This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

This year’s Roots North Music Festival was very successful in performance and execution. Meredith Moon opened the night Saturday on the main stage at St. Paul’s Centre. She played her set with a fiddle player accompanying her. When she did Constellations from her new album of the same name, Sean Patrick jumped on stage to add some banjo. This was the best performance by Meredith I’ve seen.

Kellie Loder was next and did a solo set. There was a moment when she won over the crowd for good. During her Molded Like A Monster, she invited a young boy on stage to help her sing the tune. It turns out the boy’s grandmother had written to Kellie saying it was the boy’s favourite tune and when Kellie spotted him sitting in front she decided to get him up there. You can catch a clip of the moment here.

Michael Kaeshammer was on last and oh boy, what a showman. He does little flourishes, and ornaments for effect with the piano I’ve never heard anyone else do before. All made much better on St. Paul’s new-to-them Bösendorfer piano, which I think is the first time I’ve heard it outside its former owner, Michael Jones’s house.

Think Liberace – but without the white jumpsuit, fur, sequins, jewelry and poufy hair. Kaeshammer has a style all his own. And he did it without elbows flying like he’s going into the corner like Gordie Howe used to do, or fling his torso about like Muhammad Ali dodging punches as some pianists are want to do to draw attention to their playing.

He began his set playing solo. His drummer and bassist joined with the second tune. Unfortunately his drummer played so loudly he nearly obliterated Kaeshammer’s playing and singing. The only relief there came when the trio played slower quieter tunes like People Get Ready. Making up for the over balance was the drummer’s (couldn’t make out his name when he was introduced) great chops. I liked almost everything he played, except it being too loud.

A lot of Kaeshammer’s music comes from the New Orleans tradition. He covered a tune by Professor Longhair, Broken Down Piano, and Battle Hymn of the Republic, and he also did some newer tunes like Crazy Little Thing Called Love.

Sunday afternoon I caught Claire Coupland at Picnic. She has found the sweet spot of arranging her guitar playing to give her voice lots of room and clarity. Down the street Chris Robinson was at Couchiching Craft Brewing playing jazz. Chris normally plays with Will Davis, but apparently Will was getting a jump start on a tan and Don Guinn was sitting in on piano. You have to love it when Somewhere Over the Rainbow gets followed up with Georgia.

There were a lot of venues involved this year. I spoke with a number of people, performers, venue owners, and patrons and I heard most venues were full to overflowing and the audiences were really happy to be able to get out and be meet with some great performances.

The festival was sold out by the time Saturday evening rolled around. The last announcement before Kaeshammer took the stage was tickets for next year were already available online.

Speaking of next year in the context of this one. It’s going to be the 10th anniversary of the festival, and when I think back to how it started, shoestring budget, good lineups, but not the caliber of this past weekend’s, and the general feel of everything having moved into St. Paul’s Centre, the organizing crew, which is mostly the same core group, has done an excellent job. 

The very next day Kevin Gangloff was announcing the annual fall Orillia Youth Centre fundraising concert, in partnership with Roots North, was going to have The Sadies performing. By midweek 20% of the tickets were already sold.

As if that’s not enough, also announced this week is a return of the mini tour (Orillia/Collingwood) by Roger Harvey, Kevin successfully produced last year. It’s happening again in September. These are also fundraisers. You can get tickets online.


The William Swinimer Business Leader of the Year Awards happened earlier in the week and heartfelt congratulations to Steve Orr, who not only has the sharpest threads in town, but supports with his chequebook many of the concerts and events we all enjoy.

I understand since the award was on hiatus because of you-know-what, so four more awards were given to Timm McLean (who used to be one my volunteer crew members at Rogers), Susan Willsey, Kirby Wagg and the folks at McLean and Dickey to make up for the missing years. Congrats to all.

Music and Dance

Arts Orillia in partnership with Orillia Concert Association has a concert of cello playing and dance May 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Orillia Opera House, It’s called Empty Space, Empty Time and Worlds Within. The company is on a Canadian and European tour.

The cellist is Raphael Weinroth-Browne and choreographer Yvonne Coutts did the dance part with dancers Amanda Bon, Jaqueline Ethier, Alya Graham, and Sarah Hopkin.

You can get tickets online. If you already have season tickets for the Orillia Concert Association, check your email junk folder, or get in touch with for a deal so good you won’t believe it.

The Shorts

  • The freest, most enjoyable thing you are going to do this weekend is go to the Mariposa Folk Festival audition concert at St. Paul’s Centre. It happens Apr. 30 at 1 p.m. and the bands auditioning are Bud Rice, Dawson Gamble, JD Crosstown, Julia Finnegan, Po Boy and Calamity Jane, Sam Kruger, The Dog House Orchestra, The Gardeners and The Handsome Devils. Ticket sales for the summer festival are running ahead of last year’s sold out festival. There’s also a Youtube playlist, a preview of 55 videos by artists appearing at the festival this year.
  • Reay and The Latest Issue have both made the cut to perform at the Tall Pines Music Festival’s Battle of the Bands. It happens at the Bracebridge Hall May 11/12/13. There are 10 other bands involved and one will get to play at the festival June 16. Both bands are performing May 13. You can get tickets here.
  • The Latest Issue is part of a four band line up playing at Creative Nomad May 6. The others are Battlescarred, The Threapists and Tangents. This gig was previously sold out, but a few tickets became available this week.
  • The Orillia Vocal Ensemble has their spring concert happening May 17 at St. Paul’s Centre. As usual it’s a fundraiser (admission by donation), this time for the Born to Read program at Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, which provides two children’s books to new parents. The 7:30 p.m. concert also has the Orillia Community Children’s Choir performing.
  • St. Paul’s also has a number of other concerts happening. May 13 the Orillia Concert Band is in. The guest performer is Jacquie Dancyger Arnold who will do Grieg’s Piano Concerto and Bach’s Solfeggietto. Get tickets online. May 12 they have The ABBA Story happening; get those tickets here. Also May 12 Steph Dunn plays their monthly Pub Night from 6 to 9:30 p..m. ($10 cover). May 25 Chris Murphy (of Sloan) plays at 8 p.m. Get those tickets here.
The International Women’s Day Art Show Opens Saturday at OMAH
  • The Hawkestone Singers spring concert is May 13 at the Hawkestone Community Hall. They’ll be singing tunes by Beatles, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Adele, Sting, and Elton John. You can call 705-984-7110 to get tickets for the 7 p.m. concert.
  • Robert Gronfors and Philip Lalonde have created a Youtube channel to share films Jim Kelly (Speedy) shot at various concerts in the 70s. The newest video is from a June 1975 Pink Floyd concert at Ivor Wynne Stadium. There’s other videos of concerts by Max Webster, Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick Van Halen, B B King, The Who, Z Z Top, Grand Funk Railroad and Genesis. Some of them have audio carefully dubbed in, but most have no audio.
  • The Coldwater Studio Tour is June 24 and 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. There are 31 artists participating at 7 venues. One of those, Murray Van Halem, is opening a show at the Double Door Gallery in Anten Mills (May 5 to 22) and the reception is May 7 at noon.
Kate HilliardStory Creatures
  • Creative Nomad has two events at the same time happening; Floe and Story Creatures combines photography by Sean Rees, with performance art by Kate Hilliard; the photos will be up until May 7 (free) and The Storey Creatures part happens Apr. 28 at 7 p.m., Apr. 29 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. and you can get tickets here… OMAH has The International Women’s Day Art Show opening from 1 to 3 p.m. Apr. 29 along with exhibits of Elizabeth Wyn Wood and Donald Stuart works. David Alan Hill and Christine Mack’s Beyond the Fence is also up. The next History Speaker’s Night is with Rob McCron who will talk about the Fairmile, the explosion and what the Legion is doing to preserve the memory of the event and people involved; it’s going to be on Zoom May 17 and you can register onlineHibernation Arts has guest artist Nancy Jones’s work hanging around for the month of May.
  • Glen Robertson has been putting out some new music the last few days. He writes some great music and you can check it out on his Youtube channel.
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has Rob Watts in to play Apr. 28; Apr. 29 they have Cruisin’ doing a fundraiser for Campfire Circle; Eric and Nolan play bluegrass May 6… Quayle’s  Brewery has Jojo playing Apr. 28; Jackob Pearce plays Apr. 29; James Gray is in May 5, Peter Flood May 6 and Sidney Riley May 7… Steve Parkes and Pete Sanderson host a new jam at The Sunken Ship… The Orillia Silver Band’s next concert is May 28 at the Opera House. It’s at 2 p.m. and you can get tickets here… If your baseball team wants to go to see Against The Wind: The Ultimate Bob Seger Experience at the Opera House tomorrow, Apr. 29 – you’re out of luck because they only have 8 tickets left… Hey, Orillia Concert Association season ticket holders, this is a friendly reminder the Toronto Mandolin Orchestra is playing at the Opera House on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.; no tickets, you can still get some… Orillia Secondary School music students have a spring concert May 11 at 7 p.m.; admission is by donation… Studabakers has a comedy show May 29 with Arianna Swietlinski, Jeff Faulkner, Daniel Shaw and Marc Trinidad; get tickets online.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Sean Rees with part of his Floe exhibit at Creative Nomad Studios.

Rants & Raves

Support Independent Journalism