have that ambition to be out there and leave 120 percent every night.

"We also like the fact that we're underdogs. We come from this strange and obscure place in the middle of nowhere. WE're playing this music that wasn't at any point in time like anything in the mainstream. We always felt -- and still feel -- like we have something to prove. So that helps keep us going."

Great Big Sea has released nine studio albums, four of which have been certified platinum or better in Canada. And it's last release, 2010's "Safe Upon the Shore," was its first to chart in the U.S. So while it's busy celebrating its anniversary -- including last year's "XX" compilation -- Great Big Sea is also ready to continue its forward momentum and has "tons" of new songs ready to roll out, according to Hallett.

"Editing is always a problem for us," he says with a laugh. "In the process of doing this ('XX') set, all sorts of material came forth -- ideas that hadn't been completed, songs that went astray in our career, a great chorus that needed more of a song around it...

"It's just been this vast tinkering exercise. So there's no lack of new material, and hopefully we'll get a chance to bring some of that out and have some new music to share with people before too long."

Great Big Sea performs at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $25-$50. Call 734-668-8463 or visit www.michtheater.org.

Web Site: www.michtheater.org

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