By John Swartz
Strap in, it’s been a busy week with concerts and a play, and all of a sudden there’s a lot of things to do the next few weeks.
First on the pecking order is the play. The Opera House is currently running Ziigwen Mixemong’s Mno Bimaadiziwin (which translates to A Good Life). It’s a play about healing as 4 people introduce themselves to each other and the sweat lodge guide. The guide, or conductor, is played by Jordan Burns. The character is like so many people I know from across the lake; a bit of a dry wit and enough happy energy for what comes next it’s almost infectious.
The play starts with him asking the four (Pesch Nepoose, Brianne Tucker, Trina Paula Moyen and John Roldan) to tell a little bit about themselves – which takes up the bulk of the play. Each monologue shows us the trials they have been through. The first is a woman who it seems only recently found out how Native she is and doesn’t know how to cope with it. She wants to be part of the community, but wonders if she’ll be accepted, and always carried the idea she was different than the world she grew up in. The others had their struggles with drugs, sexual abuse, violence in the home and being gay. Each of their troubles stem from just being Native.
A lot of it is about how society treated them and how they dealt, poorly, with it. They are doing the sweat lodge as a way of healing themselves. The play runs to October 3 and you can get tickets online.
Saturday night the Orillia Youth Centre’s annual fundraising concerts happened at ODAS Park under a tent, the same one the Mariposa Folk Festival used to use in the pub before they outgrew it.
The performers were Roger Harvey, Skye Wallace and Irish Mythen. The most obvious thing to have taken away from the night is just how bloody happy everyone was to go to a concert.
I got my times wrong and missed most of Roger’s set. Skye didn’t have her band and accompanied herself on acoustic guitar. There is no doubt she is a fantastic performer, she sings very well and she can growl when it’s called for.
Irish Mythen is something else. Singer, songwriter, comedian, you have to be brain dead to not enjoy her performance. Two things she said are of importance. She said at the beginning she got so many requests online from the time the concert was announced to that day and she had them on a list and would try to play every one of them rather than go with a prepared set list.
The other thing, while each of the performers gave thanks to youth center staff and the volunteers and sponsors Kevin Gangloff wrangled, Irish Mythen went one step further. She noticed the silent auction table at the other end of the tent, and marveled at all things donated to raise the pot from the concert, so she said she was going to put up a house concert for the silent auction next year. That’s incredible. Musicians are often aware of the causes they are performing in aid of, but I don’t recall I ever witnessed an artist so tuned into what was happening surrounding the gig they felt moved enough to do more than perform.
Kevin told me Monday night, even though they are still working on the books from the concert, he’s pretty sure more than $20,000 will have been raised. And he wasn’t done yet. Monday night he was stickhandling another fundraiser for Green Haven Shelter for Women and Youth.
This time Sam Johnston, Roger Harvey and Sean Patrick was the line up at Creative Nomad Studios. Sam opened bookending the set with her own tunes and doing covers in between. She did a few blues pieces, but what I liked was how she structured her set. From Janice Joplin’s Piece Of My Heart through Hank William’s I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry and onward each tune had a little more energy to spread, so by the time the finale arrived you felt she had taken you on a journey.
Anyone who sings a song about Blue Balls gets my attention. I’m sure that is what Roger Harvey said, balls, plural. Turns out the song was about Blue Ball (singular), Pennsylvania, and to get to Paradise, PA, you have to go through Intercourse, PA. Those are all real places, not unlike our own Dildo, Newfoundland and a trio of also closely located towns in Michigan – Climax, Colon and Hell. After the concert I told Roger I spent some time thinking about how much I was looking forward to having some fun with that song title, and I think I just did.
Roger is a storyteller, every song seemed to be about a place he’d been, or an experience he had. I thought, if there was such a thing as a troubadour anymore, he’d be it. Roger was the only performer of the weekend not soloing. He had Ben Pierce along to play electric guitar to his acoustic.
Sean Patrick, our very own banjo picker, did a set of stuff he wrote, some bluegrass tunes, and a couple gospel tunes. You know, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen him play, but it’s been at clubs and on the street downtown for events and I was struck by how good his voice is. I don’t know if it was the setting with fewer distractions, or the acoustics of the room, but he’s much better than I ever thought he was.
Later that night, after the concert, someone thought it would be a good idea to bust up the back entry to Creative Nomad Studio. Being a place with all the latest, they have a video camera system that is much better than any bank in town has and got some great still images of the guy. It’s possible the hair salon next door was broken into as well. So, if you recognize him, call the Orillia OPP or Crime Stoppers.
Hold on to your seats because the Mariposa Folk Festival has 6 concerts scheduled for October 23. Great, you say. You can be excited, but at the same time bummed, because 5 of them are happening at different venues at the same time. It’s been in the works for a while.
“The foundation board of directors challenged the festival organizing group back in the spring to come up with some alternatives to the festival,” said Mariposa president Pam Carter. They got a $50,000 Celebrate Ontario Reconnect grant, and added $1,000 from RTO7 and $1,500 for the Paul Quarrington Legacy Fund.
“We have a grant application to Heritage Canada, so we’re hopeful we will also get that grant,” Pam said.
You can get tickets at the Opera House box office. Here’s what you get to choose from (not in appearance order):
- Mariposa Inn – Amanda Rheaume, James Gray, Kaia Kater and the Doozies
- ODAS Park – Danny Michel, Jay Stiles, the Connors Brothers, the Honeyrunners
- Opera House – Angelique Francis, Coco Love Alcorn, Lydia Persaud
- Braestone Farm – Ariko, Mimi O’Bonsawin, Rick Fines, Terra Lightfoot
- St. Paul’s Centre – Birds of Bellwoods, Kyla Charter, Suzie Vinnick, Zachary Lucky
Those all start at 1 p.m. Saturday evening, there’s a 7:30 p.m. concert at the Opera House with Donovan Woods, Evangeline Gentle and Shakura S’Aida.
There’s a reason 5 concerts are happening at the same time and it has to do with you-know-what.
“We had to sell tickets specific to the venue because we didn’t want to take a chance that somebody at Braestone saying, “I think I’ll drive in to St. Paul’s and see what’s happening there and then they can’t get in because of capacity issues,”” Pam said.
The point of the grant was to get artists and production crews working. Mariposa has their production crew working on these, plus they have a number of volunteers on board to pull it off.
All this is a forerunner to Mariposa getting back into operating mode.
“We’re hoping to have a Mariposa-in-Concert once we get this one underway. We’ll be starting up the winter concert series,” she said. I guess we know what Lance Anderson is doing next February when the annual February Blues concert happens.
Imagines Of, Well, at Least It’s Not Winter, Yet
Thanksgiving is just ahead and so is the annual – with a one year break – Images Studio Tour. There are 30 artists participating at 20 galleries/studios. Six studios have more than one artist showing their work.
If you needed an excuse to get out, this is it. The drive through the townships should remind you, you are living in one of the greatest places in the world. Add in some great art and artists and your eyes will want to get extra pay. The galleries are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day of the weekend. You can download a tour map here.
More Live Music
Toward the middle of October the Orillia Jazz Festival is happening. Everything is going to be at the Opera House. Friday October 15 the Laila Biali Trio is in.
October 16 Brassworks does their annual concert at which they involve usually whole bands from the high schools. This time it’s soloist. They’ll have Grace Locker (Orillia Secondary School), Zach Zirger (Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School) and Laurel Van Pypen (Twin Lakes Secondary School) playing along. They also have former members of Jazzamatazz in to do some numbers, a quartet actually (Deb Halbot, Christina Bosco, Brian Pretty and Ian Mundy).
Brassworks is a rather large band with sometimes 4, sometimes 5 trumpets, same on the other side with trombones, and a rhythm section. Too bad no tubas, about 8 or a dozen would be nice. They usually do a few big band pieces, modern and old, and some Vince Guaraldi songs (the Charlie Brown guy).
Sunday, October 17 Lance Anderson is doing his Oscar Peterson show with Russ Boswell. If you haven’t seen this, you are missing out in ways I can’t describe. Lance tells several stories about Oscar (he knew Oscar) and plays the music as Oscar would have played it. Get tickets for all three concerts online.
While speaking of Lance, he also has a new show to see online. He’s got a new band together to do the music of Sly and the Family Stone in a show called Everyday People. It’s presented under the Hugh’s Room Live banner and you can get tickets to watch it online October 9. It will stream for 48 hours.
And from the oops department, there is one gig not at the Opera House. Will Davis will be at Apple Annie’s Cafe on Saturday, October 16 from noon to 3 p.m.
Have you taken time to nominate someone or some group for an Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Award? The Orillia and District Arts and the Orillia Museum of Art and History combined their respective awards and it’s time to nominate. You can find out how to nominate a person or group online.
There are 5 categories:
- Education in Arts, Culture and Heritage (does not need to be a professional teacher, but whose knowledge and teaching skills inspire others to pursue their interest in the arts and heritage.)
- Emerging Artist (anyone in the early stages, less than 5 years) of establishing themselves as an artist in any genre – that means musicians and writers qualify too).
- Heritage: Restoration, Renovation and Publication (for individuals and groups)
- Event in Arts, Culture and Heritage ( could be a one-off, series, or annual event)
- Qennefer Browne Achievement Award (individual or group who have made an outstanding contribution to the cultural life of the community – can be life’s work, or something really big in the last year)
You can look at the last three weeks columns for some ideas and reminders of who you can nominate. Every year, so much goes on, I’m always afraid I’m going to miss someone when I make up these little cheat sheets. That isn’t a problem this time around; I’m out of ideas this week.
Wait, I just thought of one for the event category. The galleries and artists in the Arts District kept this past and the previous summer colourful with their outdoor, on the street, little get togethers. They organize themselves with various evening and afternoon strolls down Peter Street. When they get to take over the roadway it’s almost like a carnival down there.
Orillia, you’re going to get cultured if someone has to beat it into you. And that someone is me. We’ll do it with drumsticks. Right behind the, well, not exactly behind, but between the Opera House and the library Saturday at noon and 1 p.m. ODAC’s Culture Days committee wanted to do something involving drumming and I’m not sure who had it, but the idea of bucket drumming came up, just before someone else said, “Who can we get to stickhandle it? (Stickhandle? Get it?)”
If you can guess who they called, you, obviously, get to be captain of the Guessing Team. So come down to Market Square, bring a bag, not to put over my head because you can shop at the Farmers’ Market too, and together we’ll string something together. Did I ever mention how much joy can be had drumming on a banjo? Actually we are drumming on some real buckets I picked up at Orillia Home Hardware, with real drumsticks from Gilbert Guitars.
Last Saturday at the same place, Aliyah Beckles, led a small, enthusiastic group through some dance moves. A couple of young girls looked like they were having fun, one mother seemed to be, as were a few hangers on.
Culture Days is now a month long affair, instead of one weekend and everything is free to attend.
There are some other things happening. You can watch a video of artwork created by young people. Every Friday for the month you can visit The Meeting Place, 28 West Street North, from noon to 4 p.m. to indulge your creative side by colouring, painting, drawing and singing.
The Ronnie Douglas Blues Band is having a concert, with Alex Rabbitson opening, at St. James’ Anglican Church October 23 at 8 p.m. It’s in the auditorium, so you won’t have to sit upright in a comfortable pew, and you need to get a ticket (they’re still free).
Jakob Pearce has a few gigs to take in. He’ll be playing at The Ktchn Saturday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Ktchn I haven’t heard of before. It’s on Oro-Medonte Line 11 (left of Horseshoe Valley Road. He’s also going to be playing at the Arts District Art Hop Saturday from noon to 3 p.m.
Speaking of Art Hop, one is happening Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. in the Arts District. I never really understood why they call it an Art Hop. If it was at the Bunny Farm I could understand. It wasn’t until I was speaking to Molly Farquharson of Hibernation Arts and I asked if the galleries were going to have stuff outside or not and she said, “No, people can just hop from gallery to gallery,” the event title made sense to me.
The folks over at Somniatis have been keeping things alive during the last year. Ron Hill shot and edited a video detailing what went into one costume you can watch. They are also continuing their fundraising effort in support of Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital’s mental health program.
The Leacock Museum has the dining facilities in Swanmore Hall up for lease. You can find the details and application forms online.
Creative Nomad Studios is having a Holiday Market November 27 and 28. Now is the time to apply to be a vendor. You can find the details online. Also see Mike Bailey’s Catching Light photo exhibit.
OMAH has Welcome Home to Orillia., which tells the stories of 11 people who now call Orillia home, but didn’t always. Also see Will McGarvey’s exhibit, Sticks and Stones. You can also check out the opening with Will and Jill Price online.
Sustainable Orillia is starting the third in a series of art contests ($75 prize for the winner) on the theme of Housing. Make submissions here by October 31.
Murray Van Halem, has a show at Double Door Studio in Anten Mills from October 2 to 12. Murray will be on hand October 3 from noon to 4 p.m.
This month’s guest artist at Hibernation Arts is Natasha Genevieve and she be at the gallery Saturday from noon to 3 p.m.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Cast of Mno Bimaadiziwin, now playing at the Opera House.