The Life Wire: This week in culture

Welcome to the first edition of The Life Wire, where culture reporter Stephen Cooke has personally handpicked some of the stories from our lifestyles section that you need to read.

Funny pages

Comedian James Mullinger has mastered the art of finding opportunities in uncertain circumstances, like the time he decided to move from his home in the UK to New Brunswick with no Canadian comedy career to speak of, only to become one of the busiest men in show biz with a packed touring schedule, TV show, podcast, the Maritime Edit magazine which he co-founded with his wife Pamela, and an engaging presence on social media.

How he managed to do it all is detailed in his new memoir Brit Happens (Or Living the Canadian Dream), which came to fruition out of the sudden halt brought to everything else by the global pandemic. On Saturday, June 25, Mullinger crosses the border into Nova Scotia to launch the book at the Halifax Central Library and we talked about finding comedy during the chaos of COVID.

Halifax Pride Festival is back in full fierce

Comedians aren’t the only ones getting back into the spotlight in recent months. This week, a number of favorite Nova Scotian events announced their return to full-scale, in-person schedules after two years of going virtual, with reduced-capacity or simply taking a breather.

One of the most vital is the Halifax Pride Festival (Aug. 28 to Sept. 4), the annual 2SLGBTQ + community celebration that draws attendees from around the region in a show of solidarity and free expression with a host of activities like drag shows and disco , bingo and softball, plus the welcome return of the downtown Pride Parade on July 16, which will be led by 2022 Pride Ambassador Tuma Young, the accomplished lawyer and Wabanaki Two-Spirit Alliance co-founder.

A jovial moment captured during a Halifax Pride Parade of years past.  With Halifax Pride preparing for its first parade since 2019, this year’s installment is sure to bring back the super social rainbow-coated celebrations for which festival attendees have been waiting.  STOO METZ
A jovial moment captured during a Halifax Pride Parade of years past. With Halifax Pride preparing for its first parade since 2019, this year’s installment is sure to bring back the super social rainbow-coated celebrations for which festival attendees have been waiting. STOO METZ

Get your tickets

Concert announcements were hitting us like a Vin Diesel movie this week, both fast and furious, with Michael Buble’s long-delayed return to Halifax coming on Oct. 21 at Scotiabank Center, followed by comedian star John Mulaney on the same stage on Nov. 4.

Crooner Buble’s May 2020 Maritimes dates were postponed due to you-know-what, but now he’s got a new album of standards and original tunes called Higher, which is a pretty good reason to head back on the road for a truly coast-to- coast Canadian tour. And we know he’s an Anne Murray fan, so maybe we can put a vote in for a surprise cameo appearance by the Springhill songbird when he’s in town.

Back to the box office

Also announced this past week was the return of one of Buble’s favorite songwriters, and a multiple Juno Award-winner, Ron Sexsmith (the pair sang together on the latter’s Whatever It Takes a decade or so ago) to the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium on Oct. 6, with a trip to Annapolis Royal’s King’s Theater on Oct. 7. Sexsmith’s latest release Hermitage, inspired by his move from Toronto to Stratford, is a fine addition to his impressive discography, and it’ll be a treat to hear his perfectly honed pop tunes in-person again.

But wait, there’s more!

While a previously postponed engagement by songwriter Basia Bulat has now been rescheduled as part of The Garden Tour for her new record of wall-back performances, at the Light House Arts Center on Oct. 27, the downtown Halifax complex will also host Juno Award-winner Serena Ryder on Dec. 1. And this year’s shining light at the annual Canadian music prize galas, Montreal’s quadruple-Juno winner Charlotte Cardin, is bringing her effervescent and emotional modern pop to the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium on Nov. 26.

Folk festival fever

Summer events like the Stan Rogers Folk Festival and Lunenburg Folk Harbor Festival have already announced their lineups and are ready to welcome back devoted regulars and curious newcomers, and now late summer and fall gatherings the Halifax Urban Folk Festival and Wolfville’s Deep Roots Music Festival have their lineups posted with ticket sales on the go.

HUFF tends to kick out the jams more than your average folk fest, and this year is no exception with visiting artists like Jake Clemons from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, Grammy Award-nominated folk / pop rocker Aaron Lee Tasjan and Toronto songwriter Skye Wallace. Take a close look at the lineup and I’m sure you’ll find something to entice you to attend at the Carleton, one of the participating venues in Dartmouth, or the yet-to-be announced free show on the Grand Oasis stage at City Hall.

Down in the Valley, Deep Roots will have a great mix of local and visiting talent from Sept. 21 to 25 on the Festival Theater mainstage as well as at welcoming spots around town from the Festival Tent in Clock Park to Paddy’s Pub and the Wolfville Farmer’s Market. Jenn Grant, Kaia Kater and AHI are just the tip of the Deep Roots iceberg this year for traditional and contemporary folk performers.

Streaming (Star) Wars

Our Jedi master of digital entertainment delivery, Streaming Wars columnist Colin Chisholm, writes of a Star Wars Universe name we haven’t heard in a very long time, or at least not since those gawdforsaken prequels, to see how Obi-Wan Kenobi puts Ewan MacGregor’s portrayal of the character made immortal by Sir Alec Guinness into more palatable surroundings. It must be nice when there’s nowhere to go but up, into a galaxy far, far away, that is.

On The Book Shelf

As the battle over abortion laws becomes even more contentious among our neighbors to the south, columnist Allison Lawlor talks to Halifax registered nurse Martha Paynter about the need to maintain and improve access to reproductive health services here in Canada in her new book Abortion to Abolition: Reproductive Health and Justice in Canada.

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