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'This is just a different way to see this space': Open mic night puts the 'fun' in funeral home

A monthly open mic night in Halifax is putting the ‘fun’ in funeral home.

Halifax musician Noah Tye is known for hosting open mic nights across the city, but there is one gig in particular that people are dying to go to.

“I wasn’t sure if it was a joke or if it was for real, but I am a curious person so I had to email back,” said Tye.

The email came from Caroline McQuillan, who had recently been hired as a family service counsellor at Cruikshank's Funeral Home.

“As soon as I walked in the chapel the acoustics hit me. I said to my boss, ‘I’m going to host an open mic here,’ said McQuillan.

“He had just met me and he was like, ‘Oh, um, haha.’ I was like, ‘Oh no, I’m serious, I’m going to host an open mic here,’ and he gave me free reign to get it started.”

Tye says he asked some musician friends what they thought of the idea.

“They seemed pretty curious too, so we decided to go for it,” he said.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and Cruikshank's ‘Unplugged’ was born.

“I think I had 25 players sign up to play the first month and it’s been kind of rolling that way ever since,” said Tye.

“Every other time you’re in a funeral home you’re not having fun, you’re not smiling. So this is just a different way to see this space, which is nice.”

Local singer-songwriter Leona Burkey and her 14-year-old daughter Maggie are regulars.

“I just love that it’s not in a bar and we can come here once a month,” said Burkey.

“She [her daughter] is super into music and it’s a place for her to feel welcome.”

McQuillan says it can be a challenge to have a dry event when there’s music involved.

“It’s a listening room and you don’t see that a lot,” she said.

“But I think that’s what sets it apart as well. We can bring in all ages.”

Hosting an open mic at a funeral home does come with the obvious.

“Jokes, constant jokes. Which is fair, I get it. I’ve heard them all. I came up with a lot of them too,” said Tye.

“A lot of people think it’s a joke and then once they come in and see it, they really change their mind,” said McQuillan.

Cruikshank's ‘Unplugged’ takes place the last Wednesday of every month, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and everyone is welcome.

Tye says the event has really urned its place on the open mic scene.

“Because the music is fantastic, because it’s free, because it’s a cool thing going on in the west end, that isn’t going on anywhere else in the world.”

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