Nova Scotia’s eclectic music scene revolves around Halifax. This historical harbour city filled with university students has long been a music town, and lately, a magnet for up-and-coming East Coast talent. Expect live acts seven nights a week in pubs, clubs, rowdy halls, and cozy dens, with refreshingly irreverent, unpolished performances, but be sure to check out one of these legendary spaces.
First, there’s The Carleton Music Bar & Grill, a landmark. Almost everyone has played at the Argyle Street stone-walled building, built in 1760 and, apart from two churches, the oldest building in Halifax. You’ll hear all types of tunes here. Eat dinner, too, until the wee hours.
Just down the way is the underground Seahorse Tavern, also a must. Go for dancing and the best stage for local bands in a mashup 20s speakeasy-80s-rocker vibe. Another requisite is one of Atlantic Canada’s best, The Marquee Ballroom, for large indie bands.
For jazz, you’ll want to check out The Pressgang Restaurant & Oyster Bar, a modern-retro 17th century venue that hops on Fridays and Saturdays, especially with soulful trumpet star Mike Cowie’s trio. On Mondays, catch Cuban pianist Silvio Pupo at speakeasy-style Economy Shoe Shop Café and Bar. Classic rock is on at The Split Crow Pub with grog and nightly music.
For Celtic in a classic Irish setting, try Durty Nelly’s any night of the week. Thursdays are for a ceilidh with traditional music and storytelling, Fridays and Saturdays are known for dancing, and Sunday is open mic night. The Old Triangle, an alehouse that also hosts open session Irish dancing and fiddling, is another great spot.
No matter where you go, plan to bring your dancing shoes.