This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

For a quickly put together concert, Song For Freedom, the end result, getting people to attend and raising money has gone incredibly well for the St. Paul’s Centre Eco Justice Committee. The fundraising goal of ticket sales and donations was $10,000. On Thursday the donations were still coming in and they had reached $15,000.

The money is being funneled through Canadian Red Cross’s Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal fund and if you’re feeling compelled to kick in you can do so here. Of course, you won’t have the concert to look forward to. These kinds of things usually aren’t as slick as a show that’s been rehearsed several times. Entrances and exits aren’t timed as well as the script calls for and occasionally a microphone isn’t live when it should be, so the interest is with the performance of the talent.

Talent was not lacking. Even emcee Mayor Steve Clarke pulled off a couple funny lines ad libbed with good timing to get the laugh.

Lance Anderson

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The Jefferies, John and David, stole the show. John was the central organizer and sang twice during the run of the show. The first was with John MacDonald backing him up with uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes) singing You Raise Me Up. The second was to sing the Impossible Dream, which if my memory is any good, was the part of Man of LaMancha he had a long time ago when the Mariposa Arts Theatre did the play. He got a standing ovation for it and headed off stage without realizing it until Mayor Clarke turned him around.

David, John’s son, was back on stage just afterward to sing Old Man River, a tune built for a bass singer, and carried it so well he got a standing ovation.

Sandwiched between the Jefferies’s were Jessica Martin on fiddle and Sean Patrick on banjo who played medleys of fiddle tunes. This being in a church, of course the audience started to clap along ( I should have turned around to see if anyone was dancing). I think it got the blood flowing again so when David came on stage the audience was ready to jump up from their seats.

Oh, the audience. There were 325 people in the hall.

Patrick Piao played Chopin’s Polonaise in A-flat Major, a piece of music everyone knows once you hear it. I don’t know if it was because I wasn’t sitting where I usually do in the who-are-you row at the back, but right near the stage, but the sound from the bottom half of the piano seemed to dominate the sound of the upper half.

Another great moment came for a trio of singers, Cathy Brown, Julia Johnston and Angela Lewis, who are part of the Sing It Women’s Choir which performed as the first act. They did Hallelujah and I have to say they didn’t miss the tight harmonies the music arrangement called for.

When I spoke with John Jefferies a couple weeks ago to get details about the concert, he did not mention Lance Anderson was one of the performers, but he did tell me they were ending the concert with all performers and the Chancel choir on stage to sign Hymn To Freedom. At the time I wondered how that was going to go since I’d only ever heard it about a dozen times with Lance Anderson playing piano. During the halftime I did speak with Lance who I had seen sitting in the audience earlier, and it didn’t occur to me he was there to play piano on this piece until he was sitting at the piano.

This is what the audience paid for, to hear him play the intro to the tune before the singers joined in. He got a good round of applause at that point.

Others performing were Alex Tesky, Alex Andrews, Blair Bailey (who played the Ukraine National Anthem on the pipe organ to start the show) and Valerie Selander and Peter Voisey.

Hogtown Brass

I was late for the Orillia Concert Association’s March 27 concert featuring the Hogtown Brass and missed the first couple tunes, including most of the West Side Story medley. The part I heard was I Feel Pretty, which they did the full tune of instead of a snippet inside the medley. One more suite of tunes by Victor Ewald and it was half time.

The second half started with Malaguena, which was the other item on the dance card I wanted to hear. I was surprised by the arrangement written by Gary Slechta. I knew where this specific chart was going to go because it sounded, after the intro, exactly like the arrangement used by the Madison Scouts Drum Corps. Lots of drum corps have played it, but the general consensus is Scouts did it best. Drum corps fans like it so much the Scouts keep putting it back into their show every few years and it always gets the crowds up on their feet acting like rabid dogs. After the show I inquired with a couple of the Hogtown members if they knew the history of the arrangement and they didn’t know, though one of them seemed to be familiar with the Scouts.

The thing about drum corps arrangements, they are all unique, custom arrangements, very unlikely to be head anywhere else. So I looked up Slechta and found out his source for this arrangement is, “Based largely on the Kenton and great corps versions.”  I was surprised he gave credit to where the bulk of his arrangement it came from. In this case the audience in the Opera House didn’t exactly throw babies when it was done like as happens at drum corps shows, but they did give it a greater round of applause than the other tunes played.

The quintet came back with a couple pretty sweet arrangements of the Beach Boys’s God Only Knows and Gershiwin’s Summertime.

The next OCA gig is May 1 with the Toronto All Star Big Band. Despite OCA concerts being sold by subscription for the series, you can still get tickets for this concert here. At the next concert the OCA will announce their 2022/23 lineup and start selling subscriptions, so bring your plastic or cheque book because getting the whole series at once is definitely the way to go.

Upcoming Concerts

There are still tickets left for the Mariposa Folk Festival’s annual Gospel and Blues show at the Opera House Saturday night. Because it’s gone to a larger venue than where it’s happened the other 9 years there are still tickets left for this usually sold out gig.

Lance Anderson is the ring leader and has been for all versions of this concert. The strength of this series of concerts is the players Lance assembles for them. This time the Weber Brothers are playing guitar, bass, keyboards and one of them will sing, Selena Evangeline is in to sing, Qunicy Bullen is along to play keyboards, Andrew Stewart will play bass and Kevan McKenzie will play drums. This is going to be a great concert and I guarantee you will have a good time.

Lance is also putting together a 60th Mariposa Folk Festival tribute for the summer festival. He’s got Matchedash Parish co-frontman Matt Weidinger on board and likely will also have Quisha Wint involved.

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.

Two weeks to go to the Roots North Music Festival. Last week I outlined who they have performing at venues other than the main stage at St. Paul’s Centre. Here’s an update. The Hog N’ Penny lineup is updated from TBA to an open jam at 10 p.m. the Friday evening of the festival. They also upgraded TBA on Saturday’s schedule to an open jam at 10 p.m.

Two other changes from what I wrote last week. The 10 p.m., Saturday gig at Picnic with Taylor Knox has a $5 cover, and the 10 p.m. Saturday gig at Couchiching Craft Brewing Co. with Run With The Kittens has a $10 cover. All other gigs at the other venues are free. I will say paying extra for Taylor or the Kittens is very much worth it. Taylor is a great guitarist and has a good stock of his own tunes you’ll like and the Kittens, well, these boys perform like escaped Replicants from another planet.

New gigs to be aware of are happening on Sunday April 24. Alleycats has an open mic all day. Jaedon Daly is playing at Bakes by the Lake starting at noon. Sean Patrick is at Picnic at 2 p.m. and Jakob Pearce is at the Hog N’ Penny at 4:30 p.m. These are all free to attend.

If you’ve been meaning to get tickets for the main stage shows, you are in luck. It seems like the last mile is the hardest to cover and there are still 10 tickets left to buy. You can get them here.

Arty Stuff

The Colour With a Uexhibit at OMAH is coming down Sunday. I was at the closing reception last Saturday and spoke with a few artists about their work in this group show.

Tracey Lawko who curated the show told me all of the artists are members of Studio Art Quilt Associates and 42 artists had their work pass the jury for this travelling exhibit. The exhibit has been in galleries in Manitoba and Nova Scotia already and is heading to Ottawa for the next leg of the year remaining for its run.

Lorraine Roy, of Dundas, has apiece called Sassafras Mandala in the show.

“I do a sketch first. This is hand dyed,” she said of the piece depicting an endangered  Sassafras tree with a Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly part way through the cocoon stage in the centre. “It’s their only food source, so when this tree disappears, that insect will disappear as well.”

Linda Campbell is from Simcoe, Ontario. She made a piece similar to a beads in the doorway kind of work – except it’s metal.

“It has to be layers. It doesn’t necessarily have to be fabric and I have thread stitching right through it,” holding the metal pieces together. “Where this is good to hang is in a stairwell where it can hang down.”

Slight air movement makes it spin. Each piece of metal is painted with alcohol inks coated with varnish.

“They’re actually aluminum cans that have been recycled,”  Campbell said.

While most of the pieces are fabric art, some of them are so detailed they look like paintings. Your last chance to see the show is tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

You have one more week to see Douglas Ahsen:Nase’s excellent exhibit of portraiture and OMAH also has From Marbles to Minecraft: A Century of Childhood  up.

Next up is a three day exhibit from April 21 to 23 called Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital Pop-Up Exhibit celebrating the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Soldiers’’ wing of the hospital.  Then on April 23 the 25th the Annual International Women’s Day Art Show starts.

Across the street at Peter Street Fine Arts Bob Broom has a number of pieces on display as the gallery’s guest this month. Bob told me he’s been painting all his life and this is the first time he’s showing any of it in public. He also has CDs of music he’s written for sale.

Hibernation Arts monthly show is a group one called Springing and the opening reception is tomorrow from 1 to 3 p.m. The gallery also has new collections from Jon Oelrichs, the Bayside Artists, and Tammy Henry Johnson to see.

Cloud Gallery has an opening reception tonight for new works by Cathy Boyd. It’s from 6 to 9 p.m.

And now, for something completely different, Mike Howell is about to start a new 8-week Orillia parks and recreation program to teach people how to paint cubes. It’s not cubism, but painting on cubes that are meant to hang from a corner so you can see three sides at once as the piece spins. This opens a lot of possibilities for new and experienced painters.

Aside from the practical, Mike will share a bit of history about Picasso (totally relevant here), the Group of Seven and the master of doing something different, Andy Warhol.

The course runs Tuesdays (for those who took the course last fall and is a next step) and Wednesdays and you can register here, look for the course entitled Join The Art Movement.  

The Shorts

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Liz Anderson is performing in the Acoustic Floyd show 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. … 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.
  • Danny Webster has new music out; he’s going by the name Livers now and the song is called Anyone… 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. He’s also opening for Corb Lund’s show at the Horseshoe Tavern on April 16th

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: The finale of the Song For Freedom concert at St. Paul’s Centre last weekend.

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