By John Swartz
Culture Days are here again and starting this weekend the Orillia District Arts Council has a number of events organized. The purpose of the event was to give community arts groups a chance to expose what they do in a for free and informal setting to the curious or just happened to be there people.
Orillia was among a small group of communities which started this cross-Canada event in 2012, and many times has made a top ten list of communities participating in terms of number of events-within-the-event, offerings and the number of people attracted to take part.
This time around there are 15 different things you can do, such as observe or participate in rehearsals for the Cellar Singers (Sept. 24, 2 to 4 p.m.), the Orillia Little Big Band Sept. 28, 7 to 9 p.m.), Orillia Concert Band (Oct. 3, 7 to 9 p.m.), the Sing It women’s choir (Oct. 10, 7 to 9 p..m.), or The Orillia Silver Band (Oct. 13, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.). All those groups are recruiting new members, they’ll probably take old members too.
The Orillia Public Library has a pretty big collection of art and Saturday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. you can take a guided tour to find out about it. September 26/27 and October 3/4/10/11 Paul Baxter is welcoming the public to has studio at 246 Harvie Street to see art he’s made, maybe some he’s working on, and hear the stories about some of the pieces he created for Streets Alive and other public commissions.
In 2019 the province created the position of Poet Laureate in honour of Gord Downie. In April 2021 Randell Adjei became the first to hold the position. September 27 and 28 he’ll be at Orillia Secondary School to perform and hold workshops with primarily Grade 10 students.
The Orillia Youth Centre is where you can add your hand print to the Diversity Tapestry on September 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. ODAC missed an opportunity to do this at the OPP detachment.
On October 1 kids between the ages of 8 and 12 can do some painting and contribute to a mural at Creative Nomad. They’d like you to register for this 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. event. Also on the same day at Creative Nomad Songwriter Errol Lee will speak about the history of Jamaica and show photographs he took of Bob Marley and other Reggae musicians; you get to sample Jamaican food too. This happens at 12:30 and 1:30. Again, you need to register for this event.
The Ronnie Douglas Blues Band is going to play at St. James’ Anglican Church starting at 7:30 p.m. They’re going to cover tunes assembled as musical trip down Route 66. This one needs registering too.
Georgian College is showing off their Global Engagement Centre and while you are there you can paint a small canvas which become part of a mural and contribute to other activities. It happens October 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
October 15 Kelly Brownbill will be at St. James’ Anglican Church from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to speak about Indigenous Culture Awareness: A Path to Healthy, Equitable Relationships. The aim is to learning how to build relationships with our Native neighbours.
At 1 p.m. October 15 at Georgian College take part in an African Drumming circle. They’ve got room for 40 and will turn over the crowd every half hour so others can join in. Also on the 15th Juliana Hawke will be showing you how to make prints from materials found in nature. That happens at OMAH from 1 to 3 p.m.
Everything is free to attend, even the ones which you need to register for, but there are opportunities to make donations at each event.
Music Music Music
Saturday night the Opera House is where you can enjoy The Bowie Lives at 7:30 p.m. You may have noticed I rarely write about what I call clone bands in this space. When I do it’s because I think there’s one coming to town that’s worth seeing. Well, the only two I’d recommend have connections to Orillia, Ken Brennan’s Dogs of War (but they haven’t done a show in a while) and Classic Lightfoot Live, Gord’s nephew and half of Even Steven, Steve Eyres is in the band.
This David Bowie tribute I wrote about a couple weeks ago. I haven’t seen them perform, but based on what I know of the calibre of the band members and some videos I’ve seen, I think this show will be better than many others I’ve sat through. I’m actually looking forward to seeing this band.
Sam Johnston and Madison Mueller have been invited to open the show to sing their favourite David Bowie tunes. Showtime is 7:30 and you can get tickets online.
The Mariposa Folk Festival’s fall concert is taking a hard left from past fall concerts – and at City limits. It happens at Bayview Memorial Park in Oro-Medonte October 1. The lineup is Treasa Levasseur, Aleksi Campagne, Union Duke and Irish Mythen. If you’ve never seen Irish Mythen before, why? It starts at 1 p.m. The park is on Lake Simcoe, we can hope for Indian Summer, but I might bringing a jacket, some mitts and a hat (maybe; my dad always gave me and my brother grief about rushing seasons, usually in spring, so I’m going to cling to my shorts and flip flops as a long as I can before giving in to covering up).
The Orillia Youth Centre has become the biggest concert promoter in Orillia. They also specialize in making their gigs fundraisers, either for the youth center (they are still counting, but last weekend’s concert at Fern Resort will bring in more than $16,000) or for other non-profits like Green Haven.
One of their first concerts happened 6 years ago and Skye Wallace was the headliner. That one was to raise funds for a horse sanctuary.
I mentioned last week Skye Wallace has a new album called Terribly Good on the way, which you can listen to some of the tunes from it here. The full album isn’t for sale until October 28. She’s been in Germany for the last couple weeks and will be doing a tour in Canada after that. I happened to mention to her I didn’t see Orillia on the itinerary and she wrote back that might change.
Well, On October 28 she will be playing here at Creative Nomad and Sam Johnston is opening. This time she has a band with her. The last few times she’s played here it’s been solo. If you have not seen Skye (or Sammy) perform yet, like good songwriting and fantastic performance, I recommend this gig. This one is a fundraiser too and it’s for the Teens On Edge program which covers the cost of and teaches kids to become certified ski instructors, provided they commit to become instructors in the program themselves. Some of the kids from the youth center take part in the program.Get tickets online.
The youth center also partners with Roots North for many of the events they have, and they are doing so again November 20 when Ian Prince and Le Ren perform at Fern Resort. Get those tickets online too.
It’s not just about raising money. Youth center kids have opportunities to work on stage crews and learn skills related to putting on a concert that could help them get jobs later on.
The youth center just had a fundraiser called the Smile Cookie Campaign and the members of the Orillia Lions Club stepped in to make sure it happened when a number of youth center staff got sick this week.
One more thing. The youth center has partnered with The Big Event to do the annual Trick or Trunk Halloween event. This year it’s at ODAS Park, again, and now restrictions are out the door they are hoping to have 60 vehicles participate. Registration for vehicles opened just this Monday and already they have 43 taking part. They are only registering goblins according to how many cars are participating and they had to suspend those registrations until more cars are registered (so, sold out until more cars join). Check into the registration page daily as new ticket blocks become available. The key part is getting cars on board, so they can reach the goal of having 1200 kids get a sugar high October 29.
Of course there’s always music happening at other venues. Couchiching Craft Brewing is going all in on Oktoberfest, with a twist. They are calling it Rocktoberfest, and it starts tonight (Friday) with Bob Taylor performing. They have three weeks worth of music happening. Jeff Young is in on the 24th, and there’s a beer trivia night September 29. October 1 Steven Henry is in. Paige Rutledge plays October 6, Ronnie Douglas October 7, and this one for October 8 makes me laugh; their promo doesn’t just say Run With The Kittens – it reads Run With The Kittens Live! (if you’ve seen them, it’s a given they are live, very live). Will Davis and Chris Robinson bring up the rear with some jazz in the afternoon on October 9.
Then the Orillia Jazz Festival happens the next weekend. We’ll stick with Couchiching because they have Denielle Bassels playing the Jazz Fest’s official after party October 14. Will Davis and Chris Robinson will be playing earlier in the evening.
Earlier that evening, The Thompson Egbo-Egbo Trio will perform at the Opera House. They’ll also have a sextet of dancers performing with them. The next night, Saturday, Brassworks is doing a concert called Copacabana; I’m thinking they are going to include that tune in the repertoire for the night. Saturday night Lance Anderson, Terry Clarke and Neil Swainson are going to do the music of Dave Brubeck. Of course, Lance will also have stories to tell about Brubeck. Get tickets for all those at the Opera House website.
Other venues have things going on too. Jamie Drake, along with Jakob Pearce and Alex Golovchenko host a jam at the Grape and Olive Thursday nights starting at 6 p.m. … Quayle’s Brewery has Steph Dunn scheduled for this evening; Cam Galloway is in Sunday afternoon; Rob Watts will play September 29 and Alex Barber September 30 … the Kensington has an open mic night hosted by Tim Kehoe on Tuesdays from 8 to 11 p.m.
- The 4th Annual Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards nominations are now open. I know I said I’d have more this week, but as you’ve read a lot is happening so this will get some light next week.. For now you can find nomination forms online. You have until October 21 to nominate, so fire up your memory of what you found exceptional the last 12 months.
- Season tickets are now available online for the Orillia Concert Association’s series of concerts. They’re still only $90 for 5 concerts. The lineup is the Toronto Concert Orchestra (Oct. 30), Christopher Dawes (in November, doing a tribute to Kerry Stratton on the organ at St. Andrew’s), and the Landom Quartet, the Weston Silver Band and the Toronto Mandolin Orchestra in 2023.
- Check out the details here about a public art opportunity the City is running. There is a nice chunk of change available for artists selected to do the work. And they are changing the art in the Stack Gallery at the Orillia Recreation Centre. The new theme is Renewal. You can make something new, or submit something you just want people to see. The criteria are available here.
- OMAH has an interesting opportunity for students. They are running an illustration contest and the task is to create art to accompany a poem by Colin McKim. Colin has a soon to be published children’s book, The Popcorn Picture Show and the winner’s art will be included in the book. The annual Carmichael Canadian Landscape Exhibition opens October 1 at 1 p.m.; The Man Who Could Fly And The Girl Who Flies In Her Dreams, art by Sylvia Tesori, is up now. Sylvia is the owner of Three Crows Speak gallery in the Arts District. Saturday is your last chance to see Conversations: 150th Anniversary of the Ontario Society of Artists, and Summer On The Lake. The History Of Orillia In 50 Artefacts will remain up for a while.. Peter Street Fine Arts has art by Brian Dwayne Sarazin featured this month… Hibernation Art has Al Manseau’s art featured in September; October 1 is Molly Farquharson’s birthday and she’s inviting everyone to drop in between 6 and 9 p.m. for a party – bring some finger food and something to drink (wink, she’ll have coffee and tea on hand)
(Images Supplied) Main; The Ronnie Douglas Blues Band plays a concert for Culture Days.