This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

It’s unlikely the Legion Branch 34 pipes and drums will be leading the annual Scottish Festival parade this year, but there is a fundraiser happening April 6, which also happens to be Tartan Day in Ontario, across Canada, North America and many other parts of the world.

It also has something to do with April 6, 1320 and the Declaration of Arbroath, which – without being a historian and understanding a very long, decades, chain of events, not to mention not understanding a lick of Scottish terminology – seems to be the date of Scottish independence. Tartan Day was proposed in Nova Scotia in 1986. It took a year for the provincial government to make it official and 4 years for the next, Ontario, to join in the fun. From there is spread around the world like refusals for one more helping of haggis.

Someone said I’ll drink to that, and now we have an event in Orillia, sponsored by Couchiching Craft Brewing Company. It’s a stay at home affair, you know why, except for the part where you go down to the brewery to pick up your beer and food. The pickup is for 3 cans of beer, all different tastes, and some food the folks at Couchiching think go well with each beer. It will cost you $45. You take it home and fire up the internet and surf to the live stream (link provided with your pick up) and follow along with the program at 7 p.m. or April 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Kevin Gangloff, who is one of the organizers, said when you go to the website to buy a ticket, there is also a link to donate $20 directly to the festival, which might be handy if you are too late to get a ticket. Couchiching Brewery is sharing part of the proceeds with the festival from the $45 tickets. There are only 20 tickets for each session.

Stay tuned to the festival website for details about what is happening with the 2021 festival. There definitely won’t be a three day affair in Couchiching Beach Park, but they are planning to do some other things.

While we’re on the subject of Kevin Gangloff, he told me the annual Orillia Youth Centre fundraising concert in the fall is being planned. They have a date, September 25, and a venue lined up, preparing to move quickly with other details and booking performers once they know if they can have a concert.

And congratulations to the youth center for the recent donation by Brian Adams or $15,000, which Kevin says will be used on programs for the youngsters. And thank you to Brian for being so generous.

Something Different

Donna Grantis is a name which has not appeared in this column space since 2013. She was the guitarist for Shakura S’Aida and that year both were nominated for Maple Blues Awards for co-writing a song.

Donna Grantis (photo by Stephanie Hynes)

I remember the first time I saw Donna at the Spring Blues Festival in 2008. She was with Shakura and I remember thinking, holy cow, she can play! (Cow is not exactly what I said; the word is standing in for something a cow leaves behind). After the set was done I said to Lance Anderson (who was Shakura’s music director and keyboardist), holy cow, who is the guitarist? (Again, cow is standing in). Donna made a return the next year to play with Suzie Vinnick and Teresa Lavasseur for a Blues Fest gig at Brewery Bay Food Company.

She was in Shakura’s band for 8 years until she became a member of Prince’s backup band in 2013. She played in two versions of his band until he died in 2016.

I’m telling you all this because tonight at 7 p.m. she is doing a video tutorial for young musicians about how to prepare for a performance. It’s being presented by Long & McQuade and you can watch it here. Imagine the experience she has to pass on, and imagine the depth of it; being second guitarist behind Prince isn’t exactly run-of-the-mill. The workshop is designed for new musicians, so tell your kids they aren’t going out tonight, at least until 8 p.m.

I wish I’d known about the Long & McQuade video tutorials or I would have mentioned them. They’ve presented a bunch of them all month long. Of note are ones by first-call anywhere in the world trumpet player Wayne Bergeron (who was in a drum corps I competed against a long time ago) and Snarky Puppy’s Larnell Lewis (who also teaches at Humber College). The good news is you can find those videos here.

Speaking of Lance Anderson, he’s been busy working remotely on some music. He’s also got some gigs coming up. April 10 he’s got The Last Waltz from Hugh’s Room. Tickets to watch online are $15, and if you want, for another 10 bucks you can stick around for a Q&A with the band.

April 7 Lance and Jenie Thai are online with a concert as part of the Southside Shuffle Festival. Jenie was with Downchild Blues Band for about 8 shows on their 50th anniversary tour. Lance said the concert is a bit of a tribute to Downchild’s pianist, Michael Fonfara who died in January.

Further ahead, he’s got Matachedash Parish from Hugh’s Room May 7, and as Lance said Halfadash because it only involves 6 of the dozen band members, in a Covid friendly concert from Tapestry Hall in Cambridge as part of what the Mariposa Folk Festival is doing this year in lieu of a Tudhope Park extravaganza. That’s happening June 4.

Summer Theater

If we move into and orange or better COVID status there will be a summer theater program at the Opera House.  It will open with a new Norm Foster play, Come Down From Up River (June 30 to July 16), followed by Driving Miss Daisy (July 21 to August 13) and then another Foster play, Jonas & Barry In the Home (August 18 to September 3). Get tickets online and there’s a deal for multiple tickets.

Not at the Opera House, but the Opera House gets a cut if you buy tickets for virtual concerts by Molly Johnson (April 17) or Whitehorse (May 8) – but you have to use the sale code ORILLIA when you buy.

Teacher Needed

The Orillia and District Arts Council is about to spend the grant money they received to start their art program designed to help women with mental health issues. It will be delivered online and it needs an artist to lead it.

Some of the skills an applicant might have are journaling, sculpting, print making, painting, photography, and knowledge of Indigenous art. Some of the program can be done live, or by video. The workshop leader will have a hand in designing each weekly program and should submit outlines for each.

There is a deadline of March 30 to apply by email to You can find out more here.

Music and Other Stuff

Zachary Lucky has another online concert happening March 28. His Live From Home show is at 8 p.m. on Youtube.

Storytelling Orillia has an online event March 28 from 2 to 4 p.m. The featured guest is Selina Eisenberg of Montreal. She is the past president of Storytellers Canada and is hooked into a network south of the border and in Europe. World Storytelling day happens to be Saturday, as is the first day of spring, but what the heck, our Orillia crew started the whole thing in Canada and they can go a week late if they want to. Email (sorry, there was a typo in that last week) for the Zoom link.

Downtown Orillia Management Board’s Easter Scavenger Hunt is going online. Check out their Facebook page at 9:30 a.m. April 3 to get a list of questions about downtown businesses. The first 10 people to submit answers by email to or as a Facebook message to all the questions will win Downtown Dollars and probably something chocolaty. Oh, and they’ve moved into second floor space at Creative Nomad Studios.

The Hog N’ Penny has the return of their Trivia Night, Thursdays (tonight) at 7:30 p.m. There’s limited seating.

The Roots North Music Festival is postponed – again. It will however have a concert on Youtube, Facebook and possibly Rogers TV featuring an all local line up. That happens April 23.

The Orillia Museum of Art and History’s History of Medicine in Orillia exhibit is up. All the pieces are from the museum’s archives and they have some stuff about the history of Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, the nursing school and Dr. Trevor McLennan. Accompanying the exhibit are 16 photographs by Dr. Harry Hall called Views From a Canoe.

Peter Street Fine Arts has new art by Tammy Robinson up.

Steven Henry takes requests Saturday nights at 8 p.m. here. It’s good way to spend two hours.

Joe Huron plays jazz guitar Sunday’s at noon on Facebook.  Catch him here.

Through the Farmers’ Market, artists have another online avenue to sell their work. Check it out here. Saturday you can shop in person at the market from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The Leacock Associate’s annual student writing competition is open to high school and college students aged 14 to 19. There are prizes of $1,000, $700 and $300. Entry details are here, you have until April 15. Email for more details or questions.

Stanton McKinnon, formerly of Terry Savage and the Wonky Honkies, has been writing some music. You can hear it on his Soundcloud page.

Reay has a new video for the song Junkyard. You can watch it and other video they produced here.

(Photo By Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia; Images Supplied) Main: The 2018 Orillia Scottish Festival parade.

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