A huge shout out to all the talented artists who graced The Carleton stage in celebration of our 10th anniversary. You were freakin’ awesome and we thousands (yup) of long-time and brand-new fans thank you for the music.
Special commemorative “tour” tshirts are still available at the joint for only $15. They are snappy and will identify you as someone who (a) was there for this historic celebration and/or (b) is an active supporter of live music in our lovely city.
Please join The Carleton for the first of our In Concert With series as Chef Michael Dolente welcomes visiting chefs, winemakers, brewmasters, and performers to play together and serve up one of a kind creations.
On Sunday, March 25, Chef Michael is joined by Guest Chef Mark Gray from The Watch that Ends the Night. Together they will prepare and present an eight course dinner with such delectables as world-renowned sustainable Faroe Island Salmon, tender and ever-so-slightly smoky Charred Octopus, classic Sirloin of Beef in Sauce Bordelaise, and Hennessy Tiramisu (coffee, cognac, cocoa, all your favourites!).
Consider pairing with drinks specially chosen to complement each component of the menu, including a refreshing pre-dinner Aperol, the lovely off-dry layered aromas of Wither Hills Pinot Gris, and the exuberant dark cherry and ripe cassis of one of the very few organic ports Fonseca Porto.
After an extensive month-long renovation, Halifax’s multi award-winning live music venue and restaurant The Carleton has re-opened its doors!
Executive Chef Michael Dolente introduces superb new menu offering refined and casual local fare
(Halifax, NS) – After an extensive month-long renovation, Halifax’s multi award-winning live music and restaurant, The Carleton is poised to offer an unforgettable social dining and live entertainment experience and has officially re-opened its doors.
“The Carleton team is thrilled to welcome guests to our refreshed digs!” said owner, Karen Spaulding. “From grey wood flooring to rich indigo walls, quartz bar to brass finishes, cozy seating to intriguing light fixtures, we have kept your comfort and enjoyment top of mind. Our private dining room has been fully upgraded to host personal and corporate events and on a practical note, long time patrons will appreciate the private modern washroom facilities.”
An exciting complement to the refreshed space is the introduction of a superb new menu by The Carleton’s new Executive Chef, Michael Dolente. “We invite you to discover Chef Michael’s winter menu, including new favorites such as calamari, scallop crudo, and a divine panna cotta,” added Spaulding.
Chef Dolente, who recently moved back to Halifax to take on the role at The Carleton, started his career in Nova Scotia and grew up working in kitchens such as The Cellar, The Henry House and the Delta Halifax Hotel, where he completed his apprenticeship and earned his Red Seal. In 2012, he moved to Toronto to expand his knowledge base and experience and became Sous Chef at the Thompson Hotel. From there he opened The Shangri-La Hotel kitchen and refined his culinary and managerial skills as Banquet Chef, specializing in fine dining, European and Asian cuisines. Dolente appeared on the Food Network’s “Chopped Canada” and competed in the Hawksworth Young Chef Competition, where he earned first place in the Toronto heat.
“I am very excited and humbled to be back in my home town doing what I love in one of Halifax’s most historic buildings,” said Dolente. “We are working hard to bring a refined yet very approachable menu offering to our valued diners.”
With Chef Dolente at the helm in the kitchen, The Carleton looks forward to participating in several local food festivals and experiences, including the Savour Food and Wine Festival (Feb. 22), Burger Week (March 22-28) and Delish (April 28).
The re-opening of The Carleton offers an exciting line up of live music experiences, including this Wednesday’s SOLD-OUT Valentine’s DayConcert (Feb. 14), featuringAriana Nasr’s Edith Piaf Show.
As the 2018 entertainment program takes shape and the venue nears its 10th Anniversary celebrations in May, The Carleton promises a stellar array of local, national and international talent for all musical tastes.
Upcoming shows include: Quiet Parade EP Release Show (Feb. 16, 7pm), Son Latino(Feb. 16, 10pm), The Tom Rich Band (Feb. 22), Jon Bryant (Music Heals Fundraiser March 3), The March Hare (March 4), Alfie (March 9), Craig Cardiff (March 14 & 15),Liam Corcoran & Tyler Messick (March 23), Lynn Miles & Lynne Hanson (May 16),Harry Manx (May 23), Irish Mythen (May 24) Madison Violet (July 26), Fred Eaglesmith& Tif Ginn (August 11) and more.
The venue will also host comedy performances, including James Mullinger (Feb. 17) andGreg Proops – The Smartest Man in the World Podcast Taping as part of the Halifax Comedy Festival (April 26).
Tues – Wed 4 PM – 11 PM
Thurs 4 PM – 1 AM
Fri – Sat 4 PM – 2 AM
Sun – Mon closed UNLESS there’s a scheduled show
About The Carleton
The Carleton is housed in a building in Halifax, NS that was built in 1760 and was the home of Richard Bulkeley. Apart from two churches, Bulkeley’s home is the oldest building in Halifax, NS. It was reported to have been made from the ruins of Fortress Louisbourg. Since 1786 his residence has been known as ‘The Carleton’. As one of Halifax’s premier live music venues for the past 10 years, The Carleton has earned numerous awards and accolades including three East Coast Music Awards and eight Music Nova Scotia Awards for Venue of the Year, and most recently the 2017 Canada Live Music Award for Best Small Venue in the Country.
We’re back in business baby and The Blue Lane is going to entertain us all on our first open Saturday – February 10th – since the renovations started waaaaay back before Christmas in the year 2017. We’re encouraging everyone to come in to see what we’ve done with the place (a TON of stuff), so we’re making it easy with a cheap $5 admission at the door and live music starting around 9 PM. We’re excited, we hope you are too!!!
The Blue Lane is one of our local favourtes and they play a fusion of rockabilly, jazz, blues, indie rock and pop music. The band has a unique sound that weaves sultry vocals, intricate harmonies, jazzy guitar shreds and passionately thick beats. In 2017 The Blue Lane released their 2nd EP Blind and the five song EP was awarded Music Nova Scotia’s “Jazz Recording of the Year.”
Since 2015, ECMA award winning artist Rachael Henderson (lead vocals/bass), Morgan Alexander Cruickshank (guitar/vocals), and “The Machine” A.K.A Connor Booth (drums/vocals) have been writing and performing genre-blending original music.
If you’re at loose ends on Valentine’s Day, we’ve just announced a 3-course Dinner & Show Special available for Ariana Nasr‘s appearance on February 14th for only $65 per person! Please note, there are a limited number of these tickets and the prix fixe meal is only available with this deal.
Here’s the menu for the night…
Seared Digby Scallop – Celery Root Puree, Wild BC Side Stripe Shrimp Bisque, Crispy Potato, Fresh Herbs Braised Short Rib – Slow Braised Atlantic Beef Short Rib, Roasted Forest Mushroom, Lobster Polenta Fritters, Red Beet, Red Wine Jus Chocolate Tart – Dark Belgian Chocolate Ganache, Goat’s Milk Caramel, Raspberry, Sea Salt
We’ll have an a la carte menu on the night if you’re only buying regular tickets. Also available, two kinds of local bubbly by the glass: L’Acadie Vintage Cuvée and L’Acadie Cuvée Rosé at $9 for a five ounce pour.
We are thrilled to announce that our highly anticipated interior renovation has begun. Construction will occur between December 22 and February 8, 2018. We will open for shows as part of the In The Dead of Winter Festival, January 18-20 then close again on January 21 and officially reopen on February 8, 2018.
Please contact us with any questions. We are excited to share the changes when they are complete!
Under new ownership, Halifax’s multi award-winning live music venue and restaurant, The Carletonisset to undergo an extensive renovation
The venue will temporarily close in two phases beginning on December 22 and reopening on February 8, 2018
(Halifax, NS) – Under the new ownership of Halifax-based business person Karen Spaulding, Halifax’s multi award-winning live music and food venue, The Carleton has just announced its plan to temporarily close on Friday, Dec. 22 to undergo an extensive renovation in two phases. It will open for shows as part of the In The Dead of Winter Festival, Jan. 18-20 then close again and officially reopen on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018.
A life-long fan of good music and good food, Nova Scotian-born and raised Spaulding, who is also President of local software company, Metaworks Inc., purchased The Carleton earlier this year believing it was a natural fit and would be a true labour of love.
“It has been a whirlwind and a joy to move from long-time patron to owner of the Carleton. Since April, we have welcomed outstanding new and established artists to our stage, introduced Executive Chef Michael Dolente’s refined casual local fare, and listened to and learned from regular and prospective customers,” said Spaulding. “To offer an even more comfortable and welcoming space, we are embarking on a substantial facelift, modernizing the bar and facilities while paying homage to the building’s 250-year history- from Governor Bulkeley’s mansion to the Jury Room!”
“2018 marks our 10th year in business and we’re very much looking forward to celebrating that fact by continuing to bring the best talent we can get to our award-winning venue and to the fine music lovers of Halifax”, said Mike Campbell, Programming Director for The Carleton. “We also promise to continue to provide a stage for up-and-coming artists because everyone – like Steve Poltz, July Talk, The Strumbellas and many others we’ve hosted in the past – need to start somewhere.”
With the refresh, The Carleton also aims to provide an unforgettable social dining experience and an ideal option for downtown professionals and for people enjoying festivities around the city.
“We are excited to be part of downtown’s rejuvenation with Argyle’s stunning new streetscape and the Halifax Convention Centre’s impressive conference lineup. In the Spring, we plan to extend operating hours to include weekday lunch and weekend brunch plus add a year-round patio. Please join us next year at the Carleton for the best in food, drink, and entertainment!” added Spaulding.
About The Carleton
The Carleton is housed in a building in Halifax, NS that was built in 1760 and was the home of Richard Bulkeley. Apart from two churches, Bulkeley’s home is the oldest building in Halifax, NS. It was reported to have been made from the ruins of Fortress Louisbourg. Since 1786 his residence has been known as ‘The Carleton’.
As one of Halifax’s premier live music venues for the past 10 years, The Carleton has earned numerous awards and accolades including three East Coast Music Awards and eight Music Nova Scotia Awards for Venue of the Year, and most recently the 2017 Canada Live Music Award for Best Small Venue in the Country.
It’s taken years longer than it was supposed to but if the city’s to be believed, the Nova Centre will be open soon (tenants in the office tower are moving in this week) and the Argyle Streetscaping project is functional NOW. If you haven’t been downtown recently – or even if you have and can’t figure out how it works – here’s what we’ve gotten from the city on the subject!
Argyle is now a shared street and while it looks for all the world like a strictly pedestrian mall, it isn’t; there is traffic allowed on it and we don’t want you getting hit by a car or truck while meandering about with your earbuds in, staring down at your device of choice. Once everyone gets used to it – especially once the permanent patios are constructed in the spring (including the beauty one The Carleton will be building) it’ll become a lot clearer. In the meantime, read this snappy brochure and familiarize yourself with the dos and don’ts, we look forward to seeing you when you come back downtown to take a look at it all!
Man, first an unimpeachable American talent like Tom Petty leaves us suddenly and then – even though we knew it was going to happen – we get the news today that we’ve lost the irreplaceable Gord Downey.
I spent the better part of the afternoon responding to questions from TV crews and radio hosts, much as I did two weeks ago after Petty’s death and even though it was only a matter of time for Gord, it’s still a very tough pill to swallow, knowing that he’s gone and he’s not coming back. I expect we all feel this way; that we all held out hope for some miracle, that somehow he – of all people – would be spared because he deserved to be spared.
The questions were what one would expect: When did you first meet him? When did you know the band was going to be big? What was he like personally? What has Canada lost? What, do you think, will be his legacy?
Whatever my answers were, they don’t come close to actually articulating what his loss means to us, to the country. And not because he was an iconic Canadian musician, he most certainly was, but because he was an exemplary human being, regardless of the accident of his nationality.
Yes, he wrote about this land we all love, and he communicated, expressed, that love better than anyone I’ve ever met but he also wrote about our shortcomings, our collective historical sins and our need to learn more about ourselves and to embrace – and acknowledge those, despite revisionist, or sins-of-omission, history.
Knowing that he had a limited time left with us, he chose to focus his remaining attention and creative juice speaking up for those who did not have the means he had at his disposal to do it. Imagine for a minute. Would you, or I, have done that? That’s a completely other level of courage and Gord had no shortage of that.
We are SO lucky to have been given warning of this! Perhaps that was the universe “sparing” us a greater grief. It allowed him to give us all he had to give before leaving: the final tour, the incredible documentary “Long Time Running,” the brief Secret Path tour, the new album that’s coming out soon. Honestly, I don’t know anyone, healthy or not healthy, that could have crammed that much production into such a short period of time with such beautiful, and selfless, results.
He was a singular performer and we’d not seen anyone like him before he came along and we won’t see anyone like him now that he’s gone. Be thankful you lived when he did and if he meant anything to you, honour him by trying to live your life the way he did – with grace, and compassion, and tolerance, and with the courage to change what you can to make life for those less fortunate even just a little bit better.
I am a better person for having known him and I will miss him…
The Carleton and ‘The Patron Saint’ of the Halifax Music Scene
August 23, 2017
If ever there was a venue to personify the spirit and resolve of the Halifax music scene, it might be The Carleton Music Bar & Grill.
Since opening almost a decade ago, the venue has built a reputation for its impeccable sound and programming of A-list Maritime singer-songwriters, indie rockers, writers, poets and comedians. Not to mention world-class out-of-towners, often flown in on the dime of its affable founder and talent buyer Mike Campbell’s Air Miles reward points (true story). For his efforts, the venue has received numerous awards, including three East Coast Music Awards, seven Music Nova Scotia Awards for Venue of the Year, and the 2017 Canada Live Music Award for best small venue in the country.
The small but mighty room is as synonymous for its cozy live shows as it is for Campbell, the venue’s original owner and irrefutable face of the place, whose mug you may recall seeing during his days on the MuchMusic airwaves from 1988-2002, where he co-hosted Mike and Mike’s Excellent X-Canada Adventures and filled the role of host/videographer on his own MuchEast show and, eventually Going Coastal.
From top to bottom: Vintage MuchMusic clips of Campbell, including the final episode of Mike and Mike’s Excellent X-Canada Adventures, and an amusing interview with The Flashing Lights.
For the proud Haligonian, spreading the gospel of the East Coast music scene wasn’t something that he was ever going to stop doing, despite laying to rest his proverbial microphone with the TV channel.
Four years after ending his tenure with the network, Campbell and his former Much co-host Mike Rhodes concocted a plan to open a bar and restaurant with a small live music component, hoping to draw people in on whatever remained of the Mike and Mike brand.
“First of all, I’m not insane,” says Campbell, over the phone from Halifax. “The idea of opening up a full-time music venue never even crossed my mind.
“My partners noticed that with the acts I booked that we’d fill the place, so they started insisting I book more acts.”
With decades of know-how and industry connections behind him, he secured East Coast favourites like Joel Plaskett, Jill Barber, Matt Mays, Jenn Grant, Gordie Sampson, Rose Cousins, Matt Andersen, Amelia Curran, Jimmy Rankin, Lennie Gallant, David Myles, the late Ron Hynes, and others.
And thanks to his Air Miles fly-in model, Campbell continued to put his influence and limited resources to good use by flying up singer-songwriters and then assembling backing bands of all-star East Coasters on their behalf, specifically for events like the Halifax Urban Folk Festival (HUFF). Because of this, he’s also managed to bring in international headliners, such as Robyn Hitchcock, Dave Pirner (Soul Asylum), David Lowery (Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven), Chuck Prophet, Midge Ure, Alejandro Escovedo, Lloyd Cole; and celebrated Canadians, like John K. Samson, Art Bergmann, Moe Berg (The Pursuit of Happiness), Neil Osborne (54-40), Jane Siberry, Ron Sexsmith, The Northern Pikes, and many, many more.
But it’s never solely been about the names that he was bringing in that made a night at The Carleton so special. There were many things at play: It was the 360-degree sound configuration, where guests could experience pristine sound no matter where they were in the space; it was the intimacy of the under-150 capacity room, akin to a one-on-one between audience and artist. The Carleton, as Campbell calls it, was created to be “a listening room.”
To realize that vibe, Campbell implemented a no-talking policy during sit-down acoustic shows on weekdays, which he says came with a training period but people eventually came to appreciate and expect.
“I knew from attending shows at other places that I hated shows where people just talked openly through acoustic shows,” he says. “It was usually up to me as someone who had bought a ticket to go up to another table, disrupt them, and ask them to please be respectful and keep it down—or better yet, ‘Shut up!’”
That’s not to say that things don’t get a little rowdy during the venue’s standing-only weekend gigs. In fact, all restrictions on yakking go out the window on a typical Friday and Saturday night. “There’s definitely nights where if you can hear yourself think over the band, then good for you,” Campbell says with a chuckle.
Rich history that goes back to 1759
Like many great Canadian music venues, The Carleton’s origins are as important as the artists and epic live shows it’s hosted. Located on Argyle Street in one of the oldest buildings in Halifax (built in 1759), its legacy as a hub for music-lovers goes back to the beginning of Halifax itself. To see it still standing two and a half centuries later is a testament to its resilience.
The Carleton (previously known as The Carleton House) was the former residence of Richard Bulkeley, a British army officer and provincial secretary of Nova Scotia who took part in the founding of Halifax, and is often referred to as “The Father of the Province.”
Also an amateur organist and choir leader, Bulkeley is said to have enjoyed hosting parties with royalty and other high-ranking officers at his mansion home, The Carleton House, as much as he did promoting music at the nearby St Paul’s Anglican Church. As such, he has also been described as “the father of music in English-speaking Canada.”
Even the exposed stonework inside the venue’s walls today are rumoured to have been built from the slate from the the Fortress of Louisbourg, which was taken from the French for a second time in 1758.
Around the turn of the 20th century, the mansion was expanded to become a hotel, where many vaudeville entertainers travelling through the city would rest their heads. Escape artist Harry Houdini is among those who stayed there.
It’s easy to understand why Campbell considered it the ideal locale for his business aspirations. But for all the historical touch points, it’s Campbell’s amiable personality and tireless efforts to promote good music that’s kept the space relevant centuries later.
Champion of music
Nashville-based singer-songwriter Steve Poltz, also a founding member of San Diego rock group the Rugburns and co-writer behind Jewel’s massive 1996 hit “You Were Meant For Me,” became fast friends with Campbell in 1998 after being interviewed by the then MuchMusic VJ during the press tour for his first solo album, One Left Shoe.
“He was such a fan of music, so we started talking, and he was like ‘Hey man, I’m gonna come to your show tonight,’” says Poltz, speaking from the Toronto Pearson International Airport, coincidentally on his way to Halifax for a stint at The Carleton.
Campbell, of course, showed up and stayed for the entire gig. And being the good Maritime host that he is, invited Poltz over to his backyard booze can, called the Tiki Bar, afterwards. “It’s kind of a famous hangout where everyone’s been,” he says. That list of “everyone” includes Guided By Voices, Deer Tick, Win Butler (Arcade Fire), the Tragically Hip, members of Broken Social Scene, Tom Cochrane, Sam Roberts, Ron Sexsmith, Sarah Harmer, 54-40, Big Sugar, Treble Charger, and the list goes on.
“I ended up sitting in his Tiki Bar and we had the best time. I was probably there until the sun came up, just yakking away, and that’s when he put on Joel Plaskett Emergency. I fell in love with this song that he had called “Light of the Moon.” I probably made Campbell play it 15 times. That guy is such a champion of music. He didn’t have to do that, he didn’t have to invite me to his house and show me this Maritime hospitality, and then play me Joel’s record—but that’s just Mike. That’s how he rolls.”
From top to bottom: Joel Plaskett performing “Light of the Moon,” and a montage of a Boxing Day gig in 2010 at The Carleton where the artist made a guest appearance.
When Campbell eventually got The Carleton off the ground, Poltz was one of the first artists that he tried to book. Poltz has since played the venue an estimated 40 times since 2008.
“For Steve’s early shows I offered a money-back guarantee,” says Campbell. “I was like, ‘After the show, if you can come up to me with a straight face and tell me that you didn’t think that was worth your money, I’ll give you your money back. And it won’t be out of Steve’s take, it will be out of my pocket; we’ll never be friends again because you’re an idiot, but I’ll give you your money back. No one has ever taken me up on that. I also did that with July Talk.”
In 2013, an on-the-rise July Talk was just starting to tour outside of Toronto when they performed at The Carleton for the first time. “I booked them on a Wednesday and nobody here had ever heard of them,” says Campbell. “I’d seen the first video for “Paper Girl,” and I called the agent back and said ‘Yeah, we’re doing this.’”
From top to bottom: July’s Talk’s video for “Paper Girl,” and their infamous 2013 appearance at The Carleton.
It was a wild sold-out show—their first sell-out outside of Toronto—that culminated in frontwoman Leah Fay romping around the stage with a lampshade on her head. That first gig made an impression on the local scene and the band would go on to sell-out two more shows at The Carleton that same year, along with another at the larger capacity Seahorse Tavern. “Then the band just got way too big for me to handle,” says Campbell.
Hangout for the who’s who of Halifax
Entering The Carleton is like “walking into a time capsule,” according to Tanya Beers, an active member of the Halifax music scene, who’s worked as a bartender at The Carleton since 2011.
The venue is plastered with old MuchMusic memorabilia and show posters of East Coast giants, like Thrush Hermit, Joel Plaskett Emergency and The Super Friendz, torn from the walls of the Marquee Club, where Campbell used to book talent from 2004-2005 (FYI: Before opening The Carleton, he also used to manage Plaskett with current manager Sheri Jones).
“As a kid I always wanted to be a VJ, but I was so shy,” says Beers. “Watching Mike and Mike’s X-Canada Adventures and MuchEast, I was just glued to that as a teenager. He was always interviewing new and up-and-coming East Coast bands. To get a job working side by side with Mike Campbell is sort of like a dream come true.”
During her time working at the venue, she says she’s had her fair share of run-ins with well-known musicians, yet it was another classic MuchMusic VJ that left her feeling a little star struck. “Earlier this summer [Kim Clarke Champniss] was in town for a visit with Mike, and I was working a day shift at the bar,” she remembers. “I was like, ‘Oh my god here he comes. I remember you from when I was a kid!’”
With music veteran Campbell at the helm, the venue tends to attract some notable figures—recognized personalities, Halifax music scenesters, touring acts—and people that just want to drop in and say hello to the beloved Haligonian.
“There’s always people stopping in and asking for Mike,” says Beers. “On a Friday or Saturday night you could pretty much see anyone. You’ll see a lot of local musicians. I call them guest appearances. Sometimes if there’s a band on stage and they see someone in the crowd, they’ll call them up. If a band is playing and Matt Mays happens to be floating around, it’s nothing for Matt to get up or Adam Baldwin to get up on stage. Sometimes if Joel Plaskett’s in the house, he’ll get up.”
Super duo Plaskett and Poltz performing during an August 2017 concert at The Carleton. Photo supplied by Mike Campbell.
Poltz is one such artist to call ‘ole Plaskett up to the mic for an impromptu set. “He came to one of my shows and I threw a guitar at him,” he recalls. “He played with me on stage and then we unplugged and stood on tables and played for all of the bar. I love that memory.”
On death’s doorstep
Despite strong support from the local and touring music community, the venue has struggled to keep its doors open, in large part due to years of disruptive construction on the adjacent one-million-square-foot Nova Centre, along with the evening and weekend closures of the Macdonald Bridge that connects Halifax to Dartmouth, where half of the local population lives. It’s resulted in less foot traffic to the area and other venues and restaurants moving from the neighbourhood or closing altogether.
“The result has been catastrophic,” says Campbell.
In 2015, the venue was in serious jeopardy of closing. Not willing to go down without a fight, Campbell started a crowd-funding campaign to buy him some time, with the intention of raising enough funds to support The Carleton for a one-year period, after which construction was slated to end, though two years later it’s still not complete.
A video plea used as part of the crowd-funding effort features a slew of well-known artists, such as Plaskett, Poltz, Adam Baldwin, Jenn Grant, Robyn Hitchcock, Stephen Fearing, Barney Bentall, and July Talk, imploring viewers to “Save The Carleton.”
Many renowned musicians appear in this video plea used to ‘Save The Carleton.”
“It’s important for us to rally together to help save The Carleton,” Plaskett says in the video. “Mike does such a great job with local music. It’s without a doubt one of the finest clubs in Canada and North America.”
“If there is anything that you personally can do to keep The Carleton alive, please do it,” follows Peter Dreimanis of July Talk, wearing a shirt with Mike Campbell’s name scrawled across it.
“We really hope that you’ll be able to keep this place alive and running,” says Grant. “We’re asking for your help.”
Indeed, in his time of need, some of the same musicians that Campbell had rallied behind over the years lined up to show their support for him and the venue.
“When he was in trouble, all of these musicians were just like, ‘Anything you need,’” says Poltz. “We all banded together because we didn’t want to see him lose The Carleton.”
“People came out in force,” says Campbell. “We probably averaged $5,000 per month to keep our boat afloat. I asked for a year commitment because that’s when the convention centre was supposed to be finished and, of course, it wasn’t…Without that, we wouldn’t have lived through that horrible year, and even with that it wasn’t enough to keep us going.”
While the campaign kept the venue above water for a short period of time, The Carleton continued to struggle, and several silent investors decided to pull out of the venture after years of not making any money. In the end, Campbell, too, had to sell his share of the space.
At the 11th hour, though, an angel investor—Karen Spaulding, a loyal customer and local businesswoman—came through to purchase the place. Her only caveat? She wouldn’t buy the bar unless Campbell remained involved and it continued to be a live music venue.
“If it isn’t an actual miracle, it’s pretty damn close,” says Campbell.
“With the new owner that’s committed to it, we need to answer the question of how do we keep this place afloat so we can keep doing what we’re doing?” he continues. “In this part of the world, there’s no shortage of good artists…The music tradition lives here but, just like many other venues across the country, we’re just having a tough time getting people to come out.”
“Mike is like the patron saint of music,” Poltz says. “There needs to be a statue of him, like there’s statues of St. Anthony. Lord knows he doesn’t make any money. That guy is constantly trying to make his mortgage, his phone bill, yet he is a tireless supporter of musicians.
“If he were to leave, there would be a void in Halifax. He’s built that place…and he’s cultivated a scene with his own two hands.”
Make sure to visit The Carleton the next time you’re in Halifax, and if you’re in the vicinity visit it often. More info on upcoming shows can be found at thecarleton.ca.
– Julijana Capone
Julijana Capone will travel to Halifax to visit The Carleton and (if invited) the Tiki Bar if it’s the last thing she ever does. She can be reached at email@example.com. Stay tuned for more articles about beloved, bygone, and still-kicking music venues across the country.
Update: Invitation to the Tiki accepted. Thank you, Mike Campbell!