This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Gord’s funeral and burial will in Orillia. Gord planned ahead, actually the plans stem from when he had the aneurysm in 2002.

Sunday from 1 to 8 pm. the public can pay respects at St. Paul’s Centre from noon to 8 p.m. At 2 p.m. the church bell will be rung 84 times. The funeral will be family only for attendance at a later date. Karen Hilfman Millson is officiating.

I expect, and you should expect, traffic around Coldwater and Peter Streets will be thick and maybe in the blocks surrounding. If you aren’t planning to go to the church but will be out, that might be an area to avoid. The OPP will be issue their plans for traffic control and such on Sunday and SUNonline/Orillia will have that posted when it’s available.

People have asked if there is a way to send messages. There is. You can leave a message of condolence on the Mundell website. Gord also wanted any monetary donations to be directed to the Simcoe County United Way and you can also do that on Mundell’s website.

Coincidentally there is a tribute show happening Saturday evening called Early Morning Rain – Legend of Gordon Lightfoot. This was booked a long time ago. This show plays in other places, so its serendipitous they booked Orillia at this particular time. Can you imagine performing that sold out show in Gord’s Room at this time?

Steve Eyers (Gord’s nephew) and Steve McEown (who wrote I Used to Be A Country Singer, which Gord recorded), AKA Even Steven, took some time off to catch rays ahead of the season and are back to playing gigs. And coincidentally, they were booked to play Lake Country Grill Saturday night as well.

Monday evening a quickly put together night of local musicians covering Gord’s tunes is happening at Picnic. Angie Nussey, Zachary Lucky, Jakob Pearce, Fred Addis, Sean and Dale Patrick, Paul Court, Cassie Dasilva and Rebekah Hawker are going to perform. The poster say and more, which is likely going to include Michael Martyn who is stickhandling the affair. If you are going and want to hear a particular tune, email and someone will learn it. I’d make reservations.

And The Mariposa Folk Festival organized a few of things for fans you can see online. They are:  Mariposa’s obituary for Gordon Lightfoot, Gordon Lightfoot’s 2022 Mariposa Hall of Fame induction: story and video, Mariposa’s obituary for Gordon LightfootGordon Lightfoot’s 2022 Mariposa Hall of Fame induction: story and video, Mariposa Virtual Stage Video from 2021 Honouring Gordon Lightfoot, including 1964 Mariposa footage of Lightfoot performing Early Morning Rain, plus Dala’s rendition of If You Could Read My Mind and Mariposa Virtual Stage Video from 2021 Honouring Gordon Lightfoot, including 1964 Mariposa footage of Lightfoot performing Early Morning Rain, plus Dala’s rendition of If You Could Read My Mind.

Rock and Roll Night

Last Saturday night I was at the Against The Wind: The Ultimate Bob Seger Experience concert at the Opera House. I went in expecting the concert to pretty good based on my previous conversation with bandleader Jeffery Goldstein and having listen to some of their Youtube videos.

That’s all fine, performance is another thing. On that count they had something going for them. All of the band members have played in other bands, a few you may have seen, and individually played some pretty big gigs. There’s nothing I can’t stand more than a bunch of posers. I want to watch people who take playing their instrument in public seriously. These folks do that.

The other thing I don’t like is seeing clone bands trying to be Memorex machines, especially when they don’t have the skills to do that. If one is performing music others wrote or made popular, and if one is going to be creditable one has to take ownership of the music, regardless if it’s a faithful arrangement or a new arrangement.

Ty Wilson

This was an authentic performance of music Bob Seger wrote and was famous for performing.  The main character, if one has to say there is one for a band like this, is obviously the lead singer. Ty Wilson is likely the youngest member of the band, never saw Seger perform either, but he is a professional singer. His vocal timber isn’t the same as Seger’s, it’s in the range, and in a blind taste test you’d be able to tell which is which. That’s doesn’t matter if you understand the lyrics, the intent, the phrasing, and deliver them in the way the audience wants to hear them. That he did.

My exposure to Seger was constant with daily encounters of his music on the radio (often lying on the beach on the shore of Lake Huron). Daily because our radio was from Detroit and of course with Seger being from Michigan it was expected to hear something every hour. They played him only slightly more that Rush. That is to say, I know the tunes very well.

Getting past the singing, the musical performance and arranging are integral to making the best of a tribute performance. Of course a good portion of that is in the hand of the mixing board operator. Lately there have been many issues with sound in the Opera House (and other venues) and I’m happy to report this show was about 94% mixed as should be. The snare and tom drums, cymbals, bass, keyboards and guitars were about perfect. The guitars occasional weren’t distinguishable from each other, and same goes for keyboards (2 players). But when it counted (solos, key melody lines) they were present in proportion to how they should be. The same goes for the sax, played by John Panchyshyn. He has been a part of Lighthouse, so I expected his playing to be stellar. Seger featured the sax as a key voice in many of his tunes, so Panchysyn was often the focus of attention and it was pleasing to hear him pulled out of the mix to the front when it mattered.

I don’t know what it is with board operators that bass drums have to be so in your face. Saturday night was no different, with a bit of a difference. While it was over balanced, it at least was EQ’d better than recent experience and not so boomy that it obscured everything else happening in stage, I get its advantageous to give the bass drum some punch and a bit of prominence in the mix, but as a drummer I really wish board ops would figure out what they almost universally do is not musical.

That little issue was just that, a little issue because over all this was one of the best sounding concerts I’ve been to since Lance Anderson had a band in there. Oh, and the pair of backup singers can’t be overlooked. Those backup lines are also a key part of Seger’s music and the contribution of the ladies and where they sat in the mix made hearing the tunes that much better.

The audience, sold out, was eating this show up. Particularly the faster tempo, rock tunes. There’s nothing like seeing women from various parts of the audience jump up and start dancing in the aisles, in front of the stage, or in their rows. No one is ever going to stop that.

The best part, well, maybe not the best, but memorable, was the Leafs were playing at the same time. Ty gave updates on the score from time to time. And when the band was playing their last tune, Katmandu, minutes before 10 p.m. some fellow in a Leafs jersey jumped up, hands in the air, shouting and weaving his way through the dancing portion of the audience to the front of the house to celebrate the game win – which immediate set the entire house off into joy us applause and cheering. A lot of people are going to tell stories of where they were when the Leafs snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, and for almost 700 people they will be saying it was at the Against The Wind concert.

Performance Art

Creative Nomad was the venue for a combined photo exhibit and dance performance last weekend. The photos by Sean Rees, are still up. The dance was called Story Creatures, conceived and choreographed by Kate Hilliard.

The dance ties in with the photos of melting ice in that Kate used projected imagery of winter scenes, cold effect lighting and two dancers to illustrate a concept about climate change. What happens when the permafrost melts? Ancient viruses get unleash and do their work to threaten humanity – until, an insect no one has seen before emerges that is discovered to stop the disease. Except, the bug replaces one problem with another. The side effect is uncontrolled singing, to the point no one can remember the past and can’t think of the future.

The story is partially based, has a jumping off point from an Anisinnabemowin story. I saw it without reading the accompanying booklet which would have clued me into what I was seeing. Nevermind, I found it fascinating to watch the two dancers. At times they were off doing their own thing, but would come together and dance in sync and then part. This occurred with some frequency and part of the experience was it just happening and dissolving without telegraphing what was going to happen next.

At one point a second projection rapidly displayed words and phrase in many languages in contrast to the slow moving musical line.

I think a second viewing sometime might be in order, now that I know what the intent is.

Mariposa Audition

The annual audition concert to choose a few unknown acts to perform at the Mariposa Folk Festival in July happened last Sunday at the Opera House.

For once I picked four acts that got an invite. Normally they pick 3, but the last couple years they added one more.

Granted I had an alternate – my 3 plus 2 on the bubble. They went with a duo called The Gardeners. While I had them tied for the fourth spot with Sam Kruger. The former was good and of the two musicians has ties to Orillia. Kruger on the other hand was equally entertaining and also, I think the best guitarist of the day.

The other three chosen are Po’ Boy Jefferies and Calamity Jane – first, the name fits, and the Virginia mountain (that’s what they call them) music fits too; The Handsome Devils are a country band for Hamilton and The Dog House Orchestra  will likely be a hit in the pub, plus they had a powerful singer, Charlotte Mcafee-Brunner – who also plays a wicked trombone.

All together this was maybe not the strongest group of ten acts present over the years as evidenced by many the times I picked an entirely different slate of three acts than the festival did.

Congrats to those who made the cut and see you in the summer. Oh, if you ordered your weekend passes and requested them to be delivered digitally, the email went out this week. So if you haven’t seen it, check your junk folder. There are still a few tickets left.

The Shorts

  • Summer theater at the Opera House is around the corner and you can get a deal on tickets for all three plays right now. The plays are Moving In (Norm Foster), Bed and Breakfast (Mark Crawford), and Halfway There (Norm Foster). They got the order wrong. It should have been (I’m) halfway there (to) moving in (to the) bed and breakfast. The Opera House also has the annual Laugh For Lake Simcoe fundraiser May 26 with comedians Martha Chaves, Jon Steinberg and Rob Bebeneck; Brass Transit (very worthwhile Chicago tribute band) plays June 24. Tickets for the concerts are here.
  • 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 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 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.
  • The Lighthouse is celebrating their 30th anniversary June 3 with a fundraising gala at Hawk Ridge. The entertainment is by the Little Big Band. Past fundraisers have been theme nights and this time it’s the 1930s so the music will reflect that and they are encouraging people to get those threads form the back of the closet out for some air. You can get tickets online.
  • 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.
  • OMAH has The International Women’s Day Art Show and exhibits of Elizabeth Wyn Wood and Donald Stuart works to see 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 recently put out some new music. He writes some great music and you can check it out on his Youtube channel.
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has the Thunderstealers in to play May 5; Eric and Nolan play bluegrass May 6; Jessica Bowman is in May 11 and Jeff Young plays May 12… Quayle’s Brewery has James Gray in May 5, Peter Flood May 6 and Sidney Riley May 7, Alex Barber May 11 and Jakob Pearce May 12… Steve Parkes and Pete Sanderson host a jam at The Sunken Ship Sunday evenings… 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… 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… Jakob Pearce and Dave Hewitt are at the Hog ‘N Penny Saturday night.

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

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