This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Turning 21 used to be a milestone in every kid’s and parent’s life. It was the age of majority, which meant taking the kids out for a nice meal, maybe with their friends, and then getting them drunk for the first time – that you know of, or maybe you did. That changed during my lifetime and the magic was moved forward three years, turning 21 lost its luster.

I can’t think of another thing we collectively celebrate hitting the 21 year mark. Twenty, that’s the ticket and always has been for everything but marking human rights of passage.

Twenty years ago the weekend had a performance by Burgundy Rose happening. Three of those band members are part of VK and the Legends of the Deep today. Ronnie Douglas (with Dave Hewitt and Steven Henry) just released an EP of some of his fantastic blues and had just won the Toronto Blues Society’s talent search. The Mikado was on at the Opera House as part of the Sunshine Festival.

Wayne Buttery and the Blues Project had a cruise on the Georgian Queen and someone jumped off the boat midway, which kind of slowed down the performance while the captain notified the Coast Guard and organized a rescue. The Molson Canadian Model Search was happening at Tuxx nightclub. Oddly, I didn’t have a review for that one.

Blues Parlour with the great guitar duo of Hugh Hardy and Mike Batram were going to be recording a CD at the Zoo that week. Even Steven was playing at McCabe’s. There was an exhibit of Elizabeth Wyn Wood’s sculptures at the Sir Sam Steele Art Gallery.

That last one is the odd one because at that point the Sir Sam gallery was officially no more because on August 9, 1999 the Orillia Museum of Art and History was born. I have no idea why I wouldn’t have known that when I wrote my column. Either I was just being dumb, or the folks at OMAH were tardy getting the word out, which isn’t unusual, lots of groups and people in the arts still don’t send notices of their activities promptly to places like – the media. Actually, while they started operating as the Orillia Museum of Art and History, the paperwork wasn’t finalized yet; the official documents were in the mail, as they say.

Jean Sarjeant, Richard Oatway, Clark Brillinger, Don Ross, Sue Mulchay, Tom Jarvis, Gord Michner, David Bohme, Ellie Shaw, Jim and Pat Angus, Marilyn Dennis, Gay Gutherie and Peter McEwen are the folks who put it all together.

Jean told me the meeting of the minds happened because the Orillia Historical Society had the Stubley collection and some other collections come into their possession and Jean ran out of room at her house to store it. The City offered some room for some of it and Laura Lea (Orillia’s clerk at the time) suggested the jail cells at the Sam Steele building where the art gallery was already located. Laura organized a meeting between the two groups and off it went.

The result is one of Orillia’s greatest institutions. The last few years have been incredible for the number of exhibits and events, and every time I visit I see what amounts to a busy place.   

To celebrate the birthday on Friday there will be an announcement about something of import. I can’t even tell you I can’t tell you what it is  because they won’t tell me, even off the record, but I’m told it’s going to be big. There will be an open house, from noon to 4 p.m., no admission charge, lots of things to see, refreshments, and a tour of the building starting at 1:30 p.m.

Great Music To Listen To

So this column is bit late hitting the interwebs for two reasons – Reay and Danny Webster, and three, the holiday getting in the way of running down details.

Lemondrop Girl Video, by Aaron Mangoff

First let’s consider Reay. A few weeks ago I linked the first single, Poison, from the new disc by Reay. Last week the single Lemomdrop Girl was released. September 6 the whole album, Butterfly Tongue Revisited, goes public.

First, Reay is the name of the band ( Ryan Smith, Matt Copeland, Bayze Murray, Chad Van Deusen), but it’s really entirely a concept of Sean Murray.

I’ve heard the album and, save for anything Gord has done, this is the best album anyone in Orillia has produced. That’s said considering just in the last year there have been some really good recordings made by VK, Alphabref (Zain Campbell), Terry Savage, Winnie Brave, Michael Martyn, Grey Eyes, and Bleeker’s latest album (new one coming in the fall).

What I think makes this album special is how long it took for Sean Murray to record it – 15 years. He’s been tinkering with the songs that long, though the actually recording of it in its final version didn’t take all that long. Over 15 years you can do a lot of polishing and imagining what the sounds are and what sounds go where.

The result is an album that must be heard start to finish. I have a few albums like that, Dark Side of the Moon, Collective Soul, Tubular Bells II (not the one from the 70s), Moving Pictures, A couple Tower of Power albums, some Zeppelin, Chicago, and a lot of classical pieces of length that can’t be started at say, movement 2 or 3. Butterfly Tongue Revisited now holds that distinction in my collection now.

Every tune is different. Every tune has something interesting happen within. Every tune ends too soon. I can find no fault with this disc from the writing, to the playing, to the technical production.

In only one week a bunch on online radio sites have added Lemon Drop Girl, which is mystifying to me and to Sean because Poison, out for a month, is a great song that got overlooked. He’s putting Halo out as a single on the 6th as well, and plans to put out a single every month.

Sean told me there are about 30 music platforms carrying it, including Spotify and Apple. In the mean time you can click the two songs linked to get a taste. Sean said he hasn’t got a live date to coincide with the album release yet, not for lack of trying. Hopefully things will work out because live is always better; I’ve become a fan of many bands I didn’t really like in bits and bytes, but then saw them and changed my mind; I’m worried about what will happen with something I’m already deep into.

Danny Webster’s new album, Aloe Vera, is out on Saturday on all the major online platforms.

Danny Webster, foreground

I’ve listened to it too and this is an EP length release that starts with an attention getter, While It’s Good, and a bass line that hooks you right away. Then his high tenor vocals seem to soar above the pretty lush arrangement.

As each tune unfolds I get a sense of influence from the Beatles, a bit of the height of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury vibe, a bit of the old crooner style (on Pablo & Jacqueline), his 501 Shuffle flat out rocks – there’s something for everyone to latch onto.

To my mind, this is a collection of original tunes like I haven’t heard for some time. It has good musicality, good composition and good production combining to make a great listen. You can hear snippets on his Facebook page, and you can hear all of Yellow Dreams of Me & Abby and watch the video (bear in mind, I don’t think this is the strongest song on the album, but it’s still a good song).

Danny has a release party at the Junction City Music Hall in Toronto August 16. He’s not on until 11 p.m. and tickets are $10 at the door.

What a time to be writing about music made by our friends and neighbours. There have been some good albums to write about over the years, but this year has been unusually good.

Arty Stuff

The Orillia Museum of Art and History has their own version of the Antiques Road Show happening during the month of August. Julie Riches of Riches Appraisals and Consult, a member of the International Society of Appraisers specializes in silver, art glass, porcelain, ceramics, bronzes, sculptures, furniture, coins, military items, and fine art.

She’ll have a look at your stuff from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the 10th, 17th, and 24th. Military historian/collector Carl Black, and Marcel Rousseau will be part of the day on the 17th. You must register in advance.

Patti Agapi has a show at Lee Contemporary up and the opening reception is Aug. 10 at 1 p.m. Peter Street Fine Art has the work of the BaySide Artists  featured.

The Shorts

*  This weekend the chamber of Commerce’s Waterfront Festival happens at the waterfront, which is convenient. The highlight is the cardboard boat race Sunday at noon and the dock diving dogs competition at the federal dock Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Register your dog, or cardboard boat here. And, The Coldwater Steampunk Festival happens Friday and Saturday. There is so much happening it’s easier to just go to their website and sort out when you want to be there and where any particular event is taking place.

*  The Geneva has a Night of Burlesque Saturday night. This sold out the last three times it happened. Hells Bells are in for a show Friday August 16. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Get tickets to Geneva shows here.

*  Jeremy Brendan Day has a new disc, Another Bridge Shattered, coming out next week and he’s going to be playing at the Brownstone Saturday night. You can read what I had to say about him here. Check out his video here.

*  The Opera House’s Gentleman Clothier ends this week and there are no tickets left, so it might be a good idea to get yours now for the next play, Same Time Next Year, which starts August 14. Also at the Opera House Duck Soup Productions is doing Annie every Tuesday evening and there’s a Beach Boys tribute band in Aug. 28.

*  The Leacock Museum is undertaking a survey as part of its master planning process. You can do it and be eligible for a draw for dinner for two at the museum. And, Driftwood Theatre is bringing their production of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (as a musical) to the Leacock Museum Aug. 13. The performance is pay what you can, but they suggest $20 to $30 per person. You can get tickets here.

*  Craig Cardiff is returning for his annual boat cruise on the Island Princess featuring his music. It’s September 1 and the boat loads at 5:30 p.m., and leaves 6. Tickets are $35. If you wait, it will be $45 at the dock. Kids under 112 are free with an adult.

*  Coming up… the Hog ‘N Penny has Jazz Trio in Friday; Jakob Pearce is in Saturday night… the Brownstone has Don River playing Thursday; Jamie Grant is in Friday… Chris Lemay plays at Lake Country Grill Wednesday night; Even Steven is in August 24… the Sunday evening band concert at the Aqua Theatre is with the Mississauga Pops Concert Band at 6:30 p.m. … the next Movies in the Park at the Aqua Theatre has the 1976 version of A Star is Born August 7 when the sun goes down… the chamber’s summer concert series at the Port of Orillia continues Aug. 24 with High Court County from 5 to 9 p.m. … the annual Classic Car show happens downtown August 17… Starry night happens August 24 in the Arts District and beyond… The Chippewas of Rama Pow Wow is August 24 and 25…

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)

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