This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

So much happening, where to begin? I know, how about with today? Creative Nomad Studio has their Spring Market on right now. Both floors are being taken over by 30 vendors.

From the Timing is Everything handbook take note Sunday is Mother’s Day.

Saturday night the Orillia Concert Band has what should be a stupendous concert happening at St. Paul’s Centre. Most communities have people, neighbours, who are extraordinary at something, expert, counted among the best practitioners.

Yeah, yeah, Orillia has several, many, an overabundance of those kind of people. Jacquie Dancyger Arnold is one of them. She is the guest artist of the concert, coming out from the percussion section where she often plays to sit at the relatively new to St. Paul’s Bosendorfer piano.

This is the third time she’s been featured by the OCB. First was to play Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, then to play some Rachmaninoff. This time it’s Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto.

What number? you might ask. Isn’t there usually a 2nd, or 3rd that becomes the famous one from any particular composer? Yes there is, practice makes better, but not here. Grieg only wrote one, he put everything into it. It’s usually appended – in A minor, but really, what’s the point? There isn’t one in A Major, or anything like that.

No one ever said, “Grieg, huh? Which one?”

Of course you know it. I could play you only the first five notes and you’re going to say, ‘Oh, right.’

Jacquie is also going to play Bach’s Solfeggietto – C.P.E. and not Johann.

The rest of the program is filled with great music too. Fanfare for the Common Man, Intermezzo from Carmen, Farandole, Moorside March, Nimrod, Lady of Spain, Hungarian Dance (Brahms, but not that one), and Finlandia. I don’t think you could put together a more best of classical music’s greatest hits for the masses program than that. Cartoon music, movie music, commercial music, it’s all there.

Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and you can get tickets online or at the door.

Neil Barlow running a Silver Band rehearsal

The other band, the Orillia Silver Band has their spring concert happening at the Opera House May 28. The program has a little classical, a little pop and some modern compositions by Whitacre, Sparke and Langford.

A highlight for sure is going to be a piece the band commissioned a few years ago by Robert Redhead called Railroad Trilogy. It’s a band arrangement of Gord’s Canadian Railroad Trilogy. Some of you may recall hearing it and know it’s an amazing piece of work and the band plays it with a little extra special care.

You can get tickets online or at the door.


Not to be obnoxious writing about the passing of Gord, but a few things have crossed my radar worth writing about.

First, thank you to all who left a comment online or said something to me about the pieces I wrote. Of the things I said about Gord, the comments from people on his Facebook fan page, the stories of encounters and how Gord treated his fans reflected what I said about him.

Speaking of the fan page, I linked a couple of my articles to the page and one of them had video from Sunday. It’s interesting the amount of flack I got for including the last clip from Timothy Crumb. Some people just don’t read, or if they do they don’t comprehend. I qualified why I included that clip and people still didn’t get it. Crumb’s story might be true, it might not be. It might be partly true. If everything else I read was absolutely true that would be remarkable. The thing is to enjoy the spirit of the many stories and Crumb’s in the telling was not atypical of more than a few of them.

One story in particular was from Renee Boghosian Godwin of Boston. She told a tale of travelling by bus with a friend to see Gord play in Philadelphia in 1966, but because she had to get back to Boston the next day she could only stay for one set. Gord found out, came out to meet them and was so impressed someone would go to such lengths to see him perform he asked what he could do. She asked if he could send the lyrics to a tune called Spin, Spin. Less than a week later she got mail including the lead sheet to the song, then several months later Gord sent her lead sheet to Go My Way. That’s an extraordinary example (complete with pics of the music, a note and envelope) of the hundreds of similar stories about how Gord did a little more for his fans.

There were about 2400 people who lined up to say goodbye on Sunday according to Roy Menagh who was counting heads on the way in. I know the rain kept some from participating and likely many more chose not to stand in line for an unknown amount of time. Sometimes the wait was about 90 minutes, while later in the day people were saying the wait was only a few minutes.

Kim Lightfoot and Jimi McKee

Jimi McKee was one who timed things right and didn’t wait in line for long. Several years ago Jimi gave a paddle he painted to the head of Insight Productions, John Brunton, which John was presenting to Gord. Jimi brought a photo of the paddle and on the back he did a painting of Gord. Jimi had a chance to speak with Gord’s wife, Kim. He asked if she had seen the paddle and she told Jimi it was hanging on their living room wall and she was glad to hear the story about the paddle and meet Jimi.

Jimi also told me he has an idea for the story pole (which was so unceremoniously removed from the Opera House last September) to replace the top clown figure with an image of Gord, so hopefully the City will put the pole back where it belongs.

A TV station from Cadillac Michigan contact me and Pam Carter for input to a feature about Gord they were doing, and Pam appeared on TVO’s Agenda program to talk about Gord. The original hour long video has been taken down, but here’s a 12 minute clip and a 23 minute clip from it.


I caught one set last Saturday night of a three band line up playing at Creative Nomad. The emphasis was on metal rock, but the first band, Cory Doucette’s The Latest Issue, opened with what I’d call radio friendly music with a hard edge. Everything they played was original and I really like the way Cory writes.

The band is playing tonight at the Bracebridge Hall for the Tall Pines Music Festival’s Battle of the Bands concert. The festival and 89.1 Max FM ran a contest to shortlist a dozen area bands chosen by fans to win a spot on the June festival’s main stage. You can get tickets online. Reay was also going to be performing tonight, but had to pull out.

I bugged out early because Steve Eyers and Steve McEown, Even Steven, were also playing at Lake Country Grill and I wanted to be able to speak with both of them between sets. Steve is Gord’s nephew, and Steve might as well be. Which one? Yes. I also needed to be with people who also had a similar relationship with Gord as I did, and there were several who also went to see the Steve’s play for the same reasons.

Wednesday night Arts Orillia and the Orillia Concert Association had a concert happen at the Opera House. It was with cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne and dancers from Compagnie ODD BIOS.

You can hear some of the music he played here. To say the music was good is understatement. He opened with a tune called In The Face of Adversity, which set the stage for the kind of virtuosity we could expect the rest of the night. It had a Balkan feel as a compositional element and there was even a bit near the end that could easily have been  lifted and turned into a heavy metal tune.

Lighting designed by Gabriel Cropley was an equal player in the first half of the concert before the dancers were involved. The work of both in the second tune was stunning. To say the lighting complimented the music and vice versa isn’t enough, they enhanced each other.

And Weinroth-Browne’s playing technique is incredible. The notes, particularly in the pianismo passages, just floated out of his instrument absent the bite many players get when changing bowing direction.

The second half featured a piece called Empty Space/Empty Time with Weinroth-Browne joined by a quartet of dancers. I’d like to say a bit about the dancers, but I was so mesmerized by his playing I had to remind myself at times to watch the dancers. When I was paying attention to their synchronized work (as opposed to when each was doing something different) I found the choreography fit the music very well and they danced together well.

The only downside to the concert was music students at Orillia Secondary School were doing their spring concert at the same time. I’ve heard from those who went there the bands played very well.


Congratulations to Lance Anderson (soon to be Dr. Anderson), Kim Fedderson (soon to be one of the Fellows) and Fred Larsen who will all receive awards at the Lakehead University convocation in June. All three are very deserving of the recognition.

Lance Anderson, Fred Larsen and Kim Fedderson

Lance of course had been our resident doctor of music for a very long time, now it’s official. Just taking into account the detail and historical accuracy of the various shows he puts together built around a single artist’s contribution to history should be enough. That he is an A+ level pianist in jazz and blues and one of the world’s great Hammond B3 players – and – he brings some of Canada’s best musicians to play here for us – and recorded one of the great albums of Oscar Peterson’s work with most of the world’s top pianists doing the playing is about four or five boxes of Betty Crocker icing on top.

I forgot, he’s not just a master of the art, he’s a teacher. Those shows I mentioned above are not just entertainment vehicles; they are Lance’s way of teaching us about what the music is and where it came from. A conversation with Lance always seems to become a lesson, for which I am grateful.

Kim is being made a Fellow of the university. I remember the first time I met Kim, kind of. It was like most of the subsequent meetings. Kim was always ready to listen to ideas about how to get Lakehead’s roots into Orillia and he was always interested in ways the university could be a participant in the community to the betterment of Orillia. Plus he plays guitar.

Fred is getting the university’s Civitas Award. Fred has been a contributor to SUNonline/Orillia’s environment section since the beginning and contributed to getting this venture off the ground. He also has been a contributor to several projects for the community’s benefit. Of late, Sustainable Orillia’s drive to get the City on board with climate change projects has been a focus.

I think the university outdid itself this year with their choices. There have been many great ones over the years, but not a trio of great ones all at once.

The Shorts

  • 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 OVE will be doing a rendition of Gord’s Pussy Willows, Cat-Tails. The 7:30 p.m. concert also has the Orillia Community Children’s Choir performing.
  • The Leacock Museum is opening a new exhibit May 20 in the boathouse. Boating Old Brewery Bay will be a permanent exhibit and the opening is going to be a party starting at 1 p.m. The folks ftom the Orillia Heritage Centre and the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association are going to have historic boats, canoes and model ships on hand and Tim Greenwood is going to do a dramatic reading of Leacock’s The Sinking of the Mariposa Belle. There will be activities for kids too. You can get tickets online. Also, the museum has the return of the Great Gatsby Garden Party happening June 17. There will be entertainment, games and you can attend the awards ceremony for the K. Valerie Connor Memorial Poetry contest at 2 p.m. Get tickets here.
  • The annual Canadian Federation of University Women’s Homes Tour is happening June 4 from noon to 5 p.m. This annual fundraiser has raised $371,000 for scholarship[s since 1974 ($32,000 last year). There are 4 homes on the tour and it ends at Matchedash Lofts for a rooftop garden picnic. There are door prizes, but you have to wait to the end, no grabbing one while on the tour. The tour is sold out, but you can still get a ticket for the rooftop party.
  • 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). 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.
  • St. Paul’s has Chris Murphy (of Sloan) playing May 25 at 8 p.m. Get those tickets here.
  • 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, has a show at the Double Door Gallery in Anten Mills up until May 22
  • Derick Lehmann has a fundraising event for the Sharing Place Food Bank happening at the Roller Skating place at ODAS Park. Derick is the one behind the annual Ugly Sweater Bowling fundraiser. It’s called Back to the 90s Video Dance Party. It’s modelled after the Much Music events of the same nature. It’s happening July 29 and you can get tickets at Alleycats Music or online.
  • 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.
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has Cam Galloway in to play May 13, Will Davis and Chris Robinson May 14, Run With the Kittens May 19 and the Trivia Night May 24 is all about Gord… Quayle’s Brewery has My Missing Piece playing May 13, Jojo May 14, Michael Neray May 19, Kyle Wauchope May 20, Burke Erwin (early) and Stephan Barnard (late) May 21 and Ron Whitman May 21 … Studabakers has a comedy show May 29 with Arianna Swietlinski, Jeff Faulkner, Daniel Shaw and Marc Trinidad; get tickets online… the Hog ‘N Penny is hosting Ronnie Douglas’s Music Is Medicine CD release party May 27 at 8:30 p.m…. Alleycats has Rival Queen (Philip Lalonde – of The Tradesmen – and Jordan Burke) playing May 14 at noon.

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

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