GREAT BIG SEA is on a great big road trip (from their native Newfoundland to tour dates stretching from San Diego to Santa Fe), and they've logged a last-minute gig at the International Arts Center this Friday.
The four-man band has never been seen in these dry oceans, but their high-spirited, Celtic influenced and pop-inflected sea shanties, ballads and originals have made them a big hit in Canada, on the East Coast and as worldwide touring partners with The Chieftains.
This youngish quartet of singer/multi-instrumentalists delivers fine playing and harmonizing on 1999's Turn, but their exuberant excursion of folk into rock sounds like the sonic equivalent of a rugby team forced into their Sunday best: underneath that commercial studio veneer, you get the sense these guys are itching for a rowdy, sweaty, romp on an open stage.
Fast strumming, lots of percussion and every Celtic string and whistle known to man augment electric bass, button accordion and guitars. Besides, this is probably your only chance this year to hear a "Newfoundland super-hero song" live.
Great Big Sea follows Scotland's Battlefield Band at 10:30 p.m. Friday, May 5, at the IAC Nations Hall, 516 N. Fifth Ave. Cover is only $5 at the door, and that's all the gas money they'll get to make it to Santa Fe. Music continues until midnight, with refreshments.