Saturday, November 19, 2011

Halifax Revisited: Long and McQuade, Company House

It's a beautiful day rolling out of Hubbards, Nova Scotia. I've had a good sleep, I've been fed a wonderful breakfast, I've spent a couple of hours in my virtual office. Now I'm back on the highway, taking the slow route up the coast to Halifax. There's no hurry- I've got a 3:30 workshop to present at Long and McQuade, but it's not noon yet, and I'm very close. I pull into a Tim's and sleep in the Lincoln for a couple of hours...

I've done two workshops here in prior years, so I know the lay of the land. It would of been easier to get here without my GPS! Anyway, the Halifax Long and McQuade is a pretty interesting store- they tend to carry a little more used equipment than some of the other locations. I'm in early to set up and look around.

Two stools- one guy. It's a little odd to be doing a Longs workshop without Big Dave McLean at my side, but the event goes well. About 15 people show up and keep the questions coming. It's a very friendly store- and after three visits I know most of the staff now. I'm well looked after here, tucked back between rentals and mics.

After the workshop I do a little shopping of my own. I pick up a little M-Audio Fast Track Pro. It's an interface device which will let me record via two balanced lines and my laptop. The idea is to lay down some song sketches next week while I'm on layover. It looks like it should do everything I need it to do. It has an ultra lite version of ProTools, which should be adequate to catch some sounds from my basic mics, play them back, and share them if I wish to do so. I'm overlooking my usual rule of purchase which is "never buy anything with the word pro on the box." We'll see. No discount for this gear either.

I head out with my GPS- oh, yeah, OK, I know where this is... I'm heading a few blocks away to visit Joe Murphy's famous Saturday afternoon jam at the Mustache. Sure is a lot of traffic in Halifax on a Saturday afternoon... Seems that there is going to be a Christmas parade. People are lining the sidewalks. All the side streets are plugged with cars. I drive around this mess for a few minutes and then give up. I was hoping to go and see Joe and the gang before my own show. Instead I will go to my gig and look for a bite to eat.

The Company House is in a more depressed neighbourhood, but it seems to be up and coming. A few arty little businesses presenting themselves. This place has more of a focus on songwriters and new music, so I am quite glad to be playing here, hopefully to a younger demographic as well. Originally this was to be a split bill with somebody local, but apparently that's not happening. I'll be on my own. The place looks pretty quiet for Happy Hour- only one customer. The bar only has a couple of snack type food items. I order something because I'm hungry, and there's nothing else in sight.

My poster isn't up on the door or window. For such a popular venue, there is no traffic on this Saturday night. Three or four people at the bar. Two customers sit down half-way up front. They've come for the show. A sound tech arrives. "Didn't anyone tell you sound costs $100?" she asks me. "I can bring my own PA in from the car," I counter.

Kindly the tech sets up three mics for me, does a line check, and takes the night off. Clearly I'm not going to be the coolest show in town anyway. The owner arrives, and more or less tells me that the reason the room is empty is because Big Dave McLean and I had played The Carleton earlier in the week. I'd pitched tonight's show as a singer-songwriter event, through completely different channels, expecting to be on a bill with at least one local player in this trendy and popular Halifax alt-roots music venue. But nobody's coming in here tonight, even by accident. I don't think that the 20 people who saw the Bad Boy show at the upscale Carleton have anything to do with the numbers here tonight. I really don't know what to think. I'm sorry that the room is empty, too. It's a nice room.

I play two sets to the two people who came out to see me. Joe Murphy drops in to play the second set with me- added bonus. At the end of the night the half-dozen folks at the bar take up a little collection. We make $35, which is just enough to cover our bar bill and my taco. I was going to sleep in the Lincoln Hotel tonight, but my pal Dale has kindly offered his couch again, so off I go to the far suburbs. The toll bridge costs another buck. It's a dark night, and it has started to rain.

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