Cork and Bean, the venerable bar/café on Simcoe Street downtown, is under new ownership. There’s lots
going on at the place, so more to come on the whos and hows of it all, but music will very much still be a part of the whats.
This is excellent news, as this hub of coolness when it comes to coffees, wines, craft beers, and spirits also acts as an incubator for the arts in Oshawa.
For anyone visiting and looking to get a sense of this city's music, the Cork and Bean was, and will be, the place to hear talent as it emerges from bedrooms, basements and barns - folks find all sorts of places to practice in isolation around these parts. But there comes a time when one needs to step up and out and onto a stage, and it's scary, but the Cork has been the safe space for all of that.
Local pop duo EQUAL will testify on that, I’m sure - they will open for Hotel Mira on June 1 at the Biltmore Theatre, but they are very much part of the scene which has been growing around the café - one which also includes young visual artists and photographers as well.
Incubators are the beginnings of a scene, and right now, the City is on the verge of not just being a great exporter of talent but a place where a band can grow and visitors, as well as residents, can follow the journey of an act, all within a few city blocks.
Let’s imagine such a journey for EQUAL, for example - they get a start at Cork & Bean, gather some friends for an open mic at the General, add a few more fans and add some bands for a bill at the Atria, put out some singles, get some airplay on 94.9 based in North Oshawa - then an opening slot at the Biltmore Theatre, then a headliner gig at the Biltmore. Grow some more, and they get big enough to sell out the Tribute Communities Centre. And on their reunion tour, they settle in at the Regent for a night of their hits. Haha could happen, and more likely to occur as King Street has become the new Queen Street in Toronto. It’s a happening strip.
And maybe when they release their records, they do an in-store at the new Kops Records location also on that strip, beside the Regent, and opposite the Biltmore.
Kops does have an in-store planned already, with alternative punk outfit Chastity. This ticketed event is happening Saturday, May 20, in the evening, with the band performing in the store’s community pop-up area along the front window. Separator will open.
Great event, but what’s really great is how places like Kops and Cork& Bean, and the monthly RMG Fridays, fill in the liminal spaces in a music scene, and they keep the tunes going and growing.
Right now, three of Canada’s buzziest bands are from Oshawa - Daniel Caesar got a start at CoCo Joe's open mics; Crown Lands were intricate to Wasted Space. Dizzy too.
These in-between spots, these music start-ups, are vital to a scene, yes, but also vital to the economics of a city. Of course, many visitors to this city come for the well-known acts, the sure-thing draws, but Oshawa is also getting a rep for visitors to see acts who will become the next stars, the next big thing. So yes, if you want to see the next Crown Lands or the next Daniel Caesar, drop by the Cork & Bean, hang out, grab a brew of your choice, chat with the kids there, and you may have a story to tell sometimes which begins “I knew them when. . . “