This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

What’s happening this weekend? What’s open (quick, to the beer store, do we still have those?), we need more hamburger, do I need a sweater, or shorts? Can I get a bus on Monday? (No.) Is it going to rain, or shine? This is what the Victoria Day weekend has become.

While the weather forecast looks good, don’t take any bets, they’ve been wrong every day for the last two weeks. Usually long holiday weekends don’t have any big events happening, but there are still several things to do this time around.

The 3rd annual Cottage Countrycon is happening at the Mariposa Inn Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s back to it’s original one day format.

Comic book authors and artists Jim Shooter, Mike DeCarlo and Leonard Kirk will be there. Shooter started writing as a 14-year-old at DC Comics, working on Legion of Super-Heroes and Superman, and eventually became editor-in-chief at Marvel Comics. DeCarlo drew comics for the Simpsons, Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs, Superman and Bugs Bunny. Kirk’s work can be found in Supergirl, Star Trek, Batman and Witchblade.

Shooter and DeCarlo will have a meet and greet at 2:30 p.m.

There will be several iconic cars on hand, including the Starsky and Hutch Gran Torino, the General Lee, Herbie and others. Many cosplay artists from Transformers to Star Wars will be there too.

Speaking of cosplay, there’s a contest happening at 3 p.m. Go here for the rules. There’s a seminar on creating cosplay characters at 11 a.m. At noon learn to create a podcast. Meet wrestler Greg Valentine at 1:30 p.m.

There are a number of ticket options, with general admission at $20.

Wes Trinier, Big Tree Big Wind
Who Knew?

Wes Trinier paints. It’s true. He has an exhibition opening Saturday at Lee Contemporary at 1 p.m. If your weekend is too packed, Big Tree, Big Wind will be up until June 8.

You might as well make it an art day Saturday, if it’s sunny the schmoozing on the street will be great, if it’s not, well, indoors is where the art is.

Hibernation Art has Abstractly Thinking up and Bling for Mother (work by Cheryl Sartor and Donna Howlett) up now. Peter Street Fine Art has Raune-lea Marshall as the featured artist for the month.

OMAH has Scott Sawtell’s Playful Banquet: An Anthropomorphic Apocalyptic Feast, Mnjikaning: Mapping the Life of the Gaudaurs, and Styling Orillia: A Look Back at Our Fashionable Past up at the moment. The monthly history speaker’s night May 15 is with Dr. Chris Decker who has a multi-media presentation about Glenn Gould.

The Orillia Fine Arts Association has an exhibition/fundraiser for Mariposa House Hospice happening at Peter Street Fine Arts with the opening reception June 1 at 1 p.m. Get more info about OFAA and getting your work in the show here.

Out On A High Note

Sunday afternoon’s Orillia Silver Band concert was another step up toward a perfect performance. At the level they are playing now, each step is harder to achieve. Think of it this way. Say you are running a long race and come in dead last. A year later you are in the middle of the pack, which takes s bit of work. Third time you are in the top ten, meaning tenth. That really took some dedication to achieve.

Now you begin to understand the effort it will take to get to 5th, which you do with much sweat, no donuts, and no beer. Each step from there, 4th, 3rd, etc. gets harder and harder because the difference among the runners at the top is very small. It can take months of training just to get to 4th, twice as many to get to 3rd – that’s if you don’t want to leave it to chance or a strong tailwind.

This is where the OSB is. I’ve heard and worked with some amazing brass ensembles and the OSB is on my list of the best I’ve heard.

Many large music ensembles program their events with an easy tune or two off the top so everyone can catch a stride with long notes, moderate tempos, lots of time to warm up the lips and listen to each other for blend and balance.

Not these folks. They started with Paul Lovett-Copper’s Horizons. It’s 8 bars of short note fanfare, 2 bars of retard and then the bottom drops out of the mass of the overall sound to the lower brass, followed by cornet solo flitting about on top. It was just an astonishing stamp to put on what that concert was going to be about.

They didn’t let up for the whole afternoon. The first half closer, Kevin Houben’s Lake of the Moon was a showcase kind of number. It had everything – slow, fast, loud, soft, breezy, rambunctious – a critical judge of performance could want to hear – unless it was sloppy, which it was not.

Three of the tunes, God Only Knows and Good Vibrations (Beach Boys) and Girl from Impanema were on the list because the concert was called OSB Goes to the Beach, of which the weather forecast punched all kinds of holes in that thought. Normally those kinds of translations to band or orchestra from rock and jazz go over like a lead balloon from my perspective. Too cheesy. They found some great sophisticated arrangements to play which gave the audience something new to listen to for style.

The second half started with a movement from Handel’s Water Music and then Malcolm Arnold’s Four Scottish Dances. This was just off the wall good. The players handle their responsibilities, staying in tune, blending with others in their section and balancing against the other sections. Most telling is how the band could alter their tone from brassy and brash to smooth and lush on the fly. Even more telling, I heard the tubas through the entire show. Good brass (and wind) ensembles build their sound from the bottom up (i.e. don’t play louder than the bass) which produces a full, rich sound. Too often those pesky little horns get to thinking they are the reason everyone came to hear the band and overplay, good on you guys for reigning it in.

Then we got to the comic relief part. Tuba player Simon Downey was magnificent on the Bass in the Ballroom. Such a great tone came out of the horn. And, he’s got a talent for acting, making his schtick seem not contrived.

Speaking of soloists, Sarah Hemeon carried a whole song in the first half and got out of it with only one misstep. I’ve heard Maynard flub some notes, and Sarah had about 564 notes more than Maynard ever played in one tune, so no one should worry she didn’t do well.

But Wait, There’s More

That was it for the OSB concert season. However, Thursday night they are part of a concert at the Salvation Army Church along with Brassworks and the Salvation Army Band at 7:30 p.m. The OSB will repeat Lake of the Moon and Good Vibrations.

Brian Mathias, formerly of Lisle, will sing, pianist Danny McErlain will play and all the bands will get together at the end with Robert Redhead conducting his Fanfare of Praise. The OSB will be playing the Sunday evening concert in the park July 14.

All the proceeds (admission is by donation) will go toward the Salvation Army’s projects in Mozambique and Malawi.

Time For Some Learnin’

Mariposa Arts Theatre has expanded their June offering. Educating Rita will be performed at their Brammer Drive rehearsal/workshop/now theatre building from May 23 to June 2. This Play and a Tart thing that ran a couple years for a back half of a week is now two weeks with a Sunday matinee.

Director Stacey Schat took the theme of the play, mentoring, to heart and has assembled a crew of people who are new to theater (or at least MAT), all women, and mentored in their work by MAT regulars. Get tickets at the Opera House box office.

The Shorts

Orillia Concert Band

*  The Orillia Concert Band has a concert May 25 at St. Paul’s Centre with guest Liz Anderson. She’s going to sing some Gord, some Bonnie Raitt, Etta James, Carole King and Suzie Vinnick tunes. Hugh Coleman is getting solo with the band, and they have stuff from The Wizard of Oz on the menu. Tickets are $15, $10 for students, $5 for elementary aged kids, free for the little ones, and a family 4 pack is $30 and you can get them at the door.

*  The Orillia Vocal Ensemble has a concert May 26 at St. Paul’s Centre at 3 p.m. As usual admission is by donation and proceeds from the concert are going to the youth center’s Valis Sound Studio project.

*  The Building Hope project has a fundraising concert happening May 31 at Casino Rama. The Country Gala features a speaker, Pat Nixon, photographer and author (Nowhere to Call Home) Leah Denbok will be there and Jason McCoy will have his band on hand for the country part of the evening. Tickets are $150 and cocktails start at 6 p.m.

*  Some Leacock stuff. Did you know Stevie was born 150 years ago? I guess most of us know when he was born, but didn’t think to do the math. The Leacock Museum has some workshops happening (June 1, reading for writers with J.M. Frey; June 8, selling your book with Josh Poitras; June 22 podcasting with Amanda Cupido) and they draw on Leacock’s work for examples of what still works. Each workshop is $25, or $60 for the works. Call 705-329-1908 or email to register. And, get tickets at the Museum for the annual Leacock Medal dinner June 8 and the meet the author night June 7, both at Mariposa Inn. Ali Bryan (The Figgs), Mark Critch (Son of a Critch) and Cathal Kelly (Boy Wonders) are in the running – from emcee Ian Ferguson and the Grand Chief of Mariposa (formerly Mayor of Mariposa) Drew Hayden Taylor.

*  The City is still looking for some artists to come up with a design for a couple pianos (one at the Port, one at Tudhope Park) that will be out for noodlers to entertain spuriously all summer. There is an honorarium of $500 for each. See the details for submission online.

*  Tickets are on sale now for the ShineBrite Festival at the Coldwater Arena. It happens June 8. The legion is operating the bar, the Lions Club of Coldwater is running a food concession, and there are 9 bands playing starting at noon. You can get tickets at TNT Fine Lingerie, or online.

*  All you creative types, keep June 19 open. The Cultural Roundtable, ODAC, The City and Ontario’s Arts Build are having a public forum at the Opera House from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. More on what it’s about later, but if you create art of any kind, it’s for you.

*  Coming up… Lake Country Grill has Steph Dunn in May 15… The Hog ‘N Penny has Jakob Pearce in Friday night; Olivia Duck and Hobo Jam play Saturday night… The Brownstone has an open mic jam every Tuesday evening; St. Arnaud with Katey Gatta play Wednesday May 15; Thursday night is Tech Night with DJ Subverse Tech; Leanne Hoffman and Kim Harris are in Friday night; the Rifle and the Writer are in Sunday; Lauren Mann is in Monday… Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School’s annual spring concert is May 23 at the school from 7 to 9 p.m.; get tickets at the school office. The Geneva has a Rush tribute band coming June 15 and Eric Gales July 13; get tickets here… The Kiwanis Music Festival’s Encore’s concert at the Opera House is May 21.

Rants & Raves

(Images Supplied) (Main Photo by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Cottage Countrycon is for kids like Mozaik and brother Jasper who were at the 2018 Cottage Countrycon.

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