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Since 2007, Xara Choral Theatre has been blazing a glorious trail.
This ensemble of women ages 18 to 30, lead by conductor Christina Murray and theatre practitioner Claire Leger, creates performances that are truly original combinations of choral singing, theatre and movement.
Last year, Murray and Leger founded another group called Xara Youth Ensemble (XYE) for teen girls ages 14 to 18. This auditioned choir operates on the principles of inclusivity, friendship, and positivity (values that are radiated in their performance) and puts on two full-scale productions every year.
On December 7th, XYE debuted a show called Pulse at Bethany United Church. The hour-long program incorporated song and movement as well as spoken-word pieces created with Shauntay Grant to tell the story of the singers’ own teenage experiences.
The show delivered musically (gorgeous harmonies, pure, soulful voices and an outstanding version of "Florence and the Machine's" Shake it Out), visually (clever colour-blocked delineation of opposing cliques, evocative lighting) and emotionally (an exploration of bullying and friendship that speaks truthfully about the pain and joys of adolescence).
Choral music shows like this are almost always one-night-only affairs, so stay tuned at www.xara.ca for what's up next.
For their 10th annual holiday fundraiser JazzEast will be bringing the 48-year-old Charlie Brown holiday classic to Halifax.
“This year we are trying out a completely different model—usually we do a gala with four course meal, concert and silent auction at a $125 ticket price.” Says JazzEast artistic director Laura "Lulu" Healy. “This year we're opening it up to families and taking the dinner out of the equation, with a much more accessible ticket price.”
This Sunday, December 8, original drummer (and only surviving member) of The Vince Guaraldi Trio, Jerry Granelli will perform the score of A Charlie Brown Christmas live at the Spatz Theatre. Accompanying Granelli is Simon Fisk on bass, Chris Gestrin as the piano-playing Schroeder of it all, and Halifax’s own Vivace Children’s Choir on vocals.
There will be a 2pm matinee featuring activities for families, and then a showing later that night at 8.
“There will be a few games for kids to play before entering the concert space, and we have a little surprise planned for kids when they come out of the show,” says Healy.
Both shows will feature a silent auction featuring donations from local businesses, artists and other JazzEast supporters. The evening showing will also have a cash bar and hors d’oeuvres available.
Proceeds will support JazzEast’s educational music programs such as Halifax JazzLabs, Creating Creative Listeners and the annual summer music camp, the Creative Music Workshop.
You can win a pass to the 2014 TD Halifax Jazz Festival by sending your favorite Charlie Brown Christmas memory under 250 words to email@example.com, contest closes Friday, December 13. Stories will be shared at the concert.
Healy shared her favourite Charlie Brown memory with the Coast: “My Poppa absolutely loved jazz and also Charlie Brown. The Charlie Brown Christmas record was one of his favourites. He always sent us Charlie Brown-themed Christmas cards and used to play the music on his piano at Christmas. He would have been so excited to know that Jerry Granelli was going to play this music again. I can't listen to this music without thinking of how wonderful my Poppa was.”
Doors open at 1pm and 6:30pm, tickets are $40, children 12 and under get in free in the company of an adult.
Monday marked the beginning of the end for Halifax-based Canadian music blog herohill. Bryan “Ack” Acker’s morning post detailed with thoughtful retrospection why the prolific blog would be shutting down after 10 years of reviewing and reflecting on music. Acker, who along with Shane “Naedoo” Nadeau ran the site for a decade, announced the swan song, declaring that the coming weeks will feature 10 essays, one for “each of the records that really impacted my life.”
It’s a positive way to say goodbye, but the decision was made after the bloom of reviewing music had gone off the rose. Acker writes: “Writing about music is more of an obligation than anything else. I can’t pinpoint when I stopped enjoying writing about bands, I just know it happened, and no matter what I’ve tried the joy I took from writing is gone.” He continues, “When I first thought about writing this post, I wanted to start naming names. I wanted to call out the shitty publicists, the lazy bloggers and the entitled, arrogant musicians that treated herohill like an unpaid employee.”
Instead, he took the high road and focused on the opportunities that developed for himself and Nadeau. He admits herohill didn’t offer much in the way of compensation, and was an awfully demanding second shift, but in a climate of rapidly shrinking print inches, their long form reviews were a rarity. Contacted after his goodbye post, Acker says, “I will say, when I hit submit, I felt a weight come off my shoulders, but as more and more people reached out ... it was hard not to be sad when we said goodbye.”
Acker and Nadeau are open to other projects, and there’s some melancholy about leaving music behind for now. But herohill couldn’t abide the shift to a click-baited format. “I've given a lot of time thinking about what's next for blogs. Most of the old dogs are retiring, and now, the model is crumbling. With soundcloud and twitter, everyone has instantaneous access to every song that is released,” says Acker. “Music sites should try control the flow coming from the fire hose. Instead of posting every new song you get from PR folks and labels, think about the songs that you really think people should hear, or put time into describing the songs with passionate words.”
“We've moved to a model where people either gush or just shit all over a band. There is almost no middle ground, which is too bad because most bands are average. That's fine for fans, but I'm not sure bloggers are willing to actually go back and learn about the influences that form today's sound or can speak intelligently about it. I get it, it's hard to randomly pick a point and go back, especially when no one getting paid to review music anymore, but I just wished people cared more.
“I think that's the why I can't keep going. I want people to read our reviews and feel like they got new insight into how the songs can make you feel, but most people just want the link.”
Montreal’s Architek Percussion want to expand your idea of a drum solo. Combining a “like-mindedness toward chamber music” the avant-garde percussion quartet instantly hit their groove. “We each have our strengths and individual roles in the group but the reason we work well together is because we have common philosophies on making and sharing music,” says Architek member Mark Morton.
One of those philosophies is to make genre-pushing percussion pieces accessible and relatable to various audiences. “We are open to envelope-pushing repertoire but we strive to make even the most bizarre pieces accessible to an audience through spatialization, attitude and presentation” says Morton. “The ideal performance situation for us is when the music is challenging and rewarding both for the players and for the audience.”
Architek (Morton, Ben Duinker, Ben Reimer and Sandro Valiante) come to Halifax to perform "Blips and Beats", a performance that features pieces by up-and-coming Canadian composers Beavan Flanagan and Duncan Schouten, American composers Julia Wolfe and Dennis DeSantis and Danish-American composer Andy Pape.
“This idea of new material on an old medium is what gave life to our project—a program of new and exploratory music played entirely on instruments found in a drumset,” says Morton. “The pieces on the program blend familiar styles of drum grooves (such as rock, funk and metal) with more contemporary, aleatoric, arhythmic styles that are possible on the same instruments.”
But Architek isn’t exclusively drumset-driven. “When we play music with unconventional instruments, we reach an interesting crossroads with our audience which is that most of what we do is completely foreign to them. Everyone knows instruments like the drumset, xylophone and timpani, and some listeners know more exotic ones, but when we make sound with instruments they’ve never seen and objects they never knew could be played as instruments, they are immediately drawn into a new sound world they didn’t know existed,” says Morton. “This naivety is an accessibility bridge perhaps unique only to percussion music.”
Cross the bridge straight to St. Andrew’s United Church on Tuesday, October 8 at 7:30pm ($20/$10) and get a closer look at Architek’s process at the workshop earlier that day (Tuesday, October 8, 12-1pm, free. Contact D’Arcy Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org for details about the workshop).
It may be hard to believe but, Labour Day is rapidly approaching. To celebrate the last day of wearing white, the Halifax party collective Reel Life Entertainment is throwing a whites and brights party at Red Fox Tavern this Saturday.
This is the third instalment and grand finale in the Reel Heat summer party series. DJ Hotcue, KDZ and Hoodlum will be at the turntables all night. Additionally there will be special performances by Critical, Real Eyez, Enivri, Cam Smith and Aux Jennings.
“It's a great way to celebrate the end of summer and get you ready for next week when your lives will go back to normal and the only twerking you can do is in your dorm room in between study breaks,” says performer Cam Smith.
Critical, more frequently known as Critty Gets Lifted, will be celebrating the upcoming release of his mixtape Lightswitch. You can check out his brand new music video which features fellow party attendee, Aux Jennings, here:
"Whatta Night" and "No Means No" singer Ricky J will be the host of the event, check this promotional video which will pretty much convince you to go if you are indecisive.
Reel Heat 3 will be $10 before midnight and $15 after midnight and go from 10pm to 2am. The Red Fox Tavern is located at 7071 Bayers Road. Celebrate the last day of summer in style!
Today is the final day of Rebel Girl Rock Camp, a week-long camp for youth focusing on developing music skills and being in a band. There's been screen-printing workshops, songwriting workshops, recording workshops, band photos, karaoke, some amazing local bands at lunch time, a lot of apples eaten, lots of laughs and cool rock moves.
I've written about the camp before, and I am one of the organizers (and co-band coach for Psych <---amazing band, check them out), so the last day is bittersweet for me. I am so happy at everyone's progress, I can't stop singing the super catchy songs and I wish rock camp could last forever. On the other hand, I'm so glad that now these bands get to (hopefully) exist in the world beyond the Khyber. Fostering and promoting female musicians was what this was all about, and while the week has been great, I really hope the drive to play music continues outside of camp. Maybe if we cheer loud enough.
This Saturday evening at 6pm (August 24), the doors of the Pavilion will open to the camp's final showcase. Fuzzy Does'nt, MMELTZ, Psych, Bad Apples with support from DJ Meggy Baby, MC Cheryl Hann and camp counsellors extraordinaire Old and Weird. It's $5 and all ages. Bring your little sis.
If you’re a Haligonian music fan you should essentially feel obliged to come out to the Bus Stop Theatre this Friday for a CKDU FUNdraiser. The show combines many elements that contribute to the awesomeness of our music scene.
It’s all ages (but if you're 19 you will be able to buy drinks, relax), in support of our beloved university radio station, features TWELVE local acts (Billie Dre & The Poor Boys, Like A Motorcycle, Sick Children, The Graboids, Sleight, The Scoop Outs, The Odd Socks, Take Part, Saffrons, Walrus, Pharaoh Pharaoh, Teacher) culminating in a set from Billie Dre & The Poor Boys, and—best of all—it’s cheap ($5).
If you need any more convincing, here’s what the organizer of the event and member of two of the bands performing (singer for The Graboids and drummer for The Odd Socks), Adrian Bruhm, has to say about the scene, “I love the idea of getting people involved in local music as young as possible. When I was 13, I didn't know there was local music, just what I saw on TV. As soon as I found out about the culture our city had created I jumped on it and wanted to know everything about it I could. When you realize what is available to you in the local community and the kind of support there is it helps you realize that you can do it too. The more people there are loving and making music at a young age the more we will thrive as a community.”
So there you have it, you have basically have no excuse not to go. See you at 5pm at 2203 Gottingen this Friday.
Hailing from Calgary, Alberta, The Cable-Knits has crossed this mighty continent to bring you their idiosyncratic, fuzz-mangled pop ditties. Comprised of songwriters Nate Waters (Hunter Gatherer) and LeeJay Dunphy (Stawart Sons), the two take a collaborative approach to create singularly scatterbrained songs. "This band is a truncated version of mine and Lee’s extended courtship. We met, started a band we thought no one would ever hear, made two tapes and, somewhere along the way, we just became two souls entwined as one," says Waters. Both aforementioned cassettes serve as tiny vessels for the duo’s fascinating, jittery, lo-fi compositions.
"We do it ourselves in my basement, because no producer on earth could stomach our winning combo of profound indecision and constant inability to perform under pressure,” explains Waters. It’s with a similar sense of self-effacement that Waters and Dunphy are approaching the group’s first show in Halifax: “We're sort of a two-headed monster, trading front man duties a couple times each show. That always makes for a bit of an awkward moment. We really could use a Paul Shaffer-esque hype man, so consider this an open casting call to people with mildly effective social skills in the greater Halifax area to come do stage banter at our show whilst we fumble our guitars.” Aside from the opportunity to straight razor your head, wear sunglasses indoors and make snide remarks about Julia Roberts’ love life, The Cab-Nits (as they’re known to superfans) will be dishing up an impassioned set of intricate pop songs for you to shake to this Friday, August 23 (10pm) down at the ol’ Khyber Club.
Watch this space for updates from The Coast's intrepid correspondent Adria Young during SappyFest VIII. Will she see all the bands you like? Will she take hilarious photos at the Sackville, NB Shoppers Drug Mart? Will she pick up a job waiting tables at Mel's and never come home? (A: I hope so, probably, I hope not)
Check out the Sappy schedule here, download a fun sampler here and read everything Adria has ever written here. (Written for the Coast, we mean. Obviously this does not include personal diary entries and grocery lists, but I wish it did)
YOU GUYS. This is amazing. Kurtis Blow is playing in Dartmouth tomorrow, Saturday, July 27, at Hugo's (451 Windmill Road, 9pm, $30-$40 with DJ C-Styles [Furious 5] and LC Posse's Bonshah, tickets at kurtisblowhalifax.eventbrite.ca)! I MEAN COME ON!
Thanks to Jayo Productions and U.A.S. Entertainment you can shake it all night long in the presence of rap icon Kurtis Blow. You can probably ask him a bunch of questions about being the first rap artist to be signed to a major label and being pals with Run DMC. Or wait, no you can't, you'll be way too busy dancing. I'll be the girl in green, being so mean.
This adorable promo video makes me very happy.
And now "The Breaks" to make your Friday all the more sweet.
In a very special edition of Coast lobby videos, we leave the Coast lobby (for the best really) and get right into some cool talks and basement rocks with CROSSS.
BIG OL' DISCLAIMER: I am one of the organizers and counsellors for the Rebel Girl Halifax Rock Camp. This post isn't so much a shameless plug as me just letting you know it's a thing—a thing I feel strongly about.
Women performing music has shaped my life. If not for Halifax all-female groups like jale and Plumtree, I never would have picked up a guitar, a bass or a pair of drumsticks. I'd seen lots of bands, sure, but I'd never seen myself reflected on stage. Once that happened, doors opened for me that weren't exactly closed before, but they sure felt hidden.
Ten years ago, I started a band to pad out the fairly sparse lineup for Halifax's first (and, sadly, last) Ladyfest. There weren't enough local all-female lineups for Ladyfest co-organizer Erica Butler's taste so we started one together, The Chit-Chats. It was terrifying playing in front of people, but it was pretty obvious to us why it was important.
These days it's less remarkable to have a woman on stage. That said, many of our city's festival and big ticket stages have a less than equal ratio of women to men. Like most things, there's still room for improvement.
We started Rebel Girl Halifax Rock Camp to even out the imbalance by encouraging young women to get involved, and get involved early. Campers entering grades 6 to 11 will form bands, learn their instruments, work and create together from August 19-23 at the Khyber, with a final concert on August 24. Organizers Hannah Guinan, Kat Shubaly, Allison Higgins, Andrew Neville, Danika Vandersteen, Carolyn Hirtle and Morgan Dowler and myself got together out of a mutual interest in making the camp happen, and the outpouring of support from such a wide group of people has bowled us over. Because of the insane generosity of the local music community, we've been able to collect instruments, recruit volunteers, find interested campers and book amazing workshops like home recording, songwriting and screenprinting and bands like Mouthbreathers, Wet Denim and more.
Feel free to be as jealous as you wanna be, but I'm heading to Toronto to see my supreme ruler Beyoncé this weekend and I am pretty psyched about it.
Of all the many amazing things I have thought might happen in advance of the concert (backup singer loses voice, I get called in; backup dancer sprains ankle; I get called in; Beyoncé decides she needs to turn "Halo" into a duet, I get called in; Blue Ivy needs babysitter, I get called in), I never dreamed I'd be browsing a special menu emailed out to all ticketholders on behalf of the Air Canada Centre, shilling their overpriced offerings "designed especially for Beyoncé fans".
Have a look/laugh, marvel over the fact that the Air Canada Centre must have SERIOUSLY SO MUCH MONEY and this is what they came up with, design-wise, for their "special" menu? Sweet Christ, I could have made something better looking than this in my sleep. And this is my speaking as someone who loves looking at pictures of Beyoncé. Just not like this. Never like this.
Also, talk about missing the boat majorly on naming foods to match up with Beyoncé songs, dudes. 'Cause we thought of these in like five minutes.
Run The World (Curly Fries)
If I Were A Boiled Dinner
Summertime Salad (w/Freakum Dressing)
Gravy in Love
Save the Hero sandwich
I've left some good songs for you guys. Comment away!
Sunday was the ultimate genre-mashing day of this year’s Ottawa Bluesfest. From hip hop legends Wu-Tang Clan to baby-faced country sensation Hunter Hayes, there was a little bit of everything.
Wu-Tang Clan definitely brought the ruckus as the New York group played on a crowded main stage. The bass from the stage was loud enough to speed up the evaporation process for the rain that covered the festival off and on all day. The group covered a number of their hits along with hits from individual members GZA, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah. Fittingly, they covered the Beatles track "Come Together" on the same night Sir Paul McCartney was in town for a concert.
Hannah Georgas took to the river stage playing mostly songs from her Polaris long-listed self-titled album. Spotted in the crowd dancing and cheering along was hometown hero Kathleen Edwards.
It seemed like everybody on the festival grounds tried to get a front-row spot for iconic Canadian twins Tegan and Sara. The band’s live show reflected their shift towards electro-pop on their latest album Heartthrob. They buttered up the crowd saying the crowd was better than in Toronto where they played the night before.
Recent Grammy winners fun. headlined the show. But some nights you just have to leave a festival early to grab some late-night fast food.
A DJ set at 6pm on a Monday can be an awkward time, but Edmonton’s Cadence Weapon took everything in stride playing rap music for the fifty or so people who gathered at the Black Sheep stage. He sampled everything from Kanye West’s Yeezus to Kendrick Lamar. The crowd urged him to rap so he took a break from the planned DJ set to drop his track "Loft Party" before returning to DJing.
Festival goers who weren’t interested in the progressive rock songs of Rush who played the main stage for over two hours had the alternative of watching Vancouver’s Mother Mother or New York’s Baauer (yes, the "Harlem Shake" dude).
Mother Mother had the crowd dancing and singing along as they kicked off their set with radio single "The Stand" from 2011’s Eureka. The band expressed their love for Ottawa and the festival with this being their third time playing Bluesfest. Extended intros, outros and bridges gave the songs a completely different feeling compared the album versions. The biggest singalong of the night came when they did a rocking cover of Nirvana’s "In Bloom". The group also gave a shout out to saying “Their shit is way too complicated” before launching into "Simply Simple".