It’s no secret that the pandemic has been a challenge for the performing arts industry. The past two years have been washed in a sense of uncertainty, but despite this, music has always been a way for communities to come together. Unfortunately, living in a pandemic often meant stepping back from the places where we once gathered. With Nova Scotia reaching the end of their reopening plan, venues are able to reopen, and there seems to be excitement in the air about the return of live music. I recently had the opportunity to have a conversation with Freya Milliken, a singer-songwriter and third year music student at Acadia, about the world of music in Wolfville both in and out of the shadow of a pandemic.
Nova Scotia is a province with a rich musical history, a history that certainly has a home in Wolfville as well. When asked about what makes the music scene here special, Freya described her love for “the vibrance and diversity in Nova Scotia, especially in Wolfville. There are so many singer-songwriters around here and really fabulous musicians within such a small community.”
Of course, part of the joy of music is in sharing it with others. Freya has been performing at Paddy’s open mic almost every monday since October, and when asked about her experience she replied: “What I love about performing in Wolfville is how keen everybody is about listening to the music and how interested they are in talking to the musician after the performance.”
She described the joy of the community here in Wolfville, sharing that she is “always so grateful when people say thank you after a concert, I hadn’t really heard that very much before… They’re really getting something out of that performance and I really appreciate that.”
The pandemic shut down many parts of community life, and that has had many implications for musical artists – when asked about how it has impacted the community here Freya explained how it has made it challenging to “find performance opportunities, which is difficult for independent artists who rely on these gigs… from a networking perspective it’s been hard to meet people and put yourself out there.”
It’s no secret that there’s something magical about live performance. For Freya, “there’s nothing like having a performance and showing people what you can do in a live and intimate setting… [the pandemic has] made people appreciate live music more.”
Still, even as gathering became impossible, there were bright spots to be found. “Technology has really expanded over the pandemic… a lot of festivals created virtual spaces to perform. In terms of social media it seems people are really interested in videos, I think that’s become a big thing.”
It seems that live music is finally ready to make a comeback as venues are able to open up. When asked about what she’s most excited for as the community is able to come together once again Freya said she’s excited “to perform more and to make more music spaces available on campus. I think it would be great to have more music spaces available on campus… creating more opportunities to play live music and meet people… getting together and being in the moment… you can grow so much on your own but sometimes you need a little push from people outside yourself.”
For anyone that’s dreaming of getting more involved with the music community in Wolfville, Freya’s advice would be to “get involved, don’t be afraid to reach out to people. It’s better to ask than to never know. I feel like that resonates in any capacity in life… People around here are super sweet and kind and funny and great humans. If somebody wanted to try performing I’d say go to Paddy’s Open Mic, because it’s such a welcoming community there.”
*Quotations have been edited for brevity and clarity.