DURHAM’S MUSIC SCENE: Oshawa councillor plays that funky music

Oshawa city councillor Derek Giberson plays the piano at Simcoe Street United Church. Photo credit: Ryan Hahn

After 18 months as a rookie on Oshawa city council, Derek Giberson is comfortable discussing the political agenda. When he leaves city hall, he works on his musical agenda.

Giberson, 39, is the Ward 4 councillor who spends his time away from the council chambers with his band, the Professors of Funk, as well as organizing musical events in the city.

Giberson, a Durham College journalism graduate, is the keyboardist and founder of the band. He chose the keyboards because he found them to be a challenge to learn.

“You find the thing that fits you best and the one you seem to have the hunger to drive yourself to keep playing and get better at,” said Giberson.

He took keyboard lessons at a young age and had the desire to continue to get better.

Derek Giberson took lessons to play the piano when he was young, but had the hunger after those lessons to continue to play it and get better. Photo credit: Ryan Hahn

Prior to the creation of the Professors of Funk, several musicians performed together with some regularity, Giberson says.

Ultimately, they decided to formalize things, creating the Professors, playing soul-funk and R&B music.

The first version of his band started as a group of rotating players with people he worked with from Toronto and Oshawa.

When the Moustache Club opened in downtown Oshawa in 2013, Giberson and his band were asked to play monthly shows there.

This was the moment he decided it was time to go official with his own band and have permanent members.

“Let’s just go full bore and start the nine-piece band,” said Giberson.

One of their bigger annual shows also has a charitable bent.

Beginning in 2014, they decided to mix together some of their own music and Christmas music at Simcoe Street United Church for a good cause.

Simcoe Street United Church in Oshawa where Derek Giberson plays with his band to perform their annual christmas concert. Photo credit: Ryan Hahn

In the first year, 100 people attended and raised $1,500 for the Back Door Mission, a group formed in Oshawa to help people living in poverty, feeding them, giving them clothes and a warm place to stay.

Thanks to word of mouth, the Christmas show has grown every year.

The 2019 concert attracted 800 people and raised more than $21,000 for Back Door.

“It’s allowed us to expand the work that’s done at the mission and open up a new pool of volunteers,” said Giberson, who is now the president of the mission.

The concert also brings in many other donations like food and clothing.

Giberson’s involvement in music in Oshawa also includes the Crossing Point Festival.

It started in July, 2018, shows off Canadian artists and is held in Memorial Park in downtown Oshawa.

Memorial Park in Oshawa is home to Crossing Point festival. Started by Derek Giberson it is now going into its third year. Photo credit: Ryan Hahn

Giberson says the name of the festival – Crossing Point – reflects the genres of music presented, like hip-hop, country, soul and R&B.

“Crossing Point’s core theme musically is to have this meeting and this crossing point of all these genres of music,” said Giberson.

Giberson’s main reason for starting the festival?

“Well, we don’t really have one (a festival),” he said.

He also found from his time going to other festivals there were things he could take from them and add to Crossing Point.

“The goal of Crossing Point Festival is not to be enormous – we don’t want to have 30,000 people attend, that’s not the goal. I feel when something becomes that big it is lost,” said Giberson.

The hope, Giberson said, is to be at a comfortable size so people can come and enjoy the festival and continue to discover new artists.