Tag Archives: Halifax

Halifax Pop – lessons learned

25 Oct

Today’s post is courtesy of our friends at Halifax Hype (@halifaxhype) – special thanks to @MarthaGallagher

the main lesson I learned from the Halifax Pop Explosion is that if you’re doing it right, you’re going to end up very, very tired.

So I think we clearly did it right. Because Monday is really giving me a run for my money.

Let’s rewind back to Friday night, where I last left you.

Friday night lesson? Library Voices are no longer for quiet times.
Out of all of the great things HPX was offering, I was most excited for the Library Voices. I’ve been a fan of this Regina-based band for a while now, so the chance to see them at the Seahorse, one of my favourite venues in Halifax, was really something else. After some great support from glory glory, honheehonhee and Graham Wright and the Good Times Band, Library Voices took the stage.

And the definitely took it. An electric performance that including hanging from the rafters, group claps, and table dancing, these guys proved they really are one of the best things to come from the Canadian Prairies. This was hands down in my top three favourite shows from the entire festival.

Saturday Lesson – It’s worth it to go early.
On Saturday I got to double dip in Halifax Pop Explosion goodness, taking in the Stars show in the afternoon and Rural Alberta Advantage in the evening. The biggest take away from this day is figure out your schedule, and get to the venue early.

Thanks to the Occupy NS movement, the Stars show was indoors – greatly cutting down on the numbers of those able to see the band in action. Luckily, after the Dan Mangan debacle that was Thursday night, my concert-going partner and I had the foresight to get to the venue nice and early, allowing us to get good seats and check out Carmen Townsend and Plants and Animals before Stars came on.

Stars was huge for me – I’ve seen them before, but they’re one of my all time favourite bands so I was pleased as punch to see them again. They didn’t disappoint, and in fact, played a three song acoustic set in the parking lot for those who couldn’t get in. Class act.

Saturday night was my shot at redemption for St Matthew’s. I went early, waiting in line with other keeners, to ensure I got to see Rural Alberta Advantage. Totally worth it to wait in line for an extra hour in order to experience all of the group hand claps, and an amazing acoustic closer that had the band singing to a completely silent audience. It was magic.

Although I may be deliriously overtired, I know it’s not the lack of sleep talking when I extend my sincerest congratulations to the festival organizers for a job well done. I’ve never been to a festival that has ran more smoothly, or with a more effective volunteer team than HPX. During the run of the festival I saw 15 bands, the majority of which I’d never seen live before, and honestly didn’t think would ever come to Halifax. My only question is – how are they going to outdo themselves next year for the 20th anniversary of the fest? I cannot wait to find out.

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This Needs to Stop – Halifax Edition

14 Jun

When Pete and I lived in our last apartment there was a beautiful wooded park nearby with tons of running and biking trails, and I ran there a couple times a week throughout the spring, summer and fall. All summer I’d get up at 6:00, get into my running clothes and head out for about 40 minutes to start the day. Sometimes I would take a route through town and other times I’d head for the park. It was a nice place to run – lots of birds, squirrels, people walking dogs, people pushing baby strollers, joggers and bikers. Other days I’d run after work or in the evenings before dark and it was always the same – busy, yet quiet.

I never felt out of ease there except once in a while I’d see a shady looking character near where the park came close to the highway. Like, why would a man be out walking in the park in jeans at 6:30 in the morning? He didn’t look like a typical exerciser and always seemed a little disheveled and weird, like he might be on something. He was also very starey. I’d stare back at him. “Make eye contact and appear to be assertive and bold”, is what you always read about how to deal when you feel threatened by someone’s presense.

I’d turn around sometimes and he’d be looking back in my direction. I’d just pick up the pace. I never worried too much. After all, the park was busy and full of people and seconds later a biker would whizz by or a man would be walking a black lab within sight. And by the time I looped back on my way home, the weird guy would be gone, or I’d see him on his way out of the park.

We moved out of the apartment last July and I had my last run in the park and thought the whole time about how I’d miss it and how I’d never find as nice a running trail in our new neighbourhood (and I was right).

On Sunday, a 19-year-old female jogger was sexually assaulted in the park at 9:00 p.m. She ran past him, he grabbed her from behind and pulled her into the trees. When I heard that news I felt like puking. I have been in that park alone more times than I can count, with my iPod on, probably at 9:00 p.m. or even later. I never had any way of defending myself and never worried about it. I never considered that things like that would happen in a park so close to home on a sunny day when people are just going around walking their dogs and riding their bikes. It makes me feel stupid and naive and scared and sick.

I hate that shit like this happens. I hate that there are a handful of assholes out there ruining things for everyone. I hate that this girl’s life will never be the same again. I hate that whoever this creep is he’ll probably be 100% free and clear and may even do it again. I hate that people will now be scared to use the park. I hate that I am now scared to go to a park alone. I hate worrying that every somewhat “off” man I encounter is a potential rapist. I hate prejudging people like that and I hate that I have to.

It really sucks that you can’t go for a goddamn jog without having to fear for your life.

What is the point of this post other than to vent? To remind people to always tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back? To warn against jogging by yourself in parks? I don’t even know. I feel frustrated and helpless.

The Bee’s Knees: Ray Bear & Mix Fresh Kitchen

28 Mar

We were thrilled when Chef Ray Bear agreed to an interview with us. He is a man of considerable note in Halifax, and a world-renowned chef. He is now also the co-owner of MIX Fresh Kitchen on Salter Street which opened its doors in 2010.

Ray Bear has had a long standing relationship with Halifax, and like all relationships it has had its ups and downs.

We didn’t quite know what to expect when we sat down with him and his business partner Chris Richards. What we got, though, was a fun, insightful, and fascinating conversation with two people who are determined to bring the downtown core of Halifax back to life through great food and memorable experiences.

Our conversation spanned a considerable amount of time, and plenty of different topics, but we finally got Chef Bear to tell us what he thinks is the bee’s knees.

“Definitely the waterfront.” He said that it’s both Halifax’s blessing and its curse, but the waterfront is most certainly one of Halifax’s most important assets. Chris was quick to say that Point Pleasant Park is at the top of his list.

We chatted for some time about the vision for Mix. Ray and Chris wanted to make it clear that Mix is not just about great food and service, but about an experience. They’re selling a great time, not just great meals. Mix’s food is as local and homemade as possible (they even make their own hamburger buns), and its atmosphere can accommodate a night out for drinks with the girls, a first date, lunch with co-workers, or just a quick meal and drinks after work. Somewhere comfortable and hip, with what they hope will become one of Halifax’s best late night experiences.

This vision comes with some context. As you may have heard, Ray and the restaurant named after him, Bear, were steeped in controversy a few years ago. We weren’t sure if Ray would want to discuss this history, but we knew that our interview wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t bring it up. We were impressed to find that he was entirely up for discussing the situation.

“People thought it was just about my ego, but it wasn’t. It was misunderstood. It was a place where I thought we could just say, ‘Okay, let’s do this.'” But things didn’t go as hoped. Afters some public unpleasantness with former business partners and considerable attention in the media, Ray had to walk away from Bear.

But back in Halifax, with a new vision, and a new partner, Mix’s atmosphere makes it clear that this restaurant is not about egos, or individuals, but about the customers. But why start another restaurant in Halifax after what he’s been through before?

“We have a lot of good will here,” Ray says. “There’s lots of love. And this type of place hasn’t been done here before.”

The vision for Mix has been inspired by restaurants in cities like Vancouver and Montreal, to Miami and New York City who offer unique outlooks on where you can take casual dining.

“Mix reflects a desire to have a room you can have dinner in or just hang out in.”

Throughout our interview they continued to stress that Mix is about the experience. The food is good, the service is good, but their ultimate goal is about making it a place people want to spend a lot of time in. But they admit there’s still a way to go to make it all a perfect reality.

“When we first started we dropped all kinds of balls,” Ray says. “But restaurants are never as good or as bad as the reviews say they are.”

They’d never done the level of volume that they’ve had at Mix before, so they know that there’s plenty of room for improvement, and that they’re making this progress everyday.

With plans for a revamped dessert selection and what they hope will be an unrivaled drink menu, they’re certainly not about to settle into a routine. Improvement and constant adjustments are what they’re invested in.

Places like Mix are what we feel Halifax needs more of. We’ve got bars in spades, fine-dining restaurants, and plenty of casual places. But hip, interesting, fun places that have great food, great service, fabulous drinks and a fun atmosphere? Well, there’s always room (and desire) for a place that can deliver on those promises.

We love that Ray Bear is back in action in Halifax. His passion for food and his community are evident. And because of this we think Ray, Chris, and Mix Fresh Kitchen are The Bee’s Knees.

The Bees Knees: The Halifax Oval

27 Jan

Since the Oval opened to the public this winter it has been the talk of the town. Thousands of people have flocked to the outdoor rink to spend some quality time outside with their friends and family. So the gang at This Needs to Stop dropped by to check out what the fuss was about.

As a group of young professionals caught in that awkward time of your life where you don’t know if you should be doing Jagerbombs at The Dome or knitting socks for your unborn children, The Oval was a welcomed age neutral activity.

The atmosphere was fantastic. Everyone was having a great time (despite being out-skated by six year olds) and there were no bad apples trying to spoil the fun for everyone.

Most importantly all of this fun was being had in the heart of the city. Other parts of the country  have long since embraced the Canadian tradition of outdoor skating rinks in their downtown cores. The idea of sipping hot chocolate and laughing with your friends while being outside is just enough to get us through these long winter months.

So that being said, we think the Halifax Oval is The Bees Knees and we’d love to see it stick around.

Check out savetheoval.ca to learn more!