Local live music venue The Carleton scored an East Coast Music Award win during the P.E.I. show for being the best venue for live music on the coast.
For former owner Mike Campbell, it’s an incredible achievement. From the brink of bankruptcy to the gold two years in a row, the new owners of The Carleton are making the space vibrant again.
“We weren’t expecting this two years in a row. This is the fifth time The Carleton has won, but we’re always up against such tough competition,” he said.
“We can never take these things for granted, and the new ownership under Karen Spaulding and the team are so happy about this.”
After a crowdfunding campaign and creditor protection, Spaulding rescued The Carleton Music Bar and Grill from an almost foregone fate.
“I had the place 10 years, and I was up against a lot with the construction of the Nova Centre, which just seemed unending,” said Campbell, who still books and manages entertainment at the venue.
“I know how hard you have to work to do this, and I’m happy Karen and the team added to the mix, made a new layout, improved the kitchen, and did a sound system upgrade. Everyone just embraced the idea, and developed a concept that helped win this award.”
He says The Carleton is necessary to the very fabric of the live music community in Halifax.
“The reputation it has as a live venue is unbelievable. There aren’t as many options for music now as there used to be. We’re proud to have a listening room environment,” he said.
“I used to joke that one day we’d refer to this space as ‘the legendary Carleton,’ and I think we get closer to that with each success.”
Without the space, says Campbell, there just simply wouldn’t be the breadth of live music Halifax currently enjoys.
“I’m happy to still be around making this happen. The catch-22 is we try to give young or new acts a chance to get experience in an industry where you need to prove yourself to get onstage,” he said.
“People need a shot, and we like allowing people to perform and get their feet wet. Karen (the owner) helps people get space to perform, helps artists sell tickets and lets known acts come try out new material.”
Campbell still believes Halifax is an incredible music city, and wants to inspire people to check the scene out.
“For all the people who have never been, I’d invite people to just come and give us a try,” he said. “Halifax has more great musicians per pound than anywhere else in the country. We want that appetite for live music to make a comeback, because it’s an amazing thing.”