This week in Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Feb. 7, 2019

There’s a lot happening this weekend, but one event you have to consider including Saturday is the 8th annual Gospel and Blues concert at St. Paul’s Centre.

This is not folks getting head start on Sunday morning, but one of Mariposa Folk Festival’s off season concerts. There’s nothing off about it. Lance Anderson has been stickhandling it from the beginning, name on the marquee, putting the band together and the set list. It’s hard to believe it’s been 8 years and one wonders if Lance thought it would have a life of its own.

“No, not at all. We started it at the legion and thought maybe get 150 people in there. Now it’s twice the size of that,” said Lance.

Lance doesn’t have to make many calls to get players, the gig is sought after by musicians. though sometimes someone wants to do the show but the stars don’t line up.

“One artist I wanted to get is in Japan and couldn’t do it. At this point people are calling me to be a part of it. Word is spreading around. It’s Mariposa, they promote it properly. It’s always been sold out, so you can’t complain about attendance,” said Lance.

This year he’s got a great line up of musicians. Harrison Kennedy is back for the second time. He was last here 4 years ago and thoroughly knocked the audience dead. He’s up for a Blues Music Award (formerly the W. C. Handy Awards) in the Acoustic Artist category.

“He’s a national star. He plays all over the world. In my mind he’s the greatest blues singer Canada has,” said Lance.

Side tracking for a second to also mention Mariposa artists also nominated for that award: Larkin Poe (festival headliner last year) is up for Band of the Year; Sue Foley is up for Traditional Blues Female Artist and her song, The Ice Queen, is up for Song of the Year.

Lance is really please Harrison was also nominated for a Maple Blues Male Vocalist of the Year award. Those happened on Monday and Colin James won, he cleaned up with 4 awards, but somehow lost best guitarist to Sue Foley.

Michelle White from Lance’s Matchedash Parish project is part of the Gospel and Blues show. He’s also got Gary Craig of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings in to play drums, Dennis Pendrith (Bruce Cockburn, David Wilcox, Murray Mclaughlin) on bass, and Jesse Whitely (Ken’s son) on piano.

Matchedash is taking on a life of its own. Lance has already had his crew out for other gigs, and will be playing the Kitchener blues festival with the Matchedash show, another show based on Woodstock, and the Gospel and Blues show.

“Last year we took it (Gospel and Blues) to another folk society thing. We put the show together and it’s kind of a waste it’s only one night,” said Lance.

The are only a dozen tickets left, so get them online, or call the Mariposa office at 705-326-3655.

After the gig, Lance has to start packing to go to Panama where he is going to be at the Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival. He’s been the co-executive producer of the festival for 5 years. It’s a terrible gig really.

“I know, they had to ask me twice,” laughed Lance. It’s a shame he has to give up some of our wonderful winter weather for that.

Then he’ll be at Peter’s Players in Gravenhurst with his Mad Dogs and Englishmen shows (with Matt Weidinger and Chuck Jackson) March 30. The evening show is sold out, but there are tickets for the afternoon show available. 

He started the week at the Maple Blues awards where he wasn’t nominated (8 times he’s been on the list, with a win) but he was a member of the house band for the awards. He put a clip up of his moment of glory.

“We’re putting out a Matchedash Parish record this spring, so hopefully next year I’ll get a nomination for that,” said Lance.

Get those tickets, it’s probably the only way to see Lance with the kind of schedule he’s keeping.

Ahead for Mariposa, tickets go on sale Monday for their next concert with Betty and the Bobs (who performed at the first concert back in Orillia) March 30 and the annual audition concert is April 14th (bands wanting to land a spot have until Feb. 18 to apply online).

Something To Think About

*  So The Huronia Cultural Campus, now called the Orillia Centre for Arts+Culture, had a play last Saturday night at St. Paul’s Centre. It was Drew Hayden Taylor’s Cottagers and Indians, with Billy Merasty and Carmen Grant.

Based on a true story, it’s about a war of wills between an old Indian trying to reclaim something from his past and a cottager who won’t have any of it. He’s planting wild rice in the lake, a lot by the sound of it, and she thinks he’s ruining the boating and swimming she’s been coming north for all her life.

Drew is pretty good at using humour to make a point about relations between Indians and the rest of us, – and among themselves in other works.  In this he has capably used our cottager to stand in for the compendium of ways we have regarded First Nation culture and its conflicts with ‘the way things should be.’

I wrestled with how to review the play. There are a number of angles to do so. I kept coming back to my lifelong experiences, how relationships were decades ago in the place I grew up against how things are today here in Orillia and Rama.

I know it’s not rosy, it’s slowly getting there, but it sure is different from another place and time. I suppose a younger person might not get that our female character existed, still exists, in light of how our two communities co-operate on a number of things. I don’t for a minute think it’s the same everywhere, Rama is probably the most prosperous band in Ontario, if not Canada and that does have an effect.

For many of our friends, they grew up next door to a modern society, racing toward, what? More? Prosperity? Disaster? Their living conditions were not a concern to us in a material or humanitarian sense. While Indians may not have had much, and in most places still do not, I have come to learn their sense of place in the world is vastly more insightful. I don’t know I could say that if I hadn’t come to the shores of Lake Couchiching and met so many people from across the way.

Here in Orillia, it looks like our friends in Rama have “gotten with the program’ as the sentiment is expressed in the play, which of course is a boiled down viewpoint I’ve heard many times from some of less well enlightened ‘cottagers’ who think First Nations should just quit fighting against the forces of modern society as defined by us.

I don’t know if, as a group, we are capable of understanding how our friends think about life, nature and relationships. There are some individuals who do, but I think most Indians get us a lot more than we get them.

I think that’s the point of the play. In the end both sides are more determined to stick to their guns without a resolution to the specific conflict in the play. Though, while Grant’s character is heading down the, ‘I’m going to get what I want,’ path, Merasty’s is forging ahead, rolling with the tide of opposition, to find a way to reintroduce a long forgotten tradition, slowly and steady, but with a better sense of honour and respect to his past and his opponent.

In short, he can’t see why she can’t see the error of her ways, she can’t see why he won’t get with the program. It’s like we develop our attitudes as taken form the corporate/political board room, while our friends take theirs from a seat in a canoe on a lake or river, it’s going to be hard to find the middle.

OCAC manager, Michael Martin, said it best after the play when he remarked how dialogue (between the characters, between the stage and audience) has a way of changing attitudes. I think he’s right. More people could see this play (and others) to get a sense of the core issues (you can at the Tarragon Theater in Toronto), more people could take part in the cultural events like OCAC has produced, or go to Pow Wows, etc., or we could just talk with each other.

The Shorts

*  MAT is opening The Diary of Anne Frank Thursday night. It’s an adaptation by Wendy Kesselman of the original 1995 production written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Get tickets at the Opera House box office. MAT also has a movie night at the Galaxy Feb. 6 with the Japanese movie, Shoplifters; Feb. 20 they have A Private War scheduled.

*  The Geneva Event Centre has Yuk Yuk’s, with featured comics Rob Bebenek with Nigel Grinstead and Bryan Hatt on Feb. 9. Get tickets ($25) at or

*  Some Twin Lakes Secondary School students are headed to Clyde River, Nunavut for an exchange program. To raise some funds a concert is happening Feb. 21 at St. Paul’s Centre with David Newland. Yes his Northwest Passage in Story and Song is coming back. I saw it a year ago and it’s a really good program. Also on the menu is Sarah Vurma (host), Uncharted Waters (Saskia Tompkins, Steafan Hannigan, Sam Allison) and Inuit performers  Siqiniup Qilauta Sunsdrum. Get tickets at the Opera House box office, 705-326-8011.

*  The Orillia Silver Band is having an almost Valentine’s concert, Falling in Love, Feb. 16 at St. Paul’s Centre. They’re going to do My Fair Lady, Daydream Believer, The Marriage of Figaro, I Don’t Know How to Love Him – are you seeing a pattern here? They also have George Harrison’s Something and Elton John’s Your Song prepped. Get tickets at the door or online

* Paul Brooks is lined up to play Rustica Feb. 14. He’s got Ed Bickert along for a gig on the 15th at the Hog N’ Penny; Olivia Duck, Jakob Pearce and Hobo Jam are playing Friday night; McGinnis and Marshall are in Friday night.  

*  The Orillia Museum of Art & History has their OMAH @ 20 anniversary exhibit up. You can also see My World, My Eyes, My Voice, the annual student art show and the Legacy Landscapes: Couchiching Conservancy 25th Anniversary show.  They will be opening the annual International Women’s Day Art Show Feb. 16 at 1 p.m.

*  Coming up… The Brownstone Cafe has Evan Leblanc in Feb. 6; the Sean Patrick Trio with The Oldest Man I Know opening and Frankie & Jimmy are in Feb. 9… Lake Country Grill has Chris Lemay in Feb. 6; Steph Dunn is in Feb. 13… the Orillia Opera House has a Feb. 22 performance of the Vagina Monologues, a fundraiser for Green Haven Shelter for Women; get tickets here … St. Paul’s has an incredible concert with Blair Bailey, Jacquie Dancyger Arnold, Michael Jones, Ross Love, Lidwien Wesselingh and Doreen Uren Simmons on their restored Steinway concert grand piano (not all at the same time) Feb. 23 at 2 p.m.

(Photo by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Lance Anderson at the 2018 Mariposa Folk Festival


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