Jonesing for art

Jonestown is a day-long multimedia art and music festival, featuring a dizzying array of bands, DJs, snacks and artists.

Halloway Jones, her cat and a whole whack of art. - SCOTT BLACKBURN
Halloway Jones, her cat and a whole whack of art.

Hind Legs singer/guitarist Halloway Jones' life is apparently in "shambles." Walking into her two-bedroom apartment/art studio (which she comically refers to as a "troll den") in Halifax's south-end, she comments on the disarray of her kitchen and offers to give me a glass of water in a disposable paper coffee cup, rather than hunting to find a clean one. The largest cat I've ever seen in my life---which weirdly resembles the cat in the recent Studio Gibli film The Secret Life of Arietty---lies on the floor. His name is Kitty War. She likes cats.

There are paintings all over her living room, some of cats, some not. There are 72-plus paintings, to be exact. But these paintings will soon be moving uptown to The Bus Stop Theatre for Jonestown, a 12-hour multimedia experience involving 11 bands, four DJs, poutine and a shit-load of paintings of cats.

The idea for Jonestown originally began when Jones, a NSCAD student, was preparing for her graduation show. Upon discovering she wouldn't be graduating in time, she decided to throw an epic party anyway to close out the summer, naming it after cult leader Jim Jones who orchestrated a 918-person group suicide via Kool-Aid in 1978.

"People make a lot of jokes about me being a cult leader. I get that a lot," she says, laughing. "I don't know, I guess I have a very culty presence."

After receiving audition packages from more than 30 acts, Jones and a team of friends sat down in her apartment and developed a lineup with the express purpose of covering all musical genres, which she felt was lacking at concerts in the Halifax scene.

"It's pretty incestuous and insular, which is another reason why I wanted to have so many genres involved and so many different people involved, to kind of combat that insular nature," Jones says. "There's so much talk about community, but people build their own little communities."

To create a diverse musical experience the Jonestown lineup ranges from hip-hop crew Weirdo Click, experimental act Organ Magic, to the shoegaze-inspired jams of Club Stoic (formerly GIGAS), and, of course, Jones' own duo Hind Legs. Jones also emphasizes the collaborative nature of the project. On top of a wide range of artists from across the musical landscape, a number of performers will be joining forces with volunteer projection artists to help create trippy visuals to fill the performance space alongside Jones' paintings, a number of which are also collaborations with artists from around the city.

"I'm happy to collaborate with anyone because I think you really learn from it," she says. "You inform your own practice by experiencing how other people work."

But Jonestown is more than just a collaborative, multimedia extravaganza. Jones promises a barbecue with veggie burgers and gluten-free buns, late-night poutine, drinks from mixologist Mike Farrell-Grove and even some chocolate cake. Jones adds that the money raised from admission and food sales will all be going to the bands and not into her pocket, with any extra funds being donated to a charity on Gottingen Street.

More than anything, she just wants to throw one hell of a party.

"My goal is always for people to have a good time. It's selfish, but if they're happy, I'm happy," she says. "I love the idea of local musicians and artists working together to make this day happen. I want it to inspire people to get involved and be excited about art and excited about Halifax."

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