This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Two things are ahead with Lance Anderson at the center of things. One is the 10th annual Gospel and Blues Concert April 9 at the Opera House. This little thing which began on the second floor of the legion and sold out every year outgrew the location and moved to the Mariposa Inn where it proceeded to outgrow that venue and moved to St. Paul’s Centre.

What is so popular with this thing? It’s simple, Lance knows every musician with exceptional talent, and every singer who can perform the heck out of a song. You will be entertained – against your will if need be.

It doesn’t matter if the last gospel music you ever paid attention to was the stuff from the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? and that’s the only gospel music you can identify, or the blues isn’t your thing, I defy you to go to this concert and emerge thinking you’ve seen better.

Every year I wonder how Lance can come up with something better than the year before.

“It’s hard to top them every year,” he said.

He’s off to a good start. The highlight of the band he’s assembled this year, at least for me, is having the Weber Brothers (Ryan and Sam) on board. Sam plays guitar and Ryan plays bass (though he plays it like a lead instrument). I remember the first time I saw them back in 2003 when they were here for the Orillia Spring Blues Festival as part of Jimmy Bowskill’s band. I was blown away by the skill they showed for a couple young guys. They’ve been back a few times, most recently for the Mariposa Folk Festival a few years ago in the before times. Oh, and Ryan is going to play piano at this gig too. That’s one keyboard player.

Lance usually has three singers, the Webers both sing but Lance didn’t mention which one is going to front a tune at the concert. Lance also has Selena Evangeline in to sing. She’s part of the Matchedash Parish conglomeration of musicians and she’ll play guitar too. Qunicy Bullen is along to play keyboards (that’s 2) and sing and I’m sure Lance is going to sing as well and he’s the third keyboardist.

Not singing are bassist Andrew Stewart of Blackburn and Kevan McKenzie of James Taylor’s band.

“We’re playing some original tunes. The Weber Brothers will be doing some original songs, Selena will sing some blues from Aretha Franklin, Quincy is going to do a great version of Que Sera, Sera, which is Sly Stone, a gospel version. You’ll never hear the tune the same way again,” Lance said.

If you’ve never been to this gig and want to treat yourself, maybe celebrate resumption of life as we’d like to know it, this is the concert to go to. Tickets are available online.

Let’s talk about that for a minute. Whenever you see the red text for the words ‘tickets’ or ‘online’, of course you can click those and go right to the Opera House box office ticket page. I know there are some of you who don’t buy things like tickets online and you can still call the box office at 705-326-8011, or stop in Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and buy tickets (7 days a week starting in May).


I’m going here next, rather than the Roots North Music Festival only because this is about Lance too. As we all know, 2020 was to be the 60th anniversary of the Mariposa Folk Festival. It’s still the 60th anniversary this year and to mark the occasion Lance is putting together a show that will be a retrospective of each year of the festival.

Lance said his set will likely happen on the Friday night of the festival and he has the monumental task of deciding which tunes to play.

“They gave me all the performers that have performed from the very first show and I’m going to be doing basically a minute of all those performances, 60 songs in 60 minutes,” he said.

This is not a task I would want, aside from selecting a tune from each year that would have been performed by a headliner, he has to pull out a minute and fuse it to the next chosen tune and arranging them all into several medleys. It’s not easy.

“That’s a lot of songs, a 60 minute show, that’s only about 8 songs (normally); it didn’t seem to be much of a representation. So, I came up with this idea two years ago,” he said.

“I think the criteria is (it has to be) something that has lasted through the years, that people remember from that Mariposa,” Lance said.

On top of that, he’s got to assemble the band, which may, or may not be the easy part. He’s going to fill some key positions soon and there’ll be oh, at least 100 others in Tudhope Park he can call on for bits here and there. One key to success for something like this is having the right performer on stage at the right time.

Lance Anderson and Matt Weidinger of Matchedash Parish at Mariposa 2018

“You have to match them with the singers,” he said. One of the people he knows he’ll have along for sure is Matt Weidinger. Between the two of them the keyboards and some of the vocals are covered. Lance thinks he’ll have Quisha Wint on board too, but scheduling night be an issue.

Good luck Lance. There’s only 98 days to pull this off. I’m sure it will end up being a highlight of the festival.

Tickets for the summer festival are on sale right now. 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.

Song For Freedom

This one is a benefit concert Sunday to raise money for relief in Ukraine. John Jefferies and the St. Paul’s Centre Eco Justice Committee have organized a concert with David Jefferies, Alex Tesky, a barbershop quartet from Barrie called Nostalgia Express, a women’s chorus (lead by Julia Johnson, I believe it’s called Sing It), Peter Voisey and Valerie Selander together on oboe and violin – and also with Blair Bailey as a trio, Sean Patrick, Zachary Lucky, John MacDonald and Patrick Piao performing.

They have a goal to raise $10,000 for Canadian Red Cross’s Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal fund, which they can achieve through ticket sales (at the door, $25, $15 for students) or direct donations on the Red Cross website for those who can’t attend. Concert time is 3 p.m.

Roots North

The venue schedule is out. Thursday evening Lindy Vopnfjord is at Lot 88 for 6 p.m.; Alex Andrews and Michael Martyn play Picnic at 9 p.m.  Friday, Meredith Moon is at Eclectic Café for a 3 p.m. gig; Steph Dunn is at Lot 88 and Grady Kelneck is at Rustica (both at 6 p.m.); Taylor Knox is at Picnic at 10 p.m.; Scott Olgard plays Kensington and the Hog N’ Penny has that great band TBA (all at 10 p.m.).

Alleycats has an open stage all day Saturday. Starting at 10 a.m. and proceeding by the hour to 1 p.m. are Dray Tony at Mark IV Brothers, Music for Young Children (participatory up to 5 years in age) at the Orillia Music Centre in St. Paul’s Centre, and Jack Nicolle and Dan McBride at Apple Annies.

Three venues have 2 p.m. gigs. Elwood Hammond is at Hibernation Arts, Chris LeMay is at Lot 88 and Sam Johnston is at Picnic. The Orillia Music Center has hand drumming for families at 3 p.m. Dave and Aaron at the Hog N’ Penny at 5 p.m.

Saturday evening after the man stage is wrapped up at 10 p..m. Run With the Kittens will be at Couchiching Craft Brewery; the Ronnie Douglas Band will be at Brewery Bay; Michael Constantini at Kensington and The Hog N’ Penny has a performer yet to be named.

The festival happens April 21 to 23 and the Friday night main stage at St. Paul’s has Craig Mainprize, Terra Lightfoot and Steve Poltz performing and Saturday night its Lydia Persaud, Logan Staats and the Good Lovelies.

There are only 20 tickets left for the main stage shows. The other venues are free to attend. Get tickets on the Roots North website.

One Last Thing

The Oscars. Before you skip ahead because you’ve already heard enough, what I think about it is not in keeping with what most are saying. I guess you can say Chris Rock’s face was left with some Fresh Prints, but it’s our fault. Every step Smith took toward Rock, the swing of his arm and the words he then used are the result of us giving permission for every outrageous behavior forced upon us since Newt Gingrich, through Donald Trump (the gasoline on the fire, and I am relenting on my personal promise never to type his name – I’ve been using Jabba the Putt – but I want readers to know precisely who I refer to) and the brain trust of one political party here in Canada. Now, even someone like Smith doesn’t have a filter anymore and thinks his behaviour was OK. Just because one thinks it, does not mean it should be said or done.

Our intelligences and sensibilities have been insulted and assaulted for far too long. We permitted outrageous behavior and never once stood up to them and said “there are boundaries to human discourse and what you did will not be tolerated.”

Ever since we were told the truth is what they say it is and damn the evidence otherwise, every time we are told (with a straight face), what we saw and heard didn’t happen and we didn’t shun those people from polite society, we permitted the next escalation of sensibility shattering behavior. So we get entitlement to trucks in the streets of Ottawa, we get governments caving in to idiocy and abandoning pandemic measures while a new virus surges, we get mouthpieces in Ottawa calling our current government a dictatorship, we get actors slapping comedians on live TV and we call it Tuesday because we’ve become desensitized to the ignorance and childish behavior.

The path to the slap is plain to see. The thinking that leads to that was acceptable behavior is now a built in feature of society. But does it have to be that way? These cancers are still small in number. We gave up civil control of the discourse to them and we can take it back. If we don’t civilized society is dead and the movie Idiocracy becomes a documentary.

The Shorts

  • The Orillia Scottish Festival has a Tartan Day fundraiser happening April 6 at Quayle’s Brewery. It’s from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and there will be pipers and drummers at the door, Roots North is sending Sean Patrick to play some music, a raffle, a trivia game with prizes and tickets are $20.
  • The Orillia Centre for Arts and Culture has a weekend of workshops and schmoozing April 8 and 9 at the Opera House. It’s about creating a new community theater project. They have playwright Marcia Johnson, Simon Malbogat and Desiree Leverenz speaking at a meet and greet the Friday of the weekend at 7:30 p.m. 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.
  • Pro and amateur musicians can do 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.
  • 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. See the 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.
  • Jakob Pearce is playing at Picnic Sunday at 2 p.m.; he’s also got a few other gigs lineup in the weeks ahead…  Jim Cronk is playing the ANAF club Saturday at 7:30 p.m. … Liz Anderson is performing in the Acoustic Floyd show at the Canvas Brewing Company in Huntsville April 2 (tickets) and at the Bracebridge Hall May 14 (tickets)… 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; get tickets ($15) at Plum Loco… 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. … The Opera House has a great schedule of concerts happening and tickets for summer theater are on sale; see all of it here.
  • 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.
  • 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… Skye Wallace, has a new tune, Everything Is Fine. Listen to it here, you can see her other new videos there too… Ayden Miller’s band, New Friends has a new tune,Right Here… Aaron Mangoff has a new EP you can listen to – and buy – here.
  • Zachary Lucky’s new album, Songs For Hard Times – vinyl LPs have arrived and you can buy them on his Bandcamp page.
BoB Broom’s art at Peter Street Fine Art
  • OMAH has a closing reception for the 35 piece quilt show called Colour With a U happening Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m.Show Coordinator Tracey Lawko and several of the artists will be on hand. Also see From Marbles to Minecraft: A Century of Childhood which contrasts childhood in Orillia between the 1920s and the 2020s and Douglas Ahsen:Nase’s excellent exhibit of portraiture is still up, so go see it. The monthly History Speaker’s Night is April 20 at 7 p.m. online. Judy Humphries will speak about German WW2 POWs in The Prisoners of Gravenhurst. Register by calling 705-326-5159 and you’ll get  a link to the program… It’s April and  Hibernation Arts has new works by Gayle Schofield, Tammy Henry and OFAA artists to see…  Peter Street Fine Art has the public debut of Bob Broom’s art this month… Cloud Gallery added 4 artists to their roster – Michelle Reid of Kingston, Jennifer Woodburn of Thornbury, Kerry Walford of Cayuga and Patricia Clemmens of Oro-Medonte… Creative Nomad Studios has a number of programs to take part in. Check them out here.
  •  I’ll have a review of the Orillia Concert Association’s Hogtown Brass concert of last weekend next time.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Lance Anderson at the piano, Michelle White singing at the 2019 Gospel & Blues concert at St. Paul’s Centre.

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