Pin It

As you like it 

This Juno weekend marks the busiest musical time of year, if ever. You choose how you should spend it. By Johnston Farrow, Illustrations Jesse Jacobs



One of the good things about living in Metro Halifax is that every once in a blue moon, the city does something with our tax dollars that is fun. Lord knows how much money the city had to pay to get the Junos here, but they’ll try to convince the taxpayers they’ve done the right thing, kicking off the awards weekend with a huge free outdoor show in Grand Parade (located on the corner of Argyle and Barrington Streets) with some of the best east coast acts, if not the most visible ones on the national stage. Last year’s Juno winner for best blues recording, Garrett Mason, gets things started at 5:30pm, followed by a set from singer-songwriter Jimmy Rankin (6:30pm). Dartmouth’s best known residents, Joel Plaskett and Matt Mays and El Torpedo, each get a 45-minute set starting at 7:40pm, and the night caps off with former Antigonish-based, Can-rock radio gods The Trews (10:10pm), who many thought were snubbed when the Juno nominations were handed out. Then it’s home to bed to rest up for the weekend ahead.


Go to work. Go to school. Sleep in. Stay indoors. Whatever you do, stay away from downtown Halifax. It’s about to turn into a zoo.

For those Juno haters who have to head downtown or just like to mess with tourists, prepare to deal with masses of out-of-towners stopping you on the street looking for directions. Make shirts that say, “I live here. Leave me alone.” or “I stood in line four hours for Juno tickets and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”

Tonight, the Waterfront Warehouse (1549 Lower Water) welcomes the Junos in its own, un-Juno hip-hop style with a who’s-who mash-up of local talent, including Juno-nominated Classified cohort J-Bru, Joe Buck, Alpha Flight, and DJs IV and Y-Rush. It’s $5 at the door, show starts at 10pm.


If you want to make it, be ready to play the game. Use today to initiate a plan of attack. The industry folk in Halifax for the Junos make a living pushing bands, getting behind bands and discovering bands. It’s highly unlikely someone will offer a record deal this weekend, but this could be a great opportunity to make contacts in other cities.

Have CDs handy—nice ones, with artwork —and give them out to anyone who wants one, no questions asked. Major and indie labels will be represented heavily (word is only 500 tickets to the Sunday awards ceremony were sold to the public, meaning that thousands of seats are for industry folk). Bring a business card, make sure you give it out with your CD, and if you get a business card in return, make sure to follow up with the person after the weekend. Something could come out of it. If you’re playing a show, put them on the guest list if possible. If you see them more than once, say hello and remind them who you are.

It’s all about marketing yourself. These people have the money and resources to get your music to the masses and give you an opportunity to play music for a living. That said, head to Staples (2003 Gottingen) or Kinko’s (1469 Brenton) and print off flyers and posters to advertise your show if you have one booked during Junos weekend. If you don’t have a show booked, print off flyers advertising your latest release with your MySpace and contact info printed clearly.

Be hungry. Take advantage of what’s going on this weekend because you may not have another chance.


All you know about Nova Scotians is we like seafood, fiddle music and drinking beer. Sorry, that isn’t the real Nova Scotia—it’s the Nova Scotia the provincial government sells to the rest of the world to attract visitors. However, if you want a taste of tourist-style NS, tonight is the night to do it, before the Juno festivities get underway.

For good seafood within walking distance to downtown attractions, head to Five Fishermen (1740 Argyle) or McKelvie’s (1680 Lower Water)—voted first and second, respectively, in The Coast’s 2005 Best of Food poll—for seafood often caught that same day.

If you’re in the mood for Nova Scotia-style food and music, don’t miss The Old Triangle (5136 Prince). Voted best pub food by Coast readers in 2005, it has both the live music and pub-grub to satisfy the most tartan-crazed customer.

Other bars that delve into the “jigs and reels” tradition include the Lower Deck (Historic Properties, 1869 Upper Water), next to the casino, and Pogue Fado (1581 Barrington), perhaps the most popular bar for young professionals in Halifax looking for, er, other young professionals to have fun with.

If it’s more upscale dining you’re looking for, Halifax has plenty of world-class chefs to treat your taste buds. Try “Maritime cuisine with a twist” at Chives (1537 Barrington), voted best restaurant by Coast readers last year. Il Mercato (5560 Spring Garden) specializes in affordable Italian culinary delights. Those who wish to indulge should make a reservation at Bish (1475 Lower Water) for excellent food, service and sophistication that compares to any Toronto fine dining establishment.



If you think hockey players and Canadian musicians—on skates—mix well together, the Halifax Forum (2901 Windsor Street) is where you want to be on Friday night. The annual Juno Cup assembles the more coordinated of Canadian musicians as well as hockey players of the past for a spirited contest to raise money for Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) Music Education program, MusiCan.

Randy and Mr. Lahey from Trailer Park Boys coach The Rockers, the team that includes captain Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo, Alan Doyle from Great Big Sea, Andrew Scott and Chris Murphy of Sloan, three-fourths of Theory of a Deadman and Jeremy Taggart, that funny-looking drummer from Our Lady Peace. Local artists include Classified and DJ Mic Boyd, Cory Tetford of Crush, Dave Marsh from Joel Plaskett Emergency, and Jarrett Murphy of Matt Mays and El Torpedo.

They’ll face the NHL All-Stars coached by Julian of Trailer Park Boys and Mike McPhee, the former Montreal Canadien (the Junos are the “Canadien” music awards, after all). The team features former NHL greats Kirk Muller, Paul Coffey, Russ Courtnall and Sami Jo Small of Canada’s women’s Olympic gold medal-winning team. Tickets are $15 and part of the proceeds go toward scholarships and grants to buy instruments for high school students. Fans can purchase tickets either online at or by phone at 451-1221.

After the kids are tucked into bed, head out to experience musicians without the skates. Those of you who live in Dartmouth and always complain about how your side of the Harbour never draws any decent live music have no excuse to stay at home tonight as Matt Mays and El Torpedo play Big Leagues (4 Forest Hills) (barring Jarrett Murphy getting slashed by Kirk Muller in the Juno Cup). Mays and his Torpedoes play an extra long two-hour set only minutes from their childhood homes from midnight until 2am.

In downtown Halifax, the adult contemporary scene is represented at Pogue Fado’s sister bar, The Frigate (accessible from 1581 Barrington). Cory Tetford of Crush, the sexiest band this side of Lower Sackville, goes on at 11pm followed by Matthew Barber (brother of Jill Barber, The Coast readers’ Best Female Artist of 2005) at midnight. Like his sister, Barber’s music is of the singer-songwriter tradition with a slightly stronger rock direction, yet still quite lovely. Singer-songwriter Ron Hynes, who was all over the East Coat Music Awards this year, closes the night with a 1am set.


A reason to head downtown: Rumour on the street is Sam the Record Man (1656 Barrington) scheduled an in-store tonight with Toronto band Pilate. Call 423-6441 for specific times.

For those who wish to avoid the busy lower peninsula, there are two safe havens from Hurricane Juno, where SuperCity life will go on relatively normal on Friday evening. The first is The Pavilion (5816 Cogswell), located conveniently away from the eye of the Juno storm. Everyone is welcome here, from babies to grandparents, to see an eclectic line-up featuring power-popsters Their Majesties (formerly known as The Porcelain Gods), alongside up-and-comers HotShotRobot, Richmond Hill and ECMA-nominated local hip-hop artists Sko-Shun Tiez. Show starts at 7pm, tickets are $7.

The second respite from the madness is One World Cafe (2412 Agricola) with a mix of the best upcoming indie acts including The Superfantastics, The Bad Motels, A/V and current Halifax buzz band The Stance. Five bucks gets you in the door for an early 6:30pm start and the cheap coffee and baked goods are great. Who needs beer when you have chocolate chip cookies? Yum.


Get up early and hit the Juno-sponsored hotels to generate some buzz for yourself. Some of the Juno hotels include Casino Halifax (1919 Upper Water), the Citadel Halifax (1960 Brunswick), Four Points by Sheraton (1496 Hollis), Holiday Inn Select (1980 Robie), Residence Inn by Marriott (1599 Grafton) and Westin Nova Scotia (1181 Hollis).

Leave flyers under doors, hand them out to people out front or head to the World Trade and Convention Centre (1800 Argyle) where delegates have to visit to pick up their laminate passes to the weekend’s events. Located on the third floor, the Highland Room is where passes are kept; it’s open from 9:30am to 8pm.

Learn the art of schmoozing. Good or bad, networking is as big a part of the music industry as playing shows and recording albums. It might be wise to purchase a JunoFest wristband ($26.75,, which will give you access to 15 venues across the city where musicians, managers and record label representatives will be hanging out.

One of the best places to meet people tonight is The Marquee Club (2037 Gottingen), where the fast-rising Novaks join Pilate in one of the bigger shows of the weekend. Judged by its reputation as a live venue, the Marquee is sure to be a first-choice watering hole destination for out-of-towners.

Also keep in mind the Ron Sexsmith show at Ginger’s (1662 Barrington) if you’re a singer-songwriter or folk-rock artist, the Classified show at the Waterfront Warehouse (1549 Lower Water) if you’re a rapper or DJ, and indie-rockers should consider stopping by Tribeca (1588 Granville) for the Luke Doucet and Selfconscious showcases. If you’re having no luck meeting people at one venue, don’t be afraid to head to another. You only have so much time to make an impression.


Fight that jet lag—or fiddle-induced hangover—by booking some time at one of the many spas in town. Best of Halifax winner The Summit (Park Lane Mall, 5657 Spring Garden) specializes in hydrotherapy, massage therapy, facials, manicures and pedicures. Or try out runners-up Spirit Spa (1566 Barrington) and Life Salon Spa (5520 Spring Garden).

Emergency alert: Say you’re the manager for a band in town for the Juno festivities and the airline misplaces the guitarist’s favorite pedal or strap. Head to MusicStop (6065 Cunard) or to Buckley’s Music (6208 Quinpool) for any musical gear need. Closer to downtown is the acoustic-centric Halifax Folklore Centre (1528 Brunswick).

Although the Junos may be a chance to get away from the daily rigours of work, it also provides a great chance to discover new talent. Local bands to catch tonight include fast-rising and currently unsigned Jenn Grant, whose songwriting gets better and better with each passing gig. Watch her give Ron Sexsmith a run for his money at Ginger’s (1662 Barrington) at 10pm. Universal Soul represents the best in east coast hip-hop at the Waterfront Warehouse (1549 Lower Water) at 10:45pm. And two-time Juno nominee (for his work in the ’90s indie-rock band The Inbreds) Mike O’Neill showcases his new project Selfconscious at Tribeca (1588 Granville) at 1am.



After the hangover subsides, it’s time for more family activities. Only instead of coffee awaking you from the Friday night haze, it will be your teenage daughter insisting you take her and her screaming, hyperactive pubescent friends to the Juno FanFare where they will stand in line for hours to get autographs from some of the hottest artists in Canada.

For those of you who didn’t win tickets through contests or waited in line last Wednesday for all-access wristbands, you can either sleep in or try to bribe someone for a wristband down at Pavilion 21 (1061 Marginal Road near Pier 21) event location.

From 11am to 4pm, those lucky enough to score entry to the event will have the opportunity to meet over a dozen big name acts, including Juno nominees Bedouin Soundclash, Skye Sweetnam, Matt Mays and El Torpedo, Silverstein, Divine Brown, Hedley, Hot Hot Heat, Kalan Porter, Jully Black, Theory of a Deadman and many more. Canadian Idol judge and ’80s pin-up Sass Jordan and eTalk Daily reporter Anna Cyzon help you deal with the crush of celebrity.

For live music, head to Stage Nine (1567 Grafton) for a set from Julie Doiron later that night. Winner of the best alternative album in 2000, the talented solo artist will be joined by her new band Shotgun and Jaybird. The set will include music from Doiron’s solo catalogue as well as Shotgun and Jaybird’s material.


Spend the day at the movies watching the new Denzel Washington/Jodie Foster flick Inside Man or V for Vendetta with Natalie Portman, easily the best female rapper to attend Harvard. A dark room is the best way to avoid running into any of those music industry flunkies.

If a straight-edge, non-alcoholic environment is your style, head back to The Pavilion for an afternoon performance from the latest and best in emo, Best New Artist nominee Silverstein, straight from Burlington, Ontario. They play on a bill with Inward Eye and The Letter Unfolds. Tickets are $11 in advance, $13 at the door. Show starts at 3pm. Return at 8pm for more underground alternative via A Sight For Sewn Eyes, Athaliahs and Ares Reign. Show your ticket from the Silverstein show and get two bucks off the $7 admission fee.

Sam the Record Man is back at it on Saturday afternoon with an unconfirmed Six Shooter Records in-store showcase with Elliott Brood and Luke Doucet, fresh from his Friday JunoFest slot at Tribeca.

For those who like booze and VLTs, screw corporate rock by attending the official “Fuck the Junos” event at the anti-downtown, north end bar Gus’ Pub (2605 Agricola). Check out some of the most vital indie artists in Halifax with the ’60s psychedelic styles of The Sweet Tenders, self-deprecating lo-fi from BA Johnston, wall-of-sound theatrics from The Jeff Coll 5 and special guest Mr. Plow, making the trip from Vancouver. The Tenders and Johnston released new records in the last year, The Skeleton Key and Songs About a Stewardess, respectively. The show starts at 10pm, $5 gets you in the door.

For what is probably the most eclectic bill besides the Juno ceremony itself, head back to One World Cafe for more cookies mixed with a dash of hip-hop and a pinch of rock. Jay Bizzy and Jesse Dangerously represent local rap artists. Bizzy recently released one of the best hip-hop albums of the new year, The Ghost of Jacob Marley. Add exciting rock from locals The Grass and Cape Breton’s expansive Lighthouse Choir, and you have a show that features something for everyone. Show starts at 5:30pm, cost is $5.


The top three places to meet people tonight are Reflections (5184 Sackville), the Schooner Room at Casino Nova Scotia (1983 Upper Water) and the Halifax Forum (2901 Windsor).

Reflections features performances from Sloan, perhaps the most well-known act from Nova Scotia, followed by hot buzz dance-rock duo MSTRKRFT, consisting of one-half of Death From Above 1979. Infiltrate the good ol’ boys network at the Schooner Room show that features current alt-country fave Corb Lund and the True North Records Revue with Colin Linden, Tom Wilson and others.

Although not directly associated with the Junos, don’t miss the Broken Social Scene and Bedouin Soundclash performances at the Forum in what might be the highest-profile show of the weekend besides the Sunday telecast.


Local bands to catch tonight include a pair at The Seahorse Tavern (1665 Argyle). Dog Day is catching a buzz on the east coast indie-rock scene and starts the night at 10pm. See In-Flight Safety at 11pm before mainstream radio latches on and they never play a bar this size again. The best non-local shows include the Broken Social Scene and Bedouin Soundclash gig at the Halifax Forum (2901 Windsor) and former Haligonians Sloan hitting the stage at Reflections Cabaret (5184 Sackville) at midnight, followed by remix wizards MSTRKRFT at 1am.

After a long night of partying, partake in another Halifax tradition with a snack at Pizza Corner (the corners of Blowers and Grafton). The epicentre of the “Home of the 3am Donair,” Pizza Corner has the cure to your late-night cravings. Pizza slices abound, but the real show is that local delicacy called donair. The donair is a pita made with a seasoned, slow-roasted mixture of beef and lamb covered in sweet sauce and tomatoes, and is a requisite late-night meal for any tourist.

The Economy Shoe Shop (1663 Argyle) is the place for late-night people watching, where celebrities, artists and the who’s-who of the business class mingle. Reflections, voted best place to dance in The Coast for as long as we can remember, is open late for those who like the best in current beat-driven tunage.



Since you most likely don’t have a<\f>ticket to the Juno Awards ceremony at the Metro Centre tonight, experience the next best thing with a lower-key affair that showcases Canadian music makers at the Songwriters’ Circle at the Rebecca Cohn in the Dalhousie Arts Complex (6101 University) at 1pm. Great Big Sea’s Alan Doyle hosts the event and New Artist of the Year nominee Martha Wainwright and Songwriter of the Year nominee Ron Sexsmith will join him. Tickets are $35 and available at the Rebecca Cohn box office or call 1 (800) 874-1669.

Turn on CTV at 8pm for the big show.


If you’ve made it this far without doing anything officially Junos-related, good for you. But it’s not over yet.

Saving money for City and Colour merch on Tuesday? No problem. The Pavilion opens its doors for a free concert featuring two JunoFest performers. In-Flight Safety is the next best thing to seeing Coldplay at the awards ceremony with atmospheric melodies that will warm the coldest of hearts, and Selfconscious follows a Friday Tribeca slot with its display of sweet garage pop. Buzz has already surrounded this band, despite it being the duo’s third show ever. Also on the bill is Two Hours Traffic, in town from PEI. Expect to hear new stuff from their upcoming record, produced by Joel Plaskett. The quirky Yellow Jacket Avenger opens.

For more free fun, head to Citadel Hill where you’ll have a good view of the best in Canadian music as well as Pamela’s big, er, dress as they file into the Metro Centre. Heckle or just ignore them as you wish. Then head home and hit the sack early. You’ve got work or school tomorrow and you’re not going to let some awards ceremony keep you up, right?


Today is the last chance to make some headway. Pass out whatever flyers you may have left before and after the awards ceremony in front of the Metro Centre (5284 Duke). If the person is dressed up, they’re probably someone important. Try to talk to them. Don’t feel bad if they’re an asshole. Move on to the next person until someone listens to you. Make it easier on yourself by dressing a bit nicer than you usually do. If not, people might think you’re a busker on the street, looking for change instead of a contract.

Now the real work starts. Do your best to sneak into the record label after-parties. Alcohol generally makes people more receptive, so Sunday night is a good time to discuss your band’s future. The best thing is that major parties are within walking distance of one another, so if you don’t have any luck getting into one, it’s not a long hike to the next one.

Start off at the tougher venues to get into. EMI has its after-party at Rain (1661 Argyle), notorious for its tough bouncers. You’re having a good night if you get past the door. For sheer entertainment value, try the Universal party at Seven (1579 Grafton Street), where the word is MSTRKRFT will be throwing down a DJ set. Get there early, however, as space is limited.

Next, retrace your steps toward Rain and get your schmooze on at the SonyBMG party at the Economy Shoe Shop (1663 Argyle). Venue owner Victor Syperek is one of the best connected people in town, so this might be the most star-studded party in Halifax. Finally, head over to Tribeca (1588 Granville) for the Warner party in what might be the most intimate of the four major soirees and perhaps the best chance to meet someone that might be able to help your band.


You’ve spent all night schmoozing and drinking, and you slept in until 1pm. Now you’re hungry, thirsty and need the hair of the dog to help that throbbing Atlantic Canadian-sized headache. Luckily you can’t throw an unsolicited demo CD without hitting a downtown place that serves brunch and beer. Feel free to hang out—last-minute shopping should’ve been done yesterday, since Nova Scotia’s Sunday shopping rules remain as archaic and iron-clad as ever.

You might need fresh air before the Juno Award ceremony. Citadel Hill (Brunswick and Sackville Streets) serves as a great work-out and a Halifax history lesson, while Point Pleasant Park (1121 South Park) is 185 acres of walking trails and is the place to see the after-effects of Hurricane Juan, which tore down a majority of the park’s foliage in October 2003.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Feature

In Print This Week

Vol 24, No 22
October 27, 2016

Cover Gallery »

Real Time Web Analytics

© 2016 Coast Publishing Ltd.