DURHAM’S MUSIC SCENE: Oshawa’s Music Hall delivers current, legendary acts

A crowd gathers inside The Oshawa Music Hall for a J-Soul concert on Jan. 15, 2020. Photo credit: Tracey Bowers-Lee

A Whitby couple has brought back some refinement to the Oshawa entertainment scene.

Ed and Maggie Maybee are in their fifth year as owners of The Music Hall and say the business is thriving.

Ed and Maggie Maybee at The Oshawa Music Hall. Photo credit: Tracey Bowers-Lee

The venue on King Street in the downtown core has hosted acts like Classified, Nelly, LMFAO, the Headstones, Dave Evans of AC/DC, Glorious Sons, Gord Bamford, I Mother Earth, 54-40, Mob Deep and many more.

Ed, 49, and Maggie, 41, are enthusiastic about the future.

“Some of the bands we have on hold date for I can’t even mention. Some of the acts we have in the works right now I can’t wait,” Ed says, with a glint of excitement in his eyes. “Some of the acts we’ve had come through this building, we look at each other and can’t believe we actually booked them.”

They believe the reason for their success is hard work, communication, listening to what the other has to say and knowing what their roles are in the business.

“She’ll stay focused on her projects and I stay focused on my projects, but we will run ideas by each other,” Ed says.

He explains there are many moving parts to produce an event and they all have to be organized.

“We have radio, you have promoters, you have tickets, you have bar, you have staff, you have cleaning staff, you have security, sound techs, you have the managers of the band and then you have the band as well that reaches out.”

Maggie runs the business from home, looking after the social media, answering radio station issues, promotions, emails, orders and bookings.

She also takes care of their blended family of six.

“I have two (Dawson, 17 and Julianna, 12) and he has two (Kaitlin, 24 and Eric, 20) and we have none together,” says Maggie.

“We have three kids who live at home and my daughter is 24 (Kaitlin), she lives on her own. She chooses to do so because our house is a zoo, but she lives locally,” says Ed.

Ed works on site, looking after all building issues, the maintenance of the facilities and staffing.

“I come in, I wear a headset and I’m on my phone, I do my emails, I have a laptop and a computer going at the same time. I’ll be sending emails back and forth. I’ll work through the day multi-tasking,” says Ed.

He says the music industry is cutthroat and it’s hard to find trustful people, but over the years they have surrounded themselves with a reliable team.

The Music Hall banner on King Street in Oshawa. Photo credit: Tracey Bowers-Lee

The Music Hall is the only venue of its kind in Durham Region. The building itself has been an entertainment staple in downtown Oshawa for more than 70 years.

“The reason we kept the name ‘The Music Hall’ is because we didn’t want to be prejudiced against any genre. If you look at our calendar, we have everything from hip-hop, to rock, to country, to Punjabi, to club nights,” says Ed.

He says there is no specific entertainment scene in Durham Region and there aren’t many venues but there are still people looking for a night out.

J-Soul performing the song 'Slow Wine' at The Oshawa Music Hall. Photo credit: Tracey Bowers-Lee

There are also artists looking for local stages to showcase their talents and most small venues can’t stay afloat.

They eventually close down, he says.

The Music Hall has been a staple in downtown Oshawa for 75 years. It was first the Biltmore Theatre and for a period of time, The Big Sexy night club.

It has been many different establishments, had different names and owners.

“There are three entertainment locations downtown that are the bigger entertainment venues and have been around for some time. There is us, the beautiful location across the road, the Regent Theatre and the Atria,” says Ed.

He says all three venues attract a different kind of crowd and have a place in the community. The Regent Theatre is a location for an older demographic who like to sit down and watch a show. Whereas The Music Hall is more of a stand up “in your face, have a good time, dance in front of the bands, meet the band,” type of location.

“We are the only facility east of Toronto that offers this type of entertainment.”

Maggie says owning The Music Hall was not something they planned.

“It definitely happened to us,” says Maggie.

She says while Ed was doing some construction at the home of the previous owner of the nightclub, the owner told him she thought he and Maggie would do a great job running The Music Hall.

“She admires Ed’s craftsmanship and his work ethic,” says Maggie.

Two months later, Ed and Maggie had their first show, called 12 Bars, and it sold out.

They are grateful and want to build The Music Hall into a place people can come, take in a show and have a night on the town.

“We’d like to think of this place as Durham Region’s ‘Cheers’,” says Ed, referring to the 1980s TV show about a popular bar where friends gathered and “everybody knows your name”.