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Almost 90 years, one address, thousands of memories at downtown music hall

'When I lived in Collingwood, Barrie was the place to be,' says Kim Mitchell. 'Meeting up my buds from Midland and Penetang and we’d all gather up in the balcony to watch a band. I have a lot of history here and the venue itself has a ton of history'

Ever since the ground broke at the Dunlop Street site in 1931, the iconic building that has stood for 89 years has always been known for ground-breaking events.

Whether you’ve been to Mavricks Music Hall, The Roxy, Sound Empire or The Roxx, or even remember seeing movies at the former Roxy Theatre, you’ve likely never really looked around the nearly untouched building that has been a go-to for many party-goers.

Some of the best features of the building, located in downtown Barrie at 46 Dunlop St. W., are hand-sculpted trim that surround sections of the building, held together not just by plaster but also horse-hair, which adds strength to it.

The domed ceiling is still there from the original design of the building and hidden in a special closet is what's believed to be the second largest disco ball in Canada. 

Current management took over the venue in August 2016 and renamed it Mavricks Music Hall, specializing in concerts and other live events. They host many fundraisers, regularly bring in many well-known names in the music business (both current and from bygone eras), and even hosted a political rally during last year's federal election.

From 1988 to 2012, the building was The Roxx nightclub and known for its all-ages events as well as regular bar nights. It was a must for anyone looking to party either north of Toronto or to get away from the small town bars surrounding Barrie.  

Canadian rock legend Kim Mitchell told BarrieToday that he doesn’t just recall looking int the crowd and shouting out his music, but also fondly reminisces about making the trek to downtown Barrie with friends to watch shows as a fan.

“When I lived in Collingwood, Barrie was the place to be,” says Mitchell. “Meeting up my buds from Midland and Penetang and we’d all gather up in the balcony to watch a band. I have a lot of history here and the venue itself has a ton of history."  

One of the most interesting bits of history from the Roxy Theatre days is Mitchell’s former band, Max Webster, playing a highly talked about set.

The band played two shows on April 19, 1980 that were filmed for a May 10 simulcast. It was broadcast on CITY-TV's The New Music and also heard on CHUM-FM. Ten songs were seen/heard, and the footage has been widely circulated since its airing.

One of the Toronto band’s big hits, Check, was performed mostly as an instrumental, as the lyrics hadn't yet been worked out.

Mitchell, who was the band’s guitarist lead singer, says he remembers the show well. 

“I get reminded of it often, because someone always sees it for the first time and reminds me,” he says. “That was a good variant of Max Webster and a really cool show.

“The other thing I always remember about the venue is the sound, as it's one of the best places to play as a band just because of the way the sound bounces around the room.” adds the Sarnia native.  

Other big names that have graced the Dunlop Street venue's stage include The Headstones, Trooper, Our Lady Peace, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Aaron Pritchett, Method Man and even one of rap music’s legendary record spinners made frequent stops. For several years, DJ Jazzy Jeff hosted a Halloween show called A Nightmare on Dunlop Street. 

As the 2020 live events calendar starts to take shape, present-day Mavricks is getting ready for another slate of shows. Country star Tebey performs on Feb. 1, while the world’s only officially sanctioned Metallica cover band, Sandman, will rock the stage on Feb. 15. 

For more information on upcoming events, check out Mavricks at their website or their Facebook page.

Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based in Barrie
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