This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Here’s some more info and reasons why you should take in Saturday’s Orillia Center for Arts and Culture program at the Opera House.

The program is a mix of performance and lecture/talking about what each participant views as their process for making art. That’s probably why the event is called Artists Talk.

Haven’t we all wondered why someone would give up the security of a minimum wage job (or better) to devote their life to being an artist? Really, in some ways it is a form of insanity, the same way others go into science to find cures for disease or put people on Mars, engineers try to build better things, and accountants try to be creative saving you money at tax time (but not why politicians do what they do – that’s a different kind of insanity). In short, some people are driven to do what they do and being an artist is one of the least understood career paths.

Will McGarvey

It’s a nice mix of local talent and imported on the menu with four established artists and four who are just starting out. Will McGarvey and Leo Martyn will be set up in the Green Room with their art and to speak with event goers about their work and art careers. Leo is just starting out, Will has been at it for years and you have seen his paintings.

The lobby is where something different is happening. Luke Garwood works in several different disciplines, but combines it in the digital realm. He’ll be present to speak about his work, and you can check out his virtual reality art. If you haven’t put on a virtual reality headset before, that in itself will be a trip.

The program in Gord’s Room doesn’t start until 2 p.m. but you can meet with Will, Leo and Luke at 1:30 p.m.

The program upstairs is in two parts. The first set begins with dancer Lauren Cookson. She’s a ballet dancer from Bracebridge. Then Veda Sharpe and Bayze Murray will be performing their music together. Veda has been in several high school plays and Bayze is a band member of Reay and the two of them are in the band Global Paradise.  Following their set is Zachary Lucky. He’s going to sing some songs and speak about his perspective on being a musician.

The second set is about dancing. Heidi Strauss has been in town this week with the dance company Adelheid. They’ve been working on a new dance program which they will perform and workshop for the audience. Part of it is also speaking about how and why dancing is their gig. Kate Hilliard put the event together. She told me it was because the Orillia Centre convinced the dance company to come here for a week and Kate thought there was an opportunity to make something more public out of it.  She also told me the Orillia Centre had worked with the schools to get students in to view what’s happening but all of it fell through and had to be cancelled because of the rotating teacher strike. She also said other programs the Orillia Centre was working on to capitalize on artists being in the area were cancelled for the same reason.

You can get tickets, and for other Opera House shows, here.

Also, Zachary will be doing songs from his new album, Midwestern, at the Brownstone at 8 p.m. You can get tickets online.

Speaking of Opera House shows, the Mariposa Arts Theatre has Art of Dining finishing out the week. See my review here. Last I heard there are tickets for Thursday, Friday and Saturday performance available, but not for Sunday’s matinee. Last week’s shows were sold out.

New Music

Gordon Lightfoot has a new album coming out in late March, but you can listen to the tune, Why Not Give It A Try, here. I understand the whole album is acoustic and I believe it’s just Gord and his guitar. He’s going to be at Casino Rama April 18.

Danny Webster put out a new tune, Forgive Me My Love, for Valentine’s Day. He does some nicely arranged work, and his melodies are a little more adventurous than most of what you’ll find on the radio.

We finally get to see Reay perform in Orillia. It happens March 7 at the Geneva. If you’ve taken advantage of listening to the album I’ve been linking you know they are great. It’s had quite a bit of attention in the music industry. VK and the Legends of the Deep open at 8:45 p.m. You can get tickets here, or at Allleycats Music & Art or at the door.

Prime Rush

Many Rush fans are also partial to Primus. There are connections between the two. Primus was the opening act on a couple Rush tours, Geddy Lee and Les Claypool are friends, and Les has said his eye-opening moment setting him on a path to becoming a musician was at a Rush concert.

So you might be interested to know tickets went on sale today for Primus’s summer tour, which stops in Toronto June 30. They are playing two sets. The first is set is the complete Farewell to Kings album, the second their own tunes. Les said in a Rolling Stone interview they had been planning for a couple years to do this as an homage to Rush and that Neil Peart’s death last month is coincidental.

Many people are fans of Primus, many more tolerate them and there are those who just don’t get their music at all. They are known to be eccentric with their songwriting and performances, but you can’t deny they are really good musicians first. For those of you who can’t place the band, they do the South Park theme, which should indicate just how out in left field they are musically.

The Shorts

*  The CBC Searchlight website is so bad I didn’t even see The Free Label was participating this year and I looked several times to make sure no other Orillia area entries, other than Zain Campbell and Reay, were hiding on the list. Apparently the band didn’t need your/my help because they made it to round 2. Zain and Reay didn’t make the cut. It’s a little complicated to vote (do so every day until Feb. 27), I can’t give you a direct link. Go here, cut the field down by using the drop down field right side of the page to see the Ontario entries and scroll down until you see the band’s name.

*  The Cellar Singers are doing Bach’s St. John Passion Feb. 29 at St. James’ Anglican Church. They’ll have a 12 piece orchestra and soloists. Don’ panic, Easter is still in April. Get tickets here.

*  The Orillia Concert Band’s next gig is Music of the Movies Mar. 7 at St. Paul’s Centre. Their guest is Cassie Dasilva. Get tickets at the door, $30 for a family and ranging down from there. The OCB is doing a little James Bond, Catch Me If You Can, Pirates of the Caribbean and of course Gabriel’s Oboe.

*  Orillia Secondary School students are doing Disney’s High School Musical March 4 to 7 at the school. It’s the first musical being done in the new school. You can get tickets ($15 / $10 for students & seniors) at the school office.

 *  Craig Mainprize has had quite a run since the fall. Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards winner, he’s doing the 2020 Winter Games mural, and now he’s on the mainstage at Roots North in April. Get tickets here..

*  OMAH has the annual International Women’s Day Art ShowShe Shoots… She Scores  and Tracey Lawko’s At Risk hanging around to look at. Sunday Feb. 23 Storytelling Orillia’s monthly, 2 to 4 p.m., has guests who have work in the Women’s show. Feb. 19 is history speaker’s night (7:30 p.m.) and the guest is the Simcoe County Historical Association’s Andrew Hunter Award winner, John Merritt, who was recognized for his paper, The Black Settlement in Oro Township.

Eden, by Paige Stephen @ Lee Contemporary

*  Hibernation Arts has a group show, Love and Nate Robertson, Nathan Yell, is the gallery concert choice for Feb. 27; they also have Bryan McPherson in for the March 26 gallery concert. Lee Contemporary Art has 14 artists participating in the annual Paper exhibit, it’s up this week and opens Saturday at 1 p.m. Peter Street Fine Arts has new work by a new artist, Cameron MacDonald, featured this month.

*  The County of Simcoe is receiving applications for the 2020 Tourism, Culture and Sport Grant Program. It’s open to municipalities and not-for-profits. You have until Feb. 28 to apply for a share of the $300,000 fund. You can find details here.

*  The Washago Lions Club is planning Canada Day now and would like to hear from vendors, people who can volunteer day of (or before) and musicians. Email Doug Shakell at And, the monthly jam night happens Feb. 19 at the club hall.

*  Coming up… the Brownstone has an Open Mic Night every Tuesday… the Hog N’ Penny has Lance Issac in to play Friday night; Christina Hutt is in Saturday… the Jazz Byrds play Sanafir every Saturday evening… MAT’s next film night at the Galaxy is Feb. 19 with Timing is Everything – no it’s not – but they do have the Oscar winning Parasite March 4 at 4 and 7 p.m. … Ashley Mac Isaac is playing at St. Paul’s Centre March 17 and you can get tickets here… the Jubilee Chorale’s annual Sweet Heart soiree is Feb. 23 at 2:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Centre; this fundraiser for Helping Hands is a give-what-you-can admission; they a have a number of guests including Jim Harris and Blair Bailey.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Main: The cast of Mariposa Arts Theatre’s The Art of Dining (Photo by Mike Beresford)

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