When Ed Calls You Go

Ed Sousa, Founder of the McBowl Concert Series (Photo: Andrew Clowater)

When Ed Sousa planned a one-night charity concert for Ronald McDonald House at the Classic Bowl facility in Mississauga in May 2016, little did he realize that nine years later, McBowl would expand to three nights and would serve as the largest indoor music festival in North America. 

His seventh annual event (two years were lost to the COVID virus) is set to be executed Thursday May 23rd with a lineup featuring Images In Vogue, Harlequin and headliners Saga with Leah Marlene of American Idol, Lee Aaron, Streetheart and headliners Honeymoon Suite scheduled for Friday May 24th and concluding Saturday May 25th with The Spoons, Bowie Revisited (featuring two Box members; Daniel Volj and Francois Bruneau) plus from England; The Art Of Noise. Sandwiched between these dates is an appearance by former Triumph guitarist Rik Emmett at a pre-party event on Wednesday May 23rd. and the special surprise concert on Sunday May 26th in which the audience does not know which band is walking on stage until they appear.

The main McBowl Concerts is staged in the middle of the massive 60-lane bowling alley, staging by Gil Moore’s Metalworks sound and lights with the two bookend concerts to be staged in the adjacent Heineken Room which holds just 100 people creating a very intimate atmosphere between artist and audience.

Ed Sousa with China Crisis (Photo: Andrew Clowater)

“Yes, I can say it is the biggest indoor festival in North America,” noted event organizer and venue Promotions director Sousa. “Obviously there are limits to the number of people attending but it is staged in one of the biggest Bowling venues in North America which makes it unique, and we now sell tickets to every province in Canada (except Saskatchewan), to 19 U.S states plus Australia and Germany. Many of these patrons purchase their tickets well in advance and its word of mouth on social media which continues to boost attendance.”

The idea came to Sousa after a nephew Greg of his contracted leukemia at the age of 12 and ultimately passed away at the age of 17 on October 31st 1992. Sousa marvelled at the way his relatives were treated at McDonald House in Toronto and felt he should show his gratitude by staging a concert at the McBowl facility.

“It was just meant to be a one-off show with The Spoons and Honeymoon Suite, but it was such a success that we staged it again the following year with the same two bands.

Realizing he was on to something, Sousa added two more bands for the third year with Montreal’s The Box and England’s A Flock Of Seagulls added to the bill and by year four, McBowl was expanded to two nights and as of 2023 has gone to three nights plus the addition of the surprise concert which was The Box last year. So far the McBowl charity has raised more than half a million dollars.

Sousa is very supportive of the bands which continue to support his charity event with Honeymoon Suite headlining every single year and the likes of The Spoons, Images In Vogue, The Box, and Harlequin being repeat performers. 

Honeymoon Suite

Sousa makes no bones about booking bands he personally likes and his penchant for liking British techno-rock bands has allowed him to feature members of Spandau Ballet, XTC, ABC, When In Rome, Jesus Jones Midge Ure and China Crisis to the Classic Bowl venue and spin-off shows at the El Mocambo.

Sousa’s biggest accomplishment has been the relaunch of his all-time favourite British band. A Flock Of Seagulls are now performing regularly across North America thanks to his initial booking efforts. “When I was a kid, A Flock Of Seagulls was my favourite band and their first album in 1982 (which contained such hits as I Ran and Space Age Love Song) was and still is my favourite album.

Sousa not only booked A Flock Of Seagulls for his third show but also brought band leader Mike Score back to Mississauga for a special “Mother’s Day” concert Sunday May 8th 2017 with The Spoons performing their own set and then backing Score on five Flock Of Seagulls songs that were sent to them. “It was a free concert, to thank the Mothers who utilized Ronald McDonald House, people just paid a $5 donation at the door. And the band did such a great job backing Mike that Gord Deppe was recruited to be a regular member of Score’s touring band which now performs all over the world.”

Sousa travelled from the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal with his mother and four siblings. Settling in Brampton Ontario October 13 1974 (his father came over two years previously) and has worked at the Classic Bowl for the past 23 years.

Ed Sousa with Michael Williams, former MuchMusic VJ (Photo: Andrew Clowater)

He is noted for wearing a signature trilby hat which he claims makes him stand out in a crowd. “I was always into marketing” he claims, “So when people ask “Where’s Ed?” The response is always, “Look for the guy wearing a hat””. Sousa now boasts his own line of merchandise and it often outsells merch from visiting bands at his concerts.

Sousa’s Concert Bowl promotions grew to include an Intimate And Interactive Concert Series in the Heineken Room which allows artists and bands to perform stripped-down shows for a limited audience where they can interact with their audience, tell stories about how the songs were composed and answer questions from the attendees. “It’s like you are in a family room and these artists are your guests,” Sousa boasts, noting the likes of Live Aid co-founder Midge Ure, The Romantics’ Mike Skill, and China Crisis. A  slew of Canadian artists have also appeared in these concerts plus a series of Pop Up shows, set for the same facility which were introduced during COVID and have proven to be very popular.

Sousa’s popularity is about to be reciprocated with a special two-night “Sousapaloooza event staged at the El Mocambo Friday August 16th and Saturday August 17th with the likes of A Flock Of Seagulls, Midge Ure, Chalk Circle and The Spoons all set to honour Ed’s 60th birthday.

As excited as Sousa is about staging a series of concerts at The Classic Bowl and El Mocambo while helping to relaunch the careers of one of his favourite bands, Vancouver’ Strange Advance, Ed gets a special buzz about being able to present bands which he personally loves. “To listen to A Flock Of Seagulls when I was a kid and to now present them in concert is a special thrill,” he enthuses. “When I wake up in the morning, I feel blessed that I am in this business And to call these guys my friend.  and they are my best-selling vehicles when they go back home. I jokingly say: You are now my best-selling point and they do talk to their musician friends and tell them – When Ed calls you, just go.”

Tickets for McBowl can be obtained by contacting Ed directly at

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