This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

As things look like we might be even more committed to staying at home, depending on what the province announces tomorrow, and we’ve exhausted all the resources at hand to keep our brains occupied with constructive thoughts -,

Enter Peter Light and Wendy Whelan. They are starting an Orillia songwriters group in conjunction with the Songwriters Association of Canada. They want to meet virtually on Facebook the first Tuesday of every month from 7 to 9 p.m.

A goal for members is to write a song per month and get feedback and constructive criticism. For more details email or The meet up will start May 4, and I think they don’t mean to imply meetings will be virtual forever.

Writing is a good thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s letters, emails, Facebook/Reddit/Youtube/Twitter comments, stories or poetry/songs. Every bit of organizing the alphabet to your liking exercises brain cells. Writing has a funny way of organizing and crystallizing thoughts. More so if you are trying to use meter, rhythm and rhyme. It can be cathartic too, not in the ‘I need help going to the bathroom’ way. Maybe you do. Write about it.

At first it’s uncomfortable, I know. Anyone who writes regularly for pleasure, pay, or under duress looked at a blank page or computer screen with apprehension in the beginning. You remember those 3 a.m. nights before essays were due, don’t you? The interesting thing is, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Well, for most people that’s the case. And, for most people they never find out they can write because they don’t try and try and try.

I think Jayne Turvey, of the Orillia Public Library, might agree with me. She started a writer’s project at the library a few years ago and had a great success with it, but I’m sure she had to be more of a coach telling people to keep trying.

Do you know, some writers take days to write a couple sentences because they need to get just the right words in the right order? Others just go with it, Stephen King is an example, and get it all down first before going back and cleaning it up into something someone else might want to read. The same thing happens with songwriting.

You don’t need to know how to play an instrument. If your words are organized there’s always someone who can add the notes. I guess at that stage its poetry, but some poetry suggests music just by looking at it, let alone reciting it.

Bottom line is, you got nothing better to do right now, or anything to lose.

More Music

Speaking of songwriting. Max Metcalf, son of Craig and Julie, has written some tunes and made some videos. His band is called John’s Cottage. I like the musical hook for his latest (this week) video, Deathbed. Some of the videos are done with little production, others are from studio sessions.

Little Caesar and the Consuls

Last Sunday I was listening to Steven Henry serenade a ton of people on Facebook (every Sunday night at 8 p.m.) and he sang He Ain’t Heavy. He mentioned he was part of a video project by Martin Damsell which involved a lot of musicians, so I checked it out. Same tune and it’s great. I recognized a number of the crew. Martin’s band is Little Caesar and the Consuls and they’ve covered a number of tunes you’ll probably enjoy.

If you missed Zachary Lucky’s online concert last Friday night like I did you can still see it on his Youtube channel, plus his other concerts and videos.

Ethan Mask has been experimenting with piano sounds. He records some things playing on different pianos he finds at his fingertips. An example of what he does, which to seems like he’s exploring the sonic qualities of the instrument he is using, can be found here. Maybe someday he’ll get all his experiments organized into an album.

I stumbled on a piece by Alan Cross this week. He writes about generations discovering their music has crossed into the realm of ‘classics.’ It’s an interesting perspective backed up by years working in radio.

The Kiwanis Music Festival is doing it by video again this year. I went looking (should have called someone earlier in the week) for video from last year and only found one (the long one) on their Facebook page. I tried Youtube and didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did find a long list of videos by young people performing for Kiwanis Music Festivals in other communities – with a couple local older ones in the mix.

Don’t forget Battlescarred’s new EP (I wrote about them last week) is out on all streaming apps on April 27. In the mean time, listen to the first single.

The Alzheimer Society of Simcoe County has a fundraiser happening online April 23 at 7:30 p.m. It’s called Tunes N’ Treats and features performances by B. Knox, Whiskey River and Orillia’s Sam Johnston. It’s the kick off for the Walk for Alzheimers.  When you register, they’ll send you a link to watch the concert.

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

And Other Stuff

If we move into and orange or better COVID status there will be a summer theater program at the Opera House with Norm Foster’s Come Down From Up River (June 30 to July 16), followed by Driving Miss Daisy (July 21 to August 13) and 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.

It’s time to go organize the cutlery drawer – again.

(Images Supplied)

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