It could be the unpretentious façade. The general lack of décor. The aloof service. The clientele that includes everyone from bikers to barristers. Here, the atmosphere is undeniably chill, especially once you factor in some deep Mississippi Delta Blues.
Every Saturday afternoon, the Commie comes alive with a live music jam. Patrons fill the place with conversation and laughter. The dancefloor is packed. The vibe at the Saturday Afternoon Blues Jam is hard to describe. You’ll just have to experience it for yourself.
Edmonton has truly become a preferred destination for some of the world’s hottest musical acts. And you can catch them at venues as diverse as the artists themselves. From stadium shows to concert halls to underground haunts like Blues on Whyte, Edmonton is mad for music. Just remember to get your tickets early.
To Edmontonians it’s the Commie. According to its neon sign it’s the Commercial Hotel, home to Blues on Whyte – a mecca for blues, jazz and R&B lovers across North America and a home away from home for legends like Russell Jackson, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Sonny Rhodes. And even though you’ll find the Commie at the heart of Whyte Avenue, one of Edmonton’s busiest entertainment and shopping districts, it’s truly underground.
In 2012, the Commercial Hotel and Blues of Whyte celebrated 100 years, which is pretty extraordinary considering Alberta celebrated its centenary less than a decade ago. But walk through the front doors of the Commercial Hotel and you can almost feel the history, remnants of a time when a pint cost 15 cents. No, seriously, 15 cents.
If you’re someone who likes to live local, chew on this: even after a century in business, Blues on Whyte is still being run by four of its original shareholders and six second-generation shareholders, all of whom are the children of original shareholders.
You’ll find Blues on Whyte – as its name suggests – on Whyte Avenue in historical Old Strathcona. Before you settle in for a night of the blues, take a wander down Whyte for some of the best window shopping and people watching anywhere in Canada.