Last summer during the TD Halifax Jazz Festival, I made a point to head down to the festival grounds to check out King Harvest and their homage to The Band’s legendary concert doc The Last Waltz. It was one of those shows that I’ve had earmarked on the calendar, but for whatever reason I was never able to get to the show.
On this warm summer evening, the talent that took to the stage was outstanding from Ryan Cook, Craig Mercer, Carmen Townsend, Jah’Mila, Mike Ryan (crushing Neil Young’s “Helpless”) and the entire King Harvest crew. But it was later in the show when this younger fella by the name of Cole Chalifoux hit the stage with his guitar, and proceeded to leave the audience gobsmacked with his fiery proficiency. It was at that moment that I made a mental note of his band’s name, Bologna CO, so that I could check them out down the road.
That road eventually led to The Seahorse Tavern on the first of December, where Bologna CO was performing their final show of 2023. Seizing the opportunity, I headed to the venue to catch Cole and his crew, in an attempt to relive that electric performance at the Jazz Fest. In watching the band’s social media feed, the shots that were being posted by local photog Belinda Naugler Adams further stoked my interest in this band, as there appeared to be so much energy and verve beaming from those shots.
With plenty of acts big and small, the fake it till you make it mentality is overwhelmingly prevalent, but then there are those people that undeniably have IT, this intangible star power. Chalifoux is one of those artists: from his electrically charged fluidity on the guitar, to his piercing intensity, there is something special that occurs when he is on stage. I can safely say that all of the expectations that I had heaped upon this show were exceeded. The energy that I first experienced from a distance at the Halifax Jazz Festival was on full display in the Seahorse Tavern. The Cole Chalifoux-fronted four-piece (alongside Adam Otmar, Emily Denesyk and Will Adams) lit the stage on fire with their retro-tinged indie-garage rockabilly vibe. It’s not hard to hear why this band has cut its teeth on a stage such as Bearly’s, as they both adhere to a similar old-timey blues ethos.
Bologna Colorado closed out their 2023 by ripping through a set loaded with tracks from their 2023 release Entertainment Section, alongside some newer unreleased material. It was a set that exceeded all of those lofty expectations and then some, while also whetting my appetite for the next time I was lucky enough to catch this band on stage again.