Joel Plaskett on Halifax
The East Coast troubadour reflects on the best things about his hometown
The name Joel Plaskett is synonymous with East Coast contemporary music. This Juno Award-nominated singer-songwriter was born in Lunenburg, N.S., raised in Halifax, and is now living across the harbour in Dartmouth, and he’s one of the city’s most famous and recognizable residents. Case in point: His latest release, Three, an ambitious three-disc album, is peppered with inside jokes and references that only those familiar with Halifax would recognize. We caught up with Plaskett to find out where he hangs out in his hometown.
Top Halifax music venues
“For rock ’n’ roll shows I like Gus’ Pub (2605 Agricola Street) and The Seahorse Tavern (1665 Argyle Street). For quieter venues, I like The Carleton (1685 Argyle Street), and The Company House (2202 Gottingen Street) is cool too,” Plaskett says. He’s also looking forward to gigs at the Paragon Theatre (2037 Gottingen Street). The Paragon recently opened in the former space of the infamous Marquee Club, where Plaskett performed many times before it closed. The troubadour also recommends The Rebecca Cohn (6101 University Avenue) for a classy spot and calls the Alderney Landing (Dartmouth waterfront) “a great outdoor venue.”
Best places to grab a pre-show bite
Plaskett names The Wooden Monkey (1707 Grafton Street), a cozy downtown restaurant offering local and vegetarian fare, as one of his favourite nosh spots and he’s in good musical company—Ron Wood from the Rolling Stones is a fan of their blueberry pie. Star Anise (1571 Barrington Street), a no-fuss Vietnamese noodle restaurant, is also tops on his list of great eats.
Favourite places to grab a beer
Whiskey’s (29 Portland Street) in Dartmouth and Halifax’s The Carleton (1685 Argyle Street) “at midnight” are Plaskett’s preferred watering holes. Co-owned by Mike Campbell (Plaskett’s co-manager) and Mike Rhodes, formerly of MuchMusic’s Mike and Mike’s Excellent X Canada Adventures, The Carleton often hosts Halifax musicians celebrating after their gigs.
The best thing about living in Halifax
Plaskett says that he loves having a personal history in the city and that he’s able to run into people he knows and have conversations with them on the street.
Top Haligonian musician on the scene right now
“[This is a] tough one—there are so many to choose from,” says Plaskett. He lists hip-hop artist Classified, banjo player Old Man Luedecke, songstress Jenn Grant, rocker Matthew Grimson, singer Amelia Curran and singer-songwiter Rose Cousins among his favourites. “Dave Marsh is tops,” he boasts of one of the founding members of his band, The Emergency. Marsh released a solo album in July 2008 entitled The True Love Rules.
Halifax’s best kept secret
Plaskett names Dartmouth, Halifax’s quiet sister community, as his hidden treasure. Just a ferry ride across the harbour from Halifax proper, Dartmouth is a scenic area that Plaskett calls home, along with his wife, artist Rebecca Kraatz.
Why Plaskett decided to stay in Halifax
“I like the people, I like the pace of life, I like the size of the city, and I don’t have any desire to live in a big city with a big music industry,” he says. “I can maintain a good life here and take the show on the road when I need to.”