Vancouver venues for free live music

Unlike Halifax, Montreal or even Winnipeg, Vancouver isn’t necessarily known for its live music culture. That isn’t to say, though, that it doesn’t exist. And these venues are making it as accessible as possible with free live shows at least once a week served up with great food and drink. Play on.

Tangent Cafe Vancouver

2095 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N 4B1

This newish café on the Drive is making a name for itself not just for its interesting Malaysian fusion cuisine but also for its commitment to bringing in live acts on the weekends. Partial to jazz, and particularly gypsy jazz, you can expect a lively atmosphere Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in the afternoons as you dig into spicy, flavourful curries and sip on an excellent selection of local craft beer on tap.

Pourhouse Restaurant

162 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1B2

Stop by this Gastown speakeasy any given Sunday and you’re in for a treat both culinary and auditory. Tucked into their lounge, a jazz trio or quartet taps out cool rhythms while you sip on some of the best house cocktails in town, shaken or stirred by some very passionate and knowledgeable bartenders. The chef’s no slouch either. Surrounded as you are by dark wood, velvet banquets and sweet jazz riffs, you’ll have a hard time believing you’re not in 1920s Chicago.

East Is East Chai Lounge

4433 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V 3R2

For global music in an exotic setting, head to the Main Street location of East Is East where every night the rhythms of musicians playing selections from around the world will accompany your meal of fragrant Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. The rich tones of Romanian, Spanish, Iranian or Indian instruments strike the perfect note for your evening as you lounge in low seating among communal tables. Dancers often make an appearance as well, rounding out an incredible night of delicious eats and free entertainment.

Central Bistro The

1072 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G 2M8

One of the only bars offering free live music in the West End, Central also has a Sunday night jazz program. The bistro is a magnet for locals who stop in regularly for a morning coffee and breakfast or an afternoon beer at the bar. But on Sundays, the place is hopping as various jazz ensembles pluck their contrabasses and pick their guitars as the audience settles into high quality, affordable local fare.

Guilt & Co.

1 Alexander St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1B2

From soul to jazz to cabaret to roots and blues, you’ll find something to swing to every night of the week at this mysterious and quite literally underground club beneath Chill Winston’s at the Five Corners in Gastown. Fridays and Saturdays are their band showcase nights featuring bigger names and ranging in styles from Latin beats to country and folk. Small bites and stellar cocktails keep you satiated and those cocktails might push you out onto the dance floor to encourage the band.

The Ouisi Bistro

3014 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3J8

This Louisiana style bistro up on South Granville welcomes patrons with warm wood, comforting food, bright, large-scale artwork and, of course, excellent music. Stop in any Thursday night for a taste of jambalaya and jazz, gumbo and blue grass, country and Creole cuisine. They’re all about the southern libations too, so don’t forget your Mint Julep or your Sazerac.

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