From the pubs in the capital cities to the parties taking place in rural kitchens, east coast music holds a special place in the heart of every Maritimer. And it’s easy to see why. Up-and-coming artists, local legends, and Canadian icons have all called the east coast home and have been inspired by this beautiful part of the country. If you’re looking for a little east coast music to liven up your next trip through the Maritimes, or are just in search of some great songs to add to your playlist, this collection is sure to get your toes tapping.
A collaboration between two of the biggest artists working in the Maritimes today, Inner Ninja pairs Classified, a rapper from Nova Scotia, with David Myles, a folk singer from New Brunswick. This collaboration won the 2013 Juno Award for Rap Recording of the Year, and after one listen it’s sure to be stuck in your head. High energy and upbeat, Inner Ninja is a great song to kick off your Maritime playlist and is the perfect soundtrack for hitting the open road on an adventure through the east coast with your friends or family.
An ode to a strip of fast food restaurants, grocery stores, and car dealerships in Matt Mays’ hometown of Dartmouth, Queen of Portland Street is one of the Nova Scotia musician’s most enduring songs. It has become a signature part of Matt’s annual shows at the Shore Club in Chester, Nova Scotia, where it always gets the crowd dancing and singing along.
Not to be outdone, Joel Plaskett’s heartfelt love letter to Halifax and Dartmouth is a favourite among his fans and Maritimers (both at home and around the world). Name-checking famous venues like the legendary Marquee Club and calling attention to the friendly nature of folks who call the east coast home, Love This Town is sure to put a smile on your face as you listen along.
Perhaps Nova Scotia’s most-famous folk song, Farewell to Nova Scotia has been performed by everyone from Stan Rogers and Anne Murray to the Real Mckenzies. Written just prior to the First World War, Farewell to Nova Scotia tells the tale of a soldier setting sail on the open sea. In our opinion, the best time to listen to this song is when you’re boarding your ferry. That way, you can recreate the feeling of starting an adventure by boat the original writer must have felt—without spending weeks on the high seas!
Stompin’ Tom Connors is a Canadian icon most commonly associated with Prince Edward Island, but you may not know he’s actually from New Brunswick. This song, one of his most famous, has Tom yearning for two things—a woman named Mary and the province he left behind when he moved out west. This song highlights some of the beautiful imagery you’ll see as you drive through New Brunswick, and should be the first song you listen to as you arrive in the province.
Cape Breton has no shortage of songs written about its beauty, but perhaps none holds a special spot in the hearts of Cape Bretoners quite like Song for the Mira. The song tells the story of men fishing on the river before returning to shore for an evening spent with friends and loved ones. The chorus asks the listener “Can you imagine a piece of the universe more fit for princes and kings?” Spend time in Cape Breton exploring the Cabot Trail and it’s breathtaking scenery and you’ll quickly discover the answer to that question.
Working Man pays tribute to the men of Cape Breton who spent much of their lives underground in the mines located throughout the island. Rita MacNeil’s version—often performed with a choir of miners called The Men of the Deeps—is a Cape Breton mainstay that is certain to put a smile on your face (and maybe a tear in the eye of Islanders). Definitely listen to this song before visiting the Miners’ Museum in Glace Bay to get the full story of what life was like in the mines of Nova Scotia.
Even though the members of Sloan have long since moved from the Maritimes to Toronto, they remain a fixture and beloved elder statesmen of the east coast music scene. The Rest of My Life—perhaps their signature song—is a great addition to any road trip playlist, especially if that trip takes you through the Atlantic Provinces. By the time you’re finished exploring the Maritimes and checking out everything they have to offer, you’ll definitely be happily singing along with Sloan when they say “One thing I know about the rest of my life, I know that I’ll be living it in Canada!”
Prince Edward Island has produced plenty of great artists over the years, and that tradition continues with Coyote, whose fun, synth-heavy pop music can’t help but get you dancing when you listen. Nights, which is their latest single, is all about embracing new experiences, which is a perfect frame of mind to be in if you’re hitting the road to see our beautiful Maritime provinces.
Given his catalogue of songs about east coast harbours, towns, and sailors, you might be surprised to learn that Stan Rogers is from Ontario. His songs, however, are staples throughout the Maritimes—from dorm rooms, to seaside pubs, to the homes that dot the beautiful coastline. Of those songs, Barrett’s Privateers is far and away the most popular. A rousing sea shanty about an adventurer cruising the seas for treasure who ends up on a pier in Halifax sharing his story with anyone who will listen, your visit in the Maritimes isn’t complete until you’ve had a sing along to Barrett’s Privateers (bonus points if you’re listening to the version that comes from Stan’s iconic live album, Home in Halifax).
These songs represent only a small sample of our favourite east coast music. With so many artists releasing music here, it will never be long before you hear your next favourite song. We hope you enjoy listening to this playlist as you set out to explore the Maritimes!