This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

“I drank something out of a bag.”

That was the last bit of a story Danny Michel told the audience (243 people) at Fern Resort’s Bergwen Theatre last Saturday night. He was talking about his trip through the Northwest Passage on the Russian icebreaker Khlebnikov, specifically about the time he went below (several decks) to hang out with the Russian crew. OK, party with the crew.

Now the way he related the event, there was dancing and singing (it was so loud from engine noise and cracking ice down there everyone was wearing hearing protection, so of course he wondered, how could they hear?) smoking cigarettes and cigars, and of course drinking. The thing was the way he told it, it was very clear he was remarking what he drank was in a bag, not in a bottle in a bag.

All through his set he was telling funny stories, some of the songs were humourous, and he even stopped a couple times mid-song to get a laugh. One case was when he stopped, pulled out his phone and hit play so the audience could hear the orchestration to the song he was playing since he was performing solo.

Meredith Moon opened the show, played about half her set on banjo and sang very well. If there is one thing she inherited from her dad, it’s being all business on stage; she was there to sing not to talk. The only problem with that is when you’re singing tunes of your own making, which people may not be familiar with, and they are not up tempo, and the lyrics are real important, you have to hook your audience’s attention with some snappy banter. You can get away with no banter when everyone knows your songs. For those who did pay attention, there was no disappointment with the music she made.

Billie Pettinger had a bass player and drummer with her. She sang  solo to start and end her set. She’s got a great voice, but when the band came out things got a little heavier. Having the other instruments gives tunes more body, and when there’s a beat, toes start tapping. She closed out covering Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody, the only cover I noticed in her set. She did it in a way that kind of crept up on everybody, until the chorus when the piece fit together and you realize you know the tune.

The last comment belongs to the room. The theater is fantastic. I’ve never seen anything in it before. Tiered seating, with tables. Perfect view of the stage from anywhere in the room. Good acoustics. Very nice décor with colours and a ceiling that resembles the Opera House. It’s almost the perfect venue to see any show that might draw 300 or so people.

Wait, one more comment. The audience and show sponsors get acknowledgement for raising $26,000 for the Orillia Youth Centre.

Tour Time

The annual Images Studio Tour happens Thanksgiving weekend. Thirty artists will be showing their work at 18 venues. In town Jimi McKee, Charles Pachter, Marlene Bulas and Leacock Museum should be on your agenda.

If you missed Dave Beckett’s show last weekend, like I did, sorry Dave, he’s on the tour. The rest of the venues are between the lake, Moonstone and the 4th Line of Oro-Medonte. Not quite the excursion of past years, but a good hike nevertheless. Bring your camera.

All That Jazz

The Orillia Jazz Festival happens Oct. 17 – 20. Things start with a concert at the Opera House the 17th with the Danny McErlaine Trio (Chris Robinson and Peter Telford) for the launch event.

Friday night Sanafir, Brewery Bay Food Company, the Hog N’ Penny, Fionn MacCools, The Geneva Lake Country and Grill Eclectic Café will have live music.

Saturday evening the Opera House has a concert with Brassworks and guest musicians Christina Bosco, John Johnson Shirantha Beddage, Danny McEerlaine, the Orillia All-Star Jazz Band and the winners of the Rising Stars competition.

Sunday, as mentioned last week, Lance Anderson has a new tribute show to unveil. This time its the music of Herbie Hancock. I can’t wait for this one.

Visit the festival website to get tickets, or go to Alleycats Music.

ODAC Awards Are History

Sort of. The Orillia Museum of Art and History is teaming up with ODAC this year and now the awards are called the Orillia Regional Arts & Heritage Awards. As the emcee for the event, I’m going to politely suggest the initialism is never going to pass my lips as a word. Maybe AHA, but not all of it.

Darn good thing it’s not the Moonstone Arts Group Awards – with hats.

The categories have been tinkered with because the arts and history achievements are eligible for each category award.

The old educating category is almost the same, in name, Education in Arts, Culture & Heritage, with the museum’s research, publications and education part of the mix now.

The emerging artist category doesn’t have a history or heritage element. The Heritage: Restoration, Renovation and/or Publication award is the museum’s old historical reconstruction and heritage preservation award; really no arts component to it, well except for the architecture and graphic design, illustrations, and as Al Henry once said to me, even a janitor is practicing art.

The Community and the Arts category now includes events in arts culture and heritage, which adds the museum’s former heritage performance or event award.

The Arts Achievement Award has a name now, the Quennefer Browne Achievement Award. On the arts side it still just for achievement, on the history side it takes the place of the museum’s lifetime achievement award.

Clear as mud?  You can find more detailed criteria at either ODAC’s or OMAH’s websites. No computer (how are you reading this?), you can get a paper nomination form at City Hall of OMAH. Deadline for nominations (can we try to get more in than last year, which was pretty good, but a whole bunch more nominations were worthy of your effort) is Oct. 25 at 4 p.m. The award’s night is Nov. 27 at the Geneva.

Charlie Pride

Saturday afternoon the Canadian Premiere of the I’m Just Me documentary happened at the Geneva. About 40 people were on hand to watch it. Some of the documentary was shot at Casino Rama, and there a number of country western names (Dolly Parton, etc.) were in it.

I think I would have gone with more of a story about Charlie Pride than the seemingly endless parade of people saying, he was an original, he was great, he was the first, over and over. For a PBS production and the budget they had it could have made a better impression. There were a number of technical things I noticed my old bosses at Rogers would have been on my case about if I presented it to them for review before showtime. The concert and file footage was as good as it gets though.

The Shorts

Angels Unaware

*  Congratulations to Tim Schmalz on his newest sculpture installation. Tim is the one who created the Golden Leaves Lightfoot statue in Tudhope Park. His latest is called Angels Unaware – and its residency is in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican City. It was unveiled Sunday by Pope Francis. It’s the first sculpture installed in St. Peter’s Square in 400 years according to a Vatican official. As with the Lightfoot statue, the Bratty Foundation donated it.

 *  Sustainable Orillia is planning an art show in November for Sustainability Month. They need art, so if you do art, check out the meeting Oct. 7 at St. Paul’s centre at 6:30 p.m. to find out how to participate.

*  The streets are alive with VW busses? That’s the theme for next year’s art project downtown. All the details and application forms are at OMAH. Having spent time rolling around the American south in one of those, I can say they are ideally suited as a celebration of next year’s 60th Mariposa Folk Festival.

*  ODAC’s annual general meeting is Oct. 22 at 5:30 p.m. at St. James’ Anglican Church.  Visit their website before you go and catch up on the history of ODAC, maybe take out a membership, and plan to be there.

*  The Mariposa Folk Festival’s winter concert program starts Oct. 26 with an Echoes of Mariposa event. The Echoes are designed to give audiences a second crack at some of the previous summer festival’s performers. Rick Fines, The Doozies and James Gray will be playing at St. Paul’s Centre. Tickets are $35 in advance.

*  The Orillia Museum of Art and History has Industrial Legacy: A History of Dorr-Oliver-Long up Oct. 12 with the reception Oct. 19 at 1 p.m. Right now see Ingrid Mayrhofer’s After Krieghoff and Pest Control, works by John Ross and Amy Swartz. Also up is Tina Poplawski’s When The Green Dark Forest Was Too Silent To Be Real. The history speaker’s night starts October 16 with Orillia Secondary School: From Ortona to Juno – A Journey of Remembrance at 7:30 p.m. Peter Street Fine Arts has oils and acrylics by Roger Pockett this month.  At Hibernation Arts see Mary Jo Pollack’s Equinox; Wordsmith this month is with Paul Court on the 10th ($20); the Fall Group Show opens October 19;  the gallery concert is Oct. 24 with Buck and a Half (admission $20 not $1.50)

*  Coming up… the Brownstone has Klarka Weinwurm (they have a tune called Deathrow Tull, should be interesting), Lester Slade and Terry Savage playing Thursday night; The Hillbirds are in Friday; Adrian Chalifour plays Saturday; and Housepanther, Cold Tea and Wrecker play Monday night… the Hog ‘N Penny has Matt James  in Friday; Paul Brooks is in Saturday… the Geneva has the We Own The North comedy tour in Oct. 12; Oct. 25 the 80s Halloween Party with the Polyester Slackers happens… Jakob Pearce plays every Thursday evening at Kensingtons… Lake Country Grill has Charlotte and the Dirty Cowboys in Oct. 5… Irish Mythen is at St. Paul’s Centre Nov. 8; get tickets here…  the Opera House has Pavlo in Oct. 9 for a night of stories and song with Cameron Smillie; Nicole Craig and guests perform Oct. 10; Second City’s Cure for the Common Comedy is Oct. 18; Anne Marie Scheffler’s MILF Life Crisis is Oct. 24; Zachary Lucky’s album release concert is Oct. 25…  Lance Anderson has his Last Waltz show happening November 15 at Peter’s Players… MAT’s next film night at the Galaxy is Oct. 16 with The Farewell… Moose Crossing plays the ANAF club Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. … the 6th Annual Ugly Sweater Bowling Party is December 13; tickets go fast.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia, Main – Deb Halbot, Images Supplied)

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