By Perry Lefko

The Rock and Bowl sessions at Classic Bowl in Mississauga are growing in popularity because they are intimate and interactive and raise money for charity.

Due to its popularity, what began in January 2017 with four shows has now expanded to six. The acts play inside the lounge at Classic Bowl the last Sunday of every month from the end of October to the end of April, excluding December. Only 100 tickets at $20 apiece are sold and there are items sold from a silent auction. There is also a bucket that is passed around for fans to make donations. All the money raised from each show goes toward the acts’ charity of choice.

Three members of the Quebec group, The Box, open the series Oct. 28 and proceeds from the show benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.

The November show includes three members of Harlequin. The other acts include all or partial members of Rational Youth, Prism and Images In Vogue. A surprise guest ends the series.

Classic Bowl general manager Ed Sousa says there are several reasons why the series has expanded.

“It’s an intimate setting where there’s only 100 people permitted per show and the second reason is it’s interactive so the fans, which are really the true fans of the band, get an opportunity to ask questions,” he said. “The fans really connect with their favourite band and another reason is they are helping charities simultaneously. It becomes a win-win for everybody. The artists really like it because it’s an intimate setting and they are helping their charity of choice.”

Sousa said Classic Bowl, which pays the artists a fee, benefits because it is a way to give back to the community.

“I think it’s our duty and responsibility as a community business leader to really give back,” he said. “We want to make sure our local community really understands we’re not just here to take their money and run. We want to reinvest in the community. We want to make sure we are able to assist others in need. We really couldn’t pay for that type of goodwill. We want to make sure we think outside of the box, which is by creating campaigns that really create goodwill within the community. That’s how we feel our company benefits.”

Sousa, who happens to an expert in 80s music and has become a good friend of Mike Score, A Flock Of Seagulls lead singer, said the bands he books aren’t strictly Canadian. He has more bands than dates to fill, which is further evidence of the series’ popularity.

The series is independent from McBowl, which Sousa developed several years ago. All the proceeds from that, which include a concert inside Classic Bowl, go to Ronald McDonald House Charities in Toronto. A professional stage and lighting rented from Metalworks Studios in Mississauga is set across several lanes that combine to make the bowling centre a unique setting for an event that attracts up to 1,500 patrons. The 2019 event is May 25. The band lineup will be announced Feb. 1.

McBowl runs daily through the entire month of May and funds are raised through a myriad of ways, some of which include apparel sales, donations and a silent auction. The month-long series has expanded from Classic Bowl to bowling centres across Canada and the United States.