This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

They’re calling it the first wave of performer announcements, but with 40 acts the Mariposa Folk Festival has booked for July’s festival I’m not too sure the subsequent waves to get them to 60 acts will be as deep.

Nevertheless, announcing what they have up their sleeve for the summer gives all of us a bit of hope during this cold snap and something to look forward to.

They have listed Lennon Stella, Mavis Staples and Serena Ryder at the top, which usually indicates headliners, though the MFF isn’t saying that. I suspect Staples and Ryder are headliners. Stella could be; she’s get a huge following, platinum awards for singles Polaroid and 4 other tunes, and was in the TV series Nashville.

Irish Mythen at a benefit for the Orillia Youth Centre 2021

Cherry picking the list for the performers you likely know of, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Dala, Dwayne Gretzky, Irish Mythen, James Keelaghan, Marla & David Celia, Rueben and the Dark, the Arrogant Worms, and the Weather Station are returning to the festival.

The rest of the list includes, Kathleen Edwards, JP Saxe, Allison Russell, Andrew Waite, Aysanabee, Celeigh Cardinal, Charlie Cunningham, Harrow Fair, Ian Sherwood, Jane’s Party, John Craigie, Kellie Loder, Le Ren, Leyla McCalla, Lido Pimienta, Logan Staats, Moscow Apartment, Ruby Waters, Run Loops, Sraha Hagen, Stephen Lewis and the Big Band of Fun, Tami Nelson, The Fretless, The Pairs, The Small Glories, Vinta Youngtree and the Blooms and Zaki Ibrahim.

You can get tickets online. There are a variety of options. Weekend passes for youth and young adults are pretty cheap.

And, if you want to play Mariposa, or know someone who does, the Audition Showcase is happening May 1 at St. Paul’s Centre – but you have to apply now. Get the details online.

Who Do You Trust?

Something I’ve commented about in other places are media companies. Media is a big subject. It could be the place you get news, the place you order a movie, listen to music, or get your sports scores and stories from. As it relates to arts and culture they all kind of have a part to play. My main beef has been with lousy, sloppy reporting and agenda pushing. Sometimes it’s a personality I have an issue with, sometimes it’s the corporation.

This morning I came across a story in the Guardian about Vice. Vice is a Canadian publication which started out as an edgy tabloid you could get at record shops and places catering to a youth demographic. I used to pick one up every time I was in Toronto, and it seems to me some shop in town eventually had them. Then they went digital and international. Many people think of them of as is great documentary makers – and they have been, they made some of the best.

They veered toward hard news covering issues in depth the mainstream was glossing over, and away from indy bands, movies and books (they still do that, but it’s not the bread and butter anymore).

You might also know them because one of the three founders is Gavin McInnes, the founder of the Proud Boys. He’d left Vice already, but it was a wakeup call for many that someone of that type ran a company they relied on for information. The other two have stayed away from declaring a specific political bent. However, most readers and critics would rightly understand Vice to have a left leaning editorial direction, which does not mean they pushed an agenda, but their stories had a skew.

My regard for Vice changed with the Guardian piece, which states Vice secretly organized the Azimuth Music Festival in Saudi Arabia. The rag that exposed so much malfeasance around the world was in cahoots with a country that has a crappy human rights record. It gives you pause. The budget for the festival is reported to have been $20 million. I’m sure they had cash in it along with manpower, and no one plays with that much money not expecting a return. So, greed has become a thing at Vice.

One wonders who can you trust anymore? There are a number of information outlets I struck off my reading list for various transgressions and now there’s another.

More obviously related to culture is the farce happening at Spotify. The internet has been buzzing over Neil Young’s decision to remove his music from Spotify. Neil shared a letter he wrote to Spotify and his record label, Warner Records, demanding his music to be immediately removed from the streaming service. He was taking issue with Spotify also being the platform for the Joe Rogan Experience program.

“They can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” he said in the letter. The issue is over Rogan having Dr. Robert Malone on his program and Malone spewing all kinds of misinformation about the pandemic. Malone is the darling of the anti this and that crowd, the same ones who haven’t done any homework to find out Malone embellishes his CV – a lot, and claims to be the inventor of the mRNA technology which is used to deliver the goods in the COVID vaccine, ignoring the work of hundreds of researchers who came after him building on the one stepping-stone he had a hand in discovering. There is no one inventor of the mRNA technology over the 60 years of research since the discovery of mRNA cells which lead to the development of the COVID vaccine.

The whole ‘could we use mRNA as a vaccine?’ road started with Dr. Pieter Cullis and his team at the University of British Columbia in the 80s. For that matter Dr. Derrick Rossi, a Canadian stem cell biologist, whose work in 2007 at Harvard Medical School culminated in the creation of Moderna has more of a claim than Malone, but you don’t see Rossi, or any of the others circling around the microphones of the globe like moths at a light and giving themselves dislocated vertebrae. There are 4 other key scientists who pop out by name in a few published timelines as having key roles, Malone isn’t one of them.

The quote above has been taken by many to be a threat to Spotify, a stifling of free speech, ignoring all the other words Young used to give his reasons. Only simpletons see it that way. Anybody who understands the entertainment business, especially Young, knows a hair on the tail can’t wag the dog. He was simply putting Spotify into the limelight (I was going to say on the spot) and euphemistically saying, “are you guys going to side the liars, or me?

Young’s music is removed from Spotify, so I guess we know the answer to the question. He forced Spotify to publicly reveal its spots. Spotify published a wishy washy response, but its business as usual. You’ll still be able to find Young’s music online, including his Youtube channel, or just go to his website and listen to or buy his music, including the new album, Barn.

Since then the rest of his former band, Crosby, Stills and Nash have followed suit, as has Joni Mitchell and Nils Lofgren. Spotify has been hemorrhaging subscribers as well.

For my part, I wasn’t a huge Spotify user because they have one of the worst royalty rates and I’m not going to miss them. Almost all the other music services pay crappy royalties to musicians. Bandcamp is the best, which is why you find me linking Bandcamp artist pages instead of the others in this column when I know an artist has one.

I used to listen to Joe Rogan a lot, but stopped when he moved to Spotify. Despite his lack in intellectual depth, he did have interesting guests and many of them were knowledgeable in their fields of expertise. Scanning the list of guests he’s had since moving that appears to have changed, so I’m not missing anything.

So the point of all this we have to bring integrity to the table if they won’t. No one has to listen to any media outlet, especially if they have a record of being sloppy or lying. No one has pay homage to an artist because they like their music or their movies if those are terrible people. I don’t watch movies with Tom Cruise in them. I’m striking Eric Clapton off my list (though it’s hard not to listen to the greatest rock song ever recorded, Layla) and I won’t use services that are blatantly ripping off the people who give them product. It’s hard these days because so many of the entertainment services we all use are owned by conglomerates that do evil things.

They are all about money, and you are the key ingredient in supplying that money. Take time to understand who you are doing business with. If a company does things you find reprehensible, stop doing business with them. That includes all shopping. I get ill when I drive by Walmart, so I don’t go there. I feel anger every time I have to put gas in my car, but in that case there no alternatives.

In short, take a stand. The good news is we have more than enough local, regional and national artists to pass the time away with, look them up. (For that matter shop at locally owned businesses period) Or keep looking in here to find out what is worth your time to enjoy. SUNonline/Orillia tries very hard, harder than most, to make sure everything published has a reputable source, and that isn’t going to change. Of course, some might say there is an agenda here. That might be true if you count a bias toward local artists and in the other sections hard data, facts and observable truth. In that case I’ll take the criticism.

The Shorts

  • Opera House has a bunch of concerts lined up for March. Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre is bringing an Aqualung 50th anniversary show in. Chantel Kreviazuk, the Shantyman and Ron James are also scheduled.
  • Alex Rabbitson has an album of new music, Good Boy Ghetto Blaster to listen to. I think the pieces are kind of catchy, rely on grooves and could be right at home in a movie soundtrack.  Some of it reminds me of Baby Huey, some of it Graham Central Station.
  • Sean and Dale Patrick are playing at Picnic Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.
  • OMAH has two new exhibits, a 35 piece quilt show called Colour With a U and From Marbles to Minecraft: A Century of Childhood which contrasts childhood in Orillia between the 1920s and the 2020s. Also, February 16 at 7 p.m. the next installment of the History Speaker’s Series happens online. Fred Blair will speak about the Black Veterans of the War of 1812, specifically why the veterans refused to settle on land granted to them on Wilberforce Street in Oro. Call the museum at 705-326-2159 to register and the event link will be sent to you. Also, you can check out the unveiling of OMAH’s latest additions of Elizabeth Wyn Wood sketches to its collection of Youtube page.
  •  Gordon Lightfoot has a new tune, Oh So Sweet, you can listen to on Youtube
  • Steven Henry does an online concert Saturday’s at 8 p.m.
  • Did you get a season ticket here for the Orillia Concert Association’s excellent series? It’s only $70 and I dare you to find a better deal to see three concerts of this type anywhere. The next and first in person concert of the series is February 20 with Sonic Escape (Maria Millar, violin and Shawn Wyckoff, flute) at St. Andrew’s, followed by the Hog Town Brass March 27 at the Opera House. The final concert is May 1 with the Toronto All Star Big Band.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Mariposa Folk Festival audience 2019.

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