This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

You’ve heard Aaron Davis play piano, I’m sure of it. He’s part of Holly Cole’s band, works with Measha Bureggergosman and was in Manteca, and also played with Mary Margaret O’Hara, Ron Sexsmith, Marc Jordan, the Art Of Time Ensemble, Ed Robertson, Steven Page, Alison Krauss, Natalie MacMaster, the Canadian Brass, Sarah Slean, and Molly Johnson. He’s also arranged music for the San Francisco Symphony, the Finnish National Opera and more than 100 movies, documentaries and TV series.

He’s playing a concert September 19 at the Opera House. There are only 50 tickets and some are already sold. The concert is being taped for an online six-concert series called Travel by Sound organize by Victoria Yeh.

Each is shot in a different venue and includes interviews and footage of the scenery in the communities the venues are located (Collingwood, Meaford, etc.). Orillia’s is a bit different though.

“All the other halls participating don’t have procedures in place to allow live audiences, except for the Orillia Opera House,” Victoria said.  “They’ve been very forward thinking and bold with the vision to get audiences comfortable again coming to live shows.”

Victoria Yeh

“It was actually Michael (Ladouceur) and Wendy (Fairbairn) that made this happen,” she said. “Orillia is really putting its best foot forward to try to help stimulate the economy and help reach out to the community through the arts.”

“I approached them and pitched them the idea. It’s a concert and adventure series, connecting people through music and helping people explore things in their region.”

The first and last concert features one side of Victoria’s music.

“Jean Luc Ponty is my biggest influence, so we’re playing a mix of some of my original music which would fall more under a Fusion genre and some re-imagined (mainstream) covers that people would not otherwise recognize,” she said. A third concert in the middle of the series focuses on the classical side.

Aaron’s band includes Kevin Breit (guitar), Ian De Souza (bass), John Johnson (winds), and Victoria. People who get a ticket for the concert will find themselves in the recording.

“You may see yourself in the distance. There will only be 50 people in the audience. You will hear your applause,” Victoria said.

The other concerts features Paul DeLong’s jazz fusion band, One Word (covering music by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, Jeff Beck, and Return to Forever) and the Freeman Brothers.

To see the other concerts visit the website above. You can get online credentials to see the ones you want (unlimited views) for $40, or all of them for $100. Until the end of the month take 50% off those prices.

To get tickets for the concert here, visit the Opera House ticket page.

Sound Check

The Orillia Youth Centre’s Valis Sound Studio is coming together. The desk made by Dave Shaw, Chris Lusty and Xavier Fernandez is in place.  Dave is the one making all those fantastic tables you see when you go into Makers Market with the epoxy inlays and other magical constructs.

Valis Sound Studio

The design Dave came up with features the signatures of three young people who have died in the last couple years, Nelson Bell’s is in the middle. He was killed in a car accident on James Street in July 2018 and the studio is named after his musical persona. Jake Beers died recently and was working at being a musician. The third is Kylee Creighton who was an early participant in the youth center’s open mics and helped organize a number of music projects.

Dave also burned into the desktop waveforms of the voices of Nelson and Jake.  Between the waveforms is a treble clef with an old vintage microphone similar to a Shure 55C superimposed. Everything to do with it is custom for the room. Xavier built a metal frame from scratch for the side desks which Chris built.

There’s a Peavey 14 channel mixing board, an Audio Technica mic and an Apple computer among the first pieces of gear installed.

“We probably have about $30,000 worth of stuff between money raised, grants that we received, but we also have a little nest egg set aside in case other stuff needs to be purchased,” said the OYC director, Kevin Gangloff.

Some of that money was raised at a Lance Anderson concert at St. Paul’s Centre in May 2019 (more than $10,000)  which Eclectic Café catered and Dapper Depot sponsored. There have been other fundraisers for the studio – and for scholarships too.

One, in Nelson’s name has $14,000 parked with the Community Foundation, and recently the Beers family has been raising money.

“They’ve raised over $10,000 already for the Jake Beers one too,” Kevin said. “The community’s fantastic.”

The studio is a great thing. Every one of you reading right now had visions of stardom when you were young and for many is was down a musical path. I know of many people who had great talent and no way to capitalize on it, recording studios until the digital age were a mythical thing located in larger cities.

Anyone can record in their basement. Few have the means to do more than set up a computer and there is so much more to making a recording anyone will want to own. Making music also involves more than just one person or a quartet of people playing instruments. It can be done, but it’s often a lot better to have a trusted knowledgeable ear guiding the process and people who know how to record present.

A studio like Valis, considering the mix of young people and differing talents, will bring together combinations who will make better music. The way young people throw themselves into the things which interest them often is time consuming too. From experience, there isn’t a lot of time left over to get into trouble.

Congratulations to all who had a hand in making the Valis Sound Studio a reality. I think in time the effort, talent, ingenuity, sweat and money each has contributed will prove to be a far greater value than it appears at this moment.

Somniatis On The Street

Last Friday, several people involved with the Somniatis Wearable Art Show invaded the pedestrian mall. It rained, but early enough in the evening to only cause a delay in getting things started and didn’t cancel plans.

Ron Hill is going to be a model when the event finally happens (postponed from October to next May). His daughter was demonstrating the process of doing make up. They were in the window at Dapper Depot. At Fashion Therapy Xavier Fernandes was drawing spider webs on model, Angela Brown, while Tammy Dore (who is also the lead organizer of the event) was doing costuming and hair. At Studio B, Bobbi Berke used the alcove entrance to her shop to work on model’s hair.

Model Theresa Berndt with the night's itinerary.

Image 1 of 6

Other models were roaming Mississaga Street and the Arts District handing out itineraries for the evening. And the Arts District was full of displays from the galleries and other artists. The amount of people on hand at 6 p.m. was less than seen other weeks because of the rain, but by 8 p.m. things looked pretty busy.

The Shorts

*  Information Orillia has an online fundraiser happening right now. Part of the objective is to showcase Orillia businesses, so the items are donated from those people. The other is to raise some operating funds. You can see the items in the auction on their website, or their Facebook page. You can bid here. The auction ends Sept. 30.

*  The City of Orillia has an online survey to get reaction about the pedestrian mall weekends. It’s online and if you are business owner fill out this one, if you were a patron fill out this one by September 14.

*  The Orillia Regional Arts & Heritage Awards are happening this year. Orillia Museum of Art and History and ODAC are running it. You can go here, to see the criteria and start assembling your nominating material. Nominations close October 2. The categories are Education in Arts, Culture and Heritage; Emerging Artist; Heritage: Restoration, Renovation and Publication; Event in Arts, Culture and Heritage; and Qennefer Browne Achievement Award.

*  The Orillia Youth Centre has a fundraising concert, Roots North Music Festival Revisited, September 26th at Sunset Barrie Drive-in (Oro-Medonte Line 4 at Highway 11).  Hawksley Workman is headlining, Terra Lightfoot The North River (Nick Keays, Kristina Skeries and David Kaye) are opening. Get tickets now. They are $35 each, a carload of 4 people is $125, which is a discount. The concert, is sponsored, this time by Dapper Depot and Harveys, so all the proceeds will go to the youth center.

*  There are two youth center fundraisers happening to establish scholarship funds. One in memory of Jake Beers the Beers family calls hxmesweethxme. Check out their Facebook page for opportunities to contribute. Anitta Hamming also created an online raffle for two of the paintings created for the Metamorphosis project. You can get a ticket here, and you can also see, or buy, other art at that link.

QuarARTine Auction

*  OMAH has another round of the QuarARTine, 6×6 pieces for auction  here. OMAH also has a fascinating new article about Mazo de la Roche here, and has been posting videos on Youtube of the Speaker’s Night’s that would have been. The most recent is about Glenn Gould, and the one before is about a group of RCMP officers drowning on Lake Simcoe. See the whole bunch here. And the gallery is open by appointment, 705-326-2159.

*  There are still some copies of the  annual compilation album, music from the artists who would have performed at this year’s Mariposa Folk Festival, available. This time its music by Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, David Francey, Dala, Reuben and the Dark, OKAN, and others The vinyl is $40 and the CD $20. You can order them at 705-326-3655. Shipping and taxes are extra. You can save the shipping cost by arranging pick up. They also have some videos to enjoy on their Youtube page, or their website

*  The Bob Hawkins Band has a new tune, Caterpillar, video to see here. The rest of the band’s playlist is at that link as well.

*  The Orillia branch of Dress For Success has a progressive, online, raffle called Toonie Tuesday. They’ve had some pretty significant jackpots. Tickets are $2 and you can buy as many as you like.. Check their Facebook page frequently for updates on the jackpot and weekly winners.  

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Supplied)

Rants & Raves

Support Independent Journalism