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Free shows are like a little present from a newborn angel, and this Friday, October 5, the aforementioned angel has given us all a special surprise in the form of Alexander Keith's Birthday. It's for ages 19 and over (because of the beer thing), and begins at 4pm.

Take the afternoon off work and head to Alderney Landing in Dartmouth to see , The Novaks and Music Nova Scotia darling Classified.For those of you who don't already know, Classified really cleaned up with Music Nova Scotia nominations this year (urban artist/recording of the year, video of the year, male artist/recording of the year, SOCAN songwriter of the year, album of the year and entertainer of the year—wow). How does Classified (AKA Luke Boyd) feel about being recognized and congratulated by the hometown folks?

"It's great for so many reasons—just to be recognized by other musicians and people in the scene feels great," Boyd says. "I work really hard on my music, so when people like it and award you for it, you can't do anything but be happy." Hometown pride notwithstanding, we certainly hope that chatting backstage with Haligonian ex-pats Sloan doesn't sway Boyd to move to the Big Smoke. Luckily, Boyd puts those fears aside. "For myself—I don't know. I've thought about it, but I'd rather be living here. I think the hip-hop scene in the Maritimes is becoming more of a dominant force in Canada than pretty much the rest of the country anyway, in my opinion, so I don't see a reason to leave here." That's nice to hear.

Wedding party

This Saturday, October 6, country songstress Carolyn Mark and klezmer king Geoff Berner make a triumphant return to Halifax to play at Ginger's Tavern. In a mere few weeks, Berner takes off to the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Berner makes a point of touring Europe at least twice a year, every year, and yet still finds the time and energy to rock his accordion a little closer to home, playing klezmer that he calls "drunk, dirty, political and passionate."

When asked how Halifax stands up to some of the more exotic locales he regularly plays, Berner is kind. "I'm from Vancouver, so small towns on the east coast of Canada are just as exotic and strange as the Netherlands to me. Actually, I travel so much that even my hometown has become strange and exotic like 16th-century Tenochtitlan to me. And I play small places in Europe, too," Berner says. "What's important is to feel welcome in a place, that they're glad you're there. Sometimes you get more of that in a small town than in a city. And if you don't, you don't go back."

Berner's most recent album, The Wedding Dance of the Widow Bride, is essentially a wedding album, but in typical Berner style, it's a bit skewed. Apparently, young brides and grooms-to-be are ready for more than the usual tired version of "Mustang Sally" on the big day. "It's kind of odd, but I have had a lot of wedding gig offers lately. I'm open to any offers." Such a happy-go-lucky attitude has likely been the key to Berner's varied career, and as listeners, we also get to reap the benefits. "It is a nice aspect of my job that it's full of variety," Berner says. "A large stage in a city square in Rudolstadt, to a living room in Sackville, to an anarchist squat in Switzerland, to a beer festival in Brighton, then back to Vancouver to play a 40th birthday party for an art school professor. I lead an odd life."

Send musical oddities to scene@thecoast.ca.

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