This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

The Canadian Band Association and the Council of Ministers of Education have initiated a national survey to find out the effects of practicing music on the well being, mental health and support for people aged 14 and over. It’s called The Effects of Instrumental Music Practice on the Well-being, Mental Health and Social Support of Student, Amateur and Professional Musicians in Canada. Can you tell an academic came up with that?

The people doing the research are professors and instructors at the University of Quebec. I suspect this is ground work for a federal program, subsidies, for musicians who have been out of work for two years. Imagine if your doctor or accountant had to stay away from work for that length of time. And imagine there were a couple breaks where work was resumed only to be yanked back again. 

Being a musician is already a hard existence. You have to continually scare up employment, week by week, sometimes the owner of the establishment doesn’t pay you and you don’t find out until after you’ve done the work, You have to pay for the upkeep of your work tools out of what you make, which for many is minimum wage or less.

There are still bills and rent to pay, food to buy. Lots of musicians don’t have partners at home because who would put that hardship on someone else. Yes, it gets better the longer you stick with it, but that does not erase the toil getting there.

Many more people had the desire to be a musician and left when a stable job was presented. Others just never went down that road at all knowing how tough it is. Of course lots of people think – ‘why don’t they just get a job?’ As if most musicians aren’t already working at another job, usually in the restaurant and bar industry, or at low paying manual labour jobs.

On top of all that, to get anywhere in the biz, you’ve got to look successful all the time, meaning nice threads dude (expensive threads too). It’s one of the biggest illusions going, a moderately successful music career. The only other job that comes close to being as harrowing is being a writer (you’d be surprised at how little some of your top selling authors really make from typing).

That’s’ in the good times. It’s been tougher the last couple years, having done a number on a lot of psyches, (which as history has shown from time to time, might result in some awesome music eventually). It’s a life certainly not for everybody, but everybody’s lives are a little more joyful for their effort.

The surveyors trying to also find out how people have been affected according to age and skill level, how they practiced their art during the pandemic (one can always practice in solitude, but most people make music in groups), and a range of other variables. They also hope musicians who managed to keep working do the survey so they have additional comparison data points (they state they have a control group of non-musicians organized).

As pointed out in the survey title, this is also for amateur musicians as well, and having done the survey some of the questions are directly related to how people practiced their instruments as  matter of study, or to keep their chops up.

In keeping with my thought this is leading toward a government program, getting information from the community for arts related things is the usual process taken in order to justify creating a program. Which, as a reader and friend pointed, you never see these things when it’s about sports, they just open the treasury doors, so doing the survey is important.

You can go to it here. It can be done anonymously, but there is an option to leave an email address in order to get results from the survey, and a second place to leave you email addy to enter a draw for participants to receive gift cards from Amazon or Long & McQuade.

In the mean time, we all know someone who is a musician, or aspiring to be one. When you see them, say hello. They are not unapproachable by any means, ask how they are doing, chit chat a bit, maybe buy them a coffee or a beer. We’re all human and musicians, even the famous ones, are just people and they like human contact just as much as anybody else.

Heh, if you know a writer, that last bit of advice works too.

Truth and Reconciliation

The feds have a grant program called Commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30) which will provide up to $10,000 for cultural activities.

There’s a webpage outlining who qualifies to apply and what kinds of projects (commemorate National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, honour children and families of residents who did not come home, etc.). A shortlist of project examples includes ceremonies, creating murals, workshops, speaker’s series and other cultural and artistic activities.

The application deadline is April 11.

The Play’s The Thing

The Orillia Centre for Arts and Culture has a weekend of workshops and schmoozing planned for April 8 and 9. It will happen at the Opera House and it’s about creating a new community theater project.

They have playwright Marcia Johnson whose Serving Elizabeth was on the Stratford summer schedule in 2021, speaking at a meet and greet the Friday of the weekend at 7:30 p.m. She’ll be joined by Simon Malbogat who is the artistic director of Mixed Theatre Company and Desiree Leverenz, the founder of The Orange Girls theater company.

Saturday’s program starts at 10 a.m. with schmoozing followed by a workshop with Malbogat. Visit the website to register to participate (its fee) or make a donation to the Orillia Centre program.

Counting the Days

Roots North is getting closer have you got your tickets yet?  The main stage concerts are at St. Paul’s Centre April 22 and 23. The Friday night show has Craig Mainprize, Terra Lightfoot and Steve Poltz playing; Saturday it’s Lydia Persaud, Logan Staats and the Good Lovelies. You can get tickets online.

There will be several venues downtown participating too and organizers say they are close to finalizing that dance card. I do know that Jack Nicholle and Dan McBride will be at Apple Annie’s. Also, the basement level at St. Paul’s will have the Art Market as usual. Roots North is currently taking applications to be part of it. Contact to find out more.

Feeling Blue?

Tickets are now available for Mariposa’s Gospel and Blues concert April 9 at the Opera House. Lance Anderson has been stickhandling this concert for 10 years and each one has been outstanding.

The Weber Brothers have been here many times. These guys play guitar and bass like they were born with them in their hands, and Lance Anderson has them in the band. Also, playing piano, is Quincy Bullen and singing is Selena Evangeline.

Also, if you want to volunteer at the summer festival apply now. And if you want to play at the festival – and you are a new band, apply for the Audition Showcase happening May 1 at St. Paul’s Centre. Of course, tickets for the summer festival are on sale right now.

The Shorts

Zachary Lucky With His New Album
  • Zachary Lucky is a happy guy right now. He’s been waiting on delivery of his new album Songs For Hard Times – the vinyl LPs and they’ve finally arrived.  You can go to his Bandcamp page to order it, or a CD or digital download – and listen to the album.
  • Storytelling Orillia has an online event March 20 – which happens to be International Storytelling Day. Mark Douglas will be talking about the history of the weirs at The Narrows starting at 7 p.m. Register, free, here; you can also make a donation on that page.
  • The City of Orillia is expanding its recreation programs and is accepting proposals for new learning activities. If you have a skill in art, music or other culturally related area you should consider passing on your knowledge. You find a proposal form online.  
  • Mike Hill has a new book out. The Lost Prime Ministers is about the ones we don’t often talk about; Abbott, Thompson, Bowell, and Tupper. You can get a copy at Manticore Books.
  • Liz Anderson is in a band called Sean Cotton and The Acoustic Soul Ensemble and they have a show called Acoustic Floyd happening April 2 at the Canvas Brewing Company in Huntsville. Get tickets online.
  • The Straight Goods (Matt James, Nate Robertson, Peter Sanderson and Steve Parkes) are playing a benefit called Music for Cats 2 at the Moose Lodge May 7. Ronnie Douglas is a special guest for this fundraiser for the Comfie Cat Shelter and tickets are $15 which you can get at Plum Loco.
  • 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.
  • 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. And, March Break is coming and OMAH has programs to keep the kids occupied. Registration is open now.
  • The Opera House has a great schedule of concerts happening and tickets for summer theater are on sale. See all of it here.
  • Creative Nomad Studios has a number of programs to take part in. Check them out here.
  •  The Kensington has an open mic night hosted by Tim Kehoe on Tuesdays from 8 to 11 p.m.
  • Steven Henry does an online concert Saturday’s at 8 p.m.

(Images Supplied)

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