Hello, friends. As we approach the latter part of 2021, Eric and I have some changes to relay to the supporters of Ottawa Showbox.
Obviously, these past 19 months have been filled with upheaval and adaptation to the way we do things. The changing landscape has forced us all to re-evaluate our commitments and priorities, particularly in the realm of live music.
After a summer hiatus, Eric and I have decided to shut down the music journalism side of Ottawa Showbox permanently. This is a difficult reality to come to terms with, as the music coverage we have provided has not only been the backbone of our organization, but it is the reason we connected with so many people who became close friends. With that in mind, letting go of the website is a heavy decision to have to make.
For nine years, Showbox has adapted and morphed into something greater than its previous iterations.
I started the website in 2012 as a solo music blog and creative outlet. With the local Xpress no longer in operation, there were fewer and fewer avenues for local bands to get coverage in Ottawa. My thought was that for a scene to thrive, doors need to open for musicians to connect with the public, not close. I thought I could do my little part by providing coverage and insights into their music and live shows.
With that purpose in mind, I started going to more shows, interviewing more bands, and becoming more ingrained in the music scene here in town.
Eric Scharf enthusiastically came on board in 2013, and helped me to bring coverage to another level. He was unstoppable in those first few years, incessantly nailing out hundreds of reviews, interviews, and new music pieces in a relatively short time frame. We both continued to use our free time to write about bands locally, many of whom had never been covered or written about before.
Joe Mathieu, Eric’s long-time friend, also joined us for a time, and brought his superior editorial skills and his untethered imagination to our team. With photographers like Els, Ev, and Aidan joining Showbox in the latter years, our coverage expanded to new heights and our readership broadened.
This whole period was full of growth as we realized we were really doing something impactful—not only for the community, but for ourselves as well. We covered countless shows, not to mention festivals. Our team would hit the big stages at Bluesfest and CityFolk, as well as smaller stages at Arboretum Festival, Ottawa Explosion, Megaphono, House of PainT, and many more.
We started putting on our own shows at Mugshots in 2015, and promoted gigs with bands from all over at venues all across the city. Some of those venues like Raw Sugar, Mugshots, and Pressed are no longer around, but are affectionately burned into our memories. Promoting shows allowed us to help out bands in a different way, and it reinvigorated us every time we got to do it.
Once 2019 rolled around, we were presented with an opportunity to work with Algonquin College’s School of Media and Design as a platform for students. It seemed like a perfect fit, not only because Eric was a graduate of Algonquin’s Journalism program, but also because it was way to help students get real-world journalism experience while simultaneously offering more coverage for local musicians on our Showbox platform.
2019 also presented us with another incredible opportunity to realize our dream of running shows at our own venue. Anthony Cardozo joined us to open up Cinqhole in September of that year to get the DIY venue running, and we couldn’t believe we were doing multiple events per week in our own space, on our own terms. We all felt incredibly privileged to collaborate with Black Squirrel Books to take over the General Assembly space that Bruno and Sothea nurtured for years before us.
While that venture was short-lived due to the prolonged March 2020 Covid-19 shutdown, it was truly a dream come true. We got to work with buds, together putting on some really fun events in a unique, one-of-a-kind space. It was an opportunity to utilize a space for art in a way that went beyond alcohol or ticket sales. It felt like the embodiment of the entire ethos of Showbox, which always put the music and art first.
With that chapter having come to a close, and with the ongoing pandemic changing all of our lives so drastically, it feels like the appropriate time to re-evaluate our commitments and priorities.
It is now time to pass the torch on to others, and allow new and fresh perspectives into the fray with respect to local music coverage. We never ran it as a for-profit venture, instead focused on supporting the community of musicians and music fans in Ottawa. With less free time to write and maintain a website, we cannot put 100% effort into maintaining coverage to the standard we would like. We will keep an archive of the articles we’ve written online for readers to access, although it likely won’t be hosted on the same servers.
While we won’t be supporting the Ottawa music community through written coverage anymore, Showbox itself will stay alive as a banner under which we’ll present shows again…one day. We will stay on hiatus until then, but you’ll hear from us when that day comes.
Eric and I will always find ways to support the Ottawa music scene. Whether it’s by promoting shows, helping the next local music journalists get started, or just attending a show for fun, live music will always be in our DNA. We love Ottawa music, and always will.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for all the support over the years. It means the world to us.
Matias & Eric