By John Swartz
One week from now the Roots North Music Festival happens. Things start Thursday night with Craig Mainprize doing his best Alex Trebek impression at the Hog N’ Penny for trivia night. He‘ll be asking questions related to Roots North’s past festivals.
Friday night all the action happens at St. Paul’s Centre at 7 p.m. David Gillis’s little girl, Ariana Gillis, opens the show. I remember her from a Mariposa Audition concert many years ago, with, if my memory is any good, pink and blondish hair. She’s not so little anymore and has some big fans, like Bernie Taupin. Rose Cousins plays the middle and Ron Sexsmith headlines the night
Saturday night, our own Steve and Marnie Van Kessel, VK, open with Alysha Brilla, and the Weather Station following. This is going to be great – both nights. The last two festival main stages have been outstanding in our newest concert venue and I expect the same this year.
As with past years, the art market at St. Paul’s opens at 6 p.m. each night, so you have an hour before the show to warm up your brain.
Now the bad news, tickets for both nights at St. Paul’s are sold out. Not to worry, there’s plenty to enjoy at other venues after the main stage shows are done. Skye Wallace, at the Brownstone, will be the show to catch. How do I know? I’ve only seen her 5 times here in Orillia and each time she’s put on better performances. You could say I’m a fan. Jamie Drake, also no slouch, will be at the Hog N’ Penny.
On Saturday night Lost Cousins are at the Brownstone and Zachary Lucky is at Brewery Bay. If you are undecided, see Zach, he’s a great performer, mostly country tunes, and his star is rising.
On Saturday Caleb Kearey-Moreland is at the Orillia Public Library for a 9 a.m. show, Jakob Pearce will be at Alleycats at 11 a.m. – Michael Martyn is in at 1:30 p.m., Alex Andrews will be at Mark IV Brothers at noon, Kirty will be at Bakes By the Lake at 1 p.m.
Darrin Davis is at Tre Sorelle at 11:30 a.m. He was supposed to be at Electic Café, but the new eating spot isn’t ready yet, so Melanie Robinson is taking herself – as the 4th sister – and Darin down the street. Sam & The Man are at Apple Annie’s at 2 p.m., the Jennie Davis Trio is at Harold and Ferne The Local Goods Store at 2:30 and Geoff Booth hosts an acoustic jam at the Hog N’ Penny at 3 p.m.
Skye Wallace will be here during the week for song writing workshops with the guitar class at Orillia Secondary School. The festival also needs some volunteers, you can apply to help out here.
Art Is Not Just a Guy’s Name
The Orillia Museum of Art and History has a busy week after this one expires. The Mariposa Gala at Lakehead University is Apr. 27 at 7 p.m. VIP tickets get you in at 6 for an artist talk with Tony Bianco, an extra wine pairing, food by Tre Sorelle – and a chance to win a two hour performance by the Will Davis Trio wherever you choose.
The annual Carmichael History Lecture happens May 8. Robert Browne is going to talk about father-in-law’s (Emmanuel Hahn) Bluenose and Caribou coins, and Tony Bianco has designed so many coins for the mint he has trouble sneaking up on people with all that jingling happening.
There are new exhibits – Mnjikaning: Mapping the Life of the Gaudaurs, Styling Orillia: A Look Back at Our Fashionable Past, and Playful Banquet: An Anthropomorphic Apocalyptic Fest by Scott Sawtell – and OMAH is having opening receptions for all three Apr. 25 at 7 p.m.
Last Sunday’s Mariposa Folk Festival audition concert at the Mariposa Inn caused me to miss the snowfall, Darn. On the other hand there was a lot of good music to be enjoyed.
I think the choice for the three invites to the summer festival were kind of obvious, mainly because my picks made the cut, but there were a number of close calls as well.
The judges took a bit more time than usual weighing in, and in the end they broke with precedent and said there was a tie , meaning 4 acts made it to the show.
They are: The Conner Brothers – their brand of bar room, East Coast influenced music is the perfect kind of thing for the pub where audition winners typically play at the festival; The Doozies – who had a sizeable contingent of Oshawa friends and family on hand to cheer them on, played very well, and did up tempo tunes – without a drummer, but we’ll let that pass; Deeps – which is front man Steve De Piante’s stage name, had a great band wrapped around him; and James Gray sang really well and his performance from the moment he took the stage to leaving was probably the best of the afternoon.
I’m not so sure Gray’s, ‘I’m really nervous,’ attitude was genuine. Several times I was reminded of how Andy Kaufman used to fake nervousness on stage. On that count he put together the best script for a 15 minute performance.
The first act, Veranda Music seemed like they had a good shot at an invite and I think were crowd favourites with three acts still to go. Red Fox is another band that probably would have received an invite any other year because they had a really solid set and used a banjo, fiddle and mandolin, which are pretty much what you want for a folk festival.
Sara Rose was also very good, she accompanied herself with guitar to , and had a fellow playing a djembe. Every drummer in the room was hitting him up after their set wondering how he got all the different sounds out of the drum, including a snare drum sound. His secret was a snare attachment mounted inside against the drum head.
* Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School students are putting the finishing touches on their play, High School Musi-pocalypse. It runs April 25 and 26 at the school. It’s a comedy/parody of High School Musical. The 40 students involved, and staff keeping an eye on them, have taken to calling it their mini-musical because PF has been known to do a ‘cast of thousands, full-blown musical’ in the past, but this one only has a couple songs in it. Tickets are $10, $5 for students and seniors and you can order yours by calling the school, 705-325-9372.
* Lee Contemporary is holding an auction Saturday. Gallery owner, Tanya Cunnington’s mother (Annie Kmyta Cunnington), has cancer and it’s a fundraiser to help with the costs of getting her relocated from the north to here where treatment is available. There will be 7 pieces in the auction, 3 by Tanya, 3 by Bewabon Shilling and one by Jill Price, Bidding starts at $100, but the pieces are originally priced at a lot more. Find out more here. The gallery will be closed for a few weeks while Tanya helps her mother out, and reopen May 16 with an exhibit of Wes Trinier’s work. Yup, Wes Trinier. The Orillia Fine Arts Association is prepping for an exhibit end of May featuring post cards. It’s a fundraiser for Mariposa House Hospice with all proceeds to that project. The exhibition will be at Peter Street Fine Arts with the opening reception June 1 at 1 p.m. Get more info here. Hibernation Arts has Myna Wallin and Dorothy Sjoholm in for their Wordsmiths Poetry Reading Apr. 28 at 1 p.m. and May’s art theme is Abstractly Thinking. Peter Street Fine Art’s featured guest artist for the balance of the month is Lyndell Oldfield.
* The June 8 Leacock Medal dinner tickets are on sale now at the museum. These always sell out and are $75. June 7 is the meet the authors night at the Mariposa Inn and tickets are $20. You have to go to the museum to get tickets. New this year, Drew Hayden Taylor has been appointed the new Mayor of Mariposa. I hear he’s not satisfied just being mayor and may be adding to it. Also, the Conner Poetry Prize submission period ends Apr. 30. The latest is, submissions are up considerably in all categories this year. Top prizes in the adult, student and elementary categories are $750, $200 and $75. Get entry details here.
* There are still tickets available for Lance Anderson, with Russ Boswell and Quisha Wint, at St. Paul’s Center May 3. It’s a fundraiser for the Orillia Youth Centre’s Valis Sound Studio project and the Nelson Bell bursary. Get tickets ($150) at Alleycats Music or online.
* Cottage Countrycon is back for another year. It happens May 19 at the Mariposa Inn. This year’s headliner is Jim Shooter, who began writing for DC Comics at the age of 14, and eventually became editor in chief at Marvel Comics. Recently added to the lineup are Phil Oritz (Simpsons and He-Man), Mike Decarlo, Leonard Kirk and there will be an all day Dungeons and Dragons tournament. Get tickets here.
* Coming up… Lake Country Grill has Steph Dunn in Apr. 17; Daryl Alvaro Apr. 24 and Charlotte and the Dirty Cowboys Apr.26… the Opera House has a weekly film festival featuring the the last car chase movies of the series the French Connection Apr. 23; the last Orillia Concert Association event of their season is May 5 with Kerry Stratton and the Toronto Concert Orchestra; Matt Andersen is in May 8… the St. David choir, with Brent Mayhew conducting, are doing the cantata Body of Christ by contemporary American composer Pepper Choplin on Apr. 20 at 4 p.m. at St. David Anglican Church.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) James Gray’s mom couldn’t be in Orillia for his big moment at the Mariposa Folk Festival audition concert last Sunday – so he took a picture of the audience for her.
CORRECTION: OMAH’s Carmichael History Lecture date is May 8, not May 3.