"I hired Great Big Sea16 years ago for their first show on the mainland, so they were the first band I called to see if they'd consider coming and doing a show for us; they accepted our offer to come and make it a real celebration," says Mike Condy, owner of the Lower Deck. Great Big Sea is performing a now sold-out show Sunday night in the outdoor courtyard, while the rest of the Lower Deck's birthday weekend's filled with performances by Rob Cooke, Cory Tetford, The Navigators, Pogey and Signal Hill.
Condy has seen 19 of the Lower Deck's 35 years, and attributes its success to the same successful 'ol.
"We've tried to keep it as close to the same as we possibly could. Even our service has stayed the same, where guys collect for drinks and girls collect for food."
The sit-down pub atmosphere, the lack of hard liquor---save for the rum---and the early closing time of 12:45am have all been characteristics Condy's kept constant. The second floor's Beer Market is where to get hard liquor and to dance until 2am, while the third floor Tap Room is for private functions---all recent changes. But the Lower Deck stays true to its original 1974 form.
And then there's the music. The table-banging, foot-stomping, live Maritime music that attracts crowds from across the country. Condy brings it back to Great Big Sea when he talks about the Deck's musical reputation.
"Always, when they were on stage they'd call us the church of traditional Maritime entertainment," he says proudly. And there's plenty to be proud about.