Introducing, John Eaton, a community member of Collingwood, radio station manager, on-air personality, and local musician.
Originally from Scarborough, Ontario, John moved to Collingwood, Ontario in the year 2000 to take on the role of the general manager at local radio station CKCB 95.1 The Peak FM. For the past ten years, John has been hosting the 95.1 The Peak FM "Talk of the Town " morning show with Melanie Case. In this show, they regularly interview and promote community events, including ones being held and hosted by Side Launch Brewing.
In addition to this, he has continuously kept a side hustle playing in local bands. John has been playing in bands since he was just 16 years old and to this day, it is still one of his passions.
Eventually, this led him to start his very own band in the community of Collingwood called Strange Potatoes.
“When I moved here, I very quickly found out that Collingwood was teeming with incredibly talented people,” John said. “So I kind of weaselled my way into the music community and started a band with a guy named Derek McLean and another guy John Miller, called Strange Potatoes,” he added.
The band always had one mission — to simply play the songs that the people in the room wanted to hear. “We decided that it was more important to play the songs they wanted to hear, over the fact that whether we knew how to play them or not,” John said. “The guys are amazing improvisers and we managed to fake our way through songs and realize that was sort of our thing,” he added. To this day, it is still their thing.
You can find Strange Potatoes playing in many different places throughout the community, including weddings, corporate events, festivals, conventions and of course, at Side Launch Brewing.
Not only does John play for Strange Potatoes, but he also plays guitar, bass, and mandolin, as well as, contributes vocals for another band called Shipyard Kitchen Party. This band is focused on original music and live theatre. The community and local organizations like Meaford Hall, Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts, and Theatre Collingwood have been incredibly supportive of it.
According to John, Side Launch Brewing has sort of become the unofficial headquarters for his own band, Strange Potatoes. The band typically plays at the brewery every other Sunday from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. So if you’re looking to hear some of John’s tunes, this is a good time to go.
John said that Side Launch has become a place to chill, play some music, learn new songs and interact with the audience. He added that the brewery has also become a wonderful home for his band’s fan base and he loves to see both the familiar faces and new ones.
Both Side Launch Brewing and Strange Potatoes love to support one another and be actively involved in the community.
Not only has Side Launch Brewing’s taproom become a great place to sip on a pint, but it has also become a place for the community to come together. Whether it be a non-profit event or a local birthday party celebration, you can find all sorts of gatherings happening here.
Even John enjoyed his 60th birthday party celebration in this taproom, (thanks to a little help from his wife!)
John was quick to express how thankful he was for the brewery's generosity and friendliness. Whether it be sending him home with a complimentary beer to taste test or always greeting him with a welcoming attitude, this brewery and its workers, have made an ever-lasting impression.
Some of his favourite beers out there have become the ones that Side Launch Brewing makes and John emphasized that there is nothing like tasting a beer out of a glass from Side Launch’s taproom. With the exact temperatures they need to be at, in the brewery setting, the taste will always be even that much better, according to John.
In John’s opinion, what makes Side Launch Brewing so unique is that they have such a connection to the community. From the communal meeting spot to enjoy a pint to embracing the history of Collingwood, the efforts that Side Launch has put into being a part of this tight-knit community have not gone unnoticed.
“There's that camaraderie of people that have built a community inside of Side Launch itself,” John said. Whether it be older folks who are very involved in the community or younger folks raising families, the brewery is a hangout for all.
One particular event that people have been loving to come together for is the brewery's special trivia nights — which are also hosted by John. Side Launch’s Trivia nights occur every other Thursday and according to John, there’s always a wonderful regular crowd that’s amazingly fun. “They regularly fill the place with reservations,” he added.
Lastly, John noted that all of the staff at Side Launch Brewing are fun, friendly and nice. Whether they are helping you pick out a beer or helping you pick out merchandise, the workers are always eager to help and answer any questions you may have.
If John were to describe the town of Collingwood in one word, it would be vibrant. “You know, it has been a retirement destination for some time — but what is happening now is there is a whole younger wave of family age, people moving in, and it is it's giving us a whole new vibe,” John said. “The retirees that move in are active and they participate and support,” he added.
Collingwood has become truly an amazing vibrant community for all ages. The beautiful town and its local hangouts, like Side Launch Brewing, are a place that John Eaton and many others like to call home.