This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

The Mariposa Folk Festival’s February Gospel and Blues gig with a band Lance Anderson put together hasn’t even happened yet (February 4 at the Opera House) and they’ve put tickets on sale for another concert happening at the end of March.

Every week, the MGG has something new and I’m beginning to think they’re drinking from the same fountain OMAH’s been guzzling from because – too much of a good thing. So first, Saturday night Lance’s band has Matt Weidinger, Bobby Dean Blackburn, Verese Vassel-Brown, Thomas Nelson and Mike Sloski in it. You can get tickets online. This is the 11th Gospel and Blues, everyone of these concerts with Lance, and has been nothing less than the best Saturday night out in the month of February you’re going to have.

Union Duke At Mariposa’s Fall 2022 Concert

Except March 25 when Union Duke, James Gray and Josh Kvasnak play a concert at St. Paul’s Centre. Josh Kvasnak? I know it’s hard to keep up; he’s the lead singer for the Doozies. All three have had experience with the annual audition concert, having schlepped all their gear and themselves here in blinding snowstorms (in April? Yes, but it was liquid snow and uphill all the way) to do the best performance they ever gave to get a slot in the summer festival. They have performed better here ever time since You can get tickets online, or if you’re downtown in the Arts District stop into the festival’s office to get tickets, Chris doesn’t get to see many people all week and will be giddy to see you and get your tickets.

At least they haven’t been flooding the inbox with periodic announcements of performers for the summer festival, yet. But they have been doling out info weekly about how to register to be a volunteer, and to apply (Now already! By February 28) for the audition concert in May. That one happens basically all afternoon April 30 at St Paul’s Centre and is free to attend. The latest is the food vendor application process opened up this week. If you want in fill out the form.

I must have missed a memo, the artisan application period ends February 27. Oh, I see, it opened December 27th, like I was paying attention that day.

Mariposa trivia: the Maple Blues Awards happened this week. Half of the winners have played the Mariposa Folk Festival (except Harrison Kennedy did the Gospel and Blues a few years ago, not the summer gig).

Before we get out of this, did you know a weekend pass for youth ages 13 to 18 is a whopping $35? It’s true, go to the ticket page and see for yourself, Grandma, Grandpa. Young adult passes are pretty cheap too. All the rest of the ticket combos are on sale now as well.

Reay Of Sunshine

Last Saturday night’s gig with Reay at Couchiching Craft Brewing was outstanding. The band sounded really good and played really well. The upstairs room was full, and I mean standing room included.

Sean Murray told me they were going to play a few new tunes. I had a seat at the bar, which was stage left and almost on top of lead guitarist Ryan Smith and a stick toss away from Justin Kadis (Juice, who is also drumming in Platinum  Blond) so they got of my attention all night. I was so wrapped up watching Juice and Smith’s laid back delivery of some great solos I can’t remember what the band opened with or closed with or what tunes they played in between.

Of course that all fits, or plays off Chad VanDusen’s bass playing and I noticed at one point he had been playing a lot of busy lines that propelled each tune without dominating. And that’s the thing about Reay’s music, and Sean’s writing, the tunes move, and each moves differently. There’s nothing static about the band or the playlist.

Everyone in the audience was about my age, well, except for the ladies who I am sure were several years younger, and it struck me there weren’t a lot more younger people because the music would, I think would naturally appeal to them. This isn’t your old man’s music, your old man just happens to like it too.

This was the second time I’ve seen a band in the upstairs room. Couchiching’s Bob Robinson was wondering about how music was going to sound back before the Jazz Festival when he showed the yet to be used room to me a few months ago. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. The acoustics are different than downstairs where sometimes the chit chat can be competition for the musicians.  Also, the sound was nicely balanced among the instruments considering they weren’t running through a mixing board and each musician had to find his own place in the sound.

I hope Reay gets more opportunities to play here. In the mean time, you can listen to their music with me, or buy it.

Arty Stuff

The Orillia Museum of Art and History has a club called the Sir Sam’s Society. It’s only exclusive in that for $365 you can be in the club. Once a year they have an art exchange when members can pick something from the collection to hang at home for the year (Margaret, put Bill down). Or they can choose to direct their fee to the acquisition fund.

Franklin Carmichael, Kleinburg 1928

That implies the fund is used to buy art to add to the collection. The target art is stuff made by people from Orillia, or have close ties to Orillia and Franklin Carmichael fits that description. So recently OMAH showed the members the newest piece, Carmichael’s sketch, Kleinburg, 1928. It’s the 4th piece of his OMAH owns. Last year’s acquisition was a sketch by Elizabeth Wyn Wood.

Saturday at 1 p.m. OMAH has a reception for the exhibits that have been installed over the last couple weeks. Artists Amanta Scott, Chris Mack, David Hill and Victoria Ward will be on hand.

The exhibits are Eyeing Medusa (Scott), Burner Herzog (Gary Blundell and Ward) and Beyond the Fence Hill and Mack). OMAH’s Lindsay Earle will have a presentation about their history exhibit, Great Tait: The True Story of Orillia’s First Millionaire and Ninette Gyorody will talk about the new art at the Orillia Rec Centre’s Stack Gallery.

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.

Creative Nomad is having a spring market in May. Artisans can apply to participate online. Cloud Gallery will have new work by Maureen McNeil in the main room February 11 and she’ll be on hand from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hibernation Arts guest artist for February is Bob Broom. Peter Street Fine Arts has new work by February guest artist Sue Emily.

The Shorts

  •  New Friends, the band Ayden Miller is in has a new album, Camero, out Feb. 3. They’ve already had videos for Doomed out (co-written with Cassie Dasilva) and Ricochet (out two months ago and was #35 on the Canadian Alt Rock Radio chart last week).
Ronnie Douglas Blues Band
  • Roots North Music Festival is 2/3 of the way to a three course lineup each night on their main stage at St. Paul’s Center April 21 and 22. The Ronnie Douglas Blues Band was added this week to the Friday night menu with the star studded Tommy Youngsteen; Saturday night has Kellie Loder and Michael Kaeshammer playing. I’m going to guess this will sell out in the next couple weeks, so get going.
  • Arts Orillia has a dance event happening Feb. 4 at Creative Nomad at 5 p.m. 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, which 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 two 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.
  • 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) is 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.
  •  Couchiching Craft Brewing has Cassie Dasilva playing Feb. 4; Liz Anderson is in the afternoon of Feb. 5; Madison Mueller plays Feb. 10; Sam Johnston is in Feb. 11 and – Kitten Alert! Run With the Kittens are in Feb. 18 ( I swear if I don’t see you there, I’ll…) … Quayle’s Brewery has Kat Chabot in Feb. 4; Burke Erwin plays Feb. 10 and Patrick Hunter is in Feb. 11… Jake Hammond plays Picnic Feb. 5 from 2 to 4 p.m. … the Legion is hosting a jam with The Back Up Band Feb. 12 at 2 p.m.; admission is $5… Digging Roots (last here for Mariposa in 2019 and Roots North before that) are playing the Opera House Mar. 16 (tickets).

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Lance Anderson and Matt Weidinger (her at Mariposa 2018) play the Gospel and Blues concert February 4.

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