This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

This is Orillia Jazz Festival weekend. The music starts Friday night and continues until Sunday. The Opera House has main stage shows each night beginning Friday with a program called Trinity – Music Dance and You at 7:30 p.m. (tickets).

This is an interesting way to present jazz. The music part is the Thompson Egbo-Egbo Trio with Ego-Egbo at the piano and Randall Hall on bass, and Jeff Halischuk on drums.

The dance part is a quintet of dancers performing choreography by Vicki St. Denys. Denys is the associate chair at the Toronto Metropolitan University (Ryerson) School of Performance and was the director of the dance programs and resident choreographer.

Thompson Egbo-Egbo

The first half features the trio playing with a video backdrop by Gram Schmaltz . The second half adds the dancers who will interpret the music of the trio. Egbo-Egbo is known for his interpretation of popular music tunes such as those by the Beatles and Nirvana.

This mixture of artforms is a result of Arts Orillia taking over as the organizers of the festival. They have been behind all of the events featuring dance during the past few years. Of course some of you may be thinking Arts who? They are the former Orillia Centre for Arts and Culture and the name change happened in August.

Interestingly, I stumbled on a JAZZFM91 article in which 5 jazz musicians including Egbo-Egbo were asked their views about the influence of classical music on jazz music (answer, yes, there is). Also part of the group was Christopher Simmons. Chris is from Orillia and played at the first Jazz Festival.

Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Brassworks will perform (tickets). Their program is called Copacabana. They have Birdland, Georgia, a couple tunes by the great arranger, Bob Mintzer (Buddy Rich Band, the Yellowjackets) holding down spots on the menu. After the break, they have the Orillia All Star Jazz Band joining them, and the cast of Mariposa Arts Theatre’s production of The Rocky Horror Show and Christina Bosco.

Do you think we could have a music festival and not have Lance Anderson play it? He’ll be at the Opera House Sunday at 2 p.m. (tickets) to do a show built around the music and life of Dave Brubeck. As usual he’s got a great band with him: Terry Clarke (drums, played with the 5th Dimension, the Boss Brass and Oscar Peterson) Neil Swainson (bass – Herb Ellis, Paul Horn, George Shearing, Oscar Peterson) Vern Dorge (alto sax – Blood, Sweat and Tears, the Lincolns, Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot, Carol Welsman).

Then there are the venues hosting music. Couchiching Craft Brewing has Denielle Bassels playing Friday at 9 p.m. for the festival’s after party. Will Davis and Chris Robinson will be playing before the main stage show from 5 to 7 p.m. and on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Will and Chris will also be at Apple Annie’s Saturday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. and Lot 88 from 6 to 9.

Lot 88 also has Barb Jordan and Peter Hill playing Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. Picnic has the Joe Adamick/ Taggart Trio in Saturday at  2 p.m. Lake Country Grill has the Phoenix Jazz Quintet (Rusty Strathdee, Randy Hoover, Ian Thurston, Bruce Rumble and Mike Smit)  at 8 p.m. Saturday. Alleycats has John Weston, of the Jazz Byrds playing at 4 p.m. St. Paul’s Centre has the Sunday Jazz Service happening at 10:30 a.m.

Culture Days Ending

Ronnie Douglas’s gig last Saturday at St. James’ Anglican Church was fantastic. Ronnie, Rick Greensides, Tim Kehoe and Dave Hewitt presented blues songs organized by geography. They spent a lot of time on music from Texas, which of course included music from the Vaughan brothers. I only stayed for one set in order to catch another gig, but I did take a stab at the trivia contest (I wanted to stab a couple of the trick questions). I didn’t win, but I beat the band’s score – by one point.

Friday until 5 p.m. Georgian College is showing off their Global Engagement Centre and while you are there you can paint a small canvas which will become part of a mural, and contribute to other activities.

Saturday 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;

Also Saturday Georgian College has 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 Saturday 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.

ORAH Awards

The nominations close October 21 for the annual Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards held by OMAH, ODAC and City of Orillia. There are 5 categories

  • Education in the arts, culture and heritage (doesn’t have to be teacher by profession)
  • Emerging Artist
  • Heritage Restoration, renovation and publication
  • Event in arts, culture and heritage
  • The Qennefer Browne Achievement Award.

It’s been a goofy year, with much of the activity happening just in the last 6 months. I think Sam Johnston should definitely be nominated as an emerging artist, last year she was hardly visible (but then everyone was) and this year I’m typing her name almost weekly she’s got so many gigs lately..

I also think the Orillia Silver Band should get a nomination and it looks like it should be for their whole concert season as an event, or maybe in the achievement category. I’ve said it often and will again here, this group is simply outstanding. Conductor Neil Barlow has lifted this group from being just another community band to one of the finest I’ve ever heard.

Also in need of a nomination is the Orillia Concert Association in the event category. They have been producing a classical concert series for decades and I can’t remember how long ago it was they had to raise their price to $90 for the season – and it’s still only that much for this coming season. Price aside, they get some very fine musicians and ensembles to play here who otherwise wouldn’t.

For the Quennefer Browne award I think Ronnie Douglas would be a fine nominee. When he performs he usually gives some background about each tune he does, who wrote it, the circumstances, what regional blues influence it came out of, and something about the performers who made the songs popular. It’s not just a night of good music, but a little learning too.

Another good QB nominee is Cloud Gallery. In such a short amount of time they have really done a lot to put Orillia on the art map. Just recently they were called one of the top 4 destinations for arts related daytrips GTA residents can make.

Two more are kind of related. Steve Orr, of Dapper Depot opens his chequebook to sponsor so many events in town it’s almost ridiculous. Almost every music event you go to you’ll see the Dapper logo on the sponsor page. Quite a few events wouldn’t’ happen without his help.

At the same time, one the prime beneficiaries of Steve’s generosity is the Orillia Youth Centre and Kevin Gangloff. They have become the defacto third largest concert promoter in town after Mariposa and Roots North. Every one of their concerts is a fundraiser and not just for the youth centre. The last one they produced was a benefit for Teens on Edge, and they have also recently done one for Green Haven Shelter for Women and Youth.

You can find nomination instructions and forms here.

A Few Words About Kittens

First I found this video which explains cats. Second, the other gig I saw last Saturday night was Run With The Kittens at Couchiching Craft Brewing. Nate Mills (from here and wrote the world famous Orillia Song, video by Tyler Grace) is the main character of the band – and I do mean character. Jake Oelrichs is from somewhere between here and Barrie and Nigel Hebblewhite is from Barrie. Together they sound at times like a much bigger band and no two tunes are of the same style.

They are the most interesting band going. They are the house band at the Cameron House and I’m surprised they aren’t as big as the Barenaked Ladies or any of a dozen other Canadian bands. The song writing is complex, yet easy to flow. They’re fun too. Each is a master of their instruments and running them through a Microkorg machine allows for a wide variety of sounds. Jake is easily the most inventive drummer I’ve ever seen. If you like good music and a fun evening don’t miss them next time they play here.

The Shorts

  • There’s a benefit concert for Ukrainian/Canadian refugees October 29 at 2:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Centre. John Jefferies is organizing it again (he did the concert in the spring). Tickets are $25 (children 16 and under $15) and you can get them at the door.
  • Coldwater’s annual Witches Walk happens October 21 from 6 to 9 p.m. It’s a ladies only 19 and up event. Parking is easy, just lean the broom up against any building. You are encouraged to dress up. Activities include shopping, snacking, drinking and dining, dancing, spooking, photo boothing, live music and more.
  • The Orillia Concert Band’s fall concert is October 22 at St. Paul’s Centre. It’s called Bach Meets Bacharach. I think they’re going to play some music by Johann and Burt. It’s at 7:30 p.m. and Autumn Debassige and the Orillia Big Band are guest performers. Admission is by donation and it’s also a fundraiser for Information Orillia.
  • The Orillia Silver Band’s fall concert happens October 23 at the Opera House.  On the menu is Shostakovich’s Folk Festival, Verdi’s The Overture to Nabucco and Ralph Pearce’s Cry of the Warriors. Tickets.
  • The Orillia Youth Centre has Skye Wallace here to do a concert at Creative Nomad October 28 – the day her new album, Terribly Good, is released.Sam Johnston is opening. This is a fundraiser for the Teens On Edge program which covers the cost of and teaches kids to become certified ski instructors, provided they commit to becoming instructors in the program themselves. Some of the kids from the youth center take part in the program. Get tickets online.
  • The Orillia Concert Association’s season starts October 30 with the Toronto Concert Ensemble performing at the Opera House. Season tickets are available by phone to the Opera House at 705-326-8011.
  •  If you missed The Bowie Lives show at the Opera House a couple weeks ago and heard from your friends, or me, that it was pretty good, you can see them in Collingwood at the Gayety Theatre November 4.
  •  OMAH’s annual Carmichael Canadian Landscape Exhibition is up. There’s lots of great pieces this year, including work by Barbara Schmidt and Steph Dunn. Last week I mentioned Tammy McClennan and Peter Fyfe own prizes but left out the winner of the Kevin Batchelor Emerging Artist award. That went to Nancy Bennett. You’ve only got to January 14 to see the show. Also up is Sylvia Tesori’s The Man Who Could Fly; The Girl Who Flies In Her Dreams  solo show and The History Of Orillia In 50 Artefacts exhibit. OMAH also has a new, free, weekly event called Music and Mocktails every Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. The monthly History Speaker’s Night October 19 is about The Dieppe Raid with the Orillia Public Library’s Jayne Poolton-Turvey. Her father became a POW at Dieppe and spent three years in Stalag VIIIB… Hibernation Arts guest artist this month is Deby Melillo. Catherine Cadieux, Raune-lea Marshall and David Crighton have also got new work hanging around.. Peter Street Fine Arts is featuring works by artists of the Bayside Artists group… Cloud Gallery had Miriam Slan and Jennifer Woodburn’s show Pairing Palettes; up now. Next is Sarah Carlson’s Slow Burn show opening October 21.
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has Lyric Dubee in October 22; will Davis and Chris Robinson will be in on the 223rd…  Jamie Drake, along with Jakob Pearce and Alex Golovchenko host a jam at the Grape and Olive Thursday nights starting at 6 p.m. … Sean Patrick and Fiddling Jay have a few shows this weekend; Saturday at the Hog N’ Penny at 8 p.m.; Sunday at Westmount United Church at 10:30 a..m. and then at Picnic at 2 p.m. … Quayle’s Brewery has Burke Erwin in Friday at 4:30 p.m.; Jez is in Saturday at 1; Genevieve Cyr at 4:30 and Cam Galloway plays on Sunday at 1;  Jakob Pearce plays October 20; Sammy plays October 21… St. Paul’s Centre has a pub night happening November 4 at 6 p.m. with Brad Emmons (of Alex); admission is $10 and you can buy food and drinks and there will be a silent auction.

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

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