The Journal’s take on top start-up destinations for musical acts

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It can sometimes be difficult as a new band to know which music venues to call to get a gig. As well, it is important for new bands to have an understanding on what venues expect of them prior to booking.

After exploring Calgary’s live music scene, these popular venues offer new bands a chance to get their name out there and gain a fan base.

Blind Beggar Pub

The Blind Beggar, an English style pub on Macleod Trail, is a great option for starting bands. They provide the band with tickets to sell prior to the show, and the band can keep all the profits from sales. This helps the band with self-promotion and marketing. The door profits are divided between all the bands performing on a given night.

“Passion fuels artists and musicians,” says Joey Hachey, booking manager at The Blind Beggar. “The Blind Beggar’s program offers opportunities for new and developing bands to unleash their passion to a diverse audience.”

According to Hachey, the band would most likely get a gig on a Friday or Saturday. However, there are open jam nights available. Wednesday nights offer acoustic-only jam, and Thursday nights are the full band jam night. Instruments are provided by the venue on open-jam nights.BlindBeggar copyThe Blind Beggar pub is a good start-up destination for bands as it offers a intimiate performing setting due to it being a one-room venue.

Photo taken from the Blind Beggar Pub Facebook page.

Its one-room venue, at 110-person capacity, makes the experience intimate and inviting, and every seat feels like the front row. When the patio is open in the summer, it seats 40 people, adding to the experience.

To book a gig at this venue, contact:
Address: 106-5211 Macleod Trail S.W.
Phone: 403-212-1180

Lord Nelson’s Bar and Grill

Lord Nelson’s offers a unique way for the band to make extra money. The band gets a commission on all bar and food sales over $500 on the night of their performance. This gives the band more incentive to self-promote in order to drive more people to the venue. As well, the band gets to keep 100 per cent of the door profit.

Shelina Hussein, manager of Lord Nelson’s, welcomes all genres of music and has no particular demographic that regularly attends the venue.

“I am very open to allow up-and-coming, and/or new bands,” Hussein says. “Prior to booking, all bands must sign a contract with myself that stipulates how they are rewarded, who pays for sound, how I want five posters to put up in the bar, etc.”

She also requests that the band have some sort of following, or to be proactive with marketing.

To book a gig at this venue, contact:
Address: 1020 8th Ave S.W.
Phone: 403-232-6704
Cell: 403-618-6979

Vern’s Bar

Vern’s Bar is another venue that is enthusiastic about featuring new bands. When you first walk into the venue, a trail of stairs leads you down to the bar. It is uniquely decorated with cymbals from drum sets, some of which have been signed by touring bands that have passed through.

Brady Riplinger, singer of local band Alkatine, agrees that Vern’s supports new bands. This summer, Alkatine will be playing Sturgis Canada, alongside Canned Heat, The Stampeders and Burton Cummings.

“I remember when we were new on the scene and we started off playing at Vern’s. We would play there two times a week if we could. Big Clint (the owner) behind the bar wouldn’t be shy to tell you how you did, and that helped us grow as a band,” Riplinger says.

The venue’s only request for new bands is to have their set together. Any night is possible for a gig, and all genres of music are accepted.

The band gets all of the money generated from door sales, which is a way to motivate the band to invite as many people to their show as possible.

“Venues such as Vern’s have helped us gain a solid fan base around the city, which is still predominant today,” Riplinger says.

To book a gig at this venue, contact:
Address: 622 8th Ave S.W.
Phone: 403-237-8376

Morgan’s Pub

“Morgan’s is focused on one thing: music. Get discovered here,” says Steve Rasberry, the owner of Morgan’s Pub. Although Morgan’s has historically hosted cover bands, Rasberry encourages new bands to check out the venue.

“We are open to anything from thrash to blues, to punk and southern rock.”

It’s 180-person capacity gives Morgan’s great potential for a new band to build a fan base. On Showcase Sundays, there are usually two to three indie bands playing, and it’s a great way for the band to get exposure.

In addition, Indie Wednesdays are host to three bands. Each play a set, and currently, Rasberry gives the band $100.

If a band is ever interested in carrying an entire night, there could be a payment negotiation.

Morgans-pubMorgan’s Pub is a welcoming place for new bands as it hosts indie bands on multiple days throughout a including its weekly Indie Wednesdays event.

Photo taken from the Morgan’s Pub Facebook page.Although it is usually cover bands that play on the weekends, Rasberry says new bands can work towards booking on weekends.

Morgan’s offers live music every night of the week ranging from drum and DJ to cover bands to 80’s theme nights.

To book a gig at this venue, contact:
Address: 1324 17th Ave S.W.

Venue’s to work towards…

It is no secret that Calgary is home to dozens and dozens of unique live music venues. After a band has established a bit of a following and is more experienced in the local music scene, there are some popular venues to strive for.

The Palomino Smokehouse
If you like beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs or bacon wrapped corn, then look no further. After having a savory dinner, head downstairs to the stage where both local and touring bands play. This truly down to earth experience gives bands the chance to expand their horizons.

 Broken City
Entertaining Calgary with everything from hip-hop, electronic and rock to karaoke and comedy, Broken City is an ideal venue when wanting to discover the art scene. According to their website, Broken City fosters and develops talent from a young age as well.

 Dickens Pub
This venue is always stacked with shows ranging from local to touring bands. Its atmosphere is exciting and pumps adrenaline into anybody that attends. It made Avenue Magazines 8 Great Calgary Music Venues, alongside The Palomino and Broken City.

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