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Downtown’s Music Scene

Story and images by Amanda Darrock

In the hustle and bustle of the downtown core you may often hear the sounds of excited chatter, sirens and car engines.  Listen closely though on any night of the week and you can hear the sound of music spilling out of venue doors.

Almost on any street corner there is a venue offering open-mic, live shows, and even some of the world’s chart-toppers. As Oshawa leans on the outskirts of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), there is always much comparison to the Toronto music scene, though much talent can be found right here in our own Oshawa.

“Oshawa has a lot of talent hidden in it,” says Jenine Daubney, a local Hip-hop artist. “If you look at some of the people who come out of here, it’s amazing talent. I grew up on the streets and have met some really amazing musicians from the local area.”

With venues such as The Atria, Glass Bottle, GM Centre, Wasted Space, Simcoe Blues and Jazz club and The Corral to name a few, musicians are offered a lot of opportunities to showcase their talents. Bands like Hairy Holler often take advantage of Murphy’s Pub. Although they play all over, every Sunday you can find them on the pub’s stage.

Hairy Holler is a regular musical fixture in downtown Oshawa.

“It’s totally different beasts (between Toronto and Oshawa). Anywhere you go you will hear so many different talents,” says Myke Pulito, front man of Hairy Holler.  “I’m lucky enough to have a chunk of Oshawa’s talents play in my band.”

It’s not just the musicians themselves who can see the appeal in the scene but also managers.

“The allure or appeal of Oshawa’s music scene, is that it is close to home and is the most thriving music scene in the Durham Region; outside of Toronto and yet still close to home,” says 20 Amp Soundchild manager, Kyric Aitken.

“There are a lot of heavier metal bands that rehearse at the same place we do (Rehearsal Factory on south Simcoe) and as such, you will not find it hard to catch a heavier rock show or metal shows throughout Oshawa in any given week,” he added.

Aitken said that 20amp have opened for Hollerado, Monster Truck (x2), USS and Rebel Emergency, all in Oshawa, in the past 2 years and that music lovers can also catch bigger  acts at the GM Centre.

“On Feb. 9 I had the pleasure of seeing the Arkells open for The Tragically Hip at the GM Centre and it was fantastic, arguably, better than the ACC as it is much smaller and more intimate. Oshawa has a lot of hole-in-the-wall music venues, not unlike Toronto, and the more people come out and support their local artists, the easier it is for promoters to secure bigger and better name acts to fill our local music halls.”

Now with any kind of artistic/ creative merit, there are always those who will argue that the bigger city still has more appeal. Be is it the audience or just a lack of local support?  Some people, like Music Business Management student and show goer, Luke Molica, would argue that Oshawa still has a way to go.

“I don’t think people are as involved in the music scene as people would be in Toronto,” says Molica.  “I’ve noticed it’s a lot more of artists competing against each other rather than help each other, whether that’s because Oshawa is a smaller market than Toronto.”

Unfortunately this opinion is one not only shared by certain spectators but also some musicians such as Spenser Gibbons of the local Oshawa band, Cadillac Socks.

“The Oshawa music scene sucks ’cause people are always talking about how they miss going to see bands and how the scene is dying but most people don’t come out to support the scene. People talk as if they know everything about music and how they “sold their soul for rock and roll” yet where are all these people when it comes time to support your local artist or just show up to the scene to see some really talented people that don’t get the support they deserve?”

Though the debate shall always carry on as to how Oshawa compares to bigger cities, the facts stand that more people are beginning to take interest in the local scene and as more people become interested, the scene will only flourish more.

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