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Year to the ground 

Recapping a year of music and can-do attitudes in Halifax

click to enlarge Beloved locals Dog Day are an example of our great scene. - TARA RAFTOVICH
  • Beloved locals Dog Day are an example of our great scene.
  • Tara Raftovich

The danger with year-end roundups is that it can be easy to focus on the negative points. Halifax has endured its share of blows this year, music-wise---but a lot of interesting and exciting things are happening here right now, and it's a better use of my time (and yours) to discuss those. The music community in Halifax is built to last. Here's why.

Bandcampin': Allow me to speak freely here: MySpace is a time-sucking cesspool of advertisements and confusion and sputtering pop-up players that make me cry tears of blood. Thank god bands are wising the fuck up and using free services like Bandcamp and Soundcloud to share their music. Free and pay-what-you can downloads make it easier than ever for you to pepper your iTunes playlist with local bands. And you really should.

Rich Aucoin: It was a very big year for the always-ebullient and hardworking Mr. Aucoin. Through it all, he's remained a lovely guy. My favourite Rich performance of 2011 took place as part of a wedding reception at the Khyber, with a group of 20 drunks cramming under the rainbow parachute. You're a gentleman, Rich, and a joy. I hope you jam 2012 in a confetti cannon and blow up the world.

Stores: The gap-toothed smile that is Barrington Street suffered two more losses this year with the closures of Random Play and CD Plus. However, Obsolete Records is still going strong, and local groups and labels continue to release their output on vinyl, making investments in sound quality and art. The Halifax Record Fair put on two successful events at the Forum, uniting vinyl nerds around the city. Taz continues to hold court.

Venues: Yeah, venues are closing---Tribeca being the latest in a string of casualties---but bands and bookers in this city have demonstrated resilience and inventiveness, hosting shows in houses, art galleries, dance studios and even a bunker in Duncan's Cove. Meanwhile, Pro Skates has hosted some mighty fun shows in its back room, the Khyber has re-opened its space for shows, Michael's has become one of the best new rooms for live music in the city, and Reflections' move to the Paragon space on Gottingen Street will ensure that the historic space stays alive.

Female drummers: I understand the dangers of tokenism (the "Aw, look at girl drummers, ain't they cute?" mentality makes me squirm) but I also come from a background where girls didn't play drums, because it wasn't an option. This year, we've seen women step behind the kit in Dog Day, Like a Motorcycle, Minus World, Slumlord, Dance Movie, Cursed Arrows and countless others. My hero remains the mighty Meg Yoshida of Bad Vibrations, who plays with understated relentlessness and quiet humility. What a bunch of killers you are. I'm such a fucking huge fangirl for you all.

The Pharcyde: Whatever, Talib Kweli. The former Black Star MC may have cancelled and left organizers of the Halifax Jazz Fest scrambling, but they ably filled the slot with these '90s rap heroes and made it one of my favourite shows of the year. Great energy, great vibes---it was the best time I had all summer. You done good, Jazz Fest.

Concert bullshit: Our own Tim Bousquet has blown the roof off the concert scandal, so I won't belabour the point. But to quote The Pharcyde, you gotta get on up offa that bullshit. We need to keep holding the city to task for this mess, but let's not forget that we have one of the best local music scenes going, and it's deserving of your time and money. Buy records. See shows. Stand up front. Nod your head. Dance. See what's going on out there. You will find something you love.

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