A Vancouver blues legend bows out
After 123 years, the Yale Hotel is closing for a year and a half for renovations
It’s a true blues palace, a beautiful old brick building that has thrived by eschewing the latest musical and cultural trends to concentrate on what it does best.
That is what bassist Jack Lavin envisioned when he established the blues format in 1985. The then owner Sam Sorich was looking for somebody to host a jam there,” Lavin says.
Lavin used his contacts to bring in legends like Otis Rush, Lowell Fulson and Joe Duskin for weeklong gigs.
“Since we began it as a blues club, it was inarguably Canada’s best blues bar,” Lavin says.
Lavin left the Yale in 1993, but the blues played on. Over the years a who’s who of blues musicians have played there, from Pinetop Perkins, Johnny Winter and John Hammond to Jeff Healey, Jim Byrnes and Long John Baldry.
But the landmark bar is about to go silent. The Yale will be closing Nov. 20 so it can undergo a heritage renovation. It will be closed for about a year and a half, but will still feature the blues when it reopens, although not exclusively.
The Yale Hotel has billed itself as “Vancouver’s home of rhythm and blues” for three decades.
No more. The legendary blues bar at 1300 Granville Street is up for sale (asking price $4.4 million), and when it reopens, will likely have a different format.
It is also available for lease, at $45 per square foot.
The Yale has been closed since November 2012 for a heritage restoration that is being done as part of the neighbouring Rolston condo development.
The 270-seat bar is on the main floor of an historic building that was built in 1888, when the City of Vancouver was just two years old. The Yale’s red brick façade, mansard roof and neon signs make it one of Vancouver’s most distinctive buildings.
Yale owner Waide Luciak had been planning to reopen as a blues club, but live music venues don’t make the money they used to. He owns another live music venue on Granville, Vancouver Fanclub, and has decided to let somebody else run the Yale.
“We’re not going to go ahead and redo the Yale ourselves,” said Luciak, who has owned the bar since 1987.
The Yale Hotel could become the centre for exploring the blues in Vancouver, – exploring the live experience of the blues, the history of the blues, the community of blues musicians and songwriters, the contribution of the blues to jazz and the creative evolution of music, and the contribution to creating connections and community and creative expression.
Increasing the contribution of the Yale Hotel to our community could also contribute to creating community around the idea of creating a future for our heritage in Vancouver and to exciting interest in other opportunities for creative community enterprise.
What creative contributors, community enterprises, and communities of creative enterprise who could benefit from the idea and the opportunity?
creating a future for the blues in Vancouver
Dalannah Gail Bowen
Coastal Jazz and Blues Society
Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association
Vancouver Music Centre
Communities of creative enterprise
Creative Vancouver – exciting creative community enterprise
Vancouver Music Community – creating community with music
Vancouver Heritage Community – creating a future for our heritage
Vancouver Jazz Community – creating experiences with jazz
Vancouver Heritage Experiences – creating connections with our heritage
Imagining the Possibilities
What role and contribution could the historic Yale Hotel contribute to creating our music community in the future as it has in the past?
What do we imagine we could create and what do we imagine we could do to maximize the contribution of this community place to our community interests?
How do we imagine we could create a place where our community can create, contribute to, and enjoy the experience of live music and the experience of community and increase our appreciation for the experience and our understanding of the contribution of music to our lives?
The Seattle Theatre Group, a non-profit organization, operates the historic Paramount, Moore and Neptune Theatres in Seattle, Washington to contribute to making performing arts and education part of the region’s rich cultural identity while keeping these three landmark venues alive and vibrant.
The Moore Theatre is at the hub of the group’s education and artist development programs, providing a space where young performers are trained and can try something new. These young artists will continue to hone their craft and become the next generation of performers, teachers and mentors, making their contributions and sustaining a healthy cultural climate.