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On A High Note: Calgary’s Intimate Live Music Venues

By RACHAEL FREY

Hired Guns play to an excited crowd at the Ironwood Stage & Grill (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Hired Guns play to an excited crowd at the Ironwood Stage & Grill (Photo: Jason Dziver)

When the sun sets, the sound of live music and laughter escapes the historic Garry Theatre just east of downtown Calgary. The comfortably worn-in brick heritage building that’s home to the Ironwood Stage & Grill, a music club featuring live performances every night of the week, with two shows daily on weekends. It seats 140 yet maintains a cozy, intimate vibe.

MORE INTIMATE LIVE MUSIC VENUES

The Palomino Smokehouse
Enjoy barbecue and beer upstairs, live alternative music downstairs. 109 – 7 Ave SW, 403-532-1911

Murrieta’s Bar & Grill
A warm, elegant bar and grill featuring a contemporary pianist Thursday and Friday evenings and live R&B, classic rock and more on weekends. 808 – 1 St SW, 403-269-7707

Knox United Church
This 102-year-old sandstone church is known for hosting high-calibre spiritual and secular music acts and for its outstanding acoustics. 506 – 4 St SW, 403-269-8382

Wine-Ohs Bistro & Cellar
One of Calgary’s best music rooms with a focus on jazz, bistro-inspired food and good vino. 811 – 1 St SW, 403-263-1650

Dave McCann and his Southern rock band, Dave McCann and the Firehearts frequently play shows at the club. According to the singer-guitarist, there’s no better place to perform.

“It is my favourite rung on the Canadian showbiz ladder,” McCann adds. “For me, there really is no need to climb any higher. The rest we can leave to Bieber, Bublé and Dion.”

McCann says his favourite part of playing live is the connection he gets with the audience. The receptive enthusiasm of its patrons is what makes the club special. Tables are shared, and general manager Amanda White says visitors often find tablemates become fast friends by night’s end.

The main focus is folk music, but there’s also jazz brunch with the Prime Time Big Band two Saturdays per month. As well, the venue features alternative rock and blues bands and even the odd rap group. Because the Ironwood’s home is a purpose-built theatre, it boasts great stage views throughout the room and excellent acoustics.

Along with fresh music, the Ironwood serves contemporary pub food. Its evening menu features dishes such as beer-battered halibut and bison burgers as well as Mediterranean lamb loaf and seafood risotto.

Ironwood Stage & Grill is located at 1229 9 Ave SE. Open to all ages. For complete performance schedule, visit ironwood.ca.

 

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