This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

A little about Tudhope Park leads this week. Right now the chamber of commerce’s Spring Boat, Cottage, and Outdoor Show is happening. You can check out the vendors until 7 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

If you make it into Centennial Park and the Port area there will be some boats to see, but not as many as previous years. There will be some live music at Tudhope as well. Take some time to support this community event by stopping by.

Spring Boat, Cottage, and Outdoor Show Display

Eat first, they had to cancel their food vendors because the Ribfest is also happening at Tudhope. Ribfest is an event which never should have been allowed. It’s a commercial enterprise that rolls into town, sucks the money out and moves on to the next gullible town. In the past they said they have local musicians performing – they do have a list of bands and musicians scheduled – but I’ve checked (and have almost every year) and I’ve never seen the name of a local band or musician on the line up.

Whatever their permit fee is, it does not compare to the property taxes paid by our restaurants and there really is no benefit to the community.

If you make it past all the fencing into the rest of the park you can see a new installation where the Mariposa Folk Festival sets up the main stage every year.

It’s a pickleball court – three of them. If you don’t know, pickleball is like table tennis, except you stand on the table. These courts are industrial strength and are an example of how creative thinking can make tax dollars go a little further.

See, the MFF wanted to have the City lay a foundation for the stage because once in  a while it rains, the ground gets soft and things kind of settle into the ground. Council bought the idea (Mariposa has spent 10’s of thousands on park improvements over the years) and then someone said, “why not build the foundation in a way we could use it for Pickleball?” That person deserves a raise.

MFF president Pam Carter said the court is done and ready to go, but the sod around it still needs some time to take root, which is why it’s still fenced off.

Meanwhile, if you were waiting to get tickets to the festival, you are out of luck. They sold all the tickets they can to fill up the park – with the exception of they still have a few Friday only tickets left. This festival many wondered the value of when it returned in 2000 has sold out two years in a row and was near capacity for most of its run.

I asked Pam of there was going to be some kind of tribute to Gord this year. There is. The Friday night main stage opens with a set stickhandled by Jory Nash. Jory is one of a trio of musicians that held an annual night featuring many musicians playing Gord’s tunes at Hugh’s Room in Toronto. Jory was also a key part of the documentary I did about Gord.

It sounds like the MFF is working out how to do some kind of tribute every year. This week the MFF updated their schedule by adding the pub lineup.

Win Tickets

Bar bands have been covering music made famous by other bands for as long as I can remember. In my experience, and I’m sure yours, some of the covers are better than others and some are exceptional.

On a Saturday night you might hear a band do a little this, a little that and music by 20 to 30 bands in a two or three set night. Tribute shows are an extension, but of course focused on one band or musician. One of the reasons I don’t bring up every tribute show that comes into town is because I’ve been to some that are frankly awful or downright cheesy.

So when you see me writing about a tribute show its because I have some experience with a particular show. It could also be the case I know, or know of the musicians involved and there’s little chance they would involved themselves in something I couldn’t get excited about.

Frank Zappa may have made an album called We’re Only In It For The Money for the laugh value, but unfortunately there are some next tier down musicians and promoters who capitalize on audience appeal and like Walmart offer little in return.

Brass Transit Horn Section

Brass Transit’s show made up of music only made popular by Chicago is a gig I can get behind. The band is stocked with first class musicians, with great reputations and resumes. The music they chose to do is widely regarded by musicians as challenging to play and very well crafted. Brass Transit has been doing it for 15 years and travelled widely across the continent to perform their show.

The band members are so good, their original singer, Neil Donnell, is now a member of Chicago.

When I last checked tickets for Brass Transit’s June 24 Opera House gig were going very well. The main floor of Gord’s Room is almost full and the balcony seats started selling this past week. In short if you intend to get tickets to what promises to be a great show, you better do it now.

SUNonline/Orillia has one pair to win. Send an email to and answer these questions (do it now, we’ll be here when you get back):

  1. What does the title of the song 25 Or 6 To 4 refer to?
  2. How many band members are there in Brass Transit?
  3. What is the name of the first tune on Side One of Chicago’s first album?

You must include your phone number with your entry, and you must use the email subject header Brass Transit Tickets.

Entries with correct answers will be ordered according to timestamp received, assigned an order number and a number will be randomly chosen from the SUNonline/Orillia contest hat. Good luck

You can also read our feature story about Brass Transit.

Couchiching Beach Park

It’s not going to be easy using it this summer. Centennial Drive looks like Laclie Street –full of holes and ruts, but without the paving. Only one parking lot is open with an entrance off of Jarvis Street. The City cancelled the summer concerts in the park series last week, which disappointed the Orillia Silver Band, who were looking forward to their gig July 9. I hadn’t looked yet, but the Orillia Concert Band probably had a date and I’m sure they are disappointed too.

Brant, Canice and Centennial Intersection

It’s unfortunate, bands like ours will play on horse racetracks if they have to (heh, I’ve done it).

So far the chamber is still planning to have Christmas In June, Mardi Gras – in July, and the Pirate Party at the port, as well as the Waterfront Festival in August. They kind of have to for the first three because the slips are the essential.

Compounding things is starting Monday Laclie Street from Neywash to Borland will be ripped up and reconstructed. That means Orillia Transit’s Laclie Route won’t be going down Jarvis near the park and instead go down North Street. If you are planning to spend a day at the beach or in the park, it’s best to use the new parking lot on Front Street (enter off of Colborne street) or park in lot 6 (Old Barrie Road and Andrew) and take the shuttle bus.

For some reason the empty lot opposite the water plant is blocked off, so that familiar option is unavailable.

Silver Lining

For some stupid reason I forgot to write about the Orillia Silver Band’s concert at the Opera House May 28 – two weeks in a row.

This time my seat was not in the usual part of Gord’s Room I like to be, but in the third row.  I’d sit up front all the time if I could. The change in perspective allowed me to zero in on sections of the ensemble and I have to say, even though I’ve often said the group plays extremely well, my angle of listening and view put the lower brass and middle voices in the line of fire and holy cow are they ever good.

I think the best example of their exceptional playing was in a transcription for band of Beethoven’s Adagio from Sonata No. 8 (Pathetique). Getting the right tone from a section and playing with the sensitivity demanded of the work is not easy to do. It only takes one player to mess it up.

The whole program was good. Each tune had elements most of the audience would be familiar with. I especially liked they put Robert Redhead’s arrangement of Gord’s Canadian Railroad Trilogy in the mix. I understand it was added for obvious reasons, which meant they didn’t have a ton of time to rehearse it. Robert was in the audience too.

The band has a concert in Huntsville at the Algonquin Theatre July 15 and 16. They’ll be performing with Kyung-A Lee who has been the accompanist for the Cellar Singers. She’ll be playing Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with the band’s arrangement by Neil Barlow. You can get tickets for that online. Otherwise we’ll have to wait until the fall to hear the band again.

Smiling Faces

Mike Howell has been giving art classes for several years as part of the City’s recreation programming. The last few times (not counting the lost years) he’s organized an exhibit of the student’s work. This one is called Spaces and Faces.

June 12 and 13 you can see their portraiture work from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Mike thought after a few years of everyone wearing masks, diving into portraiture instead of landscapes and geometry might be a good antidote.

Students always seemed to be asking about how to get skin colours, how to do eyes and hair; combined with student’s interest in the British TV show, Portrait Artist of the Year, gave him the idea to introduce portraiture. Mike said he thought most would drop out after finding out it’s not easy, but they didn’t and even drew spectators to watch them work.

There will be some landscape paintings in the exhibit too. Selected paintings will be in a silent auction to raise funds for Mariposa House Hospice.

Spaces and Faces Exhibit

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The Shorts

  • Creative Nomad Studios is running a contest in which one charity will win the use of the studio for a fundraising event. The Nominate to Elevate  winner will get an all-inclusive package (5-hour for dinner for 80 including bar setup, linens, napkins, full table settings, coffee/tea/water service, bar staff, and event coordinator) valued at $1,800. The charity with the most nominations wins and you can nominate your charity online.
  • The folks at St. Paul’s Centre are going to do a play. They have a history of putting on musicals geared toward a general audience. This time they are doing The Music Man. Performances are not until January 2024, but auditions are June 16 to 20. They have a specific audition package outlining roles and audition requirements and you can see it – and book an audition time – online.
  • The Leacock Museum opened a new exhibit in the boathouse. Boating Old Brewery Bay will be a permanent exhibit. The museum also 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.
  • 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).
  • 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 and features three 15 foot screens and a concert sound system. It’s a licensed, 19 and up event and it happens July 29. You can get tickets at Alleycats Music or online.
  • OMAH is opening submissions for  the 22nd annual Canadian Landscape Show, the deadline is August 11, the theme is Tradition Transformed and you can find submission details here; the monthly History Speaker’s Night is June 21 and it will be on Zoom and Mike Hill will be speaking about the 60 year history of the Mariposa Folk Festival; register onlineHibernation Arts has guest artist Ron Regamey’s work on display for the month of June… 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… Peter Street Fine Arts has Sue Emily as the guest artist in June.
  •  Zain Campbell has a new tune and video to go with it to watch.
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has Jeff Young in June 10; the Ronnie Douglas Band is in June 16; Kevin California plays June 17 and Will Davis and Chris Robinson play June 18 … Quayle’s Brewery has Kyle Wauchope playing June 10; Cam Galloway June 11; Mark Thackway June 15 and Mitch Szitas June 16… Even Steven is at Lake Country Grill June 10… Jakob Pearce is at Kenzington’s June 10.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: New foundation for the Mariposa Folk Festival’s main stage – or pickleball courts, you decide.

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