You might recognize Mike Campbell from his days on MuchMusic, hosting memorable shows like MuchEast and Going Coastal.  Now the owner of the historic Carleton Music Bar & Grill in Halifax, Campbell champions the East Coast music scene by supporting local talents and inviting them to play at his bar.

“As the name suggests, when we put The Carleton Music Bar & Grill together, we knew we were going to be about music,” says Campbell. “We have built a hard-earned reputation, in a city synonymous with music and musicians, as the best live venue in town – and we’re proud of that.”

Proud also to show their appreciation for Canada’s music creators, the Carleton is just one of 30,000 dedicated SOCAN licensed bars and restaurants across Canada to receive a window sticker as part of SOCAN’s Licensed to Play (L2P) campaign.

“Without music, we’d be just another joint on the street.”

“By displaying the Licensed to Play sticker proudly, businesses affirm that they are putting music to work ethically and legally,” says Jennifer Brown, SOCAN’s vice president of Licensing.  “They recognize that music adds value to the business and customer experience, and the sticker upholds support for those who create the music that they and their customers love.”

At the forefront of the Halifax music scene, the Carleton truly understands the importance that music plays in the overall success of their business. “We do live music, on average, five or six nights a week, and it is primarily responsible for whatever success we’ve achieved,” says Campbell. “We hire musicians and music lovers to our staff and they enthusiastically spread the word for us. Our customer base is one that wholeheartedly supports what we do and understands the importance of music in life.”

Among other things, the Carleton demonstrates their commitment to the music community by hosting various (SOCAN-licensed) events, including songwriting circles for the Atlantic Film Festival, Halifax Pop Explosion, and the popular Halifax Urban Folk Festival (HUFF).

“Without music, we’d be just another joint on the street — and we’re definitely not that!” says Campbell.

To learn more and become Licensed to Play, click here.


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Who said you have to get on a plane to experience the culture, food, and sounds of South America? If you’re a Vancouver resident and have an insatiable appetite for unique experiences, the city’s “Best Latin American Restaurant,” Baru Latino Restaurante, will be right up your alley.

Together with its award-winning food menu, music is at the top of Baru Latino’s ingredient list, providing an exceptional soundtrack for each customer experience. “Music creates the ambiance to complete the overall experience that we want to deliver to our customers,” says co-owner Rene Lafleur.

Satisfying appetites since 2009, the hip South American tapas-style restaurant is situated on Vancouver’s west side and owned by longtime Vancouver residents Lafleur and David Newis.

Using only sustainable and locally-grown ingredients, it only makes sense for Baru Latino to show the same commitment to Canada’s music community, by displaying SOCAN’s Licensed to Play sticker on their front door for each customer to see. “The sticker allows our customers to recognize our partnership with SOCAN and to understand that we use music responsibly,” says Lafleur.

“For too long, we’ve seen our music consumers and our creators as two separate entities,” says Jennifer Brown, SOCAN’s Vice President of Licensing. “Both need each other, and the Licensed to Play program – especially the window sticker – is a fun way to display that mutual admiration. By displaying the Licensed to Play sticker proudly, businesses affirm that they are putting music to work ethically and legally.”

Baru has a number of awards to boast about, including the annual Georgia Straight Golden Plate Award for “Best Latin American Restaurant,” which they earned in 2013. When asked if music is an essential aspect of Baru Latino’s customer experience, Lafleur says, “Absolutely!”

Next time you’re in Vancouver and in the mood for South American cuisine, coupled with the rhythmic sounds of Brazilian samba and bossa nova, be sure to drop by Baru Latino Restaurante.

To learn more and become Licensed to Play, click here.


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An icon of Canadian folk music, Newfoundland’s Ron Hynes is best known for his classic song “Sonny’s Dream,” the story of a young man caring for his ageing mother, whose sailor husband never comes home. The song has become a true folk standard since being released in 1981 on the album Living in a Fog by Hynes’ Wonderful Grand Band. Hynes, who recently returned to performing after recovering from throat cancer, explains how this consummate East Coast song was actually written out West – and why the Irish believe it belongs to them.

Who is the Sonny in “Sonny’s Dream”?
He was my mother’s youngest brother, Thomas O’Neil. In a true Irish fashion, instead saying “buddy” or “junior” we say “sonny,” so that’s what we called him. They lived out in Long Beach, out by Cape Breton, about 300 miles in from the Atlantic graveyard where the Titanic went down.  He was a big influence on me when I was about eight. He was huge fan of Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Ray Price, and people like that, and he really instilled a love of song in me. He taught me guitar. I still have his first guitar that he bought, in 1952, from O’Brien’s Music Store in St. John’s.

Is it true that you wrote this song in 10 minutes?
Yes. I wasn’t aware that I had been internalizing him in any way. The song just found its way out on a piece of Scribner paper while I was on a bus through Western Canada in 1976. I wrote it really, really fast, then put it away, and for some reason or other I never presented it to an audience for an entire year. I just pulled it out of the hat one night at a show and it went over really well. And the next night when we came in, everyone was just chanting for it. So it took off right out of the gate, and it’s been running ever since.

“I pulled it out of the hat one night at a show and it went over really well. It took off right out of the gate, and it’s been running ever since.”

How did the song become an international standard?
When Hamish Imlach heard it in Newfoundland and took it to Germany, then to Ireland. Christy Moore produced it for him, but they wrote in an additional verse. He wrote that the mother dies but comes back to haunt Sonny, so that’s why he never leaves home. They had killed the mother off! When that happened I got in touch with the A&R guy because the woman in the song – Sonny’s actual mother – she was still very much alive! The label guy said, “We just sold 400,000 units. Do you want to go to court, or to the bank?” I thought about it for a moment and decided I wanted to go the bank.

Do you have a favourite cover version?
My favourite is by Emmylou Harris, which is how it took off in Nashville. There is also a version in Portuguese that made a literal translation of “Sonny” as “sunshine.” But that’s the very definition of the folk process, that you can translate a song into another language and not lose its intent. There have been innumerable copies. I think in Ireland it’s in the Top Five most popular songs in Irish music, alongside “Danny Boy” and the national anthem. Or maybe that’s just legend. But I’m pretty sure most Irish believe the song was written in Ireland.

What lesson did you learn from “Sonny’s Dream” that you could share with other songwriters?
Step outside of yourself. When you’re younger you internalize everything, it’s always “I, I, I” and how you feel and how the world affects you. You have to be able to look around and write about others. That’s the secret, write about something else.


  1. The place where Ron’s Uncle Sonny and Sonny’s mother lived is Long Beach near Cape Race Newfoundland. Not near Cape Breton as the article wrongly states. Sonny is still alive by the way. The small community of Long Beach has long ago been abandoned or resettled.

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