Well, obviously, Convergence is the big story this weekend, but there is one tale that may on many levels be just as big; Saturday, September 23, 2023, will be declared Steppenwolf Day in Oshawa. With its factories and farms, back roads and bikers, this city raised the writer who wrote the rock ‘n roll on the road anthem, “Born to Be Wild”, performed by the band Steppenwolf. That man is Mars Bonfire, aka Dennis Eugene McCrohan, also an original Jack London and the Sparrows member. Mars will be zooming in on Saturday afternoon at Convergence for an interview as part of the free Spark Series presented by the Spark Centre at Biltmore Theatre.
The interview with the now 80-year-old Mars Bonfire, who lives in the States, will follow a screening of the award-winning documentary ‘Essential Noise Volume 1’, produced by Oshawa resident Paul Koidis. The documentary looks at Yorkville in Toronto in its 1960s heyday when Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, The Band, and Gordon Lightfoot would be playing in the area’s coffeehouses. There are interviews with Alan Cross, Sylvia Tyson, Judy Collins, and John Kay of Steppenwolf, as well as others.
And so because of this very important moment in the city’s history, Mayor Dan Carter will be declaring Saturday, September 23 - Steppenwolf Day. As Oshawa looks to its present, and hopefully future, as a music city via Convergence, it seems fitting we also acknowledge the amazing past the Good Lady 'Shwa has already chalked up.
The Spark Centre has programmed even more! They are not an innovation and start-up hub for nothing. Also on the bill will be a screening of the new documentary on one of Oshawa’s favourite bands, the Lowest of the Low, and their incredible debut album, ‘Shakespeare My Butt”. Simon Head has produced this doc, and yet again, whenever there is a moment in this town’s recent musical evolution, it seems LOTL is involved in some way. Simon has also published a book to go along with the documentary, and it will be available for purchase. Simon was the tour manager for Sum 41 in the day and lives in Uxbridge.
Simon will be a guest along with Dave Ritter of the Strumbellas on a panel looking at Artificial Intelligence and the Music Industry. Delon Om, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Ontario Tech University (who will also be performing at Convergence), will also be part of the panel, and Dr. Isabel Pedersen, Director of the Decimal Lab and Director of the Digital Life Institute at Ontario Tech University will host. Hey, we’re not playing around here! Oshawa has some major kats on hand for Convergence.
So there you are, Spark Centre, and the past, present and future of music in Oshawa, and all for free! Are you kidding me?!
Earlier on Sunday at the Bollocks Pub, the late Randy Beggs of Oshawa rock band Wednesday will be honoured at a gathering of his friends and bandmates. Wednesday had a big hit with “Last Kiss” in the 1970s and was the recipient of the 2022 OMA Lifetime Achievement and Hall of Fame Award.
On Friday, September 22, at the Wee Pub, where many of this city’s rock n roll alums hang out, the featured artist is Dave Vaillancourt.
OK, see ya at Convergence.