Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday to Thursday, Halifax

A good night’s sleep. I’m up early and get my running shoes on. I see EmmaLee off to work, and then head out to run New Glasgow. It, too, is a town of big friggin’ hills. Coming down MacLean street is nice, and I trot around the square and down the main drag. It’s the time of day that passes for rush hour around here, and there’s diesel smoke in the air, or maybe it’s the mill, or both. Down and across the bridge to a trail which follows the water. It’s pretty nice, and I run it until it quits and then head back. Running UP MacLean St. is not as easy as running down, believe me! We’re not doing a show today, so I’m not woried about being tired. I give it a good push. Yeah, hills are good.

Quick change and a cuppa coffee and we say our good-byes and are off. Not before loaning Clem my guitar. Clem guards the yard behind Jim and EmmaLee’s home. Apparently he’s from somewhere in Ontario. Chainsaw art. Yup, that’s right.

Central, non-coastal Nova Scotia looks like this.
Michael indulges my backroad trip through Stellarton, down to Hopewell where some of my ancestors are resting. We make a quick stop at St. Columba, and another at the nearby Pioneer Cemetery. The stones are good, and there are apples for the picking. We take a couple of apples and head off for Sheet Harbour, NS. It’s on route to Halifax where Andy and Marjorie Wainwright are going to put us up. This is very cool. Andy rather famously taught a class about Bob Dylan and the 1960’s at Dalhousie University. He’s just retired and is working on books. I sense that this will be an interesting encounter, and I am not disappointed. The black Porche with the Hwy 61 plates sets up the whole encounter!

Andy and Marjorie are gracious hosts, and we are soon installed in very pleasant quarters. Their home is on te side of a steep hill and offers a spectacular view of Halifax. It is also very quiet. Michael and I snooze. We snooze a whole lot. How did we get so tired?

We were scheduled to do media events for the Great Atlantic Blues and Beyond Festival, but have been put on standby as the Festival deals with funding problems. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday drift by as we wait for instructions. The noon hour shows around town have been cancelled. Our Wednesday night Theatre gig in Liverpoole had already been dropped due to that promoter’s illness. Andy’s got a great wifi, so I use some of the time to work on the blog, do some press releases. That kind of thing. Michael plays the mandolin, smokes. We read.

On Tuesday and Wednesday morning I run Halifax. There’s a very cool park called, I think, Sir Sanford Flemming, which runs around a reach of the sea. Anyway, a very nice park with trails so I ran down and through it a couple of times. Getting back up the hill to Andy’s was some pretty serious hill running! In between all this I’m learning some pop history from Andy, who plays us a great number of tracks from his collection. My favourite discovery was an artist named Sam Baker, who has an independent album called “Pretty World.” Great stuff. I will buy it. Check him out. Andy gave me a copy of a live Dylan performance, Montreal, 1962. Neat, it’s playing as I type this!

Wednesday afternoon we check out the Halifax Folklore Centre, where I buy a bridge for my son's upright bass. What do I know about bridges for upright basses? Not much, but the price seemed to be right. We then went up to the newly minted Halifax Long & McQuade store and visited with manager John Parker. Nice store. They had a vintage Fender Vibroverb blackface in near mint condition. That's my favourite amp, and I've always wanted one! Sorry to leave it behind, but I've got an album to pay for before any non-essential gear comes my way. This store also had a left-handed Gibson J-45. I'd never played one before, so I got to give it a little test run. Very nice. We'll be back here to do some masterclasses on the next tour. Here we are in front of another Halifax landmark.

The call for Thursday is to do an event at Halifax City Hall. We’re to meet the Festival Director in the Square, and will play for an hour. Apparently there won’t be a PA. It’ll be like busking. I’m OK with this- it’s the Festival’s quarter, and I’m happy to do whatever they want during this week. Michael is more apprehensive. He worries that we are being used for political purposes, as the City has (we hear) denied the Festival funding. He’s probably right. But arts funding is usually a good thing, so I’m not too worried if that’s the kind of statement we’ll be making at City Hall. Arriving an hour early, I get my guitar out and play a bit. I’m a long time busker, so playing out here on the Square doesn’t bothr me.

It’s a grey day, and there are very few people on the Square. Some tourists at the other end take pictures. A CTV truck drives by. Has the media started to arrive? I keep playing until 12:40. Nobody arrives. Not even the Festival Director. Michael paces, smokes and drinks coffee. It’s starting to rain. We return to the truck, call the festival, and go down to Halifax’s famous “Pizza Corner” for a bite of lunch. We have doubts about this week’s adventure, compounded by the lack of advertising in the local papers. We’ve got a real show to do this evening, and need to be on the road soon. We’ll be back to Halifax on Friday morning, and hopefully everything will be OK. What's live music coming to?

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