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Vocal hero Sean MacGillivray returns

Great Plains’ Sean MacGillivray was losing his voice and his career, but thanks to self-diagnosis he’s back, and he’s Alright Already.


Tofu, watermelon, peaches, plums, strawberries and beans---just a few of the foods that nearly ended Sean MacGillivray's music career. Beginning in early 2008 and lasting six months, the top end of MacGillivray's vocal range started disappearing.

"Honestly, I was working on exit strategies," says MacGillivray, en route to Montreal with Jenn Grant. "I've been singing in front of people since I was six years old. I still sing in the shower. The thought that I couldn't do it anymore, yeah, it was kind of demoralizing."

Losing MacGillivray would devastate the local music scene. Not only is he the administrator of and involved in national-touring groups, MacGillivray is also a go-to soundperson.

Unsatisfied with his doctor's advice to take baths and drink more water, MacGillivray hit the internet and diagnosed himself with Laryngeal Reflux. An allergy specialist confirmed about 25 different foods were giving him voice box-burning indigestion. A longtime vegetarian, he swapped tofu and beans for fish, took antacids and immediately felt better.

Singing again, a rejuvenated MacGillivray returned to the project he started in 2004---Great Plains. Busy earning a nice living playing with Jenn Grant, Classified and Ruby Jean and the Thoughtful Bees, Great Plains had drifted apart. The original line-up moved on soon after the release of its acclaimed debut album.

Replacing his Plainsmen, MacGillivray enlisted Jason Vautour (Jon Epworth & the Improvements, Ruby Jean, Prospectors' Union, Ryan Cook and Sunny Acres and more), Andrew Wiseman and Arthur Doyle (In This Style, Tupperware Remix Party). He changed the band's name to Alright Already.

There are a couple layers behind the name change. The original Great Plains (from Ohio) re-released its back catalogue, and Alright Already's songs are more energetic and anthemic.

"It was also a kind of a personal note to myself to get on with it---put some goddamn effort into your own project," he says. "I was joking to our guitarist that I should be kicked out of my own band for lack of effort."

Vautour inspired MacGillivray to take the project more seriously. Dubbing him "the best guitarist in Halifax," MacGillivray doesn't want to waste Vautour's time. They have about a record's worth of material, some actually dating back to the Great Plains days. Showgoers can expect a healthy dose of material at this weekend's performance at Gus' Pub.

Adding Alright Already to his overflowing plate, MacGillivray remains invested in the local music scene. He jokes that stupidity that keeps him going. But there's more to MacGillivray's dedication. "Bad shows are no good for anybody. You can sit back and let it all go to hell, and say, 'It's not my job. It's not my problem.' Or you can do something to fix it. The more catastrophes I witness, the more I just want to do whatever the hell I can to keep that from happening."


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