Discovering Big Band Music in Vancouver

Photo credit: Fred Dunn | Flickr

Photo credit: Fred Dunn | Flickr

Did you know Vancouver has a big band?

In fact, the Metro area is home to multiple jazz ensembles specializing in big band music – the kind of horn-heavy, danceable tunes popularized back in the day by famous acts like Count Basie and Duke Ellington.

Dal Richards Orchestra – helmed by none other than 96-year-old local legend Dal Richards – is probably the best known of the local big band acts.  But pop into the right bar or pub on any given weekend and you might just be blasted by a wall of saxophones, trumpets and trombones pumping out some serious swing music.

That’s what happened to me when I stopped in Pat’s Pub on Hastings Street recently.  For the uninitiated, Pat’s is one of the best – and most underrated – music venues in the city. Housed in the Patricia Hotel on an otherwise downtrodden stretch of Hastings, the pub opened back in 1914 as a jazz club.

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Discovering Big Band Music in Vancouver

99-Year-Old Pub in Downtown Vancouver Still Going Strong: Inside Pat’s

cva99-187Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has recently been caught in the whirl of gentrification controversy, with protestors opposing trendy new shops and eateries.

Lost in the shuffle is some historical perspective: Once upon a time, the streets around Hastings and Main were trendy.  In the early 1900s, the area was the place to go in Vancouver for music and entertainment.  And one of the hottest spots just so happens to still be standing: Pat’s Pub inside the Patricia Hotel.

Pat’s opened in 1914 as the Patricia Cafe, a jazz club.  Big name acts from around the world graced its tiny stage, including the legendary “Jelly Roll” Morton, credited in part with inventing jazz piano.

Nearly 100 years after its opening, Pat’s Pub is still quietly going strong at the corner of Hastings and Dunlevy Streets, offering up jazz and live music every weekend.  And while the surrounding neighbourhood may have fallen into disrepair, the club is as classy as ever.

I checked out the place for the first time on a recent weekend for Jazz @ The Pat Saturdays, a free afternoon concert series featuring some of the city’s top jazz musicians. Continue reading:
99-Year-Old Pub in Downtown Vancouver Still Going Strong: Inside Pat’s

Best hotel for a staycation? You make the call!

The Burrard by Eric Newby

Staycations are more common than you’d think. I know because I looked up “staycation” and it was so legit, it was included in a real dictionary. If you don’t believe me, see for yourself. Whether you’re too swamped with work to leave town, can’t be bothered to clean your own apartment, bored with rainy season or looking for a special date night, there are some great hotels in town for an overnighter.

What makes an excellent staycation venue? A staycation hotel must have at least one of these elements: strong ambiance, awesome food/drinks and a better location than your own place. Read on to see my picks.
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Best hotel for a staycation? You make the call!