Ottawa's live music scene mourns Zaphod's demise
ByWard Market music scene mainstay Zaphod Beeblebrox set to close May 14
Ottawa's music community is mourning the loss of Zaphod Beeblebrox, the ByWard Market venue that's been a mainstay of the city's live entertainment scene for decades.
The popular nightclub announced it's closing on May 14, after more than 26 years of hosting concerts and events featuring acts from a broad spectrum of musical genres.
"It's kind of sad to see that piece of history gone," said Kim Vincent, guitarist and lead singer of Ottawa rock group The Red Rails. The band played its first show at the club, commonly known as Zaphod's, in 2012.
"It's been around a long time. It's seen a lot of great bands come through. So any bar that's been doing shows for that long and has a name for itself, it's definitely a vital piece of Ottawa," he said.
Mike Raymond says he felt "immediate heartbreak" when he learned Zaphod's was closing. He's been involved with the venue in different capacities over the last 15 years, working there as head of security and playing there with various bands
"Losing another small to mid-sized venue in Ottawa is the last thing we need," said the guitarist and vocalist, who currently plays with the heavy metal band Black Oak Decline and the hard rock band Quiet Crimes.
Christina Kasper, who owns Ottawa concert promoter Chord Productions, agrees.
"It's sad to see another one go. It's sad for the musicians, the bands that want to play — they have one less space in Ottawa to play at. It makes it difficult for promoters as well," she said.
It's sad for the musicians, the bands that want to play — they have one less space in Ottawa to play at.- Christina Kasper, Chord Productions
"For me, I book mostly international bands, and the Canadian dollar being so low, it's hard to get bands interested to come and play Ottawa. It's hard to financially make up for the deficit in it. So it's tough economic times, I think, for the entertainment business altogether."
'Unique place filled with amazing people'
Although he thinks it's sad to see the curtain close on the venerable venue, Vincent said he's confident another club will open to fill the void left by Zaphod's.
Kasper said she's hopeful Ottawa's unpredictable music scene will sustain itself until then.
"Sometimes the scene is very strong. Sometimes it's on the decline. We keep pushing forward, and we hope that the younger kids get interested in music and start following it and coming out to shows," she said.
Still, when it goes dark and quiet, Zaphod's will clearly be missed by many.
"Zaphod's was a unique place filled with amazing people that made it what it is. It's very sad to see it go, and I don't think anything can ever take its place," said Raymond.