‘It’s about relaxing and having a good time:’ Shore Club still rocking 69 years later
It’s a sticky summer night and hundreds of people are sharing a dance below fishing net loosely draped from thick wooden beams under a pitched ceiling.
Sweaty feet slide across the maple hardwood floors as the sound of Matt Minglewood’s guitar roars through the dance hall.
That happened at the Shore Club almost half a century ago. But it also happened last summer, and many summers in between.
After 69 years, the family-owned Shore Club continues to be a summer destination for lobster suppers and live music.
“Generations of people have come here to claim it as their own,” said Rhys Harnish, who took the helm of the club in the early 1980s after his father Roy retired.
Amazingly, not much has changed at the Hubbards landmark since it was opened by Roy and Lois Harnish on Aug. 24, 1946.
But no one seems to mind.
Matt Mays’ first two shows at the club this summer sold out in less than three days, prompting a third show to be added, which is now nearly sold out.
It’s one of many bands this season — including the Mellotones, Hey Rosetta!, Rasta Gumbo and Asia and NuGruv — that will no doubt pack the house.
Harnish said in the beginning, the Shore Club was one of only a few places in the province staging rock shows. Minglewood first graced the club’s red stage in the late 1960s and has played there countless times since then.
“It’s really how the early genesis of rock music started in Nova Scotia,” said Harnish next to the club’s kitchen, where tens of thousands of lobsters are cooked every season.
Built by five ship builders in just three months using salvaged material from a Second World War base in Debert, the wood floors and walls, nautical decor and even the glass windows are still holding up after all these years.
Nowadays, it’s not unusual to see millennials clinking beers with baby boomers at the bar.
“It’s sort of one of the few entertainment venues where people of all ages mix together and enjoy a show,” said the 64-year-old Harnish.
Harnish’s son Luke, who will could eventually take over the Shore Club, said it’s the club’s welcoming atmosphere that draws a diverse crowd.
“It’s a different expectation when you enter the Shore Club. It’s not about impressing people. It’s about relaxing and having a good time,” he said.
Every corner of the Shore Club tells a story. Pay the club and visit and read their placemat to uncover a just few.
The Shore Club’s patrons aren’t the only ones who appreciate its rich history and authentic Nova Scotian vibe.
Local musician Hal Bruce, who has rocked the red stage in Hubbards every year for nearly a decade, called it one of his favourite places to play.
“From the first song right until the last song, people are dancing the whole night away,” said Bruce, a classic rock connoisseur, with a major in Beatles music, who is known to play for several hours without any breaks.
“It’s not like a pub where you sit down and you chat all night long. These people are there on a mission. They want to dance and listen to some tunes.”
The Stanfields lead singer and guitarist Jon Landry said the Shore Club has a retro feel that fosters live music.
“I can almost imagine my dad and his buddies jumping in a (Ford) Pinto and headed out there to listen to Matt Minglewood,” said Landry, whose band is co-headlining a show at the club on July 10 with The Town Heroes.
“It harkens back to when live music was a lot more prominent, so it’s cool to be a little tiny part of carrying on that tradition.”