By John Swartz
The Orillia Scottish Festival returns this weekend. Usually we get to rest one weekend between Mariposa and the Scottish Fest, but oh no, not this year.
“No rest for the wicked,” said festival co-chair Carrie Dunn.
The Friday night Ceilidh at the legion has a band new to these parts, Strange Potatoes, playing. They are from the Collingwood area and they have Celtic tunes in their repertoire. They also do a wide mix of other stuff, from Classic Rock, to Alternative, R&B, Country and Pop. Quayle’s Brewery is unveiling a new Scotch Ale called A Hill to Die On at the Ceilidh. It will be available at the beer tent in the park Saturday afternoon too. This event is sold out.
The parade at noon Saturday has a new route, they say. It’s just shorter than it has been in the past, starting at Peter and Mississaga Streets and still ending at Couchiching Beach Park.
I have a theory why this is. Over the last few years some new drums have been developed with shells half the depth of traditional snare drums, making them lighter to carry. Many pipe bands have adopted using these new drums. In fact the Orillia Pipe Band drummers discovered you could take the shell right off the drum and since the top head and tensioning system is a self contained unit – and pipe band snare drums have snares right underneath the top head – so they could just use that, lightening the load even more.
Consequently, being drummers they could play on their drums for longer periods of time without having to give their backs a break. That is, until the pipers said, ‘but our pipes are too heavy.” Pipers always get their way, they didn’t care when it was drummers keeling over, but now… so the parade is shorter. Dunn also mentioned something about the heat.
The grand opening of the festival with the Mass Band happens right after the parade, about 1 p.m. and then it’s all fun and games for the rest of the afternoon. Another new band to the festival, Claidhmor (pronounced claymore, like the mine), will be playing at 2:30 and 4 p.m. on the entertainment stage, and there will be Scottish dancers.
At 2 p.m. the 48th Highlanders Band will be playing a concert at the legion. At 3:15 p.m. the OPP and Orillia Fire Department square off in a tug of war. At 5 p.m. the Mass Band closes out the day’s activities.
Mariposa Lingering Thoughts
It’s funny how an attitude adjustment can last for some time. The good vibes from last weekend manifested itself here at the computer keyboard. I found myself not clicking on the headlines relating to the nastiness of Canadian and American politics. There’s much to get worked up and worried about, too much at times. I’ve been sleeping better and longer too.
I found everyone from the keepers of the gates at the Green Room and backstage areas to be in good spirit and chatty this year. The musicians, some of whom I’ve seen many times, and those new to the festival were more talkative and happy to converse; it’s understandable when they aren’t, some musicians get very focused before showtime, and others really are shy people. Generally they were excited to see a familiar face, mine, and those who run the festival.
I spoke with Jory Nash who I haven’t seen in about 9 years. Jory was one of the key figures in the documentary I made about the Golden Leaves statue and ran a regular gig at Hugh’s Room in Toronto featuring a revolving cast of characters covering Gord’s music. He was in the park for Gord’s Hall of Fame induction. Jory’s doing well, getting back to work, but unfortunately his wife is getting cancer treatments, which sounds like she’s responding well to them.
I watched a fabulous drummer, Beth Goodfellow, playing on the main stage as part of Allison Russell’s band. She’s from Los Angeles and said the rest of the band is from Nashville. I know of many very good women who drum, but they are not great in numbers. Having taught drummers, until about 15 years ago the number of outstanding ones was a very small group. I don’t know if it’s something to do with the headspace, or the physiology that accounted for that, but quite a few have surfaced of late who have the chops and attitude to really own their sticks and drums and Beth is one of them. It’s always exciting to watch another drummer at work who exhibits something a little more in their approach to the drums.
I also stumbled upon three women dressed up as fish. They were performing Saturday on the point for kids. They are from the Hercinia Arts Collective, a performance company fusing dance, acting and circus, based in Toronto. Natalie Parkinson Dupley, Kristen Edwards, Maddi Smith were here performing as the Money Fish. I bumped into them at the Green Room and had a bit of fun pointing out the lake was that way.
One thing I didn’t do a lot of is get up to the Pub as often as past years. I heard from many I missed a good one, when Stephen Lewis and the Big Band of Fun had their set. I also missed Rueben and the Dark, who I really enjoyed when they last played Mariposa. I did see a lot of David and Marla Celia at the pub, on the main stage Sunday night and at the Barnfield Stage Saturday afternoon. The last one was a bit of a surprise because another group was supposed to be playing. David opened that one by himself playing an interesting instrumental everyone liked.
I also saw old friends from the other side of town that I haven’t seen in ages. I even ran into some who used to be from the other side of town, but are now from the other side of the country and came back for the festival.
The thing I think I’m trying to get at with all this is the festival organizers have always positioned the weekend as about more than the music and the festival has an atmosphere very different from other all day or all weekend types of concert festivals. Hence the emphasis on family activities and other artistic representations. They have achieved that previously, but I think this year the overriding feeling I and many others got was – this is family, we are all family. For me is was good to go home.
Reay, Sean Murray’s band, has been on hiatus, like everyone else. Being new, they didn’t play too many gigs before everything shut down. In fact the last concert I was at in March 2020 was theirs.
In the meantime Matt Copeland (growing family) and Bayze Murray (moving away to go to school) are leaving the band. Sean wanted to do one more gig before Bayze takes off, so you can see them August 19 at Bracerbidge Hall. Justin Kadis (Platinum Blonde, who recorded drums on Reay’s album Butterfly Tongued Revisited) will be taking Matt’s place.
Sean says there is more music to come, but obviously there will be a new direction and sound with new members.
You can get tickets here.
Aqua Theatre Coming Out Party
Even though there have already been concerts in the new look Aqua Theatre, the opening is happening July 20 at 6:30 pm.
Expect all the politicians to be on hand – and speaking. There will also be performances by the Little Big Band and the Rama Boys Drum. When the sun goes down the concert documentary That Night in Toronto (Tragically Hip) will be shown.
- Part of closing Mississaga and Peter Streets on Friday nights is the Orillia Farmer’s Market will be having markets some of the weeks. The next one is July 22 from 5 to 9 p.m. Also, on Peter Street the artists will be out on the streets. One of them, Kathy Godfrey, has done a painting with a Ukrainian theme and she’s collecting names and donations for a draw. You get to take the painting home if you’re the lucky winner, and the money is going to Ukrainian relief.
- Driving Miss Daisy is the next play in the Opera House summer theater schedule. It starts July 20 and you can get tickets here… Duck Soup Productions is doing Newsies in the Studio Theatre from July 12 to August 16; it’s every Tuesday afternoon and through the August long weekend.
- OMAH has a new slate of exhibits opening soon. Conversations: 150th Anniversary of the Ontario Society of Artists opens July 23; The History Of Orillia In 50 Artefacts also opens July 23; Summer On The Lake also opens this month and Reflections of Ourselves continues… Peter Street Fine Arts has works by Bayside Artists featured this month… Hibernation Art has Raune-lea Marshall’s art featured this month and some of the Bayside Artists have stuff hanging around at Hibernation; many of the other regular gallery artists have new work hanging around too… every Friday night when the downtown is closed to cars Peter Street galleries and artists will be out with their stuff. Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to take part showing your art. Cloud Gallery has paintings by C.A. Henry as new additions to the gallery.
- The Park Street Collegiate reunion is this weekend. The main event is at Barnfield Recreation Centre with Even Steven, Liz Anderson, Mark Stewart’s band and Pete Sanderson’s band performing, and there is a hockey team reunion at Quayle’s Brewery in the afternoon and a restaurant tour. Find out more details and how to get tickets at the reunion website.
- Couchiching Craft Brewing has Jeff Young playing July 15; the Ronnie Douglas Blues Band is in Saturday night; Chris Robinson and Will Davis play jazz Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Jessica Bowman plays July 20; … Quayle’s Brewery has Alex Barber playing Friday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; Kat Chabon plays Sunday 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. … the Kensington has an open mic night hosted by Tim Kehoe on Tuesdays from 8 to 11 p.m. … the Hog N’ Penny has trivia night every Thursday… Sydney Riley plays the Farmers’ Market this week.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Mass Bands at the Orillia Scottish Festival 2019.