World Music Guide to Vancouver

vancouver_smallVancouver is one of the hotspots in Canada. The city has become a magnet for a thriving Asian community, primarily Chinese. It has also attracted creative individuals from Canada and the neighboring United States. The world music scene in Vancouver is strong, represented by world music artists, booking agents, record labels and distributors, the Vancouver Folk Festival and several other venues. 

A group of world music artists have come together to form the Vancouver World Music Collective (VWMC), a non-profit organization to promote their music and the city internationally.

There are many private promoters in different communities who present everything from revered classical artists based in Iran and India to major Bollywood stars and Hong Kong pop icons who fill sports stadiums. There are outstanding artists from many of the world’s traditions living and working in Vancouver in traditional ensembles but the real soundtrack of the city is trans-cultural. For more than 30 years, artists have dedicated themselves to learning about each other’s traditions and creating new music that reflects life in a city where identity is a process, not a legacy.

Vancouver is notable for its mix between classically trained composers and World Music, some of which dates back to a professor in the music dept at UBC who introduced Asian instrumentation into composition. Mark Armanini, a student from that department is a local composer known for such work and has released a CD, Green and Gold. There is also a large ensemble known as the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (VICO), which is difficult to fund, but VICO has been giving a series of talks at the main library branch in the evenings about this mixture of traditions.

Vancouver has attractive ethnic neighborhoods. For information about its large Chinatown, go to Punjabi Market is a five-block section of Main Street. It is the center of commerce and culture for Vancouver’s large Indian population. You can find bhangra and other forms of Indiian and Pakistani music. Address: Main and 49th Street, Vancouver, BC.

For events listing, one of the best sources is Georgia Straight. To get around, check the Translink Web site to find out about public buses, SkyTrain & SeaBus schedules.

Record stores:

Highlife are world music specialists, especially African and Cuban music. Address: 1317 Commercial. Phone: 251-6964.

Zulu Records has everything an independent record store should be and then some. Address: 1972 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver.

Magic Flute is a a mostly classical music store on 4th Avenue that has a growing world music section.

Also on 4th Ave is Banyen Books, which has a wonderful listening post where you scan the bar code on the CD sleeve and it plays the CD for you. Their world music section is quite good.

On Granville Island there is a new store which specializes in Zimbabwean sculptures. They have a Putumayo listening post.

HMV (formerly Virgin) Megastore has a small selection of folk and world music upstairs. Address: 788 Burrard. Phone: 669-2289.

World music presenters:

Caravan World Rhythms Society presents world music concerts throughout the city. Address: #557-1917 West 4th Ave., Vancouver, BC V6J 1M7. Phone: 604-648-9354, 604-886-0895. E-mail: caravan at

Beats Without Borders – DJ collective with heart and soul that mixes it up with musicians and dancers from traditions around the world.

Pacific Bluegrass are bluegrass music promoters. Phone: 604-931-7194.


St. James Community Hall serves as the main venue for the Rogue Folk Club. It is located at 3214 West 10th Avenue, in Kitsilano, Vancouver. To contact the Rogue Folk Club, call 604-736-3022, or fax 604-736-3012. E-mail: E-mail: roguefolk at

The hottest little new venue is The Rime, a restaurant featuring live music – jazz, folk, world:. Address: 1130 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC V5L 3X2. Phone: (604) 215-1130.

Rogue Folk Club also presents regular concerts at Capilano College Theatre for the Performing Arts in North Vancouver – The Cap Folk & Roots Series, co-sponsored with Cap College and the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. Capilano College, 2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V7J. 3H5

The Yale Hotel has a blues music night club, with nightly live blues and zydeco performances. Address: The Yale Hotel, 1300 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1M7. Phone: (604) 681-9253, fax: (604) 681-9353.

Wolf & Hound pub hosts music sessions and / or concerts most nights. 3617 West Broadway. Phone: (604) 738.890.

The Silvertone Tavern is a blues music venue. Address: 2733 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC. Phone: (604) 877-2245.

Kay Meek Centre for the Performing Arts. Address: 1700 Mathers Avenue, West Vancouver, BC V7V 2G7. Phone: 604-913-3624, 604-913-3634.

The Vancouver East Cultural Centre is used sometimes as a world music venue. Address: 1895 Venables Street, Vancouver, BC V5L 2H6. Phone: 604-251-1363, Fax: 604-251-1730. E-mail: info at

Roundhouse Community Centre. Address: 181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2W3. Phone: (604) 713-1800,
Fax: (604) 713-1813. E-mail: roundhousecc at

Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC. University of British Columbia, 6265 Crescent Road, Vancouver, BC
Canada V6T 1Z1. E-mail: chan.centre at Phone: 604-822-2697.

King Edward Campus Auditorium. Address: 1155 E Broadway.


The Vancouver Folk Music Festival is one of the biggest and best in North America. When Canadians say folk, they usually include world music. Address: Vancouver Folk Music Festival, 207 Hastings Street West #1114, Vancouver, BC Canada V6B 1H7. Phone: 604.602.9798, Toll-Free: 800.883.3655. Fax: 604.602.9790. E-mail: info at

TD Canada Trust Vancouver International Jazz Festival, brings in generous dollops of blues, Latino jazz, fusion, and world music each June and throughout the year. Produced by Coastal Jazz & Blues Society, 316 West 6th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5Y 1K9 Canada. Phone: 604-872-5200 or 1.888.438.JAZZ, Fax: 604-872-5250. General Inquiries: cjbs at

Festival Vancouver focuses primarily on classical music, but its programming also includes world music and jazz in several venues across the city. Address: 00 – 873 Beatty St Vancouver, BC V6B 2M6 Canada. Phone: 604 688-1152. Fax: 604 688-8441.

Vancouver Childrens Festival presents acclaimed Canadian and international professional performances. World music is always present. Address: #402 – 873 Beatty Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 2M6. Phone: 604 708 5655, Fax: 604 708 5661. E-mail: info at


Radio-Canada (Espace-Musique, 90.9FM) has Ici Vancouver, hosted by Andre Rheaume. World music and jazz. Monday to Thursday, 5:00 – 7:00pm. It also has Musique du Monde, with host Ginette Bellavance. Monday – Friday, 10:00am to noon).

CBC-Radio One: Global Village (Saturday at 7:05-8:00pm) and Roots and Wings (Sundays at 5:00-6:00 pm)

FM 96.1 has several world music shows, including: African Vibes, Saturday 11am-1pm; Latino Soy (Weekdays: 11:00-1:00 pm) and Celt in a Twist, Monday-Friday 7-8am. Address : A1-525 West Broadway, Vancouver, Canada, V5Z 4K5. Phone: (604) 708-1234. E-mail: general at

CiTR 101.9 FM is the broadcasting voice of the University of British Columbia. Reaching over two million listeners, its signal reverberates from Point Grey east to Langley, north to Squamish and south to its neighbors in Bellingham, Washington (USA). The Edge On Folk is on Saturdays from 8am to noon. Available on the net too at The first hour is African music, the second hour is roots music from around the world. Hours 3 and 4 include concert guides, live guests, new releases etc. in a variety of genres especially Celtic, Bluegrass, and some singer songwriters. There are plenty of other roots music shows on CiTR as well.

Village 900 CKMO has world music programming. Address: 3100 Foul Bay Road, Victoria British Columbia, Canada, V8P 5J2.

CFRO 102.7 is Vancouver’s Cooperative Radio Station with some excellent roots music programming.

Rogue Folk has a world music radio webcast on its web site at, broadcasting 24/7 with no commercials.


Channel M (Cable 8 in Vancouver) has:

World.Beats: a diverse hour of leading-edge global music videos, interviews, features, news, and interviews with top world music artists (Saturdays at 10:00 pm; Sundays at 2:00 pm).

Viva! (Sundays 7:00pm, and 11:00pm); A high-quality multi-arts, multi-cultural show produced by baljit sangra & veeno dewan Vivamantra films inc. profiling local and visiting artists: performing arts, visual arts, fashion, food, etc.

Record labels:

Jericho Beach Music, owned by Festival Distribution, provides an outlet for top quality Canadian releases, usually with a strong worldbeat flavor. Address: 1351 Grant Street, Vancouver, BC V5L 2X7, Canada. Phone: 604.253.2662, Fax: 604.253.2634.

Nettwerk. Address: 1650 West 2nd Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6J 4R3. Phone: 604-654-1993, 604-654-2929. E-mail: info at


Festival Inc. distributes folk, world music and Celtic. Address: 1351 Grant Street, Vancouver, BC V5L 2X7, Canada. Phone: 604.253.2662, Fax: 604.253.2634.


BC Chinese Music Association. Address: 303 – 8495 Ontario Street, Vancouver, BC V5X 3E8. Phone: (604) 327-8807, Fax: (604) 327-8606.

Coastal Jazz and Blues Society. Address: 316 West 6 Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1K9. Phone: (604) 872-5250, Fax: (604) 872-5200. E-mail: robert at

Music schools:

Vancouver Community College – School of Music. Address: 1155 East Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5T 4N3. Phone: (604) 871-7297, Fax: (604) 871-7100.

Prussin Music at Broadway and Dunbar has a large music school for roots music.

Just around the corner from Prussin, on 10th and Alma St. is Celtic Woolens, another music store with a music school and occasional concerts.

Cultural Centers:

Italian Cultural Centre is located at 3075 Slocan Street (at Grandview Highway) Vancouver. Vancouver, B.C. V5M 3E4. Phone: (604) 430-3337, Fax: (604) 430-3331.

Chinese Cultural Centre. Address: 50 East Pender Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 3V6 Canada. Phone: (604) 658-8850, Fax: (604) 687-6260.

Musical instrument stores:

Rufus’ Guitar Shop sells new and used instruments. It also handles repairs. Address: 2621 Alma. Phone: 222-1717.

Not Just Another Music Store has guitars and vintage amps. Address: 2415 Granville. Phone: 733-6526.

Long & McQuade provides p.a. rentals, sells instruments and recording equipment. Address: 2301 Granville. Phone: 734-4886.

Ward Music are sheet music specialists. they also sell new and used instruments. Address: 412 West Hastings. Phone: 682-5288.

Tom Lee Music is a music megastore. Address: 929 Granville. Phone: 685-8471.

Author: World Music Central News Department

World music news from the editors at World Music Central