A new live music venue is now open in downtown Peterborough.
A joint venture of Retro’s eSports Bar owner Andrew Warman, musician Chase Wilson, and Kristen Kerr, Simcoe Ptbo held its soft opening last Saturday (March 2).
Located at 172 Simcoe Street in downtown Peterborough, just beside the Peterborough Transit Terminal and across the street from Home Hardware, Simcoe Ptbo is heralded as “Peterborough’s live spot for punk, metal, hard-core rock, and everything in between”.
Wilson is the bassist for the Peterborough skate/punk band Bonnavilles.
VIDEO: Soft opening of Simcoe Ptbo featuring Bonnavilles
In an interview with Lyss England for her Nothing Exists Radio Hour (broadcast on community radio Northumberland 89.7 FM and available as a podcast), Wilson says the motivation for opening a live music venue in Peterborough is to support alternative music, especially following the closure of The Spill.
“The Spill was an iconic bar in town,” Wilson says in the interview. “Everybody knew it. Any up-and-coming band from this area played there, started there. When we lost that, the music scene died a little bit.”
In addition to The Spill, several other live music venues have closed recently in downtown Peterborough, including The Pig’s Ear Tavern, Catalina’s, and The Dobro.
While the owners of Simcoe Ptbo don’t expect to replace The Spill, they want to fill the gap that currently exists in the local music community, particularly for bands that can’t get gigs at other local venues. They say they want to create a steampunk and speakeasy “back alley bar” vibe, and eventually rent rehearsal space during the week.
For their March 2nd soft opening, Wilson’s band Bonnavilles performed to celebrate the release of their debut EP Back alleys & Bar stools, along with bands The Corporate Life, The Mad Murdocks, Nothing Serious, The Filthy Radicals, and more.
There are already additional live music events booked for Simcoe Ptbo, including The Anti-Queens (with The World Famous Tallboys, Fallen Legion, and Antixx) on March 16th, Jesse Stewart (with Johnny Nocash & the Celtic Outlaws) on March 27th, and Heart Attack Kids (with No Big Deal) on April 5th.
Andrew Warman and his wife Michelle opened Retro’s eSports Bar as a space for gamers in 2017, after renovating the second-floor space. Wilson and Kerr came up with the idea of a live music venue and Warman approached them about using the space at 172 Simcoe Street.
Wilson tells kawarthaNOW that Simcoe Ptbo, as a division of Retro’s eSports, will still host select nights for E-sports. He says that, to start, Simcoe Ptbo will be open on weekends (Fridays and Saturdays) and on select weekdays.
They will also be offering open mic nights every other Tuesday.
The history of 172 Simcoe Street
Prior to becoming Retro’s eSports Bar, the building was occupied by The Oxford Parlour & Patio (2016), The Whiskey Club (2013), and Club one7two (2010). Previously, it was occupied by The Purple Rooster and Second Floor Lounge for almost 20 years.
Before becoming a live music venue, 172 Simcoe Street was a popular hotel. In 1885, it was known as the Canadian Pacific Railway Hotel, then the Oxford Hotel in the early 1900s, and then the King George Hotel.
By 1967 it was known as the King George Tavern, and it’s where Canadian country-folk icon Stompin’ Tom Connors, who had a habit of stomping the heel of his left boot to keep rhythm, picked up his nickname.
On July 1, 1967 (Canada’s 100th birthday), Connors was going on stage at King George Tavern when waiter Boyd MacDonald introduced him as “Stompin’ Tom”, a name that Connors enthusiastically adopted.
This story has been updated with additional information to clarify the ownership and background of Simcoe Ptbo (thanks to Sky Madison Lisette).