After nearly four decades of presenting live music in the ByWard Market, Ottawa’s famed Rainbow Bistro is closing this weekend. The live music venue on Murray Street took a real hit when COVID-19 began affecting Ottawa, with no recovery in sight.
On Sept. 7, the Ottawa Citizen published a headline that “unless a buyer steps up, Rainbow Bistro in the ByWard Market to close after 37 years.” Owner Danny Sivyer details the struggle in this interview with Citizen reporter Lynn Saxberg.
In a recent Facebook post, ownership said the club will close following one last set by guitarist Tony D on Saturday night, Sept. 18. The local legend, who leads his own band as well as performing in the Juno Award-winning trio MonkeyJunk, is a fitting performer to close out the venue having held down a regular gig at The Rainbow for more years than Apartment613 has been existence!
Tony D got his start as a teenager sitting in on blues jams at venues like The Rainbow and Irene’s Pub. An 18-year old Colin James stepped out on stage at The Rainbow before his songs ever made the charts. Everyone from The Tragically Hip to Blue Rodeo, k.d. lang, Jeff Healey, and Colin Linden has played The Rainbow at some point since the club opened in 1984. One night, Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi—who were in town for an engagement at the National Arts Centre—showed up and gave an impromptu Blues Brothers performance at The Rainbow.
Due to the capacity limits brought on by COVID-19 safety measures, an audience of only 40 patrons will be able to attend the closing night party.