The Palomino Smokehouse

109 7 Ave SW, Calgary AB

Musicians from all over the world make the Palomino Smokehouse their first stop in Calgary. Nestled in the city’s downtown core, the restaurant’s basement stage has brought affordable shows to the local arts scene for years.

The venue usually books acts that play subgenres of rock, blues, hip-hop folk and country. Internationally renowned DIY bands such as Sheer Mag have played at the Palomino, as have legends like former Hawkwind member Nik Turner and noise pioneer Merzbow. The stage is also open to local talent, with bands such as Lab Coast, Crack Cloud and more.

This emphasis on the local and the off-kilter extends to the Palomino’s other bookings. It hosts shows for festivals including Sled Island and Big Winter Classic on both its upstairs and downstairs levels. As a result, acts such as west coast punks like The WPP and Sightlines, as well as indie bands such as Nap Eyes and Royal Canoe have entertained Calgary crowds. Aside from bands, the venue books events that range from the serious to the sublime. For instance, the venue has hosted a fundraiser for Mental, a local film festival committed to issues surrounding mental health and addiction. In 2015, men from all over Alberta flocked to the venue for its inaugural Alberta Beard and Moustache Championships, which sought to find best facial scruff in the province.