This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Here’s what you do Friday. Go downtown, do a little shopping, and listen to three of the bands playing in the Mariposa Folk Festival on the weekend. The Connors Brothers, The Doozies and Deeps follow each other starting at 2 p.m. on a stage right there in the middle of Mississaga Street.

Saturday, repeat, but with different bands. The music starts at 11 a.m. with A Leverage for Mountains at 11 a.m. Our own VK and the Legends of the Deep are on at noon. From 1 p.m. on it’s The Lifers, E.T.E. and James Gray.

Here’s the next thing. As part of your tour planning service, I recommend taking the bus. Orillia Transit will get you downtown and home very nicely (despite what some pot stirrers say).

But, “I’m going to the festival afterward,” and taking the car seems like a good option. OK, got that covered too. The festival is running a shuttle bus from downtown to Tudhope Park between noon and 6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

And before you start with, “but do I have to walk home after the Mariposa pub closes?” Yes you do, I’ve seen some of you at the end of the night. Or, you can take the other shuttle bus the festival is running. They have a bus leaving from Lions Oval starting at 1 p.m. Friday (9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday) with a pickup at Brian Orser Arena, and returning regularly to 1:15 a.m.

I hear some of you north end types going, “but…” There’s also a shuttle running from the Foodland parking lot, (with a stop downtown at Matchedash and Mississaga) beginning at 3:30 p.m. Friday (10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday).

You can park your cars at those places, but only in the designated spots, so look for the signs or you’ll get at ticket – and not to the show, unless you call traffic court a show.

This is the 20th festival in a row here in Orillia, 23rd if you skip the middle 36 years. I had a front row seat when Don Evans, Tim Lauer and Gord Ball brought this crazy idea to Orillia council to rescue Mariposa. No one else seemed to want the festival in their city and audiences were hit or miss the previous few years.

The first festival came with free protein in the form of bugs. Those hanging out near the main stage, or trailer as it was then, know what I mean, those who were on stage definitely do. Gordon Lightfoot was the name the weekend rode on. The festival turned into a solid thing the first few years and has managed to grow ever since.

I remember there were more than a few folks who thought Mariposa was going to flop. I think those were the same people who told me in 1996 Wayne Newton would never come to Casino Rama to do a show. No community is complete without it’s pessimists, or without those who think big ideas.

Every year I try to write a little something about most of the acts appearing, but as time moved on, the task become bigger and impossible to give everyone even a sentence. Even trying to spread the wealth back then was hard because some unknown name got left out and those usually proved to be the ones I should have written about beforehand (remember Serena Ryder?).So check out the line up here for yourself.

The short take is, it doesn’t matter who is playing the festival, every year has been a goldmine of great music, you know the names are going to be good, and some of the others are going to cough up a performance or two that everyone will be talking about Monday morning.

If you haven’t got tickets yet you can still get them online. I spoke with Mariposa president, Pam Carter, just before publication and she said two things – tickets are selling better than last year, and you better hurry before the festival is sold out. Kids under 12 get in free when accompanied by an adult. Teens get a great deal, 26 bucks for the weekend.

That Was Something

Not all instances of any given art from are created equal. I’m no big fan of modern dance. Not the kind you’d see down at the club, but the kind the intellegencia raves over, put on in theaters.

It’s like ice skating, the Olympic kind – mostly infuriating. I swore off watching figure skating long ago (as my oldest and dearest friend – a fan of figure skating to this day will tell you) because of the disregard for the nuances of the music used to skate (or in this case dance) to drives me batty.

So I went to see Looking for Elvis and The Man in Black at the Opera House last Friday night with no high hope of being amazed by anything. Usually when I’m going to an event I’m not excited about I concentrate on the technical things, in this case, are the individual dancers good, do they exhibit some mastery of what they are doing, is their timing right with each other, are the costumes right or exceptional, does the set contribute to the program? Those kinds of things. I try to ignore what it is they are doing with, or to, the music because, well, I know it will drive me nuts otherwise.

Second segment into the Elvis set, about a minute into A Little Less Conversation, I’m starting to notice something. The dancers weren’t dancing to the music, per se, they weren’t even dancing with each other (all 7 of them), but they started to speed up their movements relative to the beat of the music. At a certain climatic musical point they had evolved from being grossly out of time to locked in – and some of them were doing the same moves, then more of them were.

Now they had my attention. What they did is bloody hard to do, unless of course, you have no sense of time and no two bones in your body working in sympathetic rhythm, you know, like those on the dance floor at a wedding, or the club at 10 p.m. before the alcohol kicks in.

A significant portion of the audio presentation was spoken word, Elvis from an interview. He was talking about what his life was like and one thing stuck with me; he said once you get famous you don’t have control of your life anymore. I think his exact words were, “your life is not your own.”

For once, the seeming chaos of the dancers was making sense, to me. I’d watch it again; probably pick up on some more detail as well.

The second part, the Man in Black, was at the opposite end of the spectrum. Four dancers actually performed dances average people could recognize; that the dance work resembled country western line dancing is immaterial. In fact, what they did was more conventional and allowed one to associate the music with the movement. All of the music was drawn from Johnny Cash’s American V: A Hundred Highways and American IV: The Man Comes Around albums.

The most powerful part was the last half of Hurt, which they performed as the second last tune of the program. The song by itself is an emotion jerking force of nature. The troupe got an enthusiastic standing ovation at the end of the night, but I think choreographer James Kudelka missed a tear the place apart, wildly cheering ending by not putting Hurt at the end of the set.

The Orillia Centre for Arts and Culture’s next event is Women in Opera: Then & Now on Aug. 17 at St. Paul’s Centre. Its three short pieces, two of them are new works. The main work is the complete Suor Angelica by Giacomo Puccini. Get tickets online.

Banner Day

The City had the ribbon cutting, so to speak, for the banners gracing poles on Mississaga Street Wednesday and the artist, Jieun June Kim, of Toronto, was on hand.

She said she saw a notice on the Mural Roots website and started doing research about the project and subject matter (Leacock Museum, Opera House, Biking, Downtown, and the Fish Weirs). As a fairly new Canadian, it was a learning experience.

Jieun June Kim

“I came down here in the town, walked around and did a little tour of Orillia. We did a lot of site seeing and saw some landmarks here. I did some of the landmarks in my work,” she said at the launch attended by the mayor and several councillors.

Her submission was selected from 5 entries by the Orillia Public Art Committee following a call for submissions to create 5 different banners. Kim was also selected to paint the piano at the Port of Orillia. Jessica Allen is painting the one to be placed in Tudhope Park.

The Shorts

*  Summer theater has started. See my review of the Opera House’s Where You Are here. Better still, go here, order you tickets, come back finish reading the column, then go read the review. Also at the Opera House, Duck Soup Productions has Annie every Tuesday at 7 p.m.; The Bee Gees Story plays one night July 9; Women Fully Clothed are back with Invisible July 20.

*  The Leacock Museum has a boat festival happening July 12 to 14. It’s all about vintage boats, and other things that float, particularly ones made in Orillia or nearby. There’s an opportunity for you to bring your old scow to Brewery Bay and participate. Contact Tom Rose at the museum at 705-325-3320 for those details. There are a number of other activities and the show is in partnership with the Orillia Heritage Centre.

*  The CDC is stickhandling registration for the Artrepreneur course mentioned here a few weeks ago. It starts in the fall at Lakehead and runs four months. At the end you will have a business plan ready to go. Find out more and register by July 14 here.

*  If you missed seeing the documentary Underground Orillia, Rogers TV is showing it. You can find the schedule here.

*  Jimmy Johnson has a new project called Strings for Students to raise money to donate 15 Fender acoustic guitars to Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary for the music program. There’s a concert July 27 at the Geneva, with Jimmy’s Doug Trucker Band, Bleeker and Danny Webster. Tickets are $10 in advance at Gilbert Guitars or Alleycats, $15 at the door. Greenhat Studios, the Geneva and Gilbert Guitars are sponsors.

*  Coming up… the Hog ‘N Penny has Don James and Jack Nicolle in Friday night; Jamie Drake is in Saturday night…  the Geneva has Eric Gales playing July 13; get tickets here… the Brownstone has The Oldest Man I Know playing Friday night; My Father’s Son plays Saturday… Lake Country Grill has Chris Lemay in Wednesday July 3; Even Steven is playing July 20… the Sunday evening band concert at the Aqua Theatre is with the Weston Silver Band at 6:30 p.m. … the chamber of commerce’s next Summer Concert Series at the Port of Orillia is July 27 with Dav and the Crash Monkey Mob 6 p.m. … The City has a concert series happening at the Bandstand; July 10 Sol City Jazz plays at 6:30 p.m. … Lee Contemporary has a new show of textile work by Melanie Siege… The summer Movies in the Park at the Aqua Theatre starts July 10 with my favourite Mel Brooks movie, Spaceballs (think about it, you’ll get the laugh); showtime is whenever the sun goes down.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Supplied) Main – 2018 Mariposa Folk Festival audience, Supplied by MFF/ Del Halbot.

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