This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Roots North Music Festival now has half their dance card filled. This week they announced Tommy Youngsteen will join Kellie Loder and Michael Kaeshammer for the concerts happening at St. Paul’s Centre April 21 and 22 (the festival starts April 20)

Youngsteen performs the first night and as much as I am loath to give space to cover bands, for these guys I’ll expand my short list of recommend clone bands.

They do Springsteen (on occasion they toss in tunes by Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and Neil Young). The band members are all from bands like Sam Roberts, The Stills, Stars, The Dears, The Trews, Sloan, Serena Ryder and The Arkells.

Their songlist is long, so I’m guessing they don’t play the whole thing every gig, and notably Blinded By the Light, Fire and Pink Cadillac are not on it, but everything else is.

I think the festival has jumped a few steps getting these guys to performed here. The bandmembers have been on stages all over the world and played gigs with some of the biggest names, beside coming from some of the most popular bands in Canada. The festival is downsizing the seating area for the night in order to include a dance floor.

I think it would be wise to get tickets now.

The Big Gig

I regret to inform you tonight’s (January 28) show with Reay at Couchiching Craft Brewing is sold out. It’s unfortunate for you, great for the band. 

I’ve been looking forward to see them play. The last time I saw them was the weekend before we all went home for a couple months in 2020. That was a great gig and my first chance to hear the music from their very good album, Butterfly Tongue Revisited, which you can listen to, or buy, here.

Despite That, It Was still Funny

Last Friday night’s comedy show at Creative Nomad Studios was successful on two counts. It appeared to be a full house with more than 80 people on hand, and instead of four comics (Nigel Grinstead, Daniel Shaw, Jeff Faulkner and Marc Trinidad) there were 5 with the addition Ryan Dillon.

You know how when you hear a good joke and then you try to repeat it later but can’t remember it? That’s how I feel right now. I remember Faulkner, who was first on stage, being pretty good, and the field between him and closer Trinidad is a blur. Trinidad (who is from Trinidad) dissected some idiotic things we take for granted in the way Carlin would go after social norms which don’t make sense if you take a moment to think about them.

Part of the reason I have trouble remembering jokes and the tone of each comic’s set is because the sound system was inadequate. It wasn’t EQ’d properly (too much mid range frequency) and some of the comics ran words together, or did not deliver an even level of their voices into the mics. It makes it work to understand what is being said. On top of that the one speaker directed the sound across the audience from a corner at the front to a corner at the back, so the amplified field passed in front of me.

I noticed those to my left and toward the front rows laughed a lot more than the people to my right and behind me because they were in direct line of the speaker. Also a sound system only amplifies what is put into it, if you put little in, little comes out. Trinidad, being the veteran of the group had an advantage of having a more robust delivery, and being from Trinidad a distinct diction. Diction is important all the time, but especially when the sound system set up is not up to the job.

I did have fun. How can you not with that many comedians. I think if this thing is going to become a regular monthly event as it’s intended to be the audio needs to be addressed

Arty Things

OMAH’s Thursday night (5 to 7 p.m.) Music and Mocktails is free to attend. They have munchies, music, non-alcoholic drinks and art. OMAH also has Amanta Scott’s really terrific exhibit of 36 portraits of notable Canadian women, Eyeing Medusa; Great Tait: The True Story of Orillia’s First Millionaire and Burner Herzog by husband and wife team of Gary Blundell and Victoria Ward (who had Project Voyager – an artistic documentation of Champlain’s travels – at OMAH in the fall of 2019) are also up; another husband and wife team, David Alan Hill and Christine Mack, have a photographic exhibit called Beyond the Fence up February 4.

The monthly history Speaker’s Night February 17 at 7 p.m. features Paul Barber telling the tale of his family’s role in the migration of Blacks from Virginia to here. It’s an online presentation and you can register online.

OMAH’s public art committee stickhandles what goes on the wall at the Orillia Recreation Centre’s Stack Gallery. They have a new line up of art to unveil February 4 with a reception from 1 to 4 p.m.

The Township of Oro-Medonte is having round 2 of their Art Trees public art project. Artists in Orillia and the surrounding townships can apply to be part of it. There are two ways to submit your idea. One is for a metal tree (about 2 feet high, like the ones above), or to have your art printed on an Alupanel. The deadline for submissions is January 30.

Kate Taylor at Cloud Gallery

Creative Nomad Studios has new programs to take part in, get details and registration info online. Creative Nomad is having a spring market in May. Artisans can apply to participate online. Cloud Gallery has new work by Kate Taylor in the main room. Hibernation Arts guest artist for February is Bob Broom. Peter Street Fine Arts still has their holiday season 6×6 show up to the end of January.  

The Shorts

  • The Mariposa Folk Festival’s February Blues happens Feb. 4 at the Opera House. Lance Anderson is once again the bandleader and with him will be Matt Weidinger, Bobby Dean Blackburn, Verese Vassel-Brown, Thomas Nelson and Mike Sloski. You can get tickets (better hurry, it sells out every time) online. Get registered to volunteer for the summer festival now and apply for the audition concert now.
  • The Orillia Concert Association series returns Jan. 29 with the Landom Ensemble in concert at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at 2:30 p.m. It is unusual quartet with instrumentation of piano, cello, accordion and percussion. They cover music by Bach, Argentinean music and rock. You can get tickets for this concert ($40 each) online, or call the Opera House box office, 705-326-8011 and get the season ticket for $90; there are three more concerts in the series, so you’ll pay about half to go to all four of them.
  • Arts Orillia has a dance event happening Feb. 4 at Creative Nomad with the dance film Reduced by Aliyah Beckles-Gaines. She will be on hand to talk about the film and read from her book, We Are Here: Stories From Southern Georgian Bay BIPOC Women. You can find tickets online.
  • The Old Dance Hall Players have a show at the Opera House Feb. 11. Love Is A Cattelfield, will likely have nothing to do with love, cattle or fields, but will still be funny. You can get tickets online. Also happening at the Opera House is a gig Feb. 11 with Canadian Country Music Assoc. multi-nominee and Juno Award winning artist Aaron Goddvin.  Get those tickets online too.
  • The Orillia Public Library has a couple things happening in February. On the 18th they have Mosaic of Black Culture for Black History Month; it’s from 2 to 4 p.m. with steel drum music and Debbie Opoku-Mulder speaking about local history. It’s free, but you need to register. Also, on Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. drop in for the grand opening of their Maker Space. They’re cutting the ribbon at 10:30 and there will be cake. They’ll be showing off their new gear from 3D printers, to laser and vinyl cutters, and VHS to digital converters.
Meredith Moon
  •  Zachary Lucky has been on the road around Ontario and will be playing at Picnic February 17. Meredith Moon will be joining him for three dates including the Orillia gig. She has a new album coming in March and Friday this week she posted a video of one of the tunes, Constellations, on Youtube.  Get tickets for the picnic gig online.
  • Tangents (Will Tennant’s band) are taking a trip across Canada in late April, with stops along the way to play some tunes. Once they hit the Pacific Ocean, they are working their way back with a tour ending gig at Creative Nomad May 6.
  • Arts Orillia just announced a residency program which will take place at the Opera House Nov 12 to 17. The Re:Research and Design program is for movement (dance) arts and applications are open to self-identifying emerging independent artists or collectives with a movement-based practice and should identify as Black, Indigenous or Persons of Colour inclusive of those identifying as 2SLGBTQ+. Successful applicants will be mentored in sound, costume, lighting, projection and set design. Online applications are open to individual artists or collectives based in Ontario. 
  •  Couchiching Craft Brewing had Steven Henry, Joe Huron and Ian Ross in last week and I only got there for the tail end of their gig; Joe was on bass, something I’ve never seen before and they did a couple tunes David Crosby wrote to end the night; last Sunday Ronnie Douglas had a full house for his Sunday afternoon gig; he did covers and history lessons for the first set, and his own tunes for the second – you can hear those here, but I think live is best; Jan. 29 Will Davis and Chris Robinson do jazz n the afternoon; Jack and Dean are in Feb. 3; Cassie Dasilva plays Feb. 4 and Liz Anderson is in the afternoon of Feb. 5… Quayle’s Brewery has Jake Hammond playing Feb. 3; Kat Chabot is in Feb. 4… Scott Olgard plays Picnic Feb. 5 from 2 to 4 p.m.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Tommy Youngsteen will play roots North in April.

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