By Will McGuirk
‘Been thinking ‘bout Oshawa’s music scene lately. We’re steady. Not moving forward, but not moving backward. There are bands rising, Crown Lands and Dizzy are doing well. Daniel Caesar is doing phenomenally well, and on his own terms. Clubs are steady.
Steady is not a bad platform to build on.
The Oshawa Music Week (formerly the Rock ‘n Reel festival) put together by the students at Durham College Music Business Management program is something to build on this steady platform of a scene. The OMW runs Thursday Apr 5 through to Apr 12 2018. As well as showcases and conferences this year the students are adding an award show. Awards to honour Industry Leader, Lifetime Achievement, Best Artist or Band, Best Emerging Artist and Best Live Venue will be given out Saturday Apr 7. I am hosting by the way.
The awards are interesting to me, in particular the emerging and the lifetime ones; the future and the past. These awards are a way to encourage young musicians and they are also a way to look at those who have created the paths we walk on.
Future nominations in the lifetime achievements could be singer/songwriter Shirley Eikhard, Mike Star of Star Records and the Star Club, Wilson and Lee, Kerri King of the Moon Room, Craig Laskey of Collective Concerts, Nigel Best, manager of now Canadian Hall of Famers, the Barenaked Ladies, Steve Kane of Warner Music Canada, yours truly (lets not be falsely modest). There are years of work yet to be honoured.
If there is an annual awards show, whether run by the students or spun off with DC as the main sponsor, there would need to be infrastructure around which the show operates. There would need to be publicists, promoters, venues, bands, ongoing engagement with the music community at large, perhaps an affiliation with an annual festival, perhaps an opportunity to sponsor a student via a bursary, perhaps a collaboration with the City of Oshawa event planners.
These roles, paid roles, could be filled by students graduating from the MBM program, providing them the opportunity to work here in the Region. Their presence becomes part of a network which encompasses past builders, the lifetime achievers, and new enterprises, bands, artists, new grads, and so much more. The network grows, grows stronger and becomes another platform, another layer, on which to build.
The awards show would need a venue, perhaps the Regent Theatre. There would be a need for rehearsal spaces, perhaps an office. A building housing both could be found, should be in the Entertainment District, as King Street in downtown Oshawa is informally known.
The awards would attract visitors, I would hazard a guess an appearance by Caesar would bring in a few bums on seats, sell a few dinners and lock up a few hotel rooms downtown.
This is all possible now the awards have been launched. These 2018 are the beginning of something. But again it will depend on how these first ones go, how well attended, how well received by the community, both inside and outside of the music community, but in particular the politicians, the economic developers, chamber of commerce chairs and those in the downtown BIA, venue owners and media.
If you can see the potential in this initiative by these students then I encourage you to attend. Mention my name and I will get you a good seat. If you cannot attend then like, share, retweet and follow the OMW on your social media accounts. Either way get engaged and lets give them something to talk about.