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Monday, January 27, 2020

The Black Keys are coming to Halifax

The rock royalty continues its reign as it hits Halifax May 5.

Posted By on Mon, Jan 27, 2020 at 11:40 AM

go-extralarge_1559139327973.jpg
After dropping an album that proved the duo still has lots to say—and still knows how cut a deep groove—in 2019's Let's Rock, the Black Keys are coming to Halifax. Hitting the Scotiabank Centre May 5 at 7:30pm, the six-time-Grammy-winning blues rock duo will share the stage with The Sheepdogs and Early James, kicking off the Canadian leg of its tour. Tickets go on sale Jan 31 and will be available at ticketatlantic.com and evenko.ca but price is TBA as of yet. 
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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Ten questions with Braden Lam

The Driftwood People's front person dishes about Stanning Tim Baker and his NSYNC phase.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 23, 2020 at 3:37 PM

Braden Lam, pictured in the white shirt with his band Driftwood People, has been selling out shows since late 2018. His brand of positive indie folk is a favourite with other students, but he's working to make sure he and his band don't remain a campus band. - SUBMITTED
  • Braden Lam, pictured in the white shirt with his band Driftwood People, has been selling out shows since late 2018. His brand of positive indie folk is a favourite with other students, but he's working to make sure he and his band don't remain a campus band.
  • Submitted
He's been, it feels, a star poised to shoot from the start: Selling out spaces like The Carleton to fellow students to see their favourite indie-folkster sing about love and growing up. Winning prizes like the Best of Halifax Readers' Choice Award for Best New Band and the SOCAN Award For Young Canadian Songwriters. Earning (and ultimately outgrowing) comparisons to a young Justin Bieber for his clean-cut look and sound. 

Yep, for Braden Lam and his band Driftwood People, success has proven to not be a question but an assertion. "It’s easy to be a student band and keep playing in the bubble of campus but we’ve done a good job of pulling students off-campus and pulling other people into our fanbase," he told The Coast when notified of his Best of Halifax win last November.

Lam and the Driftwood People have kept busy, touring and working on new tracks while they waited for you to notice them. But now, the band is back in Halifax—ready to hit the stage Friday Jan 24 at The Seahorse Tavern, opening for The Town Heroes. Before he does, though, Lam takes five to fill in an updated version of The Coast's questionnaire:

1 What is the most non-negotiable part of your pre-show routine?
We share a bag of goldfish. Non-negotiable. Well, actually, Nick eats most of the bag and the rest of us get a couple. Legend has it that if one of us doesn’t eat any goldfish pre-show, then something will go wrong on stage (broken string, out of tune bass, cables unplugged). I don’t believe it, but the majority are convinced.

2Tell us about a TV show or movie you’re totally obsessed with right now?
I’m currently binging Suits on Netflix. I never thought a show about lawyers could be so interesting, but all of the tension and witty-ness of the storyline make it SO good.

3 What is the best Instagram account you follow?
My friend @emmett_sparling from Vancouver does amazing travel photography all around the world. I’ve got mad respect for him being completely self-taught.

  4 What was the first album you ever bought with your own money?
Backstreet Boys' Millennium (1999) on cassette. Probably got it at the thrift store in my hometown called Chances Are. I distinctly remember playing this album and some NSYNC in my bedroom as a kid—I’m only 22 years old now, so I grew up with a lot of the early 2000s music. I wouldn’t say it was very formative for my own music though, haha.

5 If you were a meme, what meme would you be?
screen_shot_2020-01-23_at_2.38.23_pm.png

6 Tell us about the best live show you’ve ever been to.
Front-row seeing Tim Baker play at the 2019 ECMAs in Charlottetown. This was the first time a performance actually brought me to tears. I’ve seen Tim play in Hey Rosetta! before as they were such a big influence for me in high school. But something about Tim’s new songs and the timing of when the album came into my life, it was a really overwhelming moment for me in a really special way.

7 How would you describe your music/sound in a sentence?
I’m driving in a car with the windows down as the rolling fog brings a refreshing sense of peace mixed with the smell of the ocean.

8 What’s the best part of being in a band/being a musician?
When folks come to our shows and feel like they can be themselves, catch up with friends, and have a good time. It’s definitely a huge privilege to be able to facilitate events that bring community together. Witnessing that happen and knowing you created a memorable experience is the best part.

9 Screenshot your Spotify heavy rotation—or tell us a couple of albums/artists you can’t stop listening to.
I Need to Start a Garden - Haley Heynderickx

Stranger in the Alps - Phoebe Bridgers

Earthtones - Bahamas

Forever Overhead - Tim Baker

Heard it in a Past Life - Maggie Rogers

10 Fill in the blank: if you weren’t making music, you’d be _____________.
Running a cute coffee shop that doubles as a bar and music venue at night in downtown Halifax.
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Monday, January 13, 2020

ZZ Top announces Halifax show May 20

See the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer alongside Cheap Trick at the Scotiabank Centre.

Posted By on Mon, Jan 13, 2020 at 6:15 PM

ZZTOP.COM SCREENSHOT
  • zztop.com screenshot
It calls itself "the little ol' band from Texas," but ZZ Top has gone on to prove it's an act with legs (which, naturally, knows how to use them), outlasting many of its glam-rock peers and riding a red-hot rod into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Now, it's bringing hits like "Sharp Dressed Man" and "La Grange" to the on Scotiabank Centre on May 20, bringing Cheap Trick along for the trip. Tickets go on sale Friday, Jan 17 and are $66 to $111, including taxes and fees.  
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Thursday, January 9, 2020

OBEY Convention becomes EVERYSEEKER

The music festival all about discovery and creativity rebrands.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 9, 2020 at 6:01 PM


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JUST PLAYED DRUNK ON @hkcronline LOL GO LISTEN

A post shared by chippy (@chippyxnonstop) on


[Above: Chippy Nonstop, Toronto DJ du jour, will come to Halifax as part of the fest's expanded off-season programming.]
OBEY Convention has long helped Halifax keep it weird, bringing artists and free thinkers of all types—from punk icon Debbie Friday to Portuguese Kudro legend Nída to NYC underground queen Pharmakon—to make wild, wonderful noise in our seaside city. Last Valentine's Day, the fest received a cease-and-desist letter from the clothing line OBEY and has heeded the call, changing its name to EVERYSEEKER—which, according to a press release, is lifted from a poem the fest founder heard while programming new parts of the event.

Another new thing? EVERYSEEKER plans to expand its off-season offerings, doing a monthly series of shows and workshops all winter long. Get amped for names like Afro-futurist punk Moor Mother, Brooklyn-based astral flute player Ka Baird, Toronto club queen Chippy Nonstop (shown above) and more.

The fest itself returns June 18-21, 2020.
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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Behind the setlist with Matt Mays

The prince of the City Of Lakes dives into why treating a concert like a musical made the best concert of 2019.

Posted By on Thu, Dec 12, 2019 at 1:18 PM

Mays capped off a tour ambitious in both breadth and form with two back-to-back hometown dates. - LINDSAY DUNCAN PHOTO
  • Mays capped off a tour ambitious in both breadth and form with two back-to-back hometown dates.
  • Lindsay Duncan photo
When Matt Mays takes the stage on November 16 for the final show of his Howl At The Night Tour—which saw his eight-piece band play 19 Canadian dates in less than a month—he spends a second that isn’t long, but is very deep, in silence. With his back to the audience, ensconced in a cone of yellow light on an otherwise blacked-out stage, he takes a breath.

Then, the show begins.

If the moment feels particularly theatrical, that’s at least a little by design. The day prior, perched on a staircase outside the Rebecca Cohn auditorium, Mays explains his aims for the tour: “I’m looking at it more like a musical. So, I made the setlist up a month before our first rehearsal. It’s also worked because we kind of like, looking at it like a musical, it’s nice to play the same thing every night: We get better at the set, a lot faster. And the transitions and things. It’s not just a bonehead rock show with a thrown-together setlist: We’re sticking to this one, it’s been working,” he says, resting his chin on his knee as he speaks.

The concept for Howl At The Night could’ve felt like a gimmick if it hadn’t been pulled off so expertly. In a press release sent out in advance of the tour, fans were promised a live show that came together like a puzzle, walking through Mays’ recent releases Once Upon a Hell of a Time… and its acoustic reboot, Twice Upon a Hell of a Time…with each layer of sound added before their eyes.

“There’s eight people in the band and I wanted to be really careful about that because a lot of people, they’re like: ‘Eight people in the band? Are you crazy?’,” Mays begins of the show setup. “I think if they see the show they’ll understand. I start the show solo, and for the first eight songs we add a musician every song—so we’re all onstage so halfway through the set. It’s been really effective, it’s a proper way to introduce all these players I’m so lucky to play with. And all of a sudden, we’re eight songs into the set and there’s still change happening—so it’s not some eight-piece band going up there and playing over everything.” 

“So we kind of build all the parts into the crowd, so by the end of the show, you know what people are doing; by the end of the show people’s ears can decipher the big sound a little more because they were introduced to these sounds gradually.”

Back at the concert, he tears open the beginning lines of “Howl At The Night” like he’s unfolding a letter. His audience—who’s used to seeing him in bars and arenas—punctuate each refrain of “howl at the night” with actual howls.

They’re all-in, waiting with palatable excitement for their rock star—the one who walks and talks like them, but cooler; the one who tells stories like theirs through the sort of songs they wish they could write—to continue. So continue he does. The song tiptoes towards a climactic close. The sold-out house thunders.

Soon, Mays would tell the audience “Hey, it’s ok, it’s Saturday night make some noise”—a permission slip for the denim-clad crowd to get up and get loose. They take it with both hands.

Not to rip Adam Baldwin off, but it’s a mutual friend of ours, a song guru of ours, who taught us a good setlist is just a setlist that has a beginning a middle and an end. It sounds kinda bonehead, but it really is that simple. Most times I usually do a setlist right before we play, because I like to read the crowd and the room. Just going in and standing in the room with the crowd really helps with the selection process of what you should play. Playing for 20 years, you kinda know what’s gonna work and what’s not gonna work based on the vibe of the place,” Mays says.

But this show isn’t most times. It’s quite probably the best live show of 2019. Here, Mays breaks down the script-in-spirit, setlist-in-action that drove the performance:

1. Intro song: “Howl At The Night”:

“That song means a lot to me—it’s a very personal sort of trip. So it’s sort of therapeutic to sing it every night. And we have these beautiful grand pianos that we’re playing every night because we’ve been playing these theatres. I just love playing it on piano, and I feel like a lot of people don’t know that song and I wanted to start out with something that maybe people didn’t know that worked well and set the tone. It’s just a three chord song of my own on piano, but it’s still a heavy song for me—and I thought it’d be a good name for a tour, too.”

2. Songs two through six, "Drive On,” “Dark Promises,” “Ola Volo,” “Ain't That The Truth” and “The Past”:

“The first half of this set is all acoustic and sing-song-y and I don’t get to do that much. It’s nice to be in a sort of pin-drop atmosphere for those songs, because I really worked hard on them and I really mean the lyrics, so it’s nice to not be singing over a loud crowd at a bar. It’s nice to be heard, I guess?”

3. Song seven, “Spoonful of Sugar”:

The song that turns the concert from soft ballad to full-on rock show, Mays says this is his favourite song to play live: “We play it almost every night and it was one of those songs that just kind of like came out—it was so fast, I wrote it in like, 10 minutes. So I sort of feel like I didn’t write it, so it feels like playing a cover every night.”

4. Song 12, “City of Lakes” [which Mays ended up playing earlier in the set in reply to the audience chanting for it]:

“It’s almost always on the setlist—people seem to like it even if they’re hearing it for the first time. They connect to it.”

5. Third song of the encore, “Cocaine Cowgirl”:

When talking about playing vintage items from his catalogue—including Cowgirl, his first mainstream hit from 2005—Mays says: “Somehow, luckily, I was aware even from a young age that I didn’t want to release anything on an album that didn’t mean a lot to me. So, it allows me to play old songs that I’ve played a million times and they still mean a lot to me and I still enjoy playing them—because I went through that process of writing a bunch of shit songs that didn’t mean anything to me, y’know, so anything that made a record meant a lot to me. So playing a lot of these older songs, even though they’re 20 years old, it’s sort of like, more of a nostalgia thing now—I really like them now because it sort of feels like I didn’t even write them, because I’m so distant from that person who initially wrote them.”

And for songs like the brand-new single “Let There Be Love,” which proceeds “Cocaine Cowgirl” by two songs in the setlist, he adds: “And then the newer stuff is exciting because ah, I have to remember the lyrics for these, y’know, so they’re very different. It makes the set fun. It keeps me on my toes.”

6. Encore closing song, “On The Hood”:

“That one is sort of, the crowd decides that sometimes. I could put that song first but it wouldn’t work as well. There’s something about that song that’s sort of celebratory so, I mean, I like change and I don’t want to have the same set my whole life, but I also believe in tradition— and I think that people who come out to my shows really look forward to celebrating together at the end of the night and that song really does that so I don’t fuck with that. I trust it.”
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Monday, December 9, 2019

Five questions I wish I could ask Geddy Lee

Rush's bassist slash Can-rock icon is coming to town Saturday to sign (not sing) copies of his book at the Halifax Shopping Centre.

Posted By on Mon, Dec 9, 2019 at 2:05 PM

Canada's most famous soul-patch-wearer and bassist comes to the Halifax Shopping Centre on Dec 14. - RICHARD SIBBALD PHOTO
  • Canada's most famous soul-patch-wearer and bassist comes to the Halifax Shopping Centre on Dec 14.
  • Richard Sibbald photo
Geddy Lee—best known for making Canada cool in the 1970s as he melted faces in the prog-rock band Rush—spent most of 2019 *not* behind the bass but behind a desk, writing The Big Beautiful Book of Bass.  The hardcover Globe & Mail bestseller—which'll set you back $103.04 for a signed copy—is billed as a mix of lush photographs of Lee's extensive bass collection and interviews he conducted with other famous bassists, like Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin).

Finally, the most underrated instrument ever is getting its own coffee-table tome.

Lee recently announced Halifax will be on his book tour for the effort, signing copies IRL at Coles in the Halifax Shopping Centre this Saturday, Dec 14 at 4pm. Superfans, take note: tickets are only available online and cover cost of entry and a signed book. Here are the questions I'd wanna ask when it was my turn at the signature table:

1. What was it like finding a second wave of micro-fame through That '70s Show? Surely the amount that Eric and the crew referenced you, you shoulda gotten a guest appearance, IMO.

2. You famously say you became the bassist in Rush out of necessity, because your original bassist quit. Did this make bass playing feel like a chore, and if so, how'd you overcome that?

3. How did you write a book about famous bassists and not interview Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers?

4. Or Kim Gordon??

5. Which Rush song would you love to retire from the catalogue?

K thanks byeeee.
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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Ten questions with New Hermitage

The Halifax-born ambient, improvised noise maker talks splurging on popcorn at the movies and why it'll always ride hard for NoFX.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2019 at 1:24 PM

Halifax-born band slash sound experiment New Hermitage is like a dreamy soundtrack to your fave sci-fi novel. - SUBMITTED PHOTO
  • Halifax-born band slash sound experiment New Hermitage is like a dreamy soundtrack to your fave sci-fi novel.
  • Submitted photo
The four-piece ambient, improvised music group New Hermitage has been melting brains and building mazes of sound since 2017.  The basis of what unfolds before your ears and eyes onstage is a Ray Bradbury-sounding experiment, described in the band's press release as follows:

"New Hermitage imagines a future in which pollution has decimated the population of the Earth and dangerously high levels of toxicity have rendered the cities of the world uninhabitable. The surviving humans are forced to live in nomadic clans that wander the sparse wilderness, struggling to claim what little natural resources remain. However, a few solitary people have returned to the cities. With patience and tenderness, these new hermits balance technology with ancient wisdom to work with nature and restore the planet. The music of New Hermitage imagines the soundtrack to their survival, incorporating what these lone individuals might hear among the crumbling cities they call home."

It is, in short, music that's mind-altering, time-travelling and a hell of a trip.

As the band prepares to take your ears into the future on Friday, Nov 22 at an $15/PWYC, 8pm Radstorm show, we got the gang to fill out our questionnaire—which they say was completed in the tour van at some point between Chicoutimi, QC, and Ottawa, ON.

1. What was the first album you ever bought with your own money?

Ross Burns, guitar: NoFX's White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean
Ellen Gibling, harp: Hanson's MMmbop? Is that what the album is called?
India Gailey, cello: I have trouble remembering. It might be American Idiot by Green Day. Maybe Goodstuff by the B52’s?
Andrew MacKelvie, woodwinds: Running with Scissors by Weird Al.

2. If you were to name your influences, which name on the list would be most surprising?


R: NoFX - White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean. It’s a bit weird to answer that question.

I: How are you supposed to know the answer to the question? How do you know what influences you?

E: What did Ross write? That works for me.
A: The Great Muppet Caper sound track? Specifically “It’s a movie.” 



ALL: Stevie Wonder - Overjoyed

3. What’s the best concert or live performance you’ve ever gone to?

E: Id M Theft Able at Thunder and Lightening [in Sackville, NB]as part of an OBEY Satellite show we played together.
R: I did go to a NoFX concert when I was 13, but you don’t need to say that.
I: The one that sticks out is the Grizzly Bear concert I saw in Montreal a few years ago. Id M Theft Able is up there too.
A: I saw David Mott (a baritone saxophonist) play at 1313 Hollis in 2008 and in the middle of his solo he walked out onto the street and kept playing.

4. What one thing/person outside of music has shaped the way you make music?

A: Growing up in the country and listening to the sounds of the world around me. House hold appliances.
I: Buddhism. Visual Art. (A: like paintings of bowls of fruit?)
R: Sport

5. Share the last gif you used below:


[No one in the New Hermitage van knew how to attach a gif.]

6. Share the last shot on your camera roll below:
A sweet stage setup from New Hermitage's current tour.
  • A sweet stage setup from New Hermitage's current tour.
7. When you’re not making music, what are you most likely to be found doing?

I: Like, eating, sleeping, that kind of thing?

R: Cartwheels and handstands, actually.
E: Eating cheese based nourishment.
A: Going to school. I am also a full time student these days.

8. What’s your perfect cure for a bad day?


R: Swimming

I: A perfect avocado. Some ginseng tea.
E: Ricochet Robots or playing chess.com.
A: Letting it ride out. There is no cure.

9. What’s the best part about being in a band?

R: The jokes, the snacks, the togetherness.

E: Street Cred. 

I: The fame and fortune. Don’t write that. I second the jokes.
A: It (music) gets better with time. Seeing the country and meeting new people.

10. What do you do when you wanna treat yourself?

I: Take a bath, I guess. Read the New Yorker! Actually, no, that’s not true. I go to the woods to treat myself.
R: Playing the tambourine and watching blue planet in the daytime.
E: Reading in a sweet hammock. 

A: I go to the movies, and I spend the $30 for a popcorn and a drink. Also, in the daytime. Also, I am high.
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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Celebrate a winning weekend with these Sure Things

Posted By on Thu, Nov 7, 2019 at 4:42 PM

Have simply the best weekend with Sure Things like the Best of Halifax Ball, Rebecca Thomas's symphony debut, a tribute to icon Portia White and more.

2019 Fringe Fest favourite Kick At The Dark Theatre Co-op returns with a play that's equal parts stand-up comedy and storytelling. - STOO METZ PHOTO
  • 2019 Fringe Fest favourite Kick At The Dark Theatre Co-op returns with a play that's equal parts stand-up comedy and storytelling.
  • Stoo Metz photo
Romeo & Juliet: a drink-along
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

A quartet of performers work through the ultimate boy-meets-girl play, all while imbibing. "Will they drink themselves into an oblivion before the fated lovers‘ tragic end? You’ll have to buy a ticket to find out!" event organizers add. Featuring sweet dance moves, hand-stitched ruffled collars, many a beer and equal parts kissing and fighting scenes, it ain't the bard's ballad—except that it sort of is. It all goes down at Good Robot Brewing. more deets

Every Brilliant Thing
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Ice cream, the colour yellow, people falling over: These are the sorts of little things a child begins listing for his mother as her battle with depression continues. As time passes, the list grows—and becomes a record of life’s small joys. Billed as part stand-up and part story telling, this play by Kick At The Dark Theatre Co-op shows at The Bus Stop Theatre. more deets

The Best of Halifax Ball
Friday

The best of the best, as voted by you in our annual readers' choice survey, celebrate their excellence at this swank party at the Delta Halifax Hotel. Come bask in the awesomeness. more deets

Decidedly Jazz Danceworks
Saturday

Need more Will in your world? Live Art Dance brings the Calgary movement troupe to town to showcase Juliet and Romeo, a decidedly jazz take on Shakespeare created by Kimberley Cooper and Cory Bowles. more deets

Jenny Yujia Shi's latest show—her biggest to date—sees the Halifax-based artist mark the end of an era in her work. - JENNY YUJIA SHI ARTWORK
  • Jenny Yujia Shi's latest show—her biggest to date—sees the Halifax-based artist mark the end of an era in her work.
  • Jenny Yujia Shi artwork

Suddenly It Is As Though Nothing Had Happened

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Studio 21 itself sums up its latest showcase, saying: "Figurative painter Brian Burke was one of the most extraordinary artists to have come out of PEI. He was a genius at capturing psychological states of being through minimal means. Studio 21 director Deborah Carver recently visited Burke’s home in Murray Harbour, PEI, to select works for this exhibition." more deets

This Does Not Authorize Re-Entry
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

The latest showcase by Jenny Yujia Shi coincides with the approval of her permanent resident status—a process that’s shaped her life and work for a decade as she’s chronicled the newcomer experience through her art. “I take this opportunity to explore and reflect upon the process of navigating through the Canadian immigration system—a self-hood pieced together with numbers, abbreviated codes and a passport,” her artist’s statement adds. Celebrate the closing of a chapter with the artist at The Craig Gallery. more deets

Althea Thauberger: The State of the Situation
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Althea Thauberger has garnered international attention since the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia first showed her work in 2004, and now, in The State of the Situation, the gallery is pleased to present the first overview of her practice and collaborative art-making process. more deets

screen_shot_2019-11-07_at_4.31.01_pm.png
Without Rules
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Impressionistic realist oil painter Henry Tian and fibre artist Jessica Steponaitis celebrate new works with a shared showcase that flaunts their self-taught skills at Art 1274 Hollis. more deets







Soprano Harolyn Blackwell pays tribute to Portia White with a note-for-note redux of White's famed Town Hall concert. - CECILACONCERTS.CA SCREENSHOT
  • Soprano Harolyn Blackwell pays tribute to Portia White with a note-for-note redux of White's famed Town Hall concert.
  • cecilaconcerts.ca screenshot
Rebecca Thomas w/Symphony Nova Scotia
Thursday

Former poet laureate and recently published author Rebecca Thomas—whose verse we once described “as melodic and witty as it is damning”—proves there’s nothing she can’t do as she teams up with Symphony Nova Scotia to deliver a challenging, captivating new work. more deets

Bryan McPherson
Friday

The sonic son of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, raised in the rough-and-tumble of Dorchester, Boston, Bryan McPherson is what happens when an Americana-tinged sound gets sieved through a punk attitude: Working-class songs that make your head nod, feet tap and middle fingers fly up. Catch it at Gus' Pub. more deets

Genius Child: Portia White at Town Hall feat. Harolyn Blackwell
Saturday

It's been 75 years since Truro-born soprano Portia White made her New York City debut with a legendary Town Hall show (that also featured history-making poet and Black activist Langston Hughes dropping verses, in the same venue where Billie Holiday made her name). Here, Cecilia Concerts pays tribute to the iconic performance, with lyric coloratura soprano and Broadway star Harolyn Blackwell delivering a note-for-note tribute, complete with live piano backing at Saint George's Round Church. more deets

screen_shot_2019-11-07_at_4.40.13_pm.png
Paper Beat Scissors
Thursday

If you’re not familiar with Tim Crabtree’s project Paper Beat Scissors, get with it—because all your favourite artists are: Crabtree has worked with the likes of Arcade Fire's Jeremy Gara and sad-rock sultan Michael Feuerstack. Now, the honest songs and haunting vocals of PBS return to Crabtree’s old Halifax stomping grounds (the band sprouted here before setting up in Montreal). more deets
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Friday, November 1, 2019

Ten questions with Alestorm

The Scottish kings of pirate metal on the addictive rush of Magic the Gathering and Mountain Dew.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 1, 2019 at 3:18 PM

If Will Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean was transplanted to the 21st century and took up music, he'd probably join Alestorm. - ROBERT ZEMBRZYCKI PHOTO
  • If Will Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean was transplanted to the 21st century and took up music, he'd probably join Alestorm.
  • Robert Zembrzycki photo
Sailing the high seas of heavy metal since the mid-2000s, the members of Scottish band Alestorm wanna melt your face with Metallica-inspired guitars while having their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks. Probably the biggest pirate metal band out there—something the five-piece leans into with album titles like Captain Morgan's Revenge and song titles like "Fucked With An Anchor"—theirs is a perfect blend of kooky fun and serious song craft.

Here, in advance of a Saturday, Nov 2 show at The Marquee, the band's vocalist Christopher Bowes helps the dudes keep up their wild 'n' weird image while he answers our questionnaire:

1. What was the first album you bought with your own money?

"Oh god, it was pretty awful. I went to a record store and had no idea what I was doing, I think I got Slipknot’s first album, Vulgar Display of Power by Pantera, and Issues by Korn. Doesn’t get more entry-level spooky goth than that! My tastes rapidly evolved, thankfully."


2. If you were to name your influences, which name on the list would be most surprising?

"I’m sure people expect all the usual folky shite like Turisas and Korpiklaani and Finntroll, but these days I get more ideas from hot country artists like Luke Bryan and Kenny Chesney! Those dudes (or at least, their writing team) can make some real catchy music."


3. What’s the best concert or live performance you’ve ever gone to?

"Recently it was seeing the Book of Mormon on Broadway, that was absolutely phenomenal! Haven’t laughed like that in years. On a more metal level, probably seeing Blind Guardian for the first time at Metalcamp festival in Slovenia, in 2007. I had a wee cry, it was so wonderful."


4. What one thing/person outside of music has shaped the way you make music?

"Having to pay bills! If you’re gonna do music full time, you don’t have any other time to get a regular job. But life isn’t free. So you gotta work out a way to make good music while somehow making it profitable. It’s the unfortunate reality of the music business, that every professional musician is compromised in some way by the reality of existence. Everyone is a sellout on some level."

5. Share the last GIF you used below:

screen_shot_2019-11-01_at_3.10.43_pm.png








"BUSINESS FISH IS LIFE."

6. Share the last shot on your camera roll below:

screen_shot_2019-11-01_at_3.13.08_pm.png












"You probably think I’m a maniac now, haha. I just enjoy the responsible ownership of firearms! Taking a friend to the gun range today, so I was showing him what we’re gonna shoot. Got an AK-47, two AR-15’s, a 20ga Pump Action shotgun, and a tiny wee blue Ruger 10/22."

7. When you’re not making music, what are you most likely to be found doing?

"It occupies a lot of my time, either being on tour, at home doing music business stuff, or writing songs. When I’m not doing that I like to play Magic the Gathering. Cardboard crack, man!"


8. What’s your perfect cure for a bad day?

"A giant cup of Mountain Dew and a barbecue sandwich."


9. What’s the best part about being a musician?

"I get to wake up really late. How good is sleeping in in the morning? Sometimes I wake up at a normal time and it terrifies me. What do people do at 9am? Why does it exist?"


10. What do you do when you wanna treat yourself?

"Meth, injected straight into the eyeballs."
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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Stop, pop and roll: Our favourite moments of Halifax Pop Explosion 2019

The mega music fest continues to surprise and inspire.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 31, 2019 at 5:50 PM

Rich Aucoin delivered a decidedly atypical hometown show this HPX. - SCOTT MUNN PHOTO
  • Rich Aucoin delivered a decidedly atypical hometown show this HPX.
  • Scott Munn photo
To call Halifax Pop Explosion a varied fest feels obvious: The venerable event has been celebrating the best of local, national and international acts for more than two decades. A peep at this year's schedule alone—which saw bluegrass-y concerts in churches slotted next to sweeping emo showcases on the city's biggest stages—belies both the breadth of experience and sound that awaits when you buy a wristband.

Festival headliner and Coast cover star Haviah Mighty might've had just as much fun at HPX 2019 as we did. - @HAVIAHMIGHTY SCREENSHOT
  • Festival headliner and Coast cover star Haviah Mighty might've had just as much fun at HPX 2019 as we did.
  • @haviahmighty screenshot
All of this is to say that you can expect two things at HPX: To see something great and to be surprised. As Coast contributors navigated the three-day schedule, here were the moments that ticked both boxes, standing out as highlights in a sea of stars:
"The best part of HPX is seeing something you’ve never seen in Halifax before," writes music journalist Jonathan Briggins. "A highlight this year was a Halifax artist who has played a million shows in his hometown, but rarely something like this: Arriving in an inflatable coffin, Rich Aucoin brought his album release to life at St. Matthew’s Church with a dozen talented musician pals. The party-pop star left the parachute and confetti cannon home and replaced it with a pipe organ and multiple saxophone solos. It was magnificent, ambitious and a reminder of how seriously Aucoin takes his craft."

PUP came to slay, rocking hard for a sold-out HPX crowd. - VANESSA HEINS PHOTO
  • PUP came to slay, rocking hard for a sold-out HPX crowd.
  • Vanessa Heins photo
To Coast writer Alec Martin, a good post-concert afterglow is what it's all about:      "As I followed the crowd out of the Marquee after PUP’s show on Friday, I heard plenty of people talking about their new bruises—but heard just as many people excited about how they found a new favourite band in one of the openers, Weakened Friends," Martin writes in an email.
"This embodies what I think is the most important part of any music festival: Going to see a band you love and  coming away with a new act to follow and support as they grow."

To concert reviewer Mary Collier, good ambiance is why live music can't be beat: "My favourite moment of HPX was seeing Spencer Krug and Charlotte Cornfield at the Saint Matthew’s United Church," she writes. "The combination of the grand piano, stained glass windows and the acoustics of the church was enchanting. It was one of those moments where I just felt so lucky to be there to soak in such a unique show."

As for me, I'm still reeling over the always-excellent live show Snotty Nose Rez Kids put together—it felt like the entire Seahorse Tavern was jumping in unison as MCs Young Trybez and Young D bounced razor-sharp lines off each other, pulling off a lyrical two-step matched only by giants of the genre like OutKast (feels like a hyperbole, but I promise it's not).

Here's to the songs still stuck in our heads and the fun that awaits next year.
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Sure Things, Halloweekend edition

The best costume parties and Jack-o-Lantern farewells await below.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 31, 2019 at 4:22 PM

So, you're a last-minute Halloween lover and you're trying to decide where to debut your costume. We've got your back with a roundup of the top parties in town, both tonight and over the weekend. Trick or treat on!
That '90s Night gets into the scary spirit with a Halloween-themed throwback party. - TIFFANY NAUGLER PHOTO
  • That '90s Night gets into the scary spirit with a Halloween-themed throwback party.
  • Tiffany Naugler photo
A night of comedy at the silent movies w/organist Shawn Whynot
Saturday
A screening of the silent comedy Safety Last is rounded out with a live soundtrack courtesy of organist Shawn Whynot at Bethany United Church. more deets

Harvest Hootenanny and Pumpkin Smash
Saturday

Head to Common Roots Urban Farm's new location—the BiHi park at the bottom of Bayers Road—for its annual celebration of the harvest season, complete with food, music, warm cider, garlic planting and pumpkin smashing. Bring your old Jack-o-Lanterns and come celebrate the season together. more deets

That '90s Night Halloween Party
Friday

Your favourite night of throwbacks gets in on scary season with a costumes-encouraged dance party at The Marquee. more deets

Little Coffee Shop of Horrors
Thursday

A night of fright awaits as spine-chilling stories by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, Angela Carter and Roald Dahl are told by candlelight at Cafe Lara—before DJ Andru "The Conjurer" Branch closes things out with a wild dance party. more deets

A Villainous Hallowe'en Party
Thursday

The beloved indie theatre troupe Villain's Theatre gets into the spine-chilling spirit with a party at the Local Council of Women House that boasts a silent auction, costume contest, treats and tricks. more deets

Board Room Trivia: Horror Movies
Thursday

From classic black-and-whote horror movies to modern slasher flicks, this trivia sesh at The Board Room Game Cafe tests your knowledge of 'em all. more deets

RobieScope screens The Simpsons' "Treehouse of Horror"
Thursday

A free, outdoor screening at Good Robot of the classic Simpsons Halloween episodes to mark the scariest night of the year. more deets
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Monday, October 21, 2019

Review: Jeremy Dutcher and Symphony Nova Scotia float your soul in a sea of song

The Polaris-winning artist continues to change the cultural current, one live show at a time.

Posted By on Mon, Oct 21, 2019 at 5:38 PM

When Jeremy Dutcher won the Polaris Prize in 2018, he said: "Canada, you are in the midst of an Indigenous renaissance. Are you ready to hear the truth that needs to be told?" - MATT BARNES PHOTO
  • When Jeremy Dutcher won the Polaris Prize in 2018, he said: "Canada, you are in the midst of an Indigenous renaissance. Are you ready to hear the truth that needs to be told?"
  • Matt Barnes photo
A spotlight beams down over two women on stools, warm blue. With soft voices, they share a Mi’kmaq lesson: “This land is known as the land of deep water,” says Ursula Johnson to Angela Parsons. “Kinuk” is the opening act of Jeremy Dutcher’s co-performance with Symphony Nova Scotia. It’s a subtle sign the evening will be unusual compared to standard symphony fare.

Between the symphony and Dutcher, the music of several Indigenous musicians was played the evening of October 17. Instrumental songs rested on the rhythmic thumping of drums, like the determined ebb and flow of little waves on the beach. When Dutcher came on stage, the atmosphere quickened. The sold-out Rebecca Cohn was flooded with sound.

His voice is elemental.

Dutcher is a young person who has found what he is meant to do. His voice contains multitudes. In turns it is smooth, bold, warm, flexible, noble, sweet. It has a velvet vibrato. It swells to fill the auditorium and penetrates your body.

His rich, throaty resonance massages your brain. Another show-goer leaned over and whispered “this is soul-touching music.” Listeners are submerged.

And, reaching through it all, from a great distance, is a faint recording of another singer without a symphony: It is the scratchy wail of an ancestor, singing the same song 110 years ago. The voice of the past. Dutcher breathes new life into the song. He is the voice of the present. The symphony lifts the voices up like a rising tide. The music swells. Together, they launch these visceral, eternal songs into the future.
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Friday, October 18, 2019

Ten questions with Dave Sampson

The Cape Breton crooner celebrates a new, Nashville-recorded EP with a few Moscow mules and maybe even a new hat.

Posted By on Fri, Oct 18, 2019 at 5:43 PM

Hat game on fleek, Mr. Sampson. - SUBMITTED PHOTO
  • Hat game on fleek, Mr. Sampson.
  • Submitted photo
Folk music strained through an indie-pop sieve is the signature of Nova Scotia's own Dave Sampson, who arrives at The Marquee on Oct 19 to celebrate his new album, All Types of Ways, with a hometown(-ish) show.

Sampson was born in Cape Breton and spent time in Nashville as he cut All Types of Ways, meaning he's most at home in the sorts of spots where music is a strong thread in the cultural fabric. Having collaborated with the likes of Gordie Sampson and Donovan Woods, the balladeer is ready to win you over.

Here, he answers our questionnaire.

1. What was the first album you bought with your own money?

No joke, The first album I ever bought was Chumbawamba. I remember saving up my money and walking to the Sydney Shopping Mall (we called it the grub mall) and buying it at Sam the Record Man's.

2. If you were to name your influences, which name on the list would be most surprising?

Gordie Sampson
Kacey Musgraves
Tom Petty
Jason Isabell
Rita MacNeil ( Most surprising? She's a Cape Breton legend!)

3.What’s the best concert or live performance you’ve ever gone to?

I've seen a lot of concerts over the last few years but I saw John Prine at the Rebecca Cohn a few years ago and that was really special. I have been a fan of his music and writing since I was a kid. HIs voice isn't great these days, but the songs still hold the same amount of weight.

4. What one thing/person outside of music has shaped the way you make music?

I think growing up in Cape Breton shaped the way I make music and how I perform. It's such a musician community there and I realized quick that there are no free claps in Cape Breton—meaning if you wanted the respect and attention of the listeners you need to have you performance together.

5. Share the last GIF you used below:

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6. Share the last shot on your camera roll below:
image002.png
[Editor's note: Sampson's set list makes good on our theory that building the perfect concert is, indeed an art.]

8. What’s your perfect cure for a bad day?

I think getting together with friends and shooting the shit, that usually will take my mind off anything thats bothering me.

9. What’s the best part about being a musician?

Being able to create my own schedule has been awesome, I always had a hard time working for other people so its nice to be in control now and decide if I want to do something or not.

10. What do you do when you wanna treat yourself?

DENIM.

HATS.

MOSCOW MULES.
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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Give thanks for the long weekend with these Sure Things

Posted By on Thu, Oct 10, 2019 at 5:41 PM

From Trixie Mattel's Halifax arrival to Carbon Arc's latest flick, here's the can't-miss turkey weekend fun to add to your calendar.
Trixie Mattel—a drag queen possibly even bigger than RuPaul—arrives in Halifax this weekend. - SUBMITTED PHOTO
  • Trixie Mattel—a drag queen possibly even bigger than RuPaul—arrives in Halifax this weekend.
  • Submitted photo

Nonna's very own: A comedy showcase with Marc-Anthony Sinagoga
Thursday

Up-and-coming comic Marc-Anthony Sinagoga makes you LOL hard enough to fuggetabout your worries at the Bus Stop Theatre. more deets

Trixie Mattel: Skinny Legend
Friday

The grand dame of drag—and winner of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars' third season—arrives at the Spatz to take it from Thanksgiving to ThanksLIVING. In a year that included a documentary about the kween (spring’s Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts), it’s become clear this is one Barbie who cannot be stopped on her spike-heeled-climb to the top. As Mattel, who has two studio albums, a web series and a makeup line, told Fast Company in a May 4 article: “I just saw RuPual recently and he was like, ‘You’re doing things no one has ever done–not even me’.” more deets

Book launch: Crocuses Hatch from Snow
Thursday

In our 2019 Fall Arts Preview (Sep 19-25 issue), Coast writer/certified bookworm Jade Nauss summed up Jaime Burnet’s debut novel: “Burnet introduces readers to a cast of characters that rivals an Atom Egoyan film: There’s a body-piercer, a grieving widower, a young woman in love, a grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s and a Mi’kmaw survivor of the residential school system. These characters’ lives intersect in a story about history, obsession, and gentrification set in the north end of Halifax. If that’s not enough of a reason to go grab this book as soon as it’s released, how about this: One of the characters has an affair with a ghost.” Meet the writer at this reading-and-signing sesh at the Halifax North Memorial Library. more deets

The Art of Self Defence screening
Friday

Carbon Arc’s latest flick sees Jesse Eisenberg take a star turn as a jiu jitsu practitioner exploring toxic masculinity. In an August review of the flick, The Coast described the film as “a deeply weird black comedy that doesn’t follow many traditional story lines—in addition to its vague era, there’s little reflection amongst the characters, there’s no fallout for committing violent crimes, and the resolution is far from feel-good"—but sometimes that's just what you need. more deets

Retro-futuristic fun arrives at the Saint Mary's University Art Gallery. - TOM HAMMICK ARTWORK
  • Retro-futuristic fun arrives at the Saint Mary's University Art Gallery.
  • Tom Hammick artwork

Age of Aquarius
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

The Craft Nova Scotia Annual Member's Exhibition highlights works in a swath of mediums at the Mary E. Black Gallery. more deets

Tom Hammick: Lunar Voyage
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

In a series of woodcut prints, Tom Hammick explores an “existential road journey taken through space,” while playfully examining the “outsiderness of being an artist” and a sort of nostalgia for the mid-20th century’s space speculations. See them at the Saint Mary's University Art Gallery. more deets

Dartmouth Visual Arts Semi-Annual Show & Sale
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

The perennially popular showcase returns to the Craig Gallery. more deets

Bits
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Emily Ross' starburst paper art will be familiar to anyone who remembers the days of Big Pony (which Ross co-ran with Lindsay Stewart) and the prints she displayed there—but Lost & Found hosts Ross' first-ever exhibition. In Bits, Ross has cut colourful, patterned, metallic paper into triangular shapes that create dynamic fireworks across the shop's walls. more deets

Jessica Rhaye delivers a live rendition of her deep dives into Dylan's catalogue. - SUBMITTED PHOTO
  • Jessica Rhaye delivers a live rendition of her deep dives into Dylan's catalogue.
  • Submitted photo


Don Brownrigg w/Dance Movie
Saturday

Nominated for a whopping six Nova Scotia Music Awards, Brownrigg is bringing a bushel of earworms to The Seahorse for you to hear. more deets

Jessica Rhaye: Just Like A Woman, The Songs of Bob Dylan album release show
Saturday

In a Stan-worthy move only the biggest Dylan diehard could pull, New Brunswick folk queen Rhaye has spliced, examined and re-assembled ol’ Bob’s songbook. The result? A collection of covers that attempts to emulate the legend’s Basement Tapes-era energy while seeing some of the best songs about women ever written showcased through a woman’s gaze. It all goes down at The Carleton. more deets

Rudy Pacé w/Ryan Rideout, Rachel Raditz, Matt Steele
Thursday

With a new, nostalgic single about the small town he grew up in, Pacé brings a fresh, Americana vibe to The Carleton. more deets

Jom Comyn w/Nomadic Homes, Gianna Lauren
screen_shot_2019-10-10_at_5.38.34_pm.png
Thursday
Jom Comyn brings his self-described “baritone prairie swamp rock” to The Seahorse to celebrate a new album, with can’t miss opening sets by the indie-soul of Nomadic Homes and, from Gianna Lauren (pictured), atmospheric lullabies with a twist. Chill vibes await. more deets
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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Behind the setlist with Adam Baldwin

Dartmouth's king of Americana says it's a matter of making sure your concert has a beginning, middle and end—and lots of three-chord bar rock.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2019 at 7:08 PM

Adam Baldwin's setlist for his Oct 5 Marquee show went heavy on offerings from his latest EP—and, as we see in guitarist Ryan Stanley's copy, didn't shy away from Stratocaster-soaked songs, either. - THE COAST PHOTO
  • Adam Baldwin's setlist for his Oct 5 Marquee show went heavy on offerings from his latest EP—and, as we see in guitarist Ryan Stanley's copy, didn't shy away from Stratocaster-soaked songs, either.
  • The Coast photo

Adam Baldwin was nervous about his headlining slot at The Marquee Ballroom on October 5: “I had been asking about ticket sales up to a couple days before,” he confesses, speaking by phone. “I made a decision to not look up at the crowd until I got right to the mic.”

He needn’t have worried—the 800-person venue was, if not at capacity, at least close. By the time he was two tracks deep, Baldwin sheepishly told the crowd “Well I really just gotta thank you all for being here, you have no idea what it means,”—clearly grasping for a word to convey the emotion in the room. He reached for the perfect adjective, but the crowd roared over him in applause.

He could’ve said almost anything and they’d have clapped their hands off.

What followed was a tight set that left room for all members of his band—including guest spots from Mo Kenney and Victoria Cameron—to shine. (Baldwin probably refuses to allow anyone to be relegated to the sidelines in equal parts because of his reverence for the E Street Band and having backed Matt Mays on guitar since day one.)

Here, Baldwin breaks down the winning setlist that steered them along: “There has to be a flow, like a movie: Act one, then act two to bring things down a bit and then act three, to bring as much excitement back into the crowd as possible. It’s the sort of thing I learned from burning CDs and playing with Matt [Mays].”

1. Intro song: “No Tellin’ When” from 2016’s No Tellin’ When
“Every show since we put that record out, we’ve started with that song. It opens the record and it always feels like the best way in. Ya know, old habits die hard.”

2. Songs four through seven: “Delirious,” “Half A Mind,” “No Rest for the Wicked” and “Dark Beside the Dawn” (which, according to the guitarist’s setlist, were all to be played on a Stratocaster)
“All those songs are from [the 2019 EP] No Rest For The Wicked. I just sort of felt like, there’s very much a theme and I didn’t wanna scatter them: It’d be like reading chapter two, chapter three and then chapter 14. That EP has its own story. A lot of my songs are a bit of a drag—I say that in jest. But I bring folks outta the sadness. People like different kinds of rock shows and mine’s different from Matt Mays’,” Baldwin explains.

At Saturday’s show, he even warned the crowd: “We’re gonna go somewhere dark here in a minute, but I’m gonna pull you out of it,” he said, leaning on the mic stand as "Delirious" opened in the background.

3. Song nine: A yet-to-be-released track
“I don’t know the name of that song yet—I’ve been calling it “The Ballad of Ezekiel and The Mountie” but that’s a hell of a mouthful. I wrote it about my father and my sister’s husband. I wanted to try it out and I wanted one more song in the lull of the set—it felt like I worked it out with [my band].”
4. Set closing song: “Bonnie Raitt,” from 2013’s Adam Baldwin
“I’m a bar band guy: That’s the stuff I like to do, play some ol’ three-chord bar song that’s fun to play, that people can shake their asses to a little bit. [This song] is supposed to be about as good as anyone can feel in my sets.”

5. The third song in his encore, Bob Dylan’s “License to Kill” from 1983’s Infidels
Baldwin kicked off this cover by saying he’d been “feeling awfully inspired lately by a 14-year-old girl from Sweden, and this one goes out to her, out to Greta.”

When asked about the choice, he says: "I so admire anybody that dedicates themselves to saving this big ball of rock we’re on. I chose that song because the lyrics spell it out to me: It goes ‘Man thinks ’cause he rules the earth he can do with it as he please…Oh, man has invented his doom/First step was touching the moon/Now, there’s a woman on my block/She just sit there as the night grows still/She say who gonna take away his license to kill?’—that just reminds me of her, of Greta...Maybe it’s time for the bonehead white guys to step the fuck aside. I love the sentiment of it.”
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In Print This Week

Vol 27, No 35
January 23, 2020

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