Vancouver Bar Scene: Who knew the Yale was so cool?

Confession: Until last weekend, I’d never been to the Yale Hotel – the venerable old Vancouver blues music venue on Granville Street.  I’d walked by plenty of times – It’s pretty hard to miss the huge neon saxophone sign out front.  And I’d heard faint strains of drums and electric guitars coming from inside.  But, even though I’m a fan of blues music, I had never walked through the door.

What a mistake.  The Yale is without doubt a Vancouver treasure, and an underrated one at that.  Inside is an honest-to-goodness blues joint.  Not some trendy attempt to recreate a blues joint with retro furniture, but the real thing – a little rough around the edges, smelling of beer (and smoke, too, after all these years) and nice and loud.

The interior is pretty much just one big, open room, with low ceilings painted black to create an intimate feel.  There’s a bar along one wall, some pool tables in the corner and tons of knicked up wooden tables and chairs scattered in clusters.

The real action happens at the very back of the room.  Now, there are plenty of bars and clubs that offer live music in Vancouver, but the Yale is one of only a handful that are really set up for the purpose.   There’s a full stage, as well as an exceptional sound system.  And right in front is a spacious dance floor for gettin’ down.

The other thing you’ll notice right away about the Yale is the clientele.  If you’re looking for Yaletown’s beautiful people and trendsetters, head elsewhere.  This is definitely a come-as-you-are crowd.  A few people were dressed up when I went, but most seemed far more interested in having a good time and a few drinks and listening to some great music.

Which brings us to the talent.  On stage the night that I went was the Vancouver band Funkdalicious.  Cheesy name.  Fantastic music.  It takes a special band to pull off James Brown, George Clinton and Kool & the Gang all in the same set.    Funkdalicious nailed it.   Here’s a clip of the group performing at the Yale – not the greatest video, but you can still get an idea:

Any other fans of the Yale out there?  What makes it special?  Please share your comments.



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