I know, on the surface things are not looking too good right now. Seems like every week a gig has been canceled. I actually started writing a blog post about how screwed we all are but when I looked at the big picture, it looks like things are simply just changing and people need to adapt. Let me explain:
The usual suspects: The Heart and Crown’s, Aulde Dubliner, Crazy Horse, Darcy McGee's are still booking and paying. There are new venues in town like Overflow Brewery, which by the way, has our vote for the best PA in town. If you can play solo, or squeeze in an affordable duo: Lowertown Brewery, Barley Mow’s, Royal Oak’s, Fat Boys, James Street, St Louis, The Brittish, The Laff and a few more listed here. Queen Street Fare is booking pretty consistently but it's slightly tougher to get in; however, that leads me to my next point: adapting.
If you’re still playing Wagon Wheel and expecting people to roll out the red carpet you’re in la-la land. We help over a dozen venues book bands in Ottawa, so we intercept submissions on a daily basis and right now, we have about 200 bands in Ottawa looking for gigs in our inbox, and to be frank, a lot of them are doing the same old shit.
There are some seriously awesome indie spots developing with built-in crowds, meaning, people enjoy going to venues just to see who’s playing, or, the venues themselves have a loyal following. As mentioned, Queen Street Fare is quickly becoming one of those spots, Bar Robo, Pressed, Irene's, Live on Elgin, House of Targ, 27 Club. So yes, we have had some serious venue fatalities in the past couple years but we’re seeing an emergence of low-key, niche spots with character; furthermore, they’re quickly becoming the norm. People’s music appetites look more like their beer appetites: fresh, organic, local and unique. You certainly don’t have to stop playing covers but do something original, play some b-sides you enjoy and do it in your own way. This all opens up your opportunity for grants and festivals.