This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

I want to take a minute to tell you about someone you likely never heard of, but had enormous influence on the music you heard on the radio in the 60s and 70s, which in turn is still influencing musicians of today. I missed the news of Rosalie Trombley’s passing last November, and when I found out last week, a little bit of my youth died.

Rosalie Trombley

Rosalie Trombley was like the sun for music in North America. She was the center of gravity and the light shining on tunes that would become hits. Her importance on the direction of modern music from the 60 through to the 70s cannot be overstated. Motown would not have been a thing if not for her. If she didn’t like a tune, it didn’t get played, and if CKLW wasn’t playing it, no one else on either side of the border was going to.

Musicians of all kinds where quoted and paid tribute to her in obituary news stories in Billboard, the NY Times, Globe and Mail and several other publications  – though aside from London and Windsor papers, I didn’t find any other Canadian papers marking the passing, more on that below). I read quotes from Gordon Lightfoot, Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings  and Bob Ezrin who gives her the all the credit for getting Alice Cooper’s I’m Eighteen on the air.

Rosalie was the record librarian at CKLW and after a few years became the music director in 1967, a title which more accurately reflected her role. Many Canadians don’t know the role of that radio station in shaping the soundtrack of our lives. In Canada, everyone, including Canadian broadcasting historians, think CHUM had all the influence and not CKLW because, well, it’s not from Toronto, is it? They are wrong. Many radio stations claim to be #1 – in their market – CKLW was the most listened to radio station in North America as the decades switched from the 60s to the 70s. At night heir 50,000 watts could be heard basically everywhere this side of the Rockies and during the daytime the entire American Midwest and southwestern Ontario. Other radio stations, including CHUM followed their lead. The goal of every band, singer, and vocal group was to get their record played on CKLW because they knew the other stations would follow suit. Her decision to play some tunes from albums even prompted artists to issue singles.

When The Cancon Rule came into being in 1970, which stipulated radio stations had to play 30% music by Canadians, she was still picking winners and introduced many Canadian acts to the mostly American audience.

There was a fellow who used to be the advertising manager at CKLW in the 60s who retired to Orillia. He told me stories of how the artists and record company reps would stream through the CKLW offices every day – and they were only there to see Rosalie; not the DJs, or the station manager.

Listening to CKLW shaped my musical tastes and knowledge until some bright idiot decided to change the format and reduce it to a station almost no one listens to now. I also credit WRIF for stepping in following CKLW’s anemic transformation.

At this moment of reflection on the influence she had on me simply by recognizing a song millions of others would instantly like I am grateful she existed.

Orillia Concert Association
Sonic Escapes – Shawn Wyckoff and Maria Millar (photo by Eitan Klein)

Sunday afternoon the Orillia Concert Association goes live and in living technicolor at the Opera House with a performance by Sonic Escapes. This is a duo, Maria Millar (violin) and Shawn Wyckoff (flute) who cover classical music, some of their own arrangements of current popular music and they compose some of their music. You get a taste of what they do on their Youtube channel. Both went to Julliard, so they got a foundation.

The OCA has always sold their concerts as a season subscription, which is $70 this year. That’s for 5 concerts, and two have already happened as online events. Still, when you consider this concert and the next ones – the Hogtown Brass on March 27 and the Toronto All Star Big Band on May 1 are part of the deal it’s a bargain. I have not been to an OCA concert I haven’t liked. They always seem to find great artists to put in front of Orillia audiences.

You can get season tickets online.

February Blues Moving To April

A little more, but not a lot about the Mariposa Folk Festival’s Gospel and Blues concert. This is Lance Anderson’s annual extravaganza of excellent showmanship and musicianship, which didn’t happen last year because of, circumstances. 

Usually it’s in February around Valentine’s Day, so those of you (guys, pay attention here) that are in the doghouse can maybe redeem yourself and pretend Valentine’s is in April, April 9 to be exact, and get a couple tickets to see the show, which will surely impress your wife (do not take your girlfriend, unless that’s who is annoyed with you).

lance anderson
Lance Anderson at the 2019 Gospel and Blues concert.

It will be at the Opera House and tickets will go on sale likely next week sometime. There’ still a bit of confusion about pandemic rules and how that affects concerts, but once those details are clear the tickets will start flying out of the ticket machine – and they will, this show sells out every time.

Bonus, beside Lance, the Webber Brothers are part of the band. If you don’t know who they are, just go and act like you know you are seeing the best bass/guitar brother combination in Canada.

More Mariposa. You can get tickets for the summer festival online now. 40 acts have been announced and it’s going to be a great weekend. Also, if you and your band have dreamt of playing Mariposa, or know someone who has, the Audition Showcase is happening May 1 at St. Paul’s Centre. You can apply now. Get the details online.

Roots North Is A Go

The Roots North Music Festival has announced the  main stage lineup for the April 21 to 23 concert event. The Friday night show starts with Craig Mainprize followed by Terra Lightfoot and then Steve Poltz. Saturday’s evening concert has Lydia Persaud, Logan Staats and the Good Lovelies.

It was thought there would be some performance announcements this week for other venues, but that hasn’t happened. There are also going to be artists at, at least three downtown venues, but those details are still developing.

You can get tickets online. The main stage concerts will be at St. Paul’s Centre. As with previous years, the basement level at St. Paul’s will be filled with art made locally.

Art Contest

Sustainable Orillia is having an art contest based on the theme Orillia 2050 – a Sustainable City. The idea is to challenge artists to look into the future and imagine what this joint might look like in about 30 years.

The contest is organized into three classes – adult, high school students and elementary school age. They have a $1,500 prize pool to split among the top three in each category.

The contest begins March 1 with a deadline for submissions of June 30 (June 15 for students) with winners announced in July. There will be an exhibition of the work during Sustainable Orillia Month in September. Further details about the contest will be on the Sustainable Orillia website March 1. They are also encouraging sponsors to get on board and those interested can contact

The Shorts

  • Zachary Lucky has two concerts happening March 4 and 5 at Picnic. You can get them online.
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing Co, has a family trivia event happening Sunday at 1 p.m. there is no cover but you should call 705-558-2337 ext 3 to hold a table. Barney; the answer is Barney.
  • Glen Robertson has a new tune, Are You Woke Yet? On his Soundcloud channel. And just let it play, the next tunes in the cue are very good.
  • Do you want to know what the real problem is with pandemic restrictions? Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre and the Aqualung 50th Anniversary Tour concert scheduled for the Opera House March 7 has been postponed. There is no new date yet.  13 other concerts in Ontario were similarly postponed, as well all concerts schedule in British Columbia. The band has been infilling those dates with previously postponed concerts in the U.S. Let’s hope something gets worked out before June 10 when they take the tour to Europe. And yes, I know that’s not the most pressing issue with the pandemic, but the concert was one of the lights at the end of the tunnel. Still happening are concerts with Chantel Kreviazuk March 10, the Shanytman March 17, Ron James March 20, the Stampeders 50th Anniversary gig April 7, Washboard Union May 3,  and I’d get tickets online now for the Mudmen May 5.
Pat the Dog by D. Ahsen:Nase
  • OMAH has 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. Douglas Ahsen:Nase’s excellent exhibit of portraiture is still up, so go see it. March 16 at 7 p.m. the next installment of the History Speaker’s Series happens online. John Savage will speak about The War of the Woods, the conflict between area lumber barons and residents that has its effect through today. Call the museum at 705-326-2159 to register and the event link will be sent to you. And in case you are wondering, the annual International Women’s Day Art Show is happening this year, but in April.
  • Ronnie Douglas has a new original tune called Right Between The Eyes you can see and hear on Youtube.
  • 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.
  • Hibernation Arts has detailed streetscape paintings by David Crighton as the guest artist in February and get in touch to have your work in the March International Women’s Day exhibit (it has to be about women, not necessarily by women)… Peter Street Fine Arts has Jennifer Drake as guest artist this month and has the space open for a guest spot in March.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied)

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