Canal Room (RIP)

285 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013

Canal Room has created a name for itself by hosting big names in music and persevering through challenging years—ultimately, finding its identity.

Situated on the border of Tribeca and SoHo, Canal Room fits well into both neighborhoods being a polished space designed specifically for live performances and DJ shows. The stage is expansive and the focal point of the room; whoever is commanding the stage—independent artist or private event host—is supported by a dynamic sound system and acoustics.

In its exuberant way, Canal Room has brought the vaguely outre tribute band idea back into the mainstream. On Saturday nights the Back to The ’80s show is a smash hit with the live band, Rubix Kube, playing hits from that glorious decade. The band performs in full costume, while the crowd packs the room, many dressed in ’80s-style gear themselves. The venue also hosts band-specific tributes, from U2-imitators to The Police impersonators. During the week NYC-based and touring acts rules the stage.

HISTORY

The Canal Room was opened by Sam Lott and Marcus Linial in 2003. Marcus has been involved in the music business for years, even releasing a rap album on J Records back in 2001. The two men also owned Shine, the club that existed in the same spot before Canal Room. They closed Shine when the lease ended, renovated the space for several months and reopened as Canal Room. While Shine focused on record company events—showcases and release parties for signed artists—Canal Room has become a distinct venue, with a schedule of national and local performers.

In its early days, Canal Room booked national touring acts, such as Jay Z, Elvis Costello and John Legend. Being at the tip of Tribeca also gave Canal Room the opportunity to host the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Music Lounge Series, which, until 2008, was a part of the Tribeca Film Festival. From ’04 to ’08, Canal Room hosted five straight days of forty-minute sets all afternoon and evening. Though the film festival has since axed the music portion from its program, it brought more incredible, high-profile artists, like John Mayer, to Canal Room’s stage.

When several new large-capacity clubs opened in Manhattan, the competition to book the best acts coming through New York became fierce. In response, Canal Room opted to focus on and nurture local acts. Several music venues moved uptown to the fashionable Meatpacking District, but Canal Room decided to stay put. The struggling economy in 2008 added another hurdle, but Canal Room stuck it out, and being one of the few high-profile clubs in the Tribeca/SoHo area, the venue soon found its groove. During Canal Room’s revival Colleen Hendricks was hired, who had previously booked the Highline Ballroom and B.B. King. She quickly affected positive change at the club and strengthened the club’s image in the music scene—Canal Room is now a solid participant in the CMJ music festival.

Settled in its identity as an upscale club with high integrity, the room is intent on continuing down the path of hosting parties, finding amazing live bands, and bringing people together in memory of the ’80s.