by Joan of Arts
A steady succession of Halifax ex-pats have been playing in clubs around the city for the past month, and October is starting off no different. Mt. Pearl, Newfoundland’s Mark Bragg will return to promote his sophomore album, Bear Music, on October 2 at Gus’ Pub.
“I moved to Toronto after Halifax, but didn’t enjoy it so much,” he says. “I found the day-to-day to be a bit of a grind, and I didn’t find that musicians based in Toronto were really much better than those out east, so I made the decision to move home. I’ve been breathing a lot easier since I got back too…let me tell ya.”
Bragg’s time away has also included touring east of Toronto, and even a showcase date in Germany in mid-September with Matt Mays, The Marble Index and The Waking Eyes.
“I had been working with this guy named Lennart Krogoll for awhile, he’s from Germany originally but lives in Halifax now,” says Bragg. “He and some partners put on this showcase of Canadian bands at Popkomm every year, and the timing was good for me this year since I had a new record ready to go. His label is also putting out my CD in Europe in the spring.”
The album, which features Bragg playing most of the instruments this time around, will be a different offering than his debut The Reckless Kind.
“I think Bear Music as an album is a lot more raw and rocking, more like the live show,” he says. “I guess my writing probably matured a little bit too, like I don’t have as many goofy senseless lyrics on this disk as I did on The Reckless Kind. I tried to make sure everything meant something, or at least came close.”
Sherwood goes acoustic
Five years ago, multi-instrumentalist Ian Sherwood was the alto and baritone sax player for swing group The Jive Kings. Since the disbandment of the 2001 ECMA winner for best jazz group he has returned from Charlottetown and picked up the guitar.
“I’ve been dabbling with it since high school, but only in the past couple of years have I been taking it seriously,” he says. “After hanging out in the jazz scene of Toronto I developed a high expectation for instrumentalists, myself included. I wanted the guitar to add something to the arrangements and not just be in the background.”
Sherwood is excited to be releasing his first acoustic album September 30 at The Music Room, and to be following up a stint at the Dawson City Music Festival where he gained recognition as a solid lyricist and frontman. As the musician asserts, it is not entirely a departure from his time with his former swing ensemble. “The tune ‘Dixieland Dirt Bovine’ was a tune I wrote for that band, but we broke up before we had a chance to do it.”
The Halifax Pop Explosion released its full line-up on September 24 at Stage Nine, and despite all of the talk already going around town, there were still a few surprises. The festival will expand to include the Rebecca Cohn as a venue this year to accommodate celebrated Quebecois singer/songwriters Kate and Anna McGarrigle, who will kick off the festival on October 11. More remnants from the band Chore along with ex-Treble Charger member Bill Priddle will play as Don Vail the following night at Stage Nine. Other performances include those of Alcona (Derek McKenzie of Len and Hip Club Groove), ambient Hamilton group A Northern Chorus, Live 8 performer K’Naan and the always exciting Meligrove Band who will play their third performance in the city this year.
You say party! We say boo!
Vancouver buzz band You Say Party! We Say Die! had to can its Halifax gig at Gus’ because of van troubles.
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