New Works Magazine:Music In Halifax 1985
5: "They say my music is
but I can only play what I feel."
local musicians may need more than a change in consumer taste
before they find regular employment. Flexx is an eight member
band playing some original material and some top 40 covers. Band
members make it clear that they are not Just a funk band; they're
willing play anything that will get them into clubs. "Flexx
stands for flexible," vocalist, guitar and keyboard player
Jeremiah Sparks says. ''We can play anything so we like it."
got the best audience response in a Canada Day contest in which
popular bar entertainers the Water Street Blues Band and Dimitri
also competed. But because all eight members are Black, Flexx
may find it hard to get work at many of the downtown clubs.
of Black musicians looking for work is well out of proportion
to the seven or eight occasionally playing in Halifax clubs. Black
musicians occasionally perform at the Middle Deck and at the Odeon,
but the Network, the Misty Moon, and the Palace, all of which
at one time frequently hired Black musicians, now employ Blacks
so seldom it looks like policy. The only bar in recent years to
have hired Black musicians on a regular basis, The Tap, closed
down last year.
a lot of racism going on in Halifax as far as the club scene goes,"
Corey Adams says.
year, I made my living off playing. It kept me pretty good,"
he says. Adams says he has work coming up at the Middle Deck but
hasn't played any clubs since opening for Martha Reeves at the
rhythm and blues Odeon.
says most bar owners haven't been very receptive lately. "They
tell me my music is too Black, but I can only play what I feel."
a lot of racism going on in Halifax as far as the club scene
of the club owners argue that "Black music", rhythm
and blues or funk, won't make money for the club. "Black
music", they say, doesn't attract a White audience, and a
Black audience doesn't spend enough money to keep a club In business.
No one in Halifax is counting on a mixed audience.
who brought several Black funk acts to the Odeon over the summer,
says he used to think funk was bad for a club. "I don't know
how to look at it anymore. There's a majestic energy about it
that's entertaining," Bzanson says. "They get a rapport
going with the audience. It's a party and that's what the Odeon
is, a party room."
the experimenting Odeon is reluctant to party with local Black
bands. One club manager, who refused to be identified, said he
didn't want to hire local Black musicians because of the following
they might attract. It's not that he doesn't want Blacks in the
club, he explained, it's just that there is a certain element
that in the past has caused violence and vandalism in clubs that
have hired local Black musicians. He wouldn't, or perhaps couldn't,
give an example.
Sergeant Tom Spearns of the Halifax Police Department says he
can't recall any reports of violence or vandalism by patrons,
Black or White, in any nightclub in Halifax.
has arranged their own concerts at Club 55 on Gottingen Street
and the old Home for Coloured Children in Westphal. The band is
putting together a demonstration tape using CBC studio time they
won at the concert on the Commons. They're uncertain what the
response will be, but band members are hopeful. "We've proven
our point," Jeremiah Sparkes says.
Black musicians have given up on the entertainment establishment.
After-hours clubs have flourished in basements in the North End,
although the latest closed a year ago. Corey Adams talks about
the need for a club run by Blacks for Black musicians. He says
he has seen a .picture of five Black musicians practicing in the
chicken coop in North Preston in the middle of winter, gloves
and earmuffs on. Black musicians, he says, have to make their
neighbour Kevin Oliver, Adams has formed his own promotions company,
the Cory Adams Promoting Arts Society. Adams organized the Canada
Day concert on the Commons and put together a street dance on
Maynard Street on the Natal Day weekend.
Adams has also formed his own company, called the Bucky Adams
School of Music. Through BASOM, Adams has produced a series of
concert video tapes that he has distributed to Pennsylvania, Arizona,
and New York State and shown on Dartmouth Cable.
Adams has been playing without pay at the City Club bar most week
nights from 4 to 7, before the regular customers start to arrive.
Working under the name Bucky Adams and Friends, Adams has been
Jamming with whoever wants to play good Jazz. The sound changes
from evening to evening. "I've been trying to come up with
a label," Adams says. "Everything in this world must
have a label. That's how you know what to go and buy."
figures he's been treated poorly in Halifax but he isn't about
to quit trying. "The way I look at it, they crucified the
Lord; I can't complain.
has a Jargon," Adams says. "I figure the Jargon for
the Black people or any of the rainbow people in this province
is 'I can't do this' or 'Ican't do that.'
don't know if it's a fantasy or a pipe dream, but I keep thinking
that one day this will be a nice, big city where Jazz will be
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