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Dalhousie Arts Centre

HAVING A BLAST: The Halifax Pop Explosion showcases indie music in a variety of genres

Port Cities plays the Halifax Pop Explosion.

By Trevor J. Adams

From October 17 to 20, Halifax is a haven for fans of edgy indie music, innovative talents who create works you’re not hearing on the radio or top-40 play lists. The Halifax Pop Explosion presents 150 musical acts, comedians, and speakers at venues around the city. After marking its 25th anniversary last year, HPX is bigger than ever, with organizers putting a bigger focus on reflecting a diverse array of cultural communities. Organizers were still finalizing the festival schedule at press time, but have given fans a tantalizing preview of the year’s artists.

As usual, one of the biggest highlights of the festival is sure to be the annual collaboration with Symphony Nova Scotia. This year, the all-star trio Port Cities (comprised of Carleton Stone, Dylan Guthro, and Breagh MacKinnon) join the orchestra to perform new orchestral arrangements of their works. Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser conducts at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on October 19 and 20.

Local talents also get their share of the limelight. Made-in-Halifax talents include DJ Uncle Fester, a 15-year veteran of the local hip-hop scene, and Juno-nominee Ghettosocks, described as a “true disciple of Golden Era rap music.”

Reuben and the Dark is one of the biggest acts on this year’s roster. The Calgary-based folk-rock group led by songwriter/vocalist Reuben Bullock, are best known for their acclaimed songs “Bow & Arrow” and “Heart in Two.” Their sound is contemplative, passionate, and expansive; expect a memorable show.

Headliner Zaki Ibrahim is a two-time Polaris Prize nominee (shortlisted in 2013 and longlisted in 2018) who has quickly emerged as one of Canada’s top hip-hop and soul talents. She released her much-anticipated second full-length album The Secret Lives of Planets earlier this year.

Gaelynn Lea is another artist generating tons of buzz. After two decades of hard work, she won NPR Music’s 2016 Tiny Desk Contest. Since then, she’s played over 250 shows in 42 states and seven countries. Critics hail her for her unique voice and violin virtuosity, exploring “the contrasting nature of existence: dark and light, birth and death, anger and forgiveness, sorrow and joy.”

Ontario’s Born Ruffians are sure to put on a rollicking show. Together since 2014, the group recently released their fifth studio album Uncle, Duke & The Chief. Continually reinventing their unique rock sound, they’ve drawn comparisons to the Strokes, the Pixies, and David Bowie.

Victoria, B.C. musician and vocalist AppleCat is sure to keep fans grooving into the wee smalls, with a uniquely poetic and graceful sound combining deep dubstep, fairytale bass, trap, world, and IDM influences. Fans may recall her as the subject of the recent documentary Amplify Her about women in the electronica scene.

THE DETAILS
This is just a small sample of what the Halifax Pop Explosion has to offer. For a complete lineup, plus schedule and ticket info, surf to halifaxpopexplosion.com.

 

HOT ENTERTAINMENT

Live Art Dance hosts Shay Kuebler Radical System Art. Photo credit: David Cooper

FUSION FORCE
October 5, 6
Vancouver’s Shay Kuebler Radical System Art offers a unique high-energy evening of dance that blends tap, swing, and contemporary styles. Live Art Dance hosts its Telemetry production at the Sir James Dunn Theatre in the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

FASHION STATEMENT
October 18 to 21
With fashion shows, parties, and special events aplenty, Atlantic Fashion Week is the East Coast’s hottest style celebration. This annual event celebrates the region’s design gurus, with lots of opportunities for up-and-comers to strut their stuff.

GET IN THE RING
October 13
Up-and-coming fighters from Canada and the U.S. go head-to-head with national pride on the line as Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street hosts an evening of team boxing action.

CLASSICAL CONNECTIONS
• October 13: The Dartmouth Community Concert Association’s autumn season begins at Woodlawn United Church with a baroque concert by Ensemble Les Songes, featuring soprano Samantha Louis-Jean, recorder player Vincent Lauzer, cellist Camille Paquette-Roy, and harpsichordist Mélisande McNabney.
• October 14: Violinist Jolente De Maeyer and pianist Nikolaas Kende visit the Cecilia Concert Series for European Afternoon, a matinee concert at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts on Chebucto Road. The lineup includes Beethoven’s Sonata No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47 and Kreutzer and Schubert’s Sonata in A Major, D. 574, Grand Duo.

ART AFTER DARK
October 13
Discover unique art in a variety of media, with exhibitions and performances at venues around Halifax during Nocturne. Running from 6 p.m. to midnight, this one-night-only festival takes over galleries and public spaces where you wouldn’t normally expect to discover cutting-edge art. Free bike-valet and shuttle-bus service make it easy to get out and explore.

EDITOR’S PICK – OUT OF THIS WORLD
October 26 to 28
Hal-Con is the East Coast’s biggest sci-fi, gaming, and fantasy festival and it returns this month. Scheduled guests include Star Trek: The Next Generation’s LeVar Burton (“Geordi LaForge”) and John de Lancie (“Q”), plus comic artist Brenda Hickey, author Delilah S. Dawson, cosplay guru Cassie Seaboyer, and many more. This event usually sells out, so get your tickets early and catch all the action at the new Halifax Convention Centre on Argyle Street.

October 7
A CIVILIZED CONVERSATION WITH CHELSEA HANDLER
Handler joins Civilized publisher Derek Riedel for a townhall on politics, culture, and cannabis.

October 13
JILL BARBER
The jazz/folk-pop vocalist returns to the Dalhousie Arts Centre with an intimate show for her hometown fans.

October 19, 20
SYMPHONY NOVA SCOTIA
Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser conducts as Port Cities joins the Symphony at the Dalhousie Arts Centre for a special Halifax Pop Explosion concert.

October 22
DEAN BRODY
The Canadian country powerhouse brings his Dirt Road Acoustic Tour to the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

October 26, 27
LAST LAUGH COMEDY CLUB
Angelo Tsarouchas joins Efthimios Nasiopoulos and Comus for It’s All Greek to Me at Atlantica Hotel Halifax.

October 27
HALIFAX MOOSEHEADS
After starting the season with a long road trip, the Mooseheads play their home-opener at Scotiabank Centre versus Cape Breton.

Musical collaborations

By Trevor J. Adams

Rising stars and beloved veterans join forces for a fiery month of music in Halifax.

This month Symphony Nova Scotia’s new season is going full swing, seeing some remarkable collaborations between local stars and touring talents. The excitement begins on October 2 and 3, as hip-hop artist Buck 65 (AKA CBC Radio host Rich Terfry) returns home to Nova Scotia. The Symphony promises fans “a mind-blowing mash-up of symphonic electronic hip-hop.” The Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue hosts the show.

Buck 65

Buck 65

Up next, the Symphony welcomes back Giora Schmidt. This concert is a must for classical purists. The violin virtuoso has wowed audiences on previous visits with his classical mastery. This time, he turns his considerable talents to Sibelius, marking the 150th anniversary of the conductor’s birth with an in-depth exploration of his music. See him on October 15 at the Dalhousie Arts Centre and on October 18 at Alderney Landing—where the Halifax Transit ferries dock—in Dartmouth.

On October 23 and 24, the Symphony returns to the Dalhousie Arts Centre for one of its most popular concerts of the year: the Halifax Pop Explosion collaboration. This year, it shares the stage with indie rocker and Halifax native Rich Aucoin. A critically acclaimed master of indie rock, indie pop, and experimental music, Aucoin is sure to take audiences on an unforgettable trip.

Giora Schmidt

Giora Schmidt

And that concert is just a taste of what the Halifax Pop Explosion offers. Running from October 20 to 24, the festival celebrates the best in alt and indie music, with accomplished veterans sharing stages with rising stars.

Rich Aucoin. Photo: Vanessa Heins

Rich Aucoin. Photo: Vanessa Heins

Venues include public spaces like Government House and Saint Matthew’s United Church, plus traditional nightspots The Carleton, The Marquee Ballroom on Gottingen Street, the Seahorse Tavern on Gottingen Street, Gus’ Pub on North Street, the Company House on Gottingen Street, Olympic Community Centre on Hunter Street, and Reflections Cabaret on Sackville Street.

With 150 performers at 15 different venues around the city, this is the East Coast’s biggest celebration of alternative music. This year’s lineup includes Travi$ Scott, Purity Ring, Stars, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Black Tiger Sex Machine, and many others.

Leonie Rettig

Leonie Rettig

And on October 29, the Symphony wraps up its busy month with another gem for true classical aficionados. Hailed by Symphony Nova Scotia’s Maestro Bernhard Gueller as “an extremely talented, wonderful player,” German virtuoso pianist Leonie Rettig makes her Canadian debut with Ravel’s breathtaking Piano Concerto in G, a fantastically colourful work famed for its brilliant melodies and heartbreaking slow movement. Then, the orchestra performs Beethoven’s Second Symphony, brimming with energy and temperament. See her at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

East meets West

Dean Brody

Dean Brody

By Trevor J. Adams

Halifax goes a little bit country as the city celebrates some of Canadian music’s top talents.

The Canadian Country Music Association Awards come to Halifax for only the second time in the event’s history. In addition to the gala awards show, the celebrations include Country Music Week, jam-packed with special events for music lovers.

First on the calendar is the CCMA Songwriters’ Series, beginning on September 10 and continuing through September 13. The Schooner Showroom at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street hosts, as artists explore the songwriter’s craft. Industry veterans and rising stars will share the stage for an intimate acoustic performance series.

Meaghan Blanchard

Meaghan Blanchard

Also on September 10, the World Trade and Convention Centre hosts the CCMA Discovery Showcase. The event brings together six finalists from the association’s Discovery Program for up-and-coming talents. Beverley Mahood hosts, while each artist performs separately for the secret panel of judges.

The finalists were selected through a rigorous, nationwide jury selection process. Since then, they’ve learned in-depth, about the music business and artist development through industry-led information sessions and seminars, performance and vocal coaching, and styling.

The roster includes Meaghan Blanchard (Hunter River, P.E.I.), Raquel Cole (Vernon, B.C.), Ray Gibson (Maple Ridge, B.C.), Maddison Krebs (Okotoks, Alberta), Katia Zuccarelli (Port Credit, Ontario), and Sykamore (Calgary, Alberta).

Up next is the CCMA Legends Show on September 11 at the Dalhousie Arts Centre. Beverly Mahood hosts this special
tribute to Canadian country hits of the past by pairing young talents and industry veterans.

Gord Bamford

Gord Bamford

RidleyBent-hires-web

Ridley Bent

BRETT-KISSEL-web

Brett Kissel

 

The lineup includes Gord Bamford, Tim Chaisson, Patricia Conroy, Tracey Brown, and many others. The same night, the Cunard Centre on Marginal Road hosts a rollicking Kitchen Party.

Return to the Cunard Centre on September 12 for FanFest, a free afternoon show featuring back-to-back live performances by a collection of fan-favourite artists. Attendees will have the opportunity to get their picture taken with these country music celebs at the CCMA FanFest photo wall.

The celebrations continue back at Casino Nova Scotia that night, as the CCMA All Star Band Awards honours the hardworking musicians who spend hours perfecting their skills and supporting artists both on stage and behind the scenes.

Finally, the Scotiabank Centre on Duke Street hosts the eponymous awards show on September 13. The finalists are a who’s-who of Canadian country music scene. Gord Bamford and Nova Scotia’s own Dean Brody lead the pack with six nominations apiece. Following close behind are Brett Kissel and Dallas Smith, with four nominations each.

Tickets are available at ticketatlantic.com. The show airs on CBC and CMT.

The right notes

By Trevor J. Adams

Natalie MacMaster joins Symphony Nova Scotia for a Maritime Fusion concert.

Natalie MacMaster joins Symphony Nova Scotia for a Maritime Fusion concert.

After giving audiences a taste of the new season during Symphony Week last month, Symphony Nova Scotia takes things into top gear with several big concerts throughout the month. Acclaimed Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster joins the orchestra at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on October 3 for the year’s first Maritime Fusion concert. The Grammy-winner always puts on a high-energy show of Maritime roots music—jigs and reels abound. There’s an encore performance on October 4.

Up next is someone special for classical purists: legendary Canadian violinist Martin Beaver (whose resumé includes 11 years as first violinist with the Tokyo String Quartet). Maestro Bernhard Gueller conducts as Beaver joins the Symphony at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on October 16. They’ll perform the Haydn Variations by Brahms, Mendelssohn’s Symphony no. 3 (Scottish) and Max Bruch’s Violin Concert in G minor. They repeat the performance on October 19 at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth, where the Halifax Transit ferry docks.

On October 24, the Symphony returns to the Dalhousie Arts Centre for one of its most popular concerts of the year: the Halifax Pop Explosion collaboration. This year, it shares the stage with Canadian indie darlings Whitehorse. With strong arrangements, brilliant songwriting and intense vocal chemistry, it’s no surprise that the husband-and-wife duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland were nominated for the prestigious Polaris Prize in 2013. Their distinctive alt-country sound is sure to hit a new level when they team up with the Symphony. A repeat performance is scheduled for October 25.

And these concerts are just a taste of what the Halifax Pop Explosion offers. Running from October 21 to 25, the festival celebrates the best in alt and indie music, with accomplished veterans sharing stages with rising stars. Some 200 bands will perform in 20 venues, in front of 30,000+ fans.

Venues include public spaces like Government House and Saint Matthew’s United Church and traditional nightspots like Casino Nova Scotia, The Carleton, The Marquee Ballroom on Gottingen Street, the Seahorse Tavern on Argyle Street, the Company House on Gottingen Street, Olympic Community Centre on Hunter Street and Reflections Cabaret on Sackville Street.

Lights

Lights

Although performance schedules weren’t set at press time, organizers are already tantalizing fans with an all-star list of performers. Highlights include Calgary’s Astral Swans, Wu-Tang legend Ghostface Killah, singer/songwriter Mo Kenney, Toronto rockers Tokyo Police Club, pop multi-instrumentalist Lights, and many more.

For schedules and ticket information, surf to halifaxpopexplosion.com

November & December Hot Dates

By Trevor J. Adams

Take your chances

The Mavericks

The Mavericks

The Schooner Showroom at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street is one of Halifax’s busiest entertainment venues. Highlights include singer/songwriter Dallas Smith November 10, ‘90s pop stars Hanson on November 14 and 15, country-rockers The Mavericks on November 16 and the Ha! Ha! Ha!days show on December 13 and 14.

Editor’s choice

Photo: Carl Lender

Photo: Carl Lender

November 21—When blues guitar heroes Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks married, their love spawned one of blues-rocks’ hottest new bands. The Tedeschi Trucks Band brings its sweet, sweet guitar sound to Halifax for the first time, playing the Cunard Centre on Marginal Road.

5 funny shows

Alonzo Bodden

Alonzo Bodden

November 3—The Just For Laughs Comedy Tour brings the hottest names from Montreal’s famous festival to Halifax—Darrin Rose, Alonzo Bodden, Tom Papa and Orny Adams.

November 10 and 11—John Cleese called Eddie Izzard “the missing Python.” See why at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

November 20—Controversial comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham visits the Halifax Metro Centre on Duke Street.

November 24—A high-energy storyteller, Gabriel Iglesias is exhausting just to watch. See him at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

December 1—Acerbic and insightful, Ron James is one of the hottest names in Canadian comedy and a regular at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

More hot dates

Coup-de-Coeur 2012

November 8—Danse Lhasa Danse celebrates the legacy of deceased platinum-award winning artist Lhasa de Sela with music and dance.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

November 16—Mac Miller, the fast-rising hip-hop star, performs live in Halifax, at the Cunard Centre on Marginal Road, for the first time.

John0347

November 22—John McDermott, the Celtic crooner, always plays to a full house in Halifax. See him at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue.

BetteMacDoanldMaynardMorrison

December 9—Bette MacDonald & Maynard Morrison, the Cape Breton comic duo, return with their annual Tis the Season special at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

Photo: Nick Pearce

Photo: Nick Pearce

December 14—Halifax Rainmen, Halifax’s pro-hoops heroes, take on their Maritime rivals from Prince Edward Island at the Halifax Metro Centre.

MooseheadsDrouin 3

December 28—Halifax Mooseheads, the city’s major-junior hockey team, defending national champs, return from the Christmas break to battle Cape Breton.

October Hot Dates

By Trevor J. Adams

Bodies in motion

webClassical_Contemporary_-_Cristina_Graziano,_Hampus_Gauffin,_photo_by_Linda_Schettle copy

October 3 to 5: The new Live Art Dance Productions season continues with Phin at the Dalhousie Arts Centre. Lisa Phinney Langley interprets Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death.

October 18: Ballet in the Studio by Ballet Jörgen Canada features works by Bengt Jörgen, Malgorzata Nowacka, and Robert Desrosiers, plus excerpts from The Nutcracker.

October 28 to 31: With dance and musical performances at venues around the city, the Fall For Flamenco celebrates Spain’s fiery sounds.

 

Living legends

Joe Satriani

Joe Satriani

October 5: Two big music names come to Halifax. Instrumental-rock guitar legend Joe Satriani struts his stuff at the Dalhousie Arts Centre. Meanwhile, 1980s R&B/pop star Billy Ocean performs in the Schooner Showroom at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street.

On stage
Photo: Emily Jeuer

Photo: Emily Jeuer

Continuing through October 5: It’s your last chance to see the Theatre Arts Guild season-opener Steel Magnolias at the Pond Playhouse on Parkhill Road in Jollimore.

October 15 to 22: The Studio Stage at Neptune Theatre on Argyle Street hosts the Canadian comedy classic Hockey Mom/Hockey Dad by Nova Scotian playwright Mike Melski.

 

Editor’s choice

Photo: Michelle Doucette

Photo: Michelle Doucette

October 19: An annual festival of art after dark, Nocturne brings exhibitions, performances and special projects to galleries and public spaces around the city, from 6 p.m. until midnight.

 

Toronto Raptors

webRudy_Gay-Raptors copy

October 5: Rudy Gay and his teammates prepare for the NBA season with an intra-squad exhibition game at the Halifax Metro Centre.

 

St. Cecilia concert series

Stéphane Tétreault

October 12: Twenty-year-old cello sensation Stéphane Tétreault performs at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts on Chebucto Road.

 

Matthew Good

Matthew Good Concert

October 18: The Canadian rocker returns to Halifax, performing at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

 

Reba McEntire

webreba-mcentire-21081 copy

October 19: With 64 top-10 hits, McEntire is one of country’s biggest names. See her at the Halifax Metro Centre. 

Stuart McLean

Photo: Alana Elliot

Photo: Alana Elliot

October 20: The storyteller of CBC Radio fame brings The Vinyl Café tour to the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

 

Red Green

webred-green copy

October 29: Canada’s favourite handyman stars in the How to do Everything Well tour at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

Grape expectations 
Photo: WANS

Photo: WANS

Continuing through October: The Nova Scotia Fall Wine Festival celebrates the province’s fast-growing wine scene, with winemakers’ dinners, grape stomps, education seminars, tours and special events at wineries and other venues around the province.

September Hot Dates

Shakespeare by the Sea

Photo: Ryan Whalen

Photo: Ryan Whalen

September 1—Another season of theatre al fresco wraps up, with two performances of Snow White at Point Pleasant Park.

Daniel O’Donnell

daniel-o-donnell-205186

September 6—The Irish crooner always packs ‘em in when he visits Halifax. See him at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue.

Good causes

Shaun Majumder

Shaun Majumder

September 7—It’s an evening of great music for a good cause, as the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue hosts the Surf Sing Change concert in support of the OCD Collective and Autism Nova Scotia. Comedian Shaun Majumder emcees; Sam Roberts, Matt Mays and Brian Byrne perform.

John Cleese

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September 12—The Monty Python alum drops into the Dalhousie Arts Centre on his Last Time To See Me Before I Die tour.

A matter of taste

tastesquare117

A culinary walking tour with Local Tasting Tours is a unique way to discover Halifax like a local, exploring cuisine, culture and people. Tours, offered daily, include generous tastings of delectable Nova Scotian fare from homegrown shops and eateries in the historic downtown. Join entertaining guides on daytime and evening rambles.

Game on

Photo: QMJHL

Photo: QMJHL

September 12—Last season, the Halifax Mooseheads won hockey’s toughest prize, winning the national major-junior hockey championship, the Memorial Cup. Now, they embark on a new season, looking to defend their title. This month, they meet one of their biggest rivals, the Moncton Wildcats, at the Halifax Metro Centre on Duke Street on September 12.

Scotia Speedworld

Legend 2

September 14—It’s the final auto race of the year: the Pro Stock Tour Season Finale.

Neptune Theatre

George Pothitos Picture

September 17—Artistic Director George Pothitos leads the company through another season of live theatre, beginning with a contemporary take on The Comedy of Errors.

Hypnotist Cyrus

Cyrus

September 21—It’s mind over matter, as the master hypnotist brings his stage show to the Schooner Showroom at Casino Nova Scotia.

Editor’s Choice

JIAN-GHOMESHI

September 22—The Word on the Street celebrates the printed word, with readings, book signings, vendors, kids’ events and more. This year, author and media personality Jian Ghomeshi headlines, reading from his debut novel, 1982. Look for the festival tents on the Halifax Waterfront, adjacent to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on Lower Water Street.

Cue the music

Maestro Bernhard Gueller
Maestro Bernhard Gueller
September 26 to 29—Symphony Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada’s only full-time professional orchestra, starts its new season celebrating Symphony Week and Culture Days, with free performances around the city. Venues include Halifax City Hall on September 27, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on September 28 and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia on September 29.