The Embassy: Kingston’s holiest live music cafe

Union Gallery

St. George’s Cathedral is home to a unique performance venue

For $2, enjoy live music and cafe treats at The Embassy.
Credit: 
Supplied by The Embassy

Earlier this month, Kingston residents made their way downtown to the opening night of the city’s most hallowed new music venue. 

The Embassy Live Music Cafe’s pop-up is tucked away in the back half of St. George’s Cathedral in an area called the Great Hall. Every Saturday night, the dramatic space that’s complete with an acoustic friendly A-frame ceiling and wooden beams, is lit up with local sound. 

“We are under the umbrella of a local charity and are therefore not-for-profit. All of our staff are 100 per cent volunteers,” Travis Blackmore, general manager at The Embassy, said in an interview with The Journal. It’s the benevolent hearts of The Embassy’s staff that seems to be the driving force in putting the new cafe on the live music map. 

The $2 entrance fee is not only lower than most cover charges, but includes alsoa fresh cup of coffee and a baked good. What’s not to love?

The Embassy, while booking indie acts such as Tony Silvestri and Elevation Music Studio, is also fairly unique in their artist preference. “We want to book acts that have a broad, mature appeal for our guests and will leave them wanting more at the end of the evening,” Blackmore said of the process. “So far our booking agent scouts and invites [acts] that might suit our fashion of venue.” 

The Embassy is open to booking any local talent, and encourage requests from both performers and audience members. They urge artists to reach out if they’re interested in performing, and operate on an audience preference-based system: more requests for an artist, higher likelihood of performance. 

“We love music, and believe it can soothe the soul,” Blackmore said of their self-labelled high standards, “[We] want to book only the best in local talent.”

In a university town like Kingston it’s fairly easy for live music venues to book the same kinds of talent again and again. It’s also tempting to cater to the party scene as a venue, booking electronic acts, DJs and music that people can easily dance to. 

The Embassy takes the focus off of the curb appeal and puts the focus back on the actual musical experience — a task made much easier by their lack of a liquor license, 11 p.m. closing time and their particularly holy locale.

“We are a great way to start a Saturday night with some friends, listening to only the best live music,” Blackmore explained of their vision for The Embassy as a student watering hole. 

Corrections

Blackmore's first name is Travis, not Tyler. 

The Journal regrets the error.

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