Smash hit: Crowdfunding campaign raises more than $41K for Rainbow Bistro

Rainbow Bistro
The Rainbow Bistro is located at the corner Murray Street and Parent Avenue in the ByWard Market. File photo

A fundraising campaign aimed at helping save Ottawa’s venerable Rainbow Bistro has struck a chord with music lovers who pumped more than $41,000 into the coffers of the ByWard Market concert hall.

Launched in late February, the crowdfunding effort had set a goal of raising $37,000 in 37 days to celebrate the 37th anniversary of “Ottawa’s legendary home of live music.”

The venue that’s hosted the likes of the Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, k.d. lang and Jeff Healey ended up hitting that target and then some – thanks in no small measure to plugs from Blue Rodeo frontman Jim Cuddy and singer-songwriter Colin James, another artist who’s graced the Murray Street club’s stage on numerous occasions.

The club said all funds will be used to hire music artists to perform at the Rainbow in 2022.

“We’re ecstatic that music lovers from Ottawa and beyond have demonstrated their passionate commitment to keep this live music venue going,” said Calian Group CEO Kevin Ford, chair of the Rainbow Bistro Business Amplifiers, a volunteer group of business leaders who have rallied in support of the club.

Rainbow launch
JW-Jones, along with drummer Will Laurin and guitarist Jacob Clarke, performed as part of the grand reopening of the Rainbow Bistro in February. File photo

In a news release Tuesday, the group teased that a “major Canadian act” will be performing at the venue in the coming weeks. Major donors to the crowdfunding campaign will be guests at the much-anticipated show.

“We can’t thank people enough,” said Rainbow owner Danny Sivyer. “This clearly shows that people think Ottawa is a better place when it includes live music. This fills our hearts and makes us even more determined to succeed.”

Like countless other live music halls across North America, the Rainbow has been decimated by the pandemic. Late last year, the Amplifiers donated $50,000 to help keep the venue afloat, and other private- and public-sector supporters, including non-profit organization FACTOR’s Support for Live Concerts program, have pitched in for the cause.

Their donations funded a makeover that saw the club add a state-of-the-art sound system, new production lighting, video streaming capability and several stage and infrastructure enhancements. The club also partnered with music instrument retailer Long & McQuade on the project.