This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

A day late, but I believe worth it.

Congratulations to Leanne Young, Craig Mainprize, Friends of the Washago Water Tower, and the Chippewas of Rama Powwow who each received 2019 Orillia Regional Arts & Heritage Awards.

Congratulations also to Linda Tiffin who received the first ever Qennefer Browne Achievement Award; though as MC I did mention that the first award went to Bob Browne when he and Qennefer got married. So, award number 1A and 1B.

Travis Shilling and Naomi Woodman, Mary Jo Pollak, the Mariposa Folk Festival, the Orillia Heritage Centre, Starry Night and Leslie Fournier were nominated in various categories, so congrats to them was well.

Award Recipients Linda Tiffin, Kathy Nicholson, Leanne Young

I think the big winners though, were the Orillia & District Arts Council and OMAH, who combined their respective awards into this new thing. The audience too, because there were about 160 on hand for the ceremonies.

The Geneva is a great venue for this type of thing. A spiffy set was built by Paul Baxter to give the event a great look, while leaving room on the Geneva’s stage for the Little Big Band. On the latter, many people commented afterwards how much more like an awards show it seemed with the band playing music while recipients and presenters were coming and going from the presentation set. I had a notion the audience liked that the first time the band struck up because of collective gasping, murmuring, smiles and nodding heads.

Some of the first timers to the affair said they were surprised and pleased with how the event played out. The organizing team took the position last year with the ODAC Awards the presentation should have a little more glitz and panache in order to really celebrate the arts community.

It is a celebration for the arts community. Think about it. The Junos, Maple Blues, Oscars, Tony and Grammy awards shows don’t have audiences made up of nominees and only those connected to the nominees. No, everybody wants to be in the audience at those awards, and so too it should be for the Arts & Heritage Awards. There were a significant number of people in the audience who didn’t have a horse in the race, probably a third to a half, which is excellent. I think next year we should all try to make it two thirds to three quarters of the audience being there just to see who wins and have a good time.

I think this was the first time someone from Orillia council did not attend, but then it was also the first time the date fell on the a budget day and I really don’t blame any of council for missing it after 9 hours trying to juggle numbers and surprises (see Budget Shock). It was nice to have mayor Mike Burkett and councillor Judith Cox from Severn in attendance; eligibility for the awards includes the surrounding townships and Rama. If anything changes next year, avoiding conflict with budget should be on the list because it’s important for elected officials to be there.

If there is a disappointing note, it’s so many others deserving a nomination weren’t represented. I can think of a couple groups who should have been in the mix, and someone from one of those groups actually did ask why they weren’t nominated. If there’s a fault, it is you, reader, didn’t nominate people and groups you think should be. The nomination system is totally by public input. That may be modified in time, but that’s the way it is for now, so when next year rolls around, heed my frequently writing about the nomination period and get your two cents in.

Award Recipient Craig Mainprize

I am glad I’m not on the selection committee because each year I can’t imagine which nominee I would select to receive an award. Having more nominations as I just discussed would make it worse because there are so many deserving people and groups for each of the 5 awards. And while I’m on selecting recipients (Jacqueline, how am I doing not saying winners?), I would like to thank Mitch Sleeman for being one of the very few who got my joke about having the U.S. Senate make the selections. I guess there’s a difference between my impression of what is topical and just about everyone else in the audience.

Jacqueline Soczka, Anna Proctor and Ninette Gyorody did the organizational work for the awards. Paul Baxter spends a couple weeks talking with everyone involved side to come up with a set. I hope this group sticks together as it will inevitably grow. And I have to thank them for including me in my limited role as MC and writing the scripts for the presenters and the show. It was fun, and I think from the feedback last night after the last award was given everyone had fun.


The internet, well, Facebook, is buzzing since it was announced yesterday Gordon Lightfoot has cancelled some more concerts. The recovery from his leg injury a couple months ago isn’t taking as quickly as he thought. Knowing Gord, he was likely anxious to get back on the road and had four shows in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick since last Friday, but it was too much and three concerts have been rescheduled to next April. His published tour schedule shows a nice break until mid-February.  Get well, and rest up a bit Gord, don’t rush trying to get back in shape.

Good News For Different Musicians From Town
Zachary Lucky (Photo by Miles Zurawell)

Zachary Lucky is coming off a Western Canada tour, then doing Southern Ontario for a few days. His new album, Midwestern, occupied the #1 spot on the Earshot national folk and roots chart for two weeks in November. Earshot compiles it’s list from Canadian campus radio. Oddly, he then fell completely of the chart for a week, but he’s back at #2 this week. Bonus, he’s at #10 on the aggregate chart across all genres.

The other good news goes to you for voting on Lance Anderson’s Maple Blues Award nominations. What! You didn’t vote yet?

Lance’s Matchedash Parish CD, Saturday Night, is up for producer of the year and the band as new artist of the year. Go to the website and register to vote. You must to do it by 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time December 1 (2:59 a.m. Dec. 2 here). You will get an email with a password and a link back to the voting page where you can vote.

Christmas Stuff

The Jubilee Chorale’s Christmas concert is December 1 at 2:30 p.m. at Westmount United Church. The Leacock Museum has their 4th annual Nutcracker Afternoon Tea December 1, 8 and 15 from 11 a.m., to 2 p.m. It’s in the house and somehow or other they have readings from by someone named Leacock, the books and the reader. You can reserve tickets online.

Orillia Concert Band

The Orillia Concert Band’s Christmas Prelude is Dec. 7. It’s at St. Paul’s Centre and the St. Paul’s choir will join the OCB for the 7:30 p.m. show. There’s a shorter version in the afternoon for the kids at 3:30 p.m. with the Samuel de Champlain Children’s Choir as guests. Tickets for the afternoon are a maximum of $20 (family, two adults, as many fidgety children as you have) and range downward. The evening show is $30 for the family. You can still bring the kids because it’s like getting bonus entertainment for those in the back row.

The Hawkestone Singer’s Christmas Concert is December 14 at the Hawkestone Community Hall; call 705-503-2833 for tickets. The Orillia Silver Band concert is December 15 at the Opera House.

The Orillia Vocal Ensemble has two concerts happening. December 8 they are at St. Paul’s Centre for a 3 p.m. concert. They always raise money for a cause and this time it’s Lakehead University’s Humanities 101 program (which is not part of the regular course offerings for regular-type students). Laura Aylan-Parker and dean Dean (Dr. Dean Jobin-Bevans) are the soloists. December 14 their annual Thor Motors concert happens from 1 to 3 p.m. and the Sharing Place is the beneficiary.

The Cellar Singers’s concert is December 14 at St. James’ featuring Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols and Conrad Susa’s Christmas in the Southwest and you can get tickets online or at the door.

The Opera House has Ballet Jorgen’s NutcrackerNovember 30 for 2 and 7 p.m. shows; The Barra MacNeils perform December 5; the Christmas Panto is Wizard of Oz Dec. 6; Duck Soup Productions is doing Found Dec. 7 and 8; Next Generation Leahy Christmas is December 12; the 2019 Canadian Country Christmas Concert is Dec. 13; the Orillia Silver Band’s Christmas concert is December 15 at 2:30 p.m. St. Paul’s Centre has Marie Bottrell’s Home for the Holidays December 14 at 2 p.m., but get your tickets at the Opera House link above.

The Shorts

*  Jamie Lamb, son of former Packet and Times publisher and editor James Lamb, is in town Saturday to read from his book Christmas in Mariposa. Of course Jamie grew up here, was a reporter at the Packet & Times, and then went off to write for a number of other publications. Get tickets for the 7 p.m. event at Manticore Books or online. Tickets include a copy of the book.

*  Mariposa Arts Theatre has auditions for their February play, Rabbit Hole. They need a husband and wife types in their 30s/40s, mom (60s), a woman (30s) and a whippersnapper teen boy. Auditions are Dec. 10 and 12 in the evening at the MAT hall on Brammer Drive. Email to set an audition time and get more details.

*  The Coldwater Studio Tour doesn’t happen for 7 months, but if you want to get your art into the show now is the time. They are taking applications now. It’s juried show and you have to have some work to submit by Dec. 15.

*  The 6th Annual Ugly Sweater Bowling Party  still has few tickets for the block from 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Bleeker is going to be playing – bowling and their instruments. The event happens Dec. 13 and you should get tickets now.

*  The Orillia Museum of Art and History has a fundraiser happening Dec. 6 called Drawliday Festival. The Will Davis Trio with Hugh Coleman will be playing music and tickets are $75. OMAH’s annual Carmichael Canadian Landscape Exhibition is great. Also see Industrial Legacy: A History of Dorr-Oliver-Long, Fibre Content and Ingrid Mayrhofer’s After Krieghoff. OMAH is partnering with Lee Contemporary for a November exhibit called It’s Revealing, featuring work from the Life Drawing class, which will be sold by silent auction. It’s at Lee’s Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays 1 to 4 p.m. for the rest of the month.

Karen Gattie Popp at Peter Street Fine Arts

*  Peter Street Fine Arts is having their annual 6×6 show in December and January. This long-running show is great for people to pick up a small, reasonably priced, one of a kind gift…  Hibernation Arts has Art for Earth show on display;  the monthly Gallery Concert is with Andrew Woodill Nov. 28… Art and Home is featuring the work of sculptor David Warner and the reception is Dec. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m.; also see work by returning artist Marie Jose.

*  If you want a gift to give that you will be remember for, say, next spring or summer, get tickets to the Roots North Music Festival (April) or the Mariposa Folk Festival (July). Bonus, they’re cheaper right now than they’ll be at festival time. Or, get Opera House summer theater season tickets (two Norm foster plays and one more); I’ve been told they already have a few dates sold out.

*  Coming up… the Hog ‘N Penny has trivia night with Bill Dunlop every Thursday evening; Darrin Davis plays Friday night… Jakob Pearce plays every Thursday evening at Kensingtons… the Brownstone has Chris & Nate Make Strange Sounds in Thursday evening; Dan Bazinet (and guests) has his annual birthday fundraiser for the Lighthouse Soup Kitchen Dec. 6.… the Jazz Byrds play Sanafir Fridays and Saturdays…  Lake Country Grill has Chris Lemay in Dec. 4 and Charlotte and the Dirty Cowboys Dec. 7.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia, or Supplied) Main, the Orillia Concert Band.

Rants & Raves

Support Independent Journalism