Emerging artists to play the Seahorse once again

New Music Thursday returns to Halifax’s oldest bar for the first time since 2015

4 min read
A band performing on stage at the Seahorse Tavern. Fans watch from the crowd.
caption Local band Persephone performed at the Seahorse in 2021. Other young artists may soon get the chance to do the same.
Landon Morris

Artists will once again have a chance to perform their new songs on one of Halifax’s most prestigious stages and receive a guaranteed payday each month. 

Music Nova Scotia, a non-profit organization with nearly 1,000 members that promotes the province’s music industry, is hosting New Music Thursday in partnership with Garrison Brewing and the Seahorse Tavern. Together, they will present a concert series to showcase local artists. In each show, four artists will perform a 20-30 minute set of original music without the burdens of booking and planning a show on their own.

Harmony Adesola performs under the stage name HARMZ. He is one of the four artists who was slated to perform on Feb. 1 at New Music Thursday’s first event of the year. He says these events are encouraging for artists.

“It gives them the confidence they don’t necessarily have and it gives them a way to get their music heard,” he said. “It also gives them a sense of ‘I’m actually doing the right thing if I can play here. And if I can have an organization that’s known worldwide give me a stage, I can make it anywhere.’”

New Music Thursday is not a new concept. Until 2015, Music Nova Scotia held shows of the same nature, known then as New Music Tuesday. The events were held at the Seahorse Tavern on Argyle Street. The organization briefly continued the event when the bar moved to its new location on Gottingen Street, but stopped in January 2015. The new location’s 250-person capacity means tons of music lovers can pack the house for a night of local tunes.

Dana Beeler, events and strategic development manager at Music Nova Scotia, went to New Music Tuesday as a teenager and says these events can help artists grow their network and audience without having to sell hundreds of tickets.

“It further grows the music community in Halifax and in Nova Scotia. I think it’s really important that people expand outside of their own circles and really start working together across all genres and platforms.”

A singer stands in the crowd, singing into his microphone. He is surrounded by fans.
caption Local favourites Sleepy Kicks performed to a packed crowd at the Seahorse in September 2023.
Landon Morris

In recent years, the Seahorse has become an increasingly difficult stage for artists to play. The cost of booking the venue has steadily increased, leaving many young artists to look for less costly options. The Seahorse was once free to play, but in the past year, the charge to book a show has increased by hundreds. Music Nova Scotia has partnered with Garrison Brewing to foot the bill for New Music Thursday events and ensure artists walk away with money in their pockets.

“Our mandate is to ensure that artists are getting paid, so we will do everything in our power to make sure that that happens,” says Beeler.

To perform at the event, the artist must be a current member of Music Nova Scotia and a resident of the province. If they are a group or band, at least half of the members must be residents. If an artist’s application is selected and they perform at the event, they will receive between $100 and $500, depending on the length of their performance and their ranking on the bill. 

The next New Music Thursday event is scheduled to take place on March 7.

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About the author

Landon Morris

Landon Morris is a journalist from Cape Breton. He specializes in arts and entertainment with a focus on music journalism.

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