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Troubadours in downtown Oshawa

Alex Cobbett is one of a number of musicians to take part in the Troubadour Series, which runs outside of five restaurants in downtown Oshawa every Friday and Saturday night starting at 7 p.m. (Photo by Randy Nickerson)

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa’s downtown patios are alive with the sound of music as a group of troubadours are busking under the city’s streetlights.

A group of musicians have been serenading patrons of Oshawa’s downtown patios, and according to Jeff Davis, one of the founders of the Troubadour Series, it all “started from a vision.”

“Sitting on the newly built, temporary patio at Top Corner BBQ n Grill, and looking across at the historic mural on Ontario Street, the idea of a live performer with a colourful backdrop began,” he says.

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, Davis explains patios are already limited in seating.

“At the time, live musicians, or ‘singing and dancing’ were not permitted indoors,” he explains. On a patio, requirements included further reducing seating to make room for the entertainer, and a plexiglass shield to separate the entertainer from the patrons.”

For the first few weeks, each performance was “loosely arranged,” according to Davis, and they would perform in a “busker atmosphere” across the street from the Top Corner patio.

But with a little help, they were able to come closer.

“The community came through by providing access to an extension cord,” says Davis. “Eventually donations were provided to offer the entertainer a start to a tip jar.”

Eventually, Davis says Ward 4 City and Regional Councillor Rick Kerr was approached with the concept.

“Councillor Kerr supported the concept, and worked to secure funding from the [Downtown Oshawa Business Improvement Area], and local developer BIG Renovations and Design,” he says.

Along with Kerr, Adam Kunz, who schedules the entertainers, joins Davis.

All sponsorship money is collected by the BIA, and then returned to the musicians as an initial donation, says Davis.

“The public is encouraged to tip the entertainers, similar to how you would have normally paid a cover charge for live entertainment,” he adds.

While it began with one location, Davis explains if it worked in one spot, they planned to eventually move on to do more.

Jason Cini and Evan Gomez are two musicians participating in the Troubadour Series which aims to see more foot traffic in Oshawa’s downtown core. (Photo by Randy Nickerson)

Now they perform at five different locations every Friday and Saturday night, beginning at 7 p.m., with each location featuring a different musician.

Performances will continue until the end of October, weather permitting.

The musicians can be found downtown performing at: Avanti Trattoria, Brew Wizards Board Game Café, Stag’s Head Bar and Grill, Top Corner, and Wendel Clark’s Classic Bar and Grill.

Davis says the list of musicians interested in taking part is growing, and they are working hard to provide a rotation of talented and diverse entertainment.

The ultimate goal of the Troubadour Series, according to Davis, is to increase foot traffic in Oshawa’s downtown, and he says he’s seeing his goal come to fruition.

“Response from the public has been very positive, with a noticeable and growing increase in foot traffic in our downtown each weekend,” he says. “In some cases, the public travel from one venue to another to hear the variety of music being offered.”

Davis hopes to continue building on the success of the Troubadour Series, and hopes it might even become a signature event in Oshawa’s downtown next year.

Entertainers interested in performing can visit, says Davis.