You can always depend on these venues when searching for live music
By Liam Newbigging | June 30, 2023
In the summertime, when I have free time, I’m often on Whyte Avenue, 124 Street, or Jasper Avenue, scouring the various pubs, bars and clubs for live music, like a 19th-century prospector dowsing for gold. Over the years, a few venues have developed a reputation for their reliability by almost always having a band playing. These are the places you can count on, and if there is a single joint on this list that isn’t playing music tonight — chances are the world has caved in.
If you’ve never been to The Commie, which is what old Canadian blues people call it, it’s not hard to find. Start on Whyte Avenue and 104 Street and follow the unmistakable sound of electric guitars and raspy vocals until you see a large retro sign projecting out an old brick building that vertically spells “H.O.T.E.L” and then “Commercial, Licensed” underneath. The entrance furthest to the west is your ticket. The other one leads to the VLTs section and the hotel check-in.
The building is over 100 years old, and as the name Blues on Whyte implies, this joint has a specialty and brings in the best blues acts from in and outside of Edmonton. It also hosts funk, soul, and rock music on the regular. You’re guaranteed to hear live music every weekend and, if you can play, there are live blues jams you can join in on.
Since 1957 the Yardbird Suite has brought jazz lovers together, and since 1984 they’ve had their permanent home at 11 Tommy Banks Way. Named after the legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, the club is volunteer-run and is all about getting Edmontonians to jazz. There’s live music almost every night, guest performers from out of town, and jam sessions every Tuesday hosted by local musicians.
Few venues in Edmonton are as diverse in their musical selections as The Aviary. In the past The Aviary has presented alternative country, theatrical rock, folk, thrash metal, skate punk and synth pop acts. The list goes on, but chances are, if it’s a genre that requires instruments, it’s been on The Aviary stage.
Oliver | 11454 Jasper Ave, Edmonton |780.483.7646 | sohoyeg.com
SOHO in Edmonton says it’s inspired by the iconic streets of SoHo in New York City and the punk rock legacy that comes with it. In addition to NYC-style pizza and Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches, SOHO serves up a healthy dose of high-energy music on a weekly basis focusing on punk and alternative rock music. It won’t shy away from a metal band or two and doesn’t limit it to rock acts, but this joint emulates the classic feel of a punk rock dive bar.
Every weekend the Starlite Room and its conjoined sibling, The Temple Ballroom, host some of the coolest bands in town. It’s an intimate space with fantastic sound and a huge dance floor. The eclectic venue is often home to rock, punk and metal bands but is no stranger to EDM DJs and dance nights either.
Where the other entries on this list are good for evenings, The Blue Chair is one of the few places in town you can get live music with brunch. This café has hosted acts of all kinds, but it’s become a special place for many jazz, blues, and folk musicians for those laid-back café vibes. It’s also worth noting that the menu here is top-notch. For brunch, I have to recommend the blueberry yogurt pancakes — accompanied by the jazz guitar of Jamie Philip.
A name like The Buckingham alludes to a fine regal atmosphere. But this place is no palace — it’s a den for alt-rock, punk, and metal and some seriously kick-ass all-vegan pub food. The small stage and dance floor make it a very intimate venue, whether for dancing or thrashing, and the ample amount of seating and double patios are great for catching your breath in between sets.
The Buckingham’s weekly lineup always includes live bands, and to boot, every Monday is Rocking 4 Dollars — a showcase of up-and-coming bands in town, and there is always live music on Thursdays too.