• By: Keith Whittier

BEST OF OTTAWA: Live Music Venues

With 20-years writing about Ottawa life we think we have
a pretty good idea of the best of what this city has to offer.
In this new weekly summer series we’ll share it with you.
From our top picks of hotels, live music venues, local brews,
bands and more, check, share and discuss
#OLMBest every Monday!

House of Targ

It’s classic arcade games, pinball machines and perogies so good you’d think you were in Ukraine itself. When you add live music to the joint, House of Targ is a near one-stop shop for all things awesome. It’s not every day you get to the hear the sweet sounds of punk mingling with the familiar 80s lament of a dying Pac-Man. (Related story)

LIVE! on Elgin

This place really did their research. No, really. LIVE! On Elgin opened after two years of chitty chat, debates, polls and questionnaires focusing on how to better live theatre and music in Ottawa. The result is a spot that has different music nearly every night. They also bringing in films and other arts. All affordable good times plus they get their grub from the Dunn’s underneath the venue. (Related story)

Irene’s Pub

This is a staple of the Ottawa music scene. If you’re a musician in this town you know about Irene’s. Originally opened in 1985, this place has been the “spiritual home to artists and musicians for a quarter of a century. With near nightly new acts coming in it doesn’t look like they have any plans of slowing down. (Related story)

Bar Robo

One of the new kids…errr…robots on the block, Bar Robo opened up shop in Chinatown after the beloved Raw Sugar closed its doors. That was a mighty big space to fill but Robo has come into its own as a premium coffee house in the day and a bar and performance space by night. Spotlighting multiple genres and events, this bot is a welcome addition to live music in O-town. (Related story)

Rainbow Bistro

The Ottawa home of the Blues has a history. You can see it all over the walls in the framed portraits of those who have played there before. First opening in 1984, The Rainbow has developed a reputation across the country as one of the Nation’s premier blues bistros. For many musicians, it’s a “must stop” on any Canadian tour. (Related story)

Café Dekcuf

A hop or two away from the ByWard Market, this spot has provided a perfect space for local musicians to jam. Some have called it “underground”, our own little CBGB’s with shows mainly being of the punk or harder rock verity. Say the name backwards. You know you wanna’!

Gig Space

It’s not just a venue, it’s a performance studio. Located on Gladstone inside the “vibrant teaching community at Alcorn Music Studios”, the space has dedicated itself to giving performers an intimate place to play. There are only 46 often coveted seats. Some have said that the acoustic paired with the geometry make for the perfect sound combo

Blacksheep Inn

We know, not technically in Ottawa but we like to think of this legendary Wakefield spot as part of the Capital scene as it continuously attracts Ottawans across the river and frequently showcases local talent. The amazing view aside, the Sheep has become a favorite for musicians because of its down-home pub environment, friendly staff and always packed house.  Remember, the Pug is King!

The Brass Monkey
This is Ottawa’s largest live music and pool hall a touts itself as the only joint in town where you can catch some great live tunes while sinking a choice shot into the corner pocket. Rock, metal, blues and more, there’s always something going on at The Monkey.

The Record Centre

One of the most unique venues in town, The Record Centre is first and foremost a record shop where you can snag all the vinyl your turntable can spin. Owner John Tompson had something else in mind as well. He wanted to store to be a place for music lovers to see great bands, as well. Since starting up the centre has held a slew of amazing shows, most which are recorded direct to tape and shared online. (Related story)