Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March/April : upcoming events, live music, themed dinner specials!


Hey folks,

We're back in regular schedule mode. We had a great St. Patrick's Day eve session and lamb roast and are looking forward to spring and some more events! We've got some exciting stuff in the works...

Meet the Brewer Night: Big Spruce Brewing
The first in what we hope will become a regular series of evenings of great local food and beer  will kick off with Jeremy White of Big Spruce Brewing
Details TBA, proposed date, April 19th - so pencil it in!

Coming soon!
Agricultural Trivia Night
Writers Reading Night 
Townhouse Movie Night - screening locally produced films
And perhaps a second performance of "Clowns: Demystified"....

Plus the following musical acts:





MORGAN DAVIS, Saturday, April 5th, 9pm $10 at the door

The Townhouse is pleased to be bringing back Juno and Maple Blues award winning performer for an intimate show. He has a huge following, but in case he's new to you, here's some background on Davis from his website:

For nearly four decades Morgan Davis has been on the road travelling across Canada, the United States and Europe. His performances draw from a rich tradition of country blues, as well as his own contemporary songs infused with wit and a large dose of humour.

Originally from Detroit, Davis grew up listening to a prolific mix of rhythm and blues. The music of Jimmy Reed, Ike and Tina Turner,Chuck Berry and Fats Domino was in the air. He later moved to California with his family, and then in 1968 left for Canada.

While living in Rochdale College, Toronto's mecca for the subculture of the late 1960's, he immersed himself in the study of Delta Blues, especially the music of Robert Johnson. Toronto's music scene in the early 1970's was the perfect place for Davis to cut his teeth as a journeyman, having the opportunity to see and play with many legendary performers. Bukka WhiteJohnny ShinesSunnyland Slim,Snooky PryorHubert Sumlin, and John Hammond were encouraging supporters.

Over the years he has had the priviledge of opening for Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Albert King, John Hammond, Albert Collins, and Eric Bibb. A highlight of his career was backing the phenomenal Dr.John. Morgan has shared the stage with Colin Linden, who also produced his second album, shared the stage with James Cotton, Huber Sumlin, Sunnyland Slim, Snooky Prior, James Harmon, Gene Taylor, Dutch Mason, Gene Taylor, Sue Foley, Ray Bonneville, Carlos DelJunco and many other great blues artist over the years.
Davis' songwriting talent received international recognition whenColin James covered his searing ballad "Why'd You Lie".Morgan's recording "Blues Medicine", on Electro-Fi records, garnered critical acclaim as well as awards for songwriting and production. His multi- award winning release "Painkiller" won an impressive four awards at the 2004 Maple Blues Awards and not long after took home Canada's top music prize...the Juno for Blues Album of the Year.

Davis has established a rich career as a solo artist, and also performs with stellar lineups of musicians as a trio or full band.

Morgan's passion for the Blues has never wavered... and he fully expects to be on the road for the rest of his life.




KRASNOGORSK, Thursday, April 10, 9pm, $10 at the door

These guys tore the roof off the Townhouse in January, and had everyone out of their seats and dancing! We couldn't wait to get them back again - so if you missed them last time, don't let it happen again! They are positively electric performers - there's drama, intensity, closely controlled chaos, and something primordial just under the surface... Halifax based Jacques Mindreau, violin, and Corey Hinchey, baritone ukelele, form the core of the group, and they've recently added a young stand up bass player, . A listen to their  CBC music stream reveals influences from Roma and Eastern European folk traditions, conjuring visions of full, whirling, multi-coloured skirts, flying white shirt-tails, and long, dark beards.  There may even be a guest appearance from Antigonish's own gypsy-jazz violinist, Donald MacLennan...  Below is an excerpt from an article from The Coast.



"Folklore music," as Jacques Mindreau describes it. "We try to tell stories with our music."
Their stories come from everywhere: their dreams; their imaginations; old folk tales of wizards and horses. The goal is non-verbal communication: Hinchey, with his baritone ukulele, will strum and stomp without any sign of fatigue, while Mindreau, in addition to playing a wicked-fast violin, has an operatically dramatic voice, made all the more operatic by the fact that he never sings in English. "It's sort of ineffable, the stories," Hinchey says. "They feel the music, and they jive it, and they give it its life."

And - for those who haven't checked us out in a while  - we've introduced themed dinner specials for winter:


 Tuesdays: Chicken Adobo

Wednesdays: Mexican Night 

Thursdays: British Pub Food 

Fridays: Catch of the Day

Saturdays: Home-made Pasta

Sundays: The Sunday Roast





Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mid-Winter Break

Hi all, we just wanted to let you know that The Townhouse will be closing for a brief mid-winter break this month.

CLOSED February 17 - March 3

We're very sorry for any inconveniences, and we will miss all of our amazing regulars, but we think taking a break and making sure not to let anyone get too burnt out is part of running a sustainable business. We hope you'll understand - we chose the slowest part of the year to close, hoping to minimize the impact!

We'll be back the first week of March, refreshed and rejuvenated, and with more music and great food in the works! Next up - a new Halifax based duo Magnolia, who will be bringing a mix of jazz, blues & folk to The Townhouse

Saturday, March 8, Live Music  - Magnolia



Saturday, April 5 - Live Music - Morgan Davis

Plus the return of Julie Doiron...

Thanks for your understanding, and we'll see you again very soon!


Rose & Terry


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January/February news, music and events

Happy New Year, everyone!

Well, the winter has set in, and it is certainly not kidding around this time. We've already had several stormy nights where our only patrons have showed up on skiis, but we seem to be in the midst of a January thaw as I write this. I just wanted to let you know about a few things happening at The Townhouse this month and next.

With the exception of hosting an informal Irish traditional music session on Sunday nights, being a music venue wasn't at the top of our minds in planning the pub. We were more ffocused ona  place to bring people together for conversation, good food and really good beer. However, there are so many excellent musicians in and around the area who have approached us about playing since we opened, that we do our best to rearrange the chairs and tables and make space for music at least twice a month. 

Despite the lack of a stage, a bit of an awkward lay out, and the complications of having two different types of liquor license within one space, with the loan of a small PA system from Clay Yancey (host of The Antigonish Underground Jam, Friday nights at the legion!) and a bit of shuffling, the Townhouse makes for a cozy, intimate venue. And to our initial surprise, the room, it turns out, always sounds great. With all the shows we've ended up doing, we've decided to purchase our own PA, and eventually to renovate the upstairs (first and foremost to house a larger brewery) and create a special functions room, complete with a proper stage and designed with hosting music in mind.

In the meantime, because we still don't do music shows too often, the acts we do bring in are musicians Terry and I are both really excited to see. So far, we've focused on folk, blues, old style-country and bluegrass, but bringing in people we feel are doing something really unique and special within those loose genres eg. Michael Hurley, Morgan Davis, Al Tuck, The Minnikins, The Sin & The Swoon, The Modern Grass, etc. As we only seat 60 people, and do have the aforementioned lay out issues, we encourage anyone keen to have a good seat for the show to come in a little early and grab a bite to reserve them. And we do have some particularly interesting shows coming up over the next few weeks...

FIVER, Jan 23rd, 9pm, $10 at the door

Our next act is one I feel really lucky to be able to be able to bring to Antigonish. Here for Halifax's In the Dead of Winter Festival, Fiver is the solo project of Simone Schmidt. I'm not alone in thinking Schmidt is one of the most exciting musicians in Toronto these days (see The Star article, that calls her the voice of 2 of the year's best albums). Despite her youth and edgy aesthetic, she has a remarkably timeless, almost transcendent, sound. I first got to hear her play several years ago at a small  music festival in New Brunswick, where she was performing in a duo called $100. Her incredible deep, haunting voice, stripped down musical style, and sharp song-writing (kind of a gritty contemporary take on traditional hurtin' country songs) really blew everyone away - this low-key acoustic duo basically stole the whole festival. This time around, Simone is fronting her own band - we'll have a drum kit set up in The Townhouse for the very first time! Fiver's sound is a somewhat mournful, country-esque rock, reminiscent of Townes Van Zandt, that I think The Townhouse's music crowd will really appreciate. We have already heard from one couple who will be driving 1 1/2 hours just to come see the show. You can check out her song Oh Sienna below, for a taste of what's to come.



KRASNOGORSK, Jan 30, 9pm, $10 at the door

This show promises to be a truly exotic, hair-standing-on-end, treat. Although I have yet to see them play, they come very highly recommended - as much for their eccentric intensity as their virtuosic plucking and bowing of strings. A recent listen to their  CBC music stream revealed influences from Roma and Eastern European folk traditions, conjuring visions of full, whirling, multi-coloured skirts, flying white shirt-tails, and long, dark beards. Halifax based Jacques Mindreau, violin, and Corey Hinchey, baritone ukelele, form the core of the group and we've just managed to squeeze in a show during their NS tour before their accordion player (visiting from BC) heads off to India to study Harmonium. There may even be a guest appearance from Antigonish's own gypsy-jazz violinist, Donald MacLennan...  Below is an excerpt from an article from The Coast.



"Folklore music," as Jacques Mindreau describes it. "We try to tell stories with our music."
Their stories come from everywhere: their dreams; their imaginations; old folk tales of wizards and horses. The goal is non-verbal communication: Hinchey, with his baritone ukulele, will strum and stomp without any sign of fatigue, while Mindreau, in addition to playing a wicked-fast violin, has an operatically dramatic voice, made all the more operatic by the fact that he never sings in English. "It's sort of ineffable, the stories," Hinchey says. "They feel the music, and they jive it, and they give it its life."

Coming up in early February is another event we're really looking forward to:

CRAFT BEER TASTING, Feb. 8, details TBA
We're bringing Tracy Phillippi, of The Ladies Beer League, back to town to host another guided craft beer tasting. While the last event was a thank you to our SUDS Club, this one will be open to the public, and feature 7-8 Maritime Craft Beers paired with appetizers from Chef Jacob Buckley and the Townhouse kitchen. While craft beer is gaining more and more popularity across the world, and more and more styles of beer are becoming available close to home (4 new breweries opened in NS in 2013!), people are getting more and more adventurous in what they want to drink (barley wine, smoked porter, or sour beer, anyone?). Everyone is starting to take beer a little more seriously, and having a lot of fun doing it. The author of a book on tasting beer that I've been reading, claims that if you can get a few beers into a wine sommelier they will admit that beer can do an even better job of pairing with food than wine! 
Whether you're new to craft beers or an IPA aficianado, this promises to be an excellent evening - Tracy is a certified beer judge, experienced professional and home-brewer, writer for TAPS Magazine, creator of Craft Beer Experiences, and an excellent guide through the multi-faceted, oft confusing, and fun world of craft beer. Come and try some new beers, learn a bit about different styles, and about how to appreciate that beautiful beverage even more! Details about tickets and beers will be forthcoming - stay tuned!
The Townhouse will be closed for a break and a few renos, from February 18 - March 3.
Finally, we just wanted to let you know in advance that The Townhouse will be closing for a few weeks towards the end of February. Don't worry, we'll be back in March and better than ever! We all need a bit of a break, and a chance to do a few renovations and things we can't do while open, and thought we ought to get it out of the way during the slowest time of year. We're very sorry for any inconvenience, and hope you understand that it's all a part of making sure this little business is sustainable in the long term!
More music coming up when we re-open:
MAGNOLIA, March 8th, details TBA
Halifax based duo play folk/jazz/blues. Check them out here!






Tuesday, December 3, 2013

X-MAS AT-MOS: December music, events, & closures

There is so much happening in the next few weeks! 

We love this time of year - winter is just descending with its early evenings and light dustings of snow (or lashings of  cold, wet rain), everyone is coming home to visit their families and see old friends, and good food and drink is in incredible abundance. We're hoping you'll get a visit in over the holidays - meet a friend for a pint of our cask conditioned, house-brewed bitter, grab a hot toddy and maybe get right cozy with a Fisherman's Pie. But definitely mark your calendars for a few of these stellar events!

Dec. 3 - X-Ring night, while we have one large group in at 6pm, we're still open for walk-in traffic, and with lots of room!

Dec 8, 15, 22, 29 - Irish Music Sessions every Sunday night!    Probably our favourite night of the week here at The Townhouse - if you haven't taken in the tunes yet, try to catch them one of these nights. No cover.

Dec. 7 - bar/lounge area open, Private Function at 6pm will be taking over the dining room, limited seating available from 6-9!

The Modern Grass getting in the mood - photo credit: The Coast.ca


Dec. 12 - The Modern Grass - Swinging' around the Christmas Tree
The Modern Grass was born in early 2011 in Halifax, NS and have since released 5 albums and toured the nation extensively and relentlessly. The groups latest award winning album, High on the Mountain, (Music Nova Scotia country/bluegrass album of the year & roots/traditional album of the year) explores new territory in folk, roots, and bluegrass music alike. Climbing high up into the Appalachians, rolling and tumbling all the way down, rising next to an East St. Louis diner under dim streetlight, down to the Banks of the Mississippi and south to New Orleans; The Modern Grass Be - bops, doo- wops, and yeehaws it's way through roots music freely, setting the mood for real life rambling, gambling and heartbreaking storytales.
" The Chieftains of newgrass "    - Glen Meisner, CBC


Dec. 19 - Antigonight Spoken Word & Poetry fundraiser event - More info to follow!


Dec. 21 - The Sin and The Swoon

 Antigonish native Michelle Tompkins returns from Montreal with her partner,  Michael James O’Brien. The music they play pays tribute to the sounds of old time country music and harmony singing of the Louvin Brothers and the Everly Brothers, along with the occasional nod to George Jones and Tammy Wynette.

See more at: www.sinandswoon.com


Dec. 23-26 Closed for Christmas

Dec 27 - 29 Open for the awesome in-between-Christmas-and-New-Year's weekend! Lots of food and beer specials and general good fun to be had!



Dec. 31 - The Townhouse's New Year's Eve Bash - a multi-course, fancy-dress celebration of Local Food paired with Maritime Craft Beers, with Karaoke and Open-Mic Confessional! More details to come very soon! Tickets will be sold in advance.


Jan 1 - 2 Closed for general recovery!

But don't slow down too much - there's still lots to come in the New Year !!!

Jan 11 - The Minnikins, Ruth and Gabe are getting together for a string of shows, sibling revelry? More here

Jan 23 - Fiver, Simone Schmidt, previously of country duo One hundred Dollars, and currently touring as part of country-psyche group The Highest Order comes down to play you some of her eerily beautiful tunes - all the way from Toronto! More here.

Feb 8 - Tracy Philippi of Experience Craft Beer is coming down to lead another guided craft beer tasting! Tickets will be sold in advance, details to come in January.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

CASK FEST 2013!





Tracy Philippi, co-founder of the LBL

Hey folks,
Just wanted to share a few snaps form the recent Ladies Beer League Cask Fest, hosted by The Stubborn Goat, a new gastropub in Halifax, and take the opportunity to talk a bit more about cask conditioned ale. As many of you will know, Terry has had his own Best Bitter on tap now at The Townhouse for almost two months. Or you may have noticed the rather large wooden tap handle that recently appeared at the end of our bar... Terry's beer is cask conditioned, and we are among a small number of pubs east of Montreal that regularly serve cask ale. The first place was The Granite Brewery, started by Kevin Keefe. He still produces excellent cask beers for the same pub, now under new management and known as  The Henry House in Halifax. He also supplies The Spitfire in Windsor, and as of this past Saturday, Bar Stillwell, also in Halifax.



What is cask conditioned ale?

Basically it is unpasteurized, naturally carbonated beer. Instead of forcing CO2 or beer gas into the keg of beer (the usual mode of carbonating), cask ale, or  "real ale," as it is often called, goes through a secondary fermentation process in the cask from which it is then dispensed. They can be dispensed directly from the cask by gravity - as in the popular Firkin Fridays or Cask Nights recently started up in Halifax by Garrison and Propeller. There the cask (or firkin or pin, depending on the size of the vessel) is often set on the bar and a spigot pours the beer directly into your glass. This works well for special events where they are drained almost immediately, because the cask is not refrigerated and oxygen gets into the cask as you pour, the beer will spoil fairly quickly. 


Our hand-pump or beer engine, is the other traditional method for dispensing cask ale. Here the pulling motion of the tap handle literally "pulls," or pumps, the pints through the lines and into your glass. This way the cask can be refrigerated, and you can set up some beer gas to form a blanket on the surface of the beer to prevent contact with any oxygen, without any of the gas actually dissolving into the beer.

So what's the point of all this ?

Well, the best way to find out is obviously to come in and try a pint for yourself. But I'll try to convey a bit of it here...

Ladies of the League! Enjoying some seriously tasty cask ale.

Cask ale is delicious. In an interview with the Coast, Ladies Beer League (LBL) co-founder, Tracy Phillippi, highlights the more natural flavour and softer mouthfeel, "It's usually smooth and really clean." You don't get the prickle on your tongue that you get from the CO2 in other beers and which can mask some of the beer's more subtle flavours. It also doesn't leave you feeling full or bloated, so you can drink quite a bit more!


There's also something unique about each cask, due to the organic development of the beer in the very cask from which it's dispensed - no two will ever be exactly the same. There's something a little special about drinking cask ale - much in the way there is in popping the cork off a bottle of champagne. "If you watch someone tap a cask, it's celebratory," as Phillippi says in the interview with the Coast. "Someone always gets a beer shower. It's always different. It's always an adventure."

So, cask beer is a bit of a specialty. It is far more common in Britain, where Terry and I first tried it, and where the revival in interest began decades ago. But here in North America,  more and more of the breweries as well as the beer lovers are getting curious about it and starting to try it out.  Although festivals have been going in Toronto and Vancouver for several years now - the LBL event last weekend was the first of its kind in the Maritimes. A few of the breweries, like Bridge Brewing from Halifax and Boxing Rock from Shelburne, were serving the first cask ales they ever produced!

So, the event was a huge success. At least from our slightly inebriated perspectives. The beers were remarkably good, especially considering the novelty of the process for many, and the venue was lively, warm, and filled with beer lovers! Plus we had a chance to catch up with a few old friends and with all the new friends we've been making in the industry. So far, my unscientific survey seems to point to the fact that people who like good beer, tend to be good people...

Oh, and the food we sampled was quite tasty! Queso fundido, coconut shrimp, and a lovely cheese board complete with one of the strangest cheeses I've yet tried, the brown and incredibly creamy Ski Queen made from cows whey...

Terry, Jeremy & the cask of the year!
Big Spruce's Glenora whiskey-spiked stout was declared the Cask of The Year, and it certailny was rather tasty,  although we'd also like to make special mentions of Boxing Rock's Brown Ale, Hell Bay's Dark Cream Ale, and Bridge's very interesting (and thankfully not too sweet) Apricot IPA. It was the first time we made it to a Ladies Beer League event, and I strongly encourage any of you to try to make it to their next one. They are making waves as the first organization of it's kind in the country, and really boosting the profile of craft beer in the region by hosting excellent events focused one craft beer, beer education, and usually involving local food too! 


As if that wasn't enough, Bar Stillwell, one of three beer focussed bar/resto just opened in Halifax in the last week or so, was just in it's second night of existence so we swung by to check it out. There we had the Granite's Best Bitter Special - ant toasted it's brewer, Kevin, the Godfather of the Cask" Keefe! It's a nifty little spot, nice design, great beer selection, delicious hand-cut Tokyo Fries, and a cozy little arcade downstairs mimicking a subway station- complete with a real pinball machine!

All in all an excellent weekend for beer lovers in the area - and inspiring us to look into hosting a mini cask fest of our own... stay tuned for more details as they unfold...



Terry, in some sort of heaven.



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November/December Update: Parties, gigs, and a few changes

New season, new menu, new hours

We are starting to switch up our menu for the wintry seasons. There may be a few stages in the switch-over, so bear with us. And while we'll have to bid adieu to green bean-dependant Totnes and Nicoise salads, ther will be new items added. We'd love to hear from you if there were any wintry dishes from the past you'd like to see come back... (We're thinking about Fisherman's Pie, Bangers 'n Mash, etc.)

Also, starting this week - the kitchen will be closing at 9pm every night except Friday, when it will stay open until 10pm.

And, in case you haven't tried it yet, Terry's beer, a Best Bitter, is in steady supply these days - and we're really pleased with what we feel is a particularly delicious example of a traditional British style ale. Cask conditioned and on hand-pump. We're welcoming descriptions for our menus... We've also introduced a few other new beers to the draft line up - Uncle Leo's IPA, Propeller Pale Ale, and from NS's newest micro-brewery Boxing Rock's Temptation Red - a uniquely hoppy and delicious one - check it out! 


Upcoming Events

Quiz night: This month will be on Wednesday, November 13th

Music galore! I'm very excited about the line-up we have booked for the coming months.
Details to come closer to the dates, but mark your calendars folks - we're really lucky to have some of these excellent performers in our region, and to have others coming from rather far afield. These shows are not to be missed!

November 23: Mary Beth Carty and Donald MacLennan (Antigonish!)

December 12: The Modern Grass Quartet (Halifax)

December 21: The Sin and The Swoon, (Michelle Tompkins) Montreal 

January 11: Gabriel and Ruth Minnikin (Dartmouth)

January 23: Fiver, (Simone Schmidt) (Toronto)


The Sin and The Swoon 

Christmas Parties!!!!

As November and December things start to slow down a bit, and as it is such a festive season, we have decided to break our no reservations rule, and host a few Christmas parties. If you have a group of 10 or more, we will reserve a table/rooms/the whole darn place and organize a set menu with 2-3 options for  appetizers, mains, desserts and tea/coffee at a set-price per person.

We can accommodate a limited number of Tuesdays, (some) Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, in November and December.

If you'd like to get your friends, family or co-workers together and maybe even see who does the best Rob Ford impersonations, please e-mail me to to discuss things further!
antigonishtownhouse@gmail.com

Thanks! Hope everyone's cozy out there this evening...

Rose & Terry