“I love what I do”: Halifax Folklore Center marks half a century of activity

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HALIFAX – A folk music store in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia marks a milestone, and it’s not expected to slow down anytime soon.

Tom and Marla Dorward opened the Halifax Folk Center in 1971 and, this year, the couple celebrates 50 years of activity.

“Well, it’s hard to believe that half a century has passed,” said Tom Dorward. “We’ve been in this place for 48 years, then we spent two years in a building across the street, which no longer exists.”

According to Tom, many of the buildings that surrounded the music store five decades ago no longer exist, which he says is a testament to the importance of music to locals.

“The Keltic background, people here love to play music, not just listen to music,” Tom said.

The music store, located in a 150 year old Victorian house, specializes in stringed musical instruments. Tom says he did his best to make the store look like an original 1900s music store.

Photo courtesy of: halifaxfolklorecentre.ca

“If I showed you a photo of the interior of a music store in the 1900s, it wouldn’t be much different from our store today,” Tom said.

After operating for half a century, Tom says he has worked with three generations of clients.

Even well-known musician Joel Plaskett has walked in and out of the store over the years.

“Our original clients were students, a lot of them, in 1971. Then they got married, had kids, and those kids came of age at 10, 11, 12 and started playing guitar. guitar. And they became our customers, like Joel Plaskett, “explained Tom.

Tom says Plaskett’s father was one of the store’s first customers in the 1970s. It didn’t take long for Joel himself to make appearances at the store.

“And of course, then Joel got very well known and now Joel has kids who will be our clients as well. So when you’re that age, 50, you’re three generations, which is pretty interesting having all these kids. doing it, ”Tom said.

Tom says the work he does in the store is a real passion for him.

Halifax Folk Center

Photo courtesy of: halifaxfolklorecentre.ca

“I love what I do. We restore old instruments, vintage instruments. People find things in their closets that they bring in that haven’t been played in years,” Tom said. “We fix them and make them playable again. We love to recycle. It’s one of the main things we do is recycle old instruments.”

Noah Tye is an employee of the Halifax Folklore Center. He says it’s amazing to see Tom doing his job.

“He’s one of the most famous luthiers, probably in the world,” Tye said. “He would never reveal it. It’s a good thing to sit and watch him work, to be a fly on the wall and to sit and take notes.”

Halifax Folk Center

Photo courtesy of: halifaxfolklorecentre.ca

Tom says the store’s highlights over the years are many, including celebrity visits. However, he says his main clients are what allowed his passion to flourish.

“Usually you’re 50 years old with your regular customers. Just the people who play for themselves, play for parties at their homes, these are our main customers,” Tom explained.

“It’s pretty hard to think back and think, 50 years is an incredible amount of time. When you do your hobby, how do you retire? So, I guess I’m stuck at do it for a while. “

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