This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Today’s key phrase is rock and roll. It’s a pretty specific genre of music, even though it has many step-children. I think when it comes down to it, most people could agree Neil Diamond is not rock and roll and Rush is. However if you are part of the nominating process for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it would appear, based on when each of those were inducted to the Hall of Fame, Neil Diamond was on someone’s mind as being more rock than Rush.

Apparently being the vanguard of progressive rock and roll, spawning numerous imitators, being cited as most influential by hundreds of their peers only gets you a two year delay behind the guy who sang Song Sung Blue. Never mind it took 30 years for the Hall of Fame to figure out the band which should have been inducted the first year of the Hall’s existence should be welcomed into the club. The Beatles didn’t even get  in the first year of the Hall of Fame; it took 5 whole years for them to figure it out.

Now imagine if you are a member of any of these bands: King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the MC5, Iron Maiden, The Guess Who, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Judas Priest, Dick Dale, Link Wray or Joe Cocker, and you had to go to sleep each night with knowledge music you made set trends and countless other musicians and bands look up to you as being influential in their own music careers and yet Laura Nyro is in the Hall of Fame.

Such is the screwball world of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where being part of the in crowd, or the in crowd wanting to suck up to you, is more a factor over just being good at what you do.

Here are this year’s list of nominees. Beck, Pat Benatar, Kate Bush, Devo, Duran Duran, Eminem, Eurythmics, Judas Priest, Fela Kuti, the MC5, New York Dolls, Dolly Parton, Rage Against the Machine, Lionel Richie, Carley Simon, A Tribe Called Quest, and Dionne Warwick.

That’s only the nominee list. The MC5 have been nominated 6 times and still aren’t in, Rage Against the Machine 4 times, and Judas Priest three times.

One of the nominees is a rap artist and I think there are enough fundamental differences to rock and roll Eminem and all the other hip hop and rap artists should be in their own Hall of Fame. Even if anyone buys your argument that’s rock, then why isn’t the Sugarhill Gang in the Hall of Fame since they have been credited by everyone who knows anything at all about rap they invented the genre?

One of the nominees is such a force, I guarantee no one can tell you why Fela Kuti is on the list. And what are Bush, Parton, Richie, Simon and Warwick doing on this list? Yeah, I recall those heavy beats they are known for.

This brings us to the reason I’m ranting on this subject, and it’s about a word the music business doesn’t have in their trusty dictionary of jargon – integrity. Parton has been in the news all week for refusing her nomination because, “I don’t feel that I have earned that right. I really do not want votes to be split because of me, so I must respectfully bow out.”

I don’t think anyone could ever accuse Parton of not being self aware of her place in the grand scheme of things, music or otherwise. To her credit, she understands only so many of the list will get voted in and maybe the MC5, or Judas Priest or Rage will have  to wait another year to take their place because she’ll suck up all the oxygen for an honour she arguably doesn’t fit the criteria for.

The Hall of Fame said, thanks for your input, but you stay on the ballot. Talk about reading the room. The support for Parton’s position and the anger at the Hall of Fame has burned up the fiber optics of the internet all week, and these guys insist.

The whole thing is just a schmooze fest for a bunch of people who don’t make music, but make a nice living from the work of those who do.

Survey Says

Are you a musician, pro or amateur? Have you done The Effects of Instrumental Music Practice on the Well-being, Mental Health and Social Support of Student, Amateur and Professional Musicians in Canada survey the Canadian Band Association and the Council of Ministers of Education have initiated.

They want to find out how people have been affected according to age and skill level with practicing their art during the pandemic. I don’t know what it will lead to, but when anyone undertakes a national survey like this it tends to lead to some kind of government program.

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.

Play Along

The Orillia Centre for Arts and Culture has a weekend of workshops and schmoozing planned for April 8 and 9 at the Opera House. 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.

The Shorts

  • This Saturday Arts District galleries have an art hop they’re calling Equinox from 1 to 3 p.m. Anyone who buys something can enter a draw for a bag of arts district prizes. Hibernation Arts March’s show is Of Women for International Women’s Day; Peter Street Fine Art has Wendy Fex as their guest artist this month.
  • Ayden Miller’s band, New Friends have been in California recording and just released a video of one of their new tunes, Right Here. I suspect with the bunch of songs they’ve made lately they’re going to be pretty hot this summer.
  • The Orillia Concert Association’s next event is March 27 at the Opera House with the Hog Town Brass. For the first time ever you can get single concert tickets, instead of having to get a season subscription ticket.
lance anderson
Lance Anderson leads the band for this year’s Gospel and Blues concert.
  • Tickets are now available for Mariposa’s Gospel and Blues concert April 9 at the Opera House. 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.
  • Roots North only has 40 tickets left for 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • Zachary Lucky’s new album, Songs For Hard Times – vinyl LPs have arrived and you can go to his Bandcamp page to order it, or a CD or digital download – and listen to the album.
  • 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. Just let the playlist run, 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. In case you are wondering, the annual International Women’s Day Art Show is happening this year, but in April.
  • 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.

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

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