Written by Caley Baker, Jodie Barnaby, Sue Carter Flinn, Sean Flinn, Victoria Foley, Austen Gilliland, Stephanie Johns, Carsten Knox, Lindsay McCarney, Kate Watson and Shannon Webb-Campbell.
ACTUAL AT DALHOUSIE ART GALLERY
Emerging artists find a welcome home at Dalhousie Art Gallery, whether in solo or group shows. This summer a new group of young artists—all with Halifax roots—"privately and imaginatively pursue public, political, social and institutional realities," according to the gallery's website, in a variety of means: "bizarre video, tangible installations, photography and conceptual works." Curated by Emily Jones, an artist in her own right, Actual shows how these creators (Suzanne Caines, Laura Calvi, Jeanne Ju, Jon Knowles, Ryan Park, Kevin Rodgers and Aaron Schmidt) execute that difficult move of illuminating the real world—the concrete reality—without merely representing it or, on the other hand, making it unrecognizable. So regardless if an artist stays or goes, they were affected by this city and in turn leave their impact on it. (SF)
August 17-October 7. Opening on Aug. 16 at 8pm. 6101 University. www.artgallery.dal.ca
A welcome late-summer tradition, the Atlantic Film Festival organization once again projects movies against that big white rectangle on the back of Electropolis, down at Tall Ships Quay. This year's program looks to be one of the most eclectic yet: Back to the Future (July 27), a double feature of The Big Lebowski and Donnie Darko (August 3), the now-familiar Dreamworks ogre Shrek (August 10), Wes Anderson's Rushmore (August 17), Peter Weir's grand sea epic Master and Commander (August 24), and on August 31, the People's Choice Firefighter Classic. Apparently there are enough movies about fire and those who fight it to make a genre, and you can vote for your fave at atlanticfilm.com. In the running are Backdraft, Ladder 49, Firestarter, The Towering Inferno, Collateral Damage and Pyromaniacs: A Love Story. How much d'you wanna bet that Firestarter wins? Everyone loves 'lil Drew. (CK)
July 27-August 31. Tall Ships Quay, Halifax Waterfront. 422-3456. www.atlanticfilm.com
ATLANTIC FRINGE FESTIVAL
There's a lot to recommend about a visit to the 17th annual Atlantic Fringe Festival. It's accessible, affordable, artist-driven entertainment and it's offered at a variety of venues all over Halifax. Last year's productions included live, improvised comedy like She's Better Than Oprah DeGeneres by Anne-Marie Woods; a polished production of Marion Bridge by Best of Halifax-winning Metamorphic Theatre; Lear's Daughters, a five-woman prequel to Shakespeare's tragedy and the truly "fringy" Circumference, an ever-changing, audience-shaped work about body image. This year, expect the usual eclectic selection of musicals, dramas, comedies, dances—belly and otherwise—and off-the-wall performances. Artists, get those creative juices flowing and get your applications in by the July 7 deadline. (KW)
August 30-September 9. Various prices and locations. 435-4837. www.atlanticfringe.ca
SUB-SCOTIA DISCOVERY ARCHIVE AT ANNA LEONOWENS
In the stream of Halifax Harbour lies George's Island. With its lone lighthouse, lonelier looking house and thin grass, this tuft of earth— a glacial drumlin, in fact—we call George's Island has captured the imagination of many. Maybe you've stood on the waterfront thinking, "I'd love to just paddle over there." Artists John Matthews and Dennis Hale did just that last summer. Actually, August 7 marks the one-year anniversary of the founding of the Utopian Territory of Sub-Scotia. The explorers Matthews and Hale rowed over to the island on a raft made partly from reclaimed wood from a public art project by sculptor Warren Humeniuk. To mark such a symbolic journey and the subsequent founding, the artists share the Sub-Scotia Discovery Archive, a commemorative exhibition featuring photographs, video of the arrival and proclamation, recently created currency and passports, and a tourist pamphlet for those who wish to visit. (SF)
August 7-18. Anna Leonowens Gallery, 1869 Granville. www.nscad.ca
Nova Scotia's first and longest-running professional community repertory company was born two decades ago in the little town known as "The Highland Heart on Nova Scotia." Now, Festival Antigonish is inviting you to come and help celebrate its 20th anniversary. There will be over 100 performances of a dozen different shows, including No Way to Treat a Lady, Skylight, Boeing Boeing, Molly's Veil and God's Middle Name. "It's a banner year for us," says artistic producer Ed Thomason. "Audience numbers are growing and so is the quality and quantity of work we produce. Antigonish really is becoming a festival town!" (KW)
July 6-Sept. 2. Bauer Theatre, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish. $5-$27. 1-800-563-PLAY. www.festivalantigonish.com
WILDERNESS ACTS AT KEJIMKUJIK NATIONAL PARK
Head deep into the woods with Eyelevel Gallery to consider the question: what is wilderness? It's not as simple to answer as you might think: wilderness is a human definition. The flora and fauna of Keji aren't conscious that they live in the wild—that they're wild. It's simply where and how they live.
For possible and provocative answers, make the trek to the national park for art installations and performances by Rita McKeough, who returns to Nova Scotia after recently moving to Calgary, as well as by Toronto-based artist Janet Morton and Saskatoon's Lori Blondeau. Each has illuminated our often-faulty connection to natural spaces. Eyelevel director Eryn Foster points to another query branching off this concern: "Does land preservation aid in how we care for the wilderness or does it make us lazy by saying, "OK, this is our designated wilderness area; all else is open for human development?'"
To book a space on the Eyelevel bus going out to Keji for August 18 to 19, register by email: email@example.com. Cost is $20 per person, and all campers are responsible for reserving their own site through Keji. (SF)
August 16-19. eyelevelgallery.ca. www.pccamping.ca
Now the big summer music event in Nova Scotia, Evolve returns August 3 to 5, once again out in the expansive, festival-accommodating spaces of Antigonish. This year organizers have convinced the following bands, musicians and DJs to make the trip out to the Nova Scotian wilds to play music for you: Holy Fuck, Apostle of Hustle, Do Make Say Think, Brazilian Girls, DJ Heather, Keller Williams, The Phat Conductor, Lotus, Classified, King Sunshine, Slocoaster, That 1 Guy, Kid Beyond, The Tom Fun Orchestra, Mother Mother, Down with the Butterfly, The Divorcees, Grand Theft Bus, Hey Rosetta!, Tommy Knuckles, KJ Sawka, Robb G, Nurse, Carmen Townsend & The Shakey Deals and many, many more. When you go, make a point to check out the new second stage, and in the days to come, keep looking online for line-up additions and more information. (CK)
August 3-5. Antigonish. www.evolvefestival.com
ATLANTIC CANADA HARMONICA FESTIVAL
Now entering its fourth year, eastern Canada's only harmonica festival invites mouth-organ neophytes and seasoned players alike to grab a diatonic C harmonica and head to Memory Lane Heritage Village. There, harmonica professionals offer a range of classes—teaching everything from "how to blow" on simple songs like "Oh Susanna," to more advanced lessons in technique. Memory Lane, a heritage museum commemorating Nova Scotia in the 1940s, started hosting the festival as a tip of the hat to the Eastern Shore's strong musical tradition, and the transience that was common in the past. "The harmonica is a portable instrument...people played it because they could take it with them," says Thea Wilson-Hammond, a festival organizer. Purchasing a $25 festival pass also gets harmonica enthusiasts into the fest's evening Harmonica Showcase (a concert put on by pros), and a "cookhouse- style" lunch and dinner. Heck, there's even a vegetarian option available. (LM)
August 18, 10am-10pm. Memory Lane Heritage Village, Lake Charlotte. $4-$25. www.harmonicafestival.ca
LUNENBURG FOLK HARBOUR FESTIVAL
Edmonton's Juno-award winning traditional/roots trio The McDades are thrilled to finally make their way to Lunenburg for the annual Folk Harbour festival. Their latest album, Bloom, was honoured as Best Roots and Traditonal Album at this year's awards.
"It was a surprise win," says bassist Solon McDade, calling from Montreal. "We were seated way in the back, we had to crawl over the more famous people. Good thing I was wearing sneakers."
Part based in Edmonton, part based in Montreal, The McDades have recently recruited Bell Orchestre's percussionist Stefan Schneider. The trad/rootsy trio are developing a thicker, more intricate, experimental sound. "I am just happy to be going to Lunenburg, finally. They've been asking us for four years now. I know some people who go to the festival every year. Festivals are all about the people."
Other focal points include Ron Hynes, banjo-wunderkind Old Man Luedecke, Dyad, Suzie Vinnick, Laura Greenwood and Cassie Ann MacDonald. (SWC)
August 9-12, Lunenburg. $10.30-$46.35. 902-634-3180. www.folkharbour.com
For a small university town in New Brunswick, Sackville really packs it in to one week. Two festivals—OK. Quoi?! Contemporary Arts Festival and Sappy Records Music Festival (AKA Sappy Fest)—make for an indie art and music lover's dream vacation.
"There's a solid group of driven people and organizations that know how to work together," says Paul Henderson, manager of Faucet Media Arts Centre. "We like to see great events in our town and our backyard."
OK. Quoi?! attracts international artists working in film and video, audio and new experimental composition, performance and installations, drawing and more. Among the highlights, Halifax/Toronto filmmaker Andrea Dorfman and Berlin's Tamara Henderson co-curate Thursday night's outdoor screening of short films and videos from around the world.
Sappy Fest co-presents with OK. Quoi?! two nights (Friday and Saturday) of outdoor concerts featuring Sappy founder Julie Doiron, The Just Barelys, Singing Saws and The Superfantastics. Other Sappy acts include City Field, The Maynards, Eric's Trip, Dog Day, Baby Eagle and Ohbijou. (SF)
OK. Quoi,?! July 30-August 5. Sappy Records Music Festival, August 3-5. Various locations, Sackville, New Brunswick. www.strutsgallery.ca and www.sappyrecords.com.
EVENTS & FESTIVALS
HALIFAX INTERNATIONAL BUSKER FESTIVAL
Once again, the Halifax International Busker Festival is bringing performers from all over the world for some hot summer entertainment. The waterfront will come alive with people of all ages taking in shows at the various outdoor stages. Here are just few of this year's highlights: Ojarus, mystical long-headed clowns all the way from Japan who call themselves "strange performers." Local escape artist Jeff Collins, a magician, a juggler, a fire-eater and a fool all rolled into one, and Tic and Tac, a breakdancing, acrobatic comedy duo from New York. On August 9, be sure to take part in the Busker Outreach Programme, a diverse range of goodwill activities and services in support of important community programmes. (KW)
August 10-18. Halifax Waterfront. Pay by donation. www.buskers.ca
As with any good birthday bash, there are plenty of things to do, see and drink during Natal Day weekend. Start the fun with the festival kickoff at the waterfront, stay for some live music and check back in every night for more entertainment. On Saturday, there's a family event with rides, cake and face painting in Dartmouth, along with an amateur talent show. End the day with a fireworks display from the Macdonald Bridge. Sunday is all about the ol'-fashioned good time, as the Mayor's Natal Day tea party in Dartmouth works on bringing the stylish hat back. (Note: Monday, the party moves to the Public Gardens, if you fear crossing the bridge.) Monday is a day off, so lace up your sneakers and get out for the annual Natal Day two- or six-mile road race in Dartmouth, then hit the CFB pancake breakfast. To top it all off, slap on the sunblock and watch the Natal Day parade, or the Dartmouth Natal Day Regatta. Check out natalday.org for the official list of events, with detailed dates and times. (VF)
August 4-6. Various locations. www.natalday.org
Summer and beer go together like, well, summer and beer. To celebrate both, mark your calendar for the inaugural Halifax Seaport Beerfest, a co-production of Garrison Breweries and Make it Happen, scheduled for August 11. Beerfest is all about enjoying craft beer—more than 100 varieties from 30 vendors will be on hand for your tasting pleasure. Thirty dollars buys you unlimited beer for three hours, and if you show up hungry, there will be a few non-beer vendors, including Foxhill Cheese. It's one day only, with two sessions held outside near Pier 21 on the waterfront. Only 2,000 tickets are available, and organizers predict they will sell out quickly...so don't wait long to make up your mind. Tickets are on sale—where else?—at selected NSLC stores. (VF)
August 11. 2-5pm, 7-10pm. Halifax Seaport, 1149 Marginal. $30. www.seaportbeerfest.com
There are plenty of laughs to be had through the summer months in Halifax. The Harbour Hopper ticket prices are good for a low, mean chuckle. If that doesn't get you rolling down the Citadel, it might be best to consult specialists. Yuk Yuk's are here for you all summer: amateur night every Wednesday, and fresh headliners every weekend, playing Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The big name that the comedy club is proud to present is comedian Mike MacDonald, the guy who brought you the legendary tennis-racquet-as-guitar bit. He plays Halifax July 5 to 7. If you like to eat before you laugh, check out the dinner and show packages in conjunction with the Westin Hotel (Saturday seafood buffet!), and if it's your birthday within a week of the show, you get in free (don't forget to bring your ID). Those beloved rowdies in Picnicface have plans for you as well. Taking a break from their usual Sunday evening stand at Ginger's until late July, they're putting together a show for the Toronto Fringe Festival (it's July 5 to 15, if you happen to find yourself in the Big Smoke during that spell). Before they go they're doing two nights at the Neptune Theatre, June 29 and 30. According to 'facer Mark Little, the Neptune gigs "give Haligonians, and the people who regularly come to see our shows, a chance to see what we're bringing to Toronto. Also, lots of people fear Ginger's Tavern, so the Neptune—that's like our branching out. Sort of." And keep your eyes open for the troupe doing a night at the Music Room with The Got To Get Got among other bands. "On June 22," says Little. "Or June 23. Damn, I can't remember which day." Now, that's funny. (CK)
It's no secret—the best place to take your dog in Halifax is Point Pleasant Park. So many wonderful paths to run down, hidden puddles to splash in, smelly things to roll in and butts to sniff. The Metro SPCA has clued in and moved the Dog Jog, their annual fundraiser, to the park. Presented by Royal Canin, it takes place June 24, 11am to 3pm. Download a pledge form at www.spcans.ca. The sprawling green space at the southern tip of the peninsula isn't the only place in town to exercise your pooch, with all the parks, beaches and lakes around (just remember to clean up after your lil' pooper). Seaview on the northern part of the peninsula is also officially off-leash, and Long Lake is a good option, as its lengthy trails offer you a chance to exercise along with Fido. If watching dogs run and jump is your thing, or your furry little Spot is quick and listens to commands, you may want to visit www.cans.ca for information about Canine Agility Nova Scotia. (Go to Bridgewater on July 6 to 8 to check out the Canine Performance Events nationals.) You can even get your dog involved in official canine sports, including Flyball, a relay race game of sorts, and Dockdogs, where each dog's leap off a dock into water is measured for distance. Check out the Lietash Canine Academy in Mount Uniacke if you think your dog has mad athletic skills (www.lietash.com). Of course, summer tends to coincide with vacation time, and Patches can't always go along. For a kennel stay, consider the Country Critter Sitters, in Seaforth, near Lawrencetown. Run by Cathy and Mary Taplin, the dogs stay in the house with the owners, and have the run of a large fenced-in yard and private beach. It's really more of a dog spa than kennel. For newcomers, a visit to check for canine compatibility issues is required and advance reservations are suggested, especially around the holidays. See www.countrycrittersitters.com for the whole scoop. (CK)
Dog Jog, Point Pleasant Park, June 24, 11am-3pm, spcans.ca. Canine Performance Events, Bridgewater, July 6-8. www.lietash.com. www.countrycrittersitters.com
THE SCOOP ON ICE CREAM
Nothing quite says, "It's finally summer in Halifax!" better than a trip to your local ice cream shop, even when your goose bumps are outnumbering your good sense. For the touristy experience, head down to the waterfront boardwalk, where you can fill your craving for a cone and a stroll at Cows (Halifax waterfront), Sugah! or the we-hope-it reopens-soon-for-your-gelato-needs Botticelli's (both at Bishop's Landing). If traditional ice cream flavours and a walk in the park are more your style, brave the onshore winds and head to Pinky Skoopmore's at Point Pleasant, Dingle Park or the Bedford Highway. If you'd rather get the cone and walk on home, visit your local corner store or gelato shop, which, if it's like the AAA Convenience (Jubilee and Preston), Needs (Windsor and Chebucto), the Daily Sweets Kwik-Way (Oxford and Edinburgh) or Dio Mio (Brenton at Spring Garden), might boast ice-cream sandwiches, huge serving sizes, crazy-awesome sundaes or flavours you've never heard of, too. (AG)
If you've ever chanted, "Hooray, hooray, it's the first of May, lobster season begins today," chances are you're looking forward to at least one lobster supper this summer. If you're envisioning a fun night in your kitchen or around a picnic table, spread out the newspapers, set out the picks and nutcrackers, put the potato salad and beer in the fridge and get yourself to your local seafood department. Ideally, the Halifax Farmers' Market or one of the fish markets on the Bedford Highway, where a friendly fish-seller will help you decide between canners (smaller, cheaper) and markets (bigger, more meat, more expensive); cooked (that recognizable red) or alive (still crawling and ready for you to cook at home); and whole lobsters or just tails (go for the whole thing, it's more fun). Back home again, change into your grubby clothes and prepare for a messy night of claw-cracking, tail-splitting and meat-picking. Just don't eat anything green.
If you're entertaining come-from-aways or you'd just rather make a day of it and leave the fishy smell in someone else's kitchen, consider hopping in a car and taking a tour down the South Shore, heading—once you've had your fill of lighthouses and dramatic ocean vistas—to the Shore Club in Hubbards. There, Wednesdays through Sundays from June to October, you can get a full lobster supper, including salad plate, all-you-can-eat mussels, dessert and coffee or tea for $26.55 to $37.70 (taxes, gratuities extra), depending on the size of your chosen crustacean. They've served more than a million lobster suppers, so you know it's gonna be good! (AG)
Clearwater Seafood, 757 Bedford Highway, 443-0333, clearwater.ca. Fisherman's Market, 607 Bedford Highway, 443-3474, www.fishermansmarket.com. Hubbards Shore Club, 250 Shore Club Road, 857-9555, www.shoreclub.ca/suppers/index.html
ROSS CREEK CENTRE
Alberta can have Banff—Nova Scotia has Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, located on 186 acres of farm and forest in the Annapolis Valley, near Canning and Wolfville, with views of the Bay of Fundy. Originally opened as a permanent home for Two Planks and a Passion Theatre, the Centre has grown to include a multi-discipline arts research and development facility and a cultural hotspot. This summer, the Centre is offering weekend workshops for beginners, and if you already know your way around a pottery wheel or paint brush, there are master classes too. If your artistic bent doesn't go any further than hanging it on the wall, there's the Ross Creek Summer Festival, beginning on Canada Day, with performances throughout the summer. From June 29 to late August, Halifax artist Sarah Hartland-Rowe has an exhibition in the gallery. Outside, the bald eagles, herons, deer, coyotes and porcupines will be putting on their own show. (SCF)
Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, 555 Ross Creek Road. 902-582-3842. www.artscentre.ca