Since its opening, all kinds of events have gone on at the Rooster. Local art is always on the walls, with live music on the weekend. Afternoon shows start between 4 and 6 PM, and evening shows start at 10 PM. There is never a cover charge. Instead, the proprietors prefer to PAY THEIR MUSICIANS. When we played here we were guaranteed $200, which was doubled because we brought a respectable crowd. Very few places do that, in this town, for anything other than a cover band–which we were not. Needless to say, it was a great show. The sound inside is excellent, as are the wonderful sound technicians that will assist you. The only drawback is that booking the Rooster can be difficult. It cannot be done via e-mail or by telephone. You basically have to be there at the right time. They also serve breakfast until 3 PM on weekends!
Avant Garde Bar★★★★
My band’s second or third show was here opening for Tara Holloway in 2009. We all had a really great time. Below Ritual, the Avant Garde has (for one thing) a collection of early Soviet Union posters, and an atmosphere of authentic Eastern European coolness. They have all kinds of vodka, and served in a way unseen anywhere else in Ottawa. They have PA system, and can provide a sound tech for a relatively modest fee (see website). We hired a person to do sound, and rented the equipment. Turn out was good too. It seemed like a lot of people randomly came out–partly because (I assume) it’s in the market, and that its known and frequented by regulars. And the people that work there are very nice and approachable. We charged $10 at the door, and made enough money to pay for the sound, and put a couple of bucks in each musician’s hand. Which is sometimes all you can ask for. In fact, I should really book another show there soon. Its been too long.
Famous. Awesome. Hear A Tribe Called Red here!
Located near the arch in Chinatown, where Raw Sugar (RIP) used to be, sits the newly renovated cafe/venue. A sound person can be provided (without charge) and all cash from the door goes directly to the performing act(s). AC on the stage makes it cool, and there is a lot more room both on the stage and on the floor, and better sound than the former set-up. The entrance is accessible. And they seem to be really trying, which is more than we can say about all places.
The once great Barrymore’s Theatre is now mainly a place to hear 80’s music, for people mostly born in the 1980’s, and should really have better things to do on a Sunday night. Music acts that are booked here are usually made by mistake, by bookers with knowledge of nothing beyond Barrymore’s of the 1990’s. The one star is for the building’s history and architecture–crumbling away everyday on Bank Street. It should have been claimed as a heritage site years ago, before the decay. Restoration of Barrymore’s may even be impossible. Save your money. Stay home, and rent porn. Buy some beer, and turn your thermostat up. Then listen to all the most obvious songs from the 80’s at maximum volume. And then, urinate, defecate, puke, and pour beer all over the place (attempting to miss the toilet as often as possible). And then, then you will have briefly approximated the modern Barrymore’s experience.
Located in Kemptville, ON (about an hour West of O-town), proprietors Bruce Enloe and Nicole LeBlanc have created an ideal venue for music, art, and great organic food. Reservations are recommended for event postings, as there is a regular crowd of dedicated patrons. Artists are booked mostly around the weekend. There is a modest self serve PA system, and a patio built in the back. No admission fee is charged on entrance. Instead, The Branch cleverly adds $5.00 to each customer’s bill (all going to the artist). They also feature monthly art exhibits and a menu with fresh, locally grown produce, cheeses and meats. Artists that play there include John Carroll, Petunia, Brock Zeman, Meredith Luce, Brad Sucks, Lucky Ron, The Dusty Drifters, Andrea Simms-Karp and Graven.
Above Maverick’s on Rideau Street, at the top of many stairs. You can usually hear the show going on below. There is also a $120.00 sound tech fee.
House of Targ★★★★★
TARG! The basement arcade and perogi palace at Bank Street and Sunnyside Avenue is like something from a FAYS fantasy/song. A pleasure to play here.
The highlight of this venue is resident DJs Lance Baptiste and Trevor Walker. The downside, as far as booking is the $150 an hour charge for using space. So, unless you expect to pack the place, it may not be affordable for an independent artist or band.
Great natural sound in this room. Hardly needs amplification. A PA system is provided with a sound tech for $75.00. Accessible, with the exception of the gender neutral washroom(s). Centrally located on Gladstone across from the pharmacy. Excellent food available.
A bistro in name only, they do sometimes have popcorn. Shows happen here nightly, as they have done for many years in the market. Mondays are open mic nights. It has a large capacity with two floors having view of the stage (also seen from above). The sound is good, although there is a pool table upstairs which can be distracting. Friday and Saturday nights are usually reserved for larger acts, leaving the least popular evenings for those smaller fish.
The second incarnation of Ottawa’s historic “Zaphod Beeblebrox” has been in its current location on York Street for over 2o years. Named after Douglas Adams’ character from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Zaphods has had their stage blessed by Toronto’s Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, Rex, The Inbreds, The Zolas, The Grass, Blackball, Sloan, Sarah Hallman, and the fucking Rolling Stones. Live music ends at 11:00 pm, as the evening’s DJ takes over and entrance is free. Sound from the board can be recorded, and drink tickets are distributed to the bands. The sound tech’s fee ($150.00) is subtracted from door money.
Or check these reviews by Weird Canada.