Fall arts preview: July 2007 | The Coast Halifax

Fall arts preview: July 2007


Atlantic Theatre Festival

It can cost a lot of money to stage good theatre and the Atlantic Theatre Festival needs to know you’re willing to spend some to see some. The critically acclaimed but constantly cash-strapped summer festival is returning this year after shoring up the finances and securing an agreement with Acadia University to use the lovely Festival Theatre. Nigel Bennett is directing the comic romp Noises Off, a send-up of all things theatrical. Look for laughs in the series of readings celebrating Mark Twain, Stephen Leacock and Jerome K. Jerome. Treat yourself and show your support. (KW) July 21-September 3. Festival Theatre, 504 Main Street, Wolfville. 1-800-337-6661. www.atf.ns.ca

Chester Playhouse Summer Festival

Less than an hour’s drive from Halifax, the seaside village of Chester is the perfect destination for an evening of great theatre. This year’s line-up at the charming Chester Playhouse starts with Berlin to Broadway (July 7-21), a blend of song and story exploring the life of celebrated composer Kurt Weill. Lorne Elliott’s A Pitiful Ambition (July 25-August 5) is the comic and cautionary tale about the dangers of the lust for celebrity. Next up is Daniel MacIvor’s beloved Marion Bridge, (August 8-12). Directed by Halifax talent Anthony Black, it’s the sad and funny story of three sisters whose mother’s illness brings them together, leading to fights and forgiveness. Don’t miss the Chester Drama Society/Ruby Shoes Production of Shroom! The Last Musical (August 22-September 2); a send-up of today’s preoccupation with consumption and appearances. (KW) July 7-September 2. $24. 22 Pleasant Street, Chester. 1-800-363-7529 www.chesterplayhouse.ns.ca

Paul Greenhalgh at Gallery Page and Strange

Gone but not forgotten, Paul Greenhalgh left (a piece of) his heart and soul in Halifax when he exited the NSCAD presidency last fall for the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., thanks in part to a solo exhibition at Gallery Page and Strange. Works on paper, silkscreened and lithographed prints and three large-scale paintings will fill the gallery. “We get to reveal a side to Paul Greenhalgh many people didn’t suspect existed,” enthuses Victoria Page, who owns the gallery with Victoria Strange.

A committed painter between 1978 and ’85 in the UK, Greenhalgh’s work shown here is “abstract expressionist in nature. It is quite personal and has a strong narrative. The letter series of works all derive from letters that Paul received from his father,” explains Strange. Page adds, “The work on paper is…highly personal, and often you can spot self-portraits within the picture. This work zeroes in on what was going on in England at the time Paul was emerging as an artist and finding a voice for his concerns,” ranging from the political—nuclear disarmament—to the personal, “issues of intimacy and relationships in an unstable climate of fear.”

The world changes, people move on…or do they? (SF) July 21 to August 11. Gallery Page and Strange, Granville Square, 1903 Barrington. 422-8995

Roots and Shoots, Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery

This exhibition of multigenerational Halifax artists sprouted up on its own. Emerging and established artists chose the work to be shown by nominating a work of another artist with whom they felt kinship. Then the nominee returned the favour by choosing one of the nominator’s works. All the artists wrote texts explaining the connection and their choices.

“This more experimental—because un-curated—form of group exhibition reveals affinities among artists that are too subtle for me to spot on my own,” explains gallery director and curator Ingrid Jenkner. “And it’s a terrific pretext for showing the work of approximately three generations of artists.”

Jenkner offers a couple examples: “I had not realized that the sculptor Gerard Choy and video artist Jan Peacock shared a poetic sensibility, but he chose her work, and now I see the connection,” Jenkner observes.

“I was even more surprised that the painter Mathew Reichertz selected a suite of photographs by Susan McEachern, but it makes sense: Mathew exploits the painter’s licence to render normally invisible phenomena in visual form, and Susan overcomes the limitations of straight documentary photography to achieve a similar effect. They are both storytellers.”

Like a gardener, Jenkner simply planted the seeds by inviting the participating artists to start the process and then let the garden grow wildly. The resulting diversity undercuts any stereotypical notion that a city’s art community is insular, a bunch of friends patronizing one another. “It’s a typically non-parochial, lively MSVU Art Gallery show,” Jenkner concludes. (SF) July 15–October 1. Reception September 7 at 7pm; free charter bus leaves 5163 Duke at 6:30pm, returning downtown at 9pm. MSVU Gallery, 166 Bedford Highway. 457-6160


Atlantic Jazz Festival

The world’s best jazz, blues and world music artists from Cuba, Spain, the United States, Brazil, Africa and Canada take over Halifax from July 14 to 22, in another installment of the TD Canada Trust Atlantic Jazz Festival.

The 20th annual festival incorporates the theme of collaboration, uniting artists from different genres, with an emphasis on improv jazz and world music. Artistic director Susan Hunter told reporters at the festival launch that she had received criticisms from artists when it came to previous definitions of world music. With a multi-national line-up this year, the festival organizers have certainly covered their bases.

“European musicians say, ‘You North Americans think everything not North American is world music,’” Hunter explained. “For me, world music is very much about music that draws from folk tradition, but is very contemporary and fuses with other music. When we talk about world music, we talk about something that is very contemporary and has lots of improvisation.”

One of the collaborations to see this year is the partnership between local Celtic-root-blues band Hot Toddy and acclaimed Andalusian flamenco artist Juan Martin, whom the band met at the Stan Rogers Folk Fest a couple of years ago. “Once you play solo, it’s more expressive as an individual,” Martin says from his Spanish home, next to the Mediterranean. “But when you play with other people, you make music. You must have a generosity of spirit to play with other people and to respect their art and to try to grow with it.”

Other artists who will be collaborating include veteran guitarist Jim Hall with recent Bjork-collaborator Geoffrey Keezer, and a Canadian saxophone performance devoted to compositions meant for strings with Chris Mitchell, Mike Murley and Don Palmer.

Perhaps the event to see this festival is the Grand Collaborative Community Project, which brings Nova Scotian-bred talent together on one stage to play original Nova Scotia music. The event takes place on July 22 at the Dunn Theatre and it will feature players young and old—Don Palmer, Skip Beckwith, Jerry Granelli, Daniel Oore, Jeff Goodspeed and many more.

Some of the other top-notch talents scheduled to make an appearance include Mississippi Delta blues and jazz pianist Mose Allison and a night of Cuban-Canadian connection with Sierra Maestra, Latin Groove, Second Cousins and Canadian Primos—students of Jeff Goodspeed’s musical exchange program. Add dozens of other acts and teaching workshops, the now-famous party tent on the corner of Queen Street and Spring Garden Road and venues across the city, and it’s no wonder the Atlantic Jazz Festival creates such a buzz.

“A festival is all about opening doors to new things, having a good time, and I encourage you to take the chance, to take the risk, to come and check it out,” Hunter said. “It’s everything unique and rare and unattainable otherwise. The world’s coming to you, so please take advantage of it.” (JF)

July 14-22. Purchase tickets at 451-1221 or ticketatlantic.com. Variouslocations across the city. 492-2225. www.jazzeast.com

Dave Bidini at Ginger’s

Under that signature fedora hides a noggin filled with all sorts of wonderous thoughts—dreams of hockey, baseball, music. Dave Bidini holds a rare place in Canadian culture. As guitarist for the Rheostatics, he’s delighted fans for over two decades with quirky pop-rock genius such as Music Inspired by the Group of Seven and the not-just-for-kids The Story of Harmelodia. As author of several popular non-fiction books, Bidini’s taken his candid, humourous prose to the arena, to the baseball diamond and on the road with the band. At Ginger’s, he will combine two talents for an evening of words and music. Fresh from a trip to China for his upcoming book, Around the World in 80 Gigs, Bidini is sure to have a few new stories under his hat. (SCF) July 14. $10-$12. Ginger’s, 1662 Barrington, 422-4954

Canada Day concerts

Not every music fan is down with swilling cheap beer and listening to cover bands down at the Halifax waterfront on Canada Day. This year, there’s more than just Glass Tiger at Alderney Landing (June 30, 8pm, $15-$20)—there’s a smorgasbord of concerts to satiate every kind of musical appetite. Casino Nova Scotia targets the older crowd with Kim Mitchell on the country’s birthday, followed by an appearance by 54-40 the next night (tickets for each night, $24.98). Once again, Dartmouth upstages Halifax with a stellar line-up of east coast talent, including Joel Plaskett, In-Flight Safety, Carmen Townsend and Caledonia playing Alderney Landing (July 2, 5:30pm, $15-$20). The hip-hop scene steps up to the plate with Kanye West collaborator Lupe Fiasco at the Marquee Club (July 1, $20, 2037 Gottingen). Metal fans can take refuge at the Speakeasy with Fuck The Facts, Collapse, Amnesty and Iron Fist (July 1, 10pm, $6, Dresden Row). Indie rock fans have a choice to make with the Jon Epworth Band and Small Sins (formerly Ladies and Gentlemen) at Stage Nine (July 1, 10pm, $6, 1567 Grafton), while Newfoundland buzz band Hey Rosetta! shows us why acts with exclamation points in their names are hot right now, with support from Mardeen at The Seahorse (July 1, 10pm, 1659 Argyle). (JF)

Jason Collett at Stage Nine

Seeing the individual members perform in their various other projects, it’s easy to figure out what makes Broken Social Scene so special. The sheer amount of talent possessed by each musician is tremendous, with proof coming in the form of Jason Collett. He was hard at work as a singer-songwriter long before he joined the Toronto collective, but he had a little help from his friends with the critically acclaimed Idols of Exile album released last year, which featured guest vocals from Leslie Feist and Metric’s Emily Haines. Collett has been on tour ever since, unfortunately missing out on the party that was the Halifax Juno weekend, in which his crew took home Best Alternative Album. He’s sure to make up for it with a set of stripped-down, alt-country tunes, bolstered by pretty melodies and plaintive lyrics that recall the lazy days of summer passing by. (JF) July 22. 10pm. $10-$12. Stage Nine, 1567 Grafton

Danny Michel w/Old Man Luedecke at Ginger’s

This native of Kitchener, Ontario, faced steep competition for the Best New Artist nod at the 2004 Juno Awards—a distinction he would drop to venerable crooner Michael Buble. Keeping excellent company, Michel has built his reputation as one of the country’s favourite singer-songwriters, releasing his latest album Valhalla on June 13. His band is also stacked with talent, with a roster rounded out by bassist/keyboardist Emm Gryner, drummer/keyboardist/guitarist Derek Downham (also of the Hugh Dillon Redemption Choir) and Halifax-born cellist/guitarist/bassist Kevin Fox. For those who desire to be serenaded by Michel’s new material live, there’s only a five-week wait between the CD release and his appearance in Halifax. (CM) July 29. 9pm. $8. Ginger’s, 1662 Barrington. 422-4954

MSTRKRFT w/ The Juan Maclean, Lazaro Casanovas at Evolution Cabaret

Anyone lucky enough to get into Reflections on the Saturday night of Junos weekend already knows why the MSTRKRFT show this July will be off the hook.

Fire marshalls closed the doors to the club to anyone without a Junos pass after fire safety concerns during an earlier set by Sloan. Unfortunately, half the people in the line that snaked up Sackville Street were there to see the hard-edged dance duo due to play a set after the ex-pat Haligonians.

Death From Above 1979 member Jesse Keeler formed MSTRKRFT with friend Al-P, AKA Al Puodziukas, when his band went on hiatus after a two-year tour. The two bang out rock-laced electro tracks that get dance kids and indie rock fans alike shaking their asses. Those left out in the cold in April get another chance to catch the buzz when the vowel-challenged DJs hit town for a Halifax Pop Explosion summer preview, with a sneak peek of their debut LP The Looks, out just a day after their Halifax appearance.

Recent articles point to the idea that Jesse Keeler wanted to achieve something akin to MSTRKRFT all along. Not that there was much of a learning curve. Keeler was a successful resident DJ in Toronto before DFA 1979 pulled him from behind the decks.

“I’m passionate about DJing,” Keeler told The Coast before the Junos. “It’s so much fun and it’s more creative in some aspects than playing live. Playing live you have to play what you know—in DJing you’re working with the audience and you’re all part of something in a way.”

Keeler used the money he made from DFA 1979 to build a studio where he and Al-P started making killer remixes of Bloc Party, Metric, Buck 65 and Wolfmother tunes. A record contract and demands for worldwide appearances followed soon after.

“It’s like anything—if there’s a pretty girl that everyone knows and she tells her friends that her sister’s hot and she shows up,” Keeler says. “Then maybe you’d give her the once over because of the recommendation.” (JF) July 17. $11-$13. Evolution Cabaret, 2215 Gottingen.

Shoreline Festival at Rollo Bay, PEI

“Who wants tequila?!?”

This was the battle cry that from the mouth of Metric’s bassist Josh Winstead on a Friday night in July 2005, after a blistering set that included Metric’s lead singer Emily Haines flinging herself into the crowd, then donning a fan’s trucker hat to later invite the audience onstage for an impromptu dance party. Feeling the afterglow, Winstead proceeded to invite anyone within earshot to share a swig of his Jose Cuervo Gold. Welcome to the thrill of Shoreline, the annual alternative music gathering in Rollo Bay, PEI.

In its third year in 2005, Shoreline doubled its attendance. This year, staff expect up to 3,000 people will make their way across the Northumberland Strait for a weekend of music, relaxation and camping. Many acts from the Halifax area are set to appear, including the Joel Plaskett Emergency, Wintersleep and Matt Mays and El Torpedo, alongside national and international touring acts such as De La Soul, The New Deal, Jason Collett and Xavier Rudd.

“The whole idea of the festival is to promote and showcase east coast artists alongside people we invite from other parts of the world,” says Shoreline founder Dave Christensen. “It’s a tip of the hat to the fact that we have lots of performers of the calibre who deserve to be onstage with people like that. Of course, everyone also likes to hear and see new music they’ve never seen before.”

Outside of top-notch music, the beach is a mere 10-minute walk from the stage and the layout of the festival allows concert-goers to party as hard or lounge as lazily as they choose. “I think it’s important to support local festivals like Shoreline because there’s a lack of festivals of this kind around here,” says John Mullane, whose band In-Flight Safety heads back to PEI again this year. “I think the east coast needs a festival like Hillside in Ontario and I think Shoreline is going to be it, so we should support it early on.” (JF) July 21-23. $90-$110. Rollo Bay, PEI. 451-1221. www.shorelinefestival.com

Wilco at Alderney Landing

April’s revelation that the alternative country legends would be paying a visit to the east coast was met with equal amounts of cynicism and excitement. Negotiations with Wilco were kept top secret, and discussion skipped preceding rumours and went right to widespread elation surrounding the pending concert announcement. Turns out Jeff Tweedy and his compadres—John Stirratt, Glen Kotche, Nels Cline, Pat Sansone and Mikael Jorgensen—have better things to do than waste time breaking your hearts. Arguably the concert of the summer, Dartmouth continues to give Halifax a run for its concert-going money. This performance nice, unexpected treat that will further solidify HRM’s place on the international touring map. (CM) July 12. $39. Alderney Landing. 451-1221. www.ticketatlantic.com


African Dance

Looking to try something new this summer? Why not get down at the weekly African Dance free-for-all on the Halifax Common? This no-commitment, guaranteed fun event will let you shake out off the winter blahs and frolic in the joys of the outdoors. The gathering takes place opposite the Armoury, close to Cunard Street, every Sunday from 3-5pm. You can drop in at anytime over the two-hour session to take part—in fact, that’s what organizer Mufaro Chakabuda, originally from Zimbabwe, says is what she loves about the sessions: “People walking by try it, they get it, and then they just want to stay.” The weekly gatherings attract dancers from age five to adult, and start with a demonstration and a lesson. Bring your own instrument if you’re so inclined—tin cans and sticks are entirely appropriate—or just bring your booty. (MD) Every Sunday. 3-5pm. Free. Halifax Common, across from the Armoury. 225-9267 or email afrikandance2005@yahoo.ca

Urban grilling

If you are one of Halifax’s many apartment dwellers, you may not have a balcony or backyard for barbecuing. Fear not! With a little planning and a portable grill, you can still enjoy a well-done steak or veggie burger. The first thing to do is start at home. Some apartment buildings in the city have common decks or roof space, so check with your super to find out if you can use it for a barbecue. If the answer is no, pack up your grill and head to Point Pleasant Park. As long as you have a gas grill (charcoal grills are not allowed), you can set up shop between Sailors Memorial Way and the water. Point Pleasant is not the only option, though. You can also take your gas grill to any park run by HRM. The only stipulation is that you take all your garbage with you when you go. If you’ve got the time and the transportation, you can go to one of the provincial parks—Porters Lake, Dollar Lake and Laurie Park all have fire pits and/or grills available. When you register at the park, the fee includes use of these facilities. The only caveat is the provincial fire ban, which may stand between you and your burger. And don’t even think about grilling on the Common—the fire department says that’s a big no-no. (VF) Call HRM, 490-4000, or the provincial parks and recreation division, 662-3030

Home of the homemade ice cream sandwiches at Triple A

Cookies are awesome. Ice cream is rad. Put those two things together and risk imploding with the joy of it all. One can barely describe the feeling that one experiences upon gazing into the Triple A’s deep freeze at the multitudinous ice cream sandwiches contained therein. Seeing those ice cream sandwiches (dozens of them!) with cookies as varied as the human mind could envision—chocolate chip, peanut butter, M&M, Skor, shall we go on?—brings forth an unadulterated emotion of such force that one fairly has to hold back from purchasing them all with the intention of riding down a busy street on a handsome palomino, distributing them to the eager populace hither and yon. Diatribes aside, there are few simple pleasures in life that equal strolling down a tree-lined street, eating one large ice cream sandwich for $1.99, or three for $4.35. (SJ) Triple A Convenience Store. 6279 Jubilee Road, 422-6957

New York stay-cation

Sometimes a getaway is less about a change of scenery and more about changing your state of mind. If you’ll be staying home this summer, don’t despair. Forget about the vacation you won’t get to take, and start planning your “stay-cation” instead. A stay-cation is exactly what it sounds like—a vacation you take without ever really going anywhere. With a little forethought, a good stay-cation can do the same things for you that a good vacation can do: expose you to new and exciting things, give you a rest from the everyday and re-open your eyes to all the things you love about the place you were so eager to leave when the vacation started.

To plan a stay-cation, pick a destination, then think carefully about what you’d like to do there. For example, if you were thinking about stay-cationing in New York City, your stay-cation wishlist might include eating breakfast at Tiffany’s, touring Central Park, taking the Staten Island ferry, visiting the New York Public Library, going shopping on 5th Avenue, spending a leisurely Sunday morning with the New York Times, heading to a fancy hotel bar for a cocktail, and watching a movie at a revival movie house.

Once you’ve got your list in order, pare it down to fit the time you have—say, a weekend—then start looking for Halifax equivalents, preferably things you never do while you’re here. Buy a croissant and eat it as you window shop at Fireworks Gallery. Take a stroll in the Public Gardens. Head down to the waterfront and drop $2 for a ferry ride to Alderney Landing. A stroll up Spring Garden Road might just reveal stores you’ve never really looked at before. At the end of the day, hit the bar in the Lord Nelson for a restorative Cosmopolitan, and maybe catch the late show at the Oxford. Sunday, head to a newsstand for a copy of the Times (at $10 a pop, it might be the most expensive part of the “trip”)—or find the Times crossword puzzle in the Chronicle Herald—and then stroll to a coffee shop you’ve never been to before and settle in for the morning. Don’t forget to write a postcard home. See? It’s just like a vacation. (AG)

The Lunenburg Loop

With the exception of the occasional visiting scholar, the relatives and such that stay at our place in the summer are blank slates when it comes to Nova Scotia. They’re either from so far west, or Americans (also from so far west), that although they could find this province on a map, they wouldn’t have ever thought of doing so.

But they’re eager to soak it up, thinking it will be the first and last time, and easy to entertain. By dint of experience, we’ve come up with what we call the Lunenburg Loop. Not so much a loop as a bow, it’s a half-hour straight down Highway 103 from our place, and then a meander back along Route 3 that can kill a whole day.

Approaching Lunenburg I always have a dime and the story of the Bluenose ready. Lots of “yeah, I saw the Heritage Minute,” from the Canadians and mute stares from the Yanks. These days Lunenburg is all about the harbour, but the first Lunenburgers—refugees of religious persecution in Europe—liked that there were two hills from which they could watch for approaching trouble. On one they set up a cannon, and on the other, being so attuned to persecution and all, they set up gallows. There’s a real funky school there now, always worth a picture.

Those first Lunenburgers were farmers (hence Lunenburg sausage), who eventually took to the sea. The Fishermen’s Memorial on the water was the first I had ever seen, so we stop by. As it did for me, the fact there are so many of the same last names—grandfathers, sons and grandsons, judging by the dates—always makes an impression, and brings home the significance of the widow’s walk.

After pointing out where the Bluenose would tie up if it were ever actually in port, it’s back on the road, zipping by the Krispy Kraut sauerkraut factory, right next to the Black Forest restaurant. I’d recommend the spaetzel (dough fried in butter) and schnitzel (breaded pork fried in butter). Fond memories of my father-in-law using the only German he knew to offend the waitress.

Next up is Mahone Bay. “Loosely translates to ‘My Ass Bay,’” I mention, drawing on my entire knowledge of both The Pogues and the Gaelic language. Chuckles all around. We don’t usually stop in Mahone Bay. Too many tourists.

Just outside of Martins Point, I gesture toward Oak Island. “Pirate treasure, Captain Kidd, maybe the Holy Grail,” I tell a wide-eyed audience. “People have died looking.” Inevitably, hearts break when I say we can’t actually go there. “You’re right, you’d think it would be a big tourist attraction. Draw more Japanese than Green Gables. But no one makes a dime off it. In fact, one old fool has lost millions.” More mute stares from the Yanks.

Then it’s into Chester, for a quick look at the back harbour, a swing down Pig Loop Road, and the coup de grace, a beer and the best seafood chowder in the province at the F’oc’sle Tavern, where the chairs are dedicated to regulars who have died.

Fully sated, it’s a short jaunt home, where the guests pour over digital photos and souvenirs, and I retire to the porch with a well-deserved nightcap. Only three weeks ’til the next bunch fly in, and we do it all again. (BS)

Roadside food stands

Ice cream, just-picked strawberries, sweet-smelling ears of corn; the edible delights of summer are many and varied. And while you could buy them from your local grocery store, to truly enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of the season, you’d be better off taking to the highways and byways. The sterile, plastic-wrapped products of grocery store coolers don’t even begin to compare to the real thing, purchased from a shanty at the side of the road, still warm from the sun and wearing a little bit of dust from the fields. To optimize your trip, take the back roads off Highway 101, heading out of town; the Annapolis Valley is a great destination. Watch for homemade signs at the ends of driveways advertising seasonal produce. Carry small bills. Take your sense of adventure along, both for those journeys up long farmhouse driveways and for that new variety of potato you’ve never seen before. Remember that summer never tasted as sweet as a box of berries bought from a roadside stand, eaten in the car on a long twilit drive back into the city. (AG)

Urban exploration

Fans of the king of the urban exploration, Ninjalicious (Jeff Chapman), were devastated last August by news of his death to cancer at age 31. Best known as the publisher of the zine Infiltration, he preached about the joys of seeking out and documenting urban spaces such as abandoned buildings, construction sites, active buildings, stormwater drains and utility tunnels, which he referred to as “interior tourism,” and as an alternative to the passive consumption of entertainment.

So turn off the House reruns and start training—absolutely a necessary first step. Ninjalicious suggests urban hide-and-seek with friends, climbing fences and the dreaded rope climbing. Just remember that urban exploration is about uncovering hidden beauty, so absolutely no theft, vandalism or graffiti please.

If you prefer your urban sneakery less sneaky and more green, try ambushing abandoned or ugly patches with a little guerilla gardening. Armed with seeds, water, shovels and compost, look for alleyways, edges of parking lots and other weed-filled neglected areas in need of a little flowering TLC. (SCF) www.infiltration.org www.yougrowgirl.com


Canada Day

What aspect of our national pride is it that compels Canadians to celebrate Canada Day with an outdoor pancake-and-bacon breakfast? It’s hard to say, but we suspect it’s related to Canadians’ other nation-day impulses: painting maple leaves on our cheeks, and heading out of doors just before dark to watch slightly-out-of-vogue (but Canadian!) bands rock out in public places before being upstaged by massive fireworks displays.

Whether you’re preparing an intensive sociological study or not, you can find all of the above activities in spades Metro Halifax this Canada Day. Whether you’re looking to eat, looking to parade or looking to party, we’ve got you covered—on the peninsula and off. Here’s the round-up:

Start the day off right with a wholesome pancake breakfast. Haligonians have several choices: You head down to the Grand Parade, where you can load up on pancakes and bacon in the shadow of City Hall, or venture a couple blocks further to the waterfront, where you can eat Canada Day pancakes served from the galley of the HMCS Sackville. On the other side of the harbour, Alderney Landing is a safe bet for pancake seekers. If you’re outside of the city, don’t despair—Bedford, Sackville and other communities will be hosting their own pancake breakfasts as well.

Next up, take your best karaoke voice over to Citadel Hill for the official Canada Day ceremony and singing of the national anthem, not to mention a thrilling fly-by from 12 Shearwater. The Great Canadian Family Picnic will take over the Halifax Common—we’re betting there will be maple leaf face tattoos and red-and-white birthday cake for all somewhere on that great expanse of grass.

For evening fun, Alderney Landing has a super-rock Canada Day planned, with performances from The Persuaders, The Stampeders and Big Fish. Alternatively, take your favourite lawn chair to a wide-open space and settle in to watch the fireworks over the harbour. The show’s scheduled to begin at 10pm (if it’s looking wet or windy, the official cancellation goes out at 8pm; look for rain date performances Sunday or Monday). Gasp at the colours and lights, and watch Canada Day go out with a bang. Again. (AG)

Changing of the Guard Festival

Looking to splash out the pomp and circumstance at a once-every-hundred-years event? Then you need the Changing of the Guard celebration, taking place from July 18 to 23 in the city. The six-day festival will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the British military’s withdrawl from Canada—and their leaving us to our own defences. Get ready to see history spring to life in a flourish of military parades and concerts. Or even better, hang out with the more than 1,000 living history re-enactors who will be setting up camp in the Citadel’s defensive ditches. Coming from across Canada, the UK and the US (including the Citadel’s very own 78th Highlanders), they’ll depict different periods in military history, and you’ll get a chance to experience what life was like for soldiers and their families from 1749 until 1906. You can bet there will be plenty of marching, drilling, demonstrating and parading all over our fair city. (If you go for a man in uniform, this may be the event of the summer for you.) Don’t miss the battle re-enactments on the slopes of Citadel Hill. The Changing of the Guard festival will also be a chance to catch military music concerts, public lectures and sunset ceremonies. The festival will climax with an actual Changing of the Guard ceremony on Sunday afternoon, with a symbolic handing over of the defence of Halifax from Great Britain to Canada. Expect pipes and drums a-plenty. (MD) July 18-23. $11-$18 each day. Citadel Hill. 492-2006. www.changingoftheguard.ca

Clam Harbour Sandcastle and Sculpture Contest

Really, if you don’t like making sandcastles, there’s something wrong with you. Even Scarlett Johansson likes it—some tabloid photographer recently captured her playing in the sand at a New York beach. Her castle looked pretty crappy though; she could have used some of our tips. Feel free to use any of these in your attempts to take home a prize at the 28th Clam Harbour Sandcastle and Sculpture Contest, a delightful and much-anticipated annual event. Access to the wet stuff is key: Be sure to build your castle near the water, or dig a hole down to the water table, or employ a friend to be on water patrol. The other option is to mix sand and water in a bucket and keep it nearby. To create a Lord of the Rings-type tower, practise dribbling using large handfuls of wet sand, and never pound or pack the sand into submission. Shovels, pastry knives and plastic sheeting are handy, but the most important thing is to be creative and let your hands go wild. (SCF) August 20. 8am. $3-$5 to register, free to watch. Clam Harbour Beach Provincial Park, Halifax County. 845-2720

East Coast Professional Psychic Tour

This is the psychic fair’s lucky 13th year, and if you think time may have dulled the power, think again! There shall be plenty of palmistry, Tarot card readings, clairvoyance, and that sort of thing. There’s also a Reiki master, so now’s the time to get your holistic massage on. Don’t expect any wizened old ladies pointing a shaky finger at you, mumbling something about the apocalypse, these psychics are professionals, you know what I’m saying? Considering that is the biggest fair of its kind east of Montreal, there’s a good chance it just might make a believer out of you. For those who are already believers, you’re in for a treat. Put some mascara on your third eye and get down there, girl. (SJ) July 7-9. Dartmouth Sportplex, 100 Wyse Road, Dartmouth. August 4-7, Halifax Forum, 2901 Windsor

Lebanese Festival

If your knowledge of Lebanese culture stops at falafel or tabouli, here’s your chance to immerse in a culture that is such an important part of our city’s make-up. There will be music, live bands and a chance to learn dabkee, Lebanon’s national dance. Competitions for darbakee (drum) and briek (a curious water drinking contest) are planned, and if you’re really in a sporting mood, a large screen television will broadcast the World Cup semi-finals. It’s OK if you’re still dreaming about the eats: don’t worry, there will be plenty of zaatar (grilled sandwiches), grape leaves, kafta (ground beef rolls), shish taouk and baklava to go around. (SCF) July 7-9. Saint Antonio’s Olympic Centre, 2304 Hunter. 422-5056

Pride Festival

There’s just something about Halifax Pride, above all other Halifax-based celebrations, that makes the whole city feel as if everyone is at a wildly successful, standing-room-only party. The kind of party where you’re glad you wore your good shoes, your new perfume and brought an extra flask. These are the kind of parties at which long-standing friendships can be either cemented or broken, but whatever happens, you’ll have one hell of a story in the morning. Fortunately for all of us, this year will be no exception, as the ever-determined volunteers have produced another dazzling array of activities. Combining film, theatre, sports, parades, literature, comedy and gardening into one week is no easy feat, but it’s a labour of love for the organizers, who have been meeting regularly to plan since November.

The highlights of the week are numerous, and there will be some surprises, of course. This year, you can expect to get a few stars in your eyes, as Thom Fitzgerald and Daniel MacIvor are officially in the house. Fitzgerald and emotion pictures are producing the Reel Out Film Festival, because no all-encompassing, city-wide celebration is complete without a mini-festival inside a festival. The film festival will be all about quality over quantity. A few screenings are planned, films are still to be announced. McIvor is premiering his one-man play Cul-de-sac at Neptune. Now there’s no reason not to get a little culture before your all-night dance party.

Another highlight is the ever-popular Dykes vs. Divas baseball game, and judging by last year’s crowds, there’s something very compelling about seeing drag kings and queens duke it out on the diamond. Personally, I think it’s to see how one would steal a base in heels.

Another event the committee is debuting is Step Into the Light: A Performing Arts Gala, celebrating LGBTQ playwrights, actors, dancers, classical and jazz musicians, with an evening of music, dance and theatre. Queer Times, Queer Measures is another brand new “multidisciplinary” event, bringing together art, sexperts and, according to halifaxpride.com, “anything and everything.”

The year’s theme is “community,” with a focus on uniting gay and gay-friendly people throughout the entire city, to foster a positive and nurturing attitude that will help accommodate the growth and success of upcoming years. Bridging gaps is becoming a literal focus in this year’s celebrations, as the committee launches Faeries on the Ferry, a harbour cruise, and a family picnic at Ferry Terminal Park in Dartmouth.

The concert on the Halifax Common post-parade is always another big draw. Hugo Dann, co-chair of the Pride committee, is being diplomatically tight-lipped about the headliners. “Hot, homo and local…perhaps a little surprise or two from away.” We’ve heard rumours of Gentleman Reg, which no one can confirm or deny. Dann also encourages people thinking about getting involved next year to step up and get a taste of what it’s like, “Things are happening fast, it’s getting really rather quite exciting. Volunteering for events during Pride Week 2006 will give you a taste for what’s involved, you can see what we’re doing wrong and everything you know you’ll do better next year!” Now you not only have a list of awesome activities, but a future to-do list. You’re welcome. (SJ)


Catching dinner

Catching a fish is like selling real estate—it’s all about location, location, location. The Musquodoboit River is open to fly fishing all summer. You can fish for bass at Grand Lake. For those who prefer to work under cover of darkness, Banook Lake, Loon Lake, MicMac Lake and Rocky Lake all allow night fishing. If you like the sport but not the catch, there are plenty of lakes where you can catch and release.

Even simpler, take your fishing pole to a government wharf and try your luck for some mackerel. The government wharves in Boutiliers Point and Fox Point are rumoured to be good spots. When in doubt, ask the locals for tips on when and where the fish are running. If you prefer to fish with your hands, try clam digging. In low tide mud flats, look for air holes and dig away. We hear Grand Lake is a clam haven. (VF) www.gov.ns.ca/nsaf/sportfishing/angling www.novascotiafishing.com www.sportfishing.mynovascotia.net/species-shellfish.asp

Cycling & hiking

If you were predisposed to optimism, you might say that Halifax is heading into a trail boom. There are plenty of places to hike or cycle recreationally in HRM these days, if only you can get yourself out of the city to where the trails begin.

The Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea trail opened in 2001 as part of a network of community-run trails going all the way to Bridgewater via Chester and Mahone Bay. The BLT is a 9.5km stretch starting beside the Coca-Cola plant in Lakeside Industrial Park. Hikers can take Metro Transit’s route 21 to Lakeside Park Drive, and then walk up the street to the trailhead, but cyclists will have to make the trip along St. Margaret’s Bay Road under their own steam. (Until, that is, Metro Transit gets outfitted with bike racks.)

St. Margaret’s Bay Road is also a great route to another set of trails in Long Lake Regional Park. A web of sometimes-difficult trails (dubbed “Wrandees” by some mountain bikers) winds its way through the park, hitting plenty of spots to jump into Long Lake along the way.

On the eastern side of the harbour, the piece-de-resistance is the Salt Marsh Trail running from Bisset Road (just down from Rainbow Haven Beach) through the lovely Cole Harbour salt marsh. The trail hooks up with the Atlantic View Trail through the Lawrencetown Beach area. Long-distance bikers can start this trip with the recently opened Shearwater Flyer Trail (starting at Hines Road off Pleasant Street) and make the entire 28km trek to Lawrencetown from there.

The most recent addition to the HRM trail network is the Bedford-Sackville Connector Greenway, which opened officially on June 10. The 4km trail may be most important for active commuters, because it bridges a previously untraversable stretch from the Cobequid bus terminal to the Bedford Basin along the Sackville River. (EB) www.novascotiatrails.com www.trails.gov.ns.ca

Wild rides

If you crave some wild times while the weather’s fine, there are plenty of options. Depending on how adventurous you’re feeling, try these on for size. River rafting on the Shubenacadie is a trip you won’t forget. You may not realize that you are living close to a natural phenomenon known as the tidal bore: a wall of water that rushes up the sides of a river, caused by a flood tide. Companies offer boat tours and whitewater rafting on the tidal bore. This option requires some advance planning because the tidal bore happens at specific times of the day. The date and time of the tide determine how wild your ride is, so ask for advice from the company you choose. There are different prices and trip lengths, from about $55 (plus HST) for an hour-and-a-half to $75 for a four-hour jaunt. The price includes a barbecue at the end of the trip. Several places offer lodges, changing rooms and pools. Remember a towel and a change of clothes for afterwards. For driving instructions, refer to Lezlie Lowe’s day trips on page 49.

If whitewater rafting isn’t enough of a thrill, you can jump out of a plane. The Atlantic School of Skydiving in Bridgewater will teach you to take the leap for $185 in their first jump course. After that, $50 includes the jump and the gear rental. You can also opt for the tandem jump with an instructor for $225. Daredevils can choose to camp out before or after their dive. Classes run every weekend.

Some people prefer to soar above the ground rather than hurtle towards it. For those people, there is paragliding. Pegasus Paragliding, near Parrsboro, offers tandem flights and courses for all levels. The tandem flight (with an instructor) is the cheapest option for the curious newbie. At $100 plus HST, flights can last upwards of 15 minutes, and the experience includes a discussion of technique, safety and equipment. (VF) www.tidalbore.info/canada/shubenacadie.html www.tidalboreraftingpark.com www.shubie.com www.tidalborerafting.com www.atlanticschoolofskydiving.com www.pegasusparagliding.com

Written by Erica Butler, Sue Carter Flinn, Meredith Dault, Johnston Farrow, Victoria Foley, Sean Flinn, Austen Gilliland, Stephanie Johns, Carsten Knox, Chris Mccluskey, Brent Sedo, Kate Watson, Megan Wennberg and Tara Lee Wittchen.