This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Has it been a year? I still have fresh memories of last year’s Mariposa Folk Festival and they are about to be replaced starting Friday evening.

It’s too late to get tickets because your opportunity to get tickets for the rest of the weekend wrapped up several weeks ago – unless you just want to take in Friday night’s show, there are still some tickets left for that.

I’ve already mentioned some of the highlights of performers appearing this year and with more than 60, I feel like I barely touched on them. It seems pointless to spend any more time on that subject, unless you are inspired to go Friday night. In that case, check out the main stage and pub schedules here.

You can be part of the festivities without a ticket by spending Friday and Saturday afternoon’s downtown to hear the bands lined up for performances. Friday starts at 2 p.m. with the Gardeners, I, The Mountain and The Pistolettes appearing hourly. Saturday gets going at 11 a.m. with Les Fireflies, Po’Boy Jeffreys and Calamity Jane, The Doghouse Orchestra and The Handsome Devils playing. The latter three and the Gardeners survived the audition concert in April.

So you’ve got tickets and have had enough of driving around town, let alone think about parking at Tudhope for the festival. There’s a free shuttle bus you can use (if you park where they tell you to, that’s free as well). The service starts at noon Friday from downtown, 1 p.m. from Foodland and Lions Oval, and 3:30 p.m. from Brian Orser. The schedule looks like they’ll have two routes running with the last one leaving Tudhope Park at 1:15 a.m. and more frequent shuttles from downtown during the daytime.

The main stage Friday starts at 5 p.m. and don’t be late. Jory Nash and David Newland host a series of musicians performing Gord’s tunes you won’t want to miss.

Riding The Bus

This review of Brass Transit’s Opera House gig June 24 is overdue. They played a show based entirely on the music of Chicago. Growing up I like rock as much as anyone, Zeppelin, Yes, Floyd, Zappa and etc., but what really made me pay attention and create the desire to be a musician were bands like Tower of Power, Blood Sweat and Tears, Lighthouse and Chicago. I know that music better than I know myself.

From the first tune, Make Me Smile, to the last encore, 25 or 6 to 4, Brass Transit was on fire.

Brass Transit’s Ian Jutsun

The moment I realized Ian Jutsun was not just a good stand in for Peter Cetera was when he was singing If You Leave Me Now. This is a tune, like I’ve Been Searching, that is not on my top 25 list of Chicago tunes. It’s a good tune, but it isn’t the kind of tune a drummer would be into like Free or Feeling Stronger Every Day (both of which they played too).

That said, the lyrics, when sung with the right headspace, can be powerful and Jutsun nailed the emotion and the range. Without his voice (similar timber to Cetera, and phrasing) this wouldn’t have worked. You wouldn’t hear this band do these tunes and feel like you wish you were listening to the original recordings and if Jutsun wasn’t being so fantastically good, that’s exactly what you’d be doing. With this tune I realized he’s not just a singer in a band, he’s a singer/interpreter with a band supporting him.

And that is what I liked about this group. Any bunch of musicians can wade through a show with only a Chicago repertoire. I’ve heard a few of them. Playing the notes isn’t the hard part. Understanding the notes is. Each tune is built around a voice (Juston covered Cetera and Lamm – Jay Speziale covered Kath), a guitar part (Sil Simone) or a horn – section or solo – (Phil Poppa, Tony Carlucci, Doug Gibson) and the mark of a well rehearsed band stocked with musicians who know their role is they don’t get in the way of the lead line.

Of particular note is the guitar solos. Terry Kath was an exceptional player who is often overlooked as a master innovator. I think it takes big gonads to try and cover his solos. Simone had two opportunities to stand on the same level in I’m A Man and 25 or 6 to 4; the latter was the last tune – tagged with Now More Than Ever to end the show. To say he shredded is understatement. The solo in the closer had to be at least three minutes long and every time it seemed he was ending he threw another log on the fire. Simone also improvised in the solo, meaning it wasn’t a Memorex version of the record. I believe if Kath was doing it, the notes Simone played are the ones Kath might have as well.

Beginnings is the tune for the big trombone solo. That song has been a favourite, maybe my favourite Chicago tune and one of the reasons is the solo James Pankow played and Gibson smoked on it. As with the whole night, Gibson played with the same kind of bombast as Pankow does (which if you’ve seen Chicago you know Pankow steals the spotlight a lot).

I wish I could remember which tune Paul DeLong did a drum solo in. What I do remember is it was long, but structured. I like it when a drummer crafts a solo with a beginning, middle and end rather than just a series of fast and loud notes of every kind they know how to play.

I can’t avoid mentioning the work Pappa (flute) and Speziale (singing) did on Colour My World. Of course the flute is the thing everyone recalls, but to me the singing is what makes the tune. If not done right the emotion never arrives.

I’m never going to hear a band play Skin Tight, Flight 602, Once or Twice, The Approaching Storm, or Little One, but Brass Transit did all the ones the audience wanted to hear and were needed to get a standing ovation when the show closed.

End note: Sil Simone was back in town last Friday to play at Lot 88. He was paired with percussionist Joe Adamick. Together they are known as The Power Boys. Usually any act playing in a restaurant over dinner is doing background music. A particular tune might grab your attention, but most of it is wallpaper. Sil played an acoustic guitar all night and Joe worked on congas, bongos and assorted ging gongs.

From a musical perspective they were outstanding. It would be like Pat Metheny standing up there, he wouldn’t interrupt the dinner conversation, but you know he’s not going to play any gig to sleep through. The skill was most evident on Joni Mitchell’s Clouds. These guys did it as an instrumental and they got applause from the patrons for the intricate and interesting way they did it. I highly recommend seeing them next time they play here.

Stepping Back In Time

Wednesday evening there was a free showing of the documentary Essential Noise at St. Paul’s Centre. The event came out on short notice, but the turnout was impressive, with 150 to 200 people on hand.

It’s a documentary about Yorkville which touches on the beginning of it becoming the center of gravity for Canadian music and its effect on the industry in Canada and the US. Former Georgian College associate dean, Paul Koiidis, directed it.

There isn’t a lot of lot footage of the neighbourhood, or the musicians in action from the time, but as Alan Cross said, no one thought to document what was happening back then.

So the story relies on a series of interviews with musicians Jonathan Kay, Judy Collins, Robby Krieger, Sylvia Tyson, Dan Hill, Danny Marks, Alan Frew, Serena Ryder, and those who worked in the biz like Cross, Bob Ezrin and Jeanne Beker. There’s even some interview footage with Bob Rae, Clayton Ruby and Charles Pachter.

Charles Pachter showing his recent portrait of Gordon Lightfoot

The event here was the 4th showing and relied on a recent painting by Charles Pachter of Gordon Lightfoot to promote the event. There was no footage of Gord in the doc, but there were a couple of audio clips with Gord talking about Yorkville. There was also some old foot age with Leonard Cohen used as well. Many of the people interviewed spoke of Gord’s importance to the story of Yorkville.

Even though many people likely showed up because of the Gord connection, despite it not being really about Gord as some might have suspected, it was still a fascinating hour or so of insight into a critical piece of Canada’s cultural history.

The Shorts

  • Mississaga and Peter Street will be closed Friday and Saturday nights. The artists in the Arts District will be out with their stuff on the street on Friday nights.
  • Summer theater at the Opera House is on 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). See my review of Moving In here (when it’s posted)
  • The Orillia District Arts Council and the City of Orillia are teaming up again to present events in neighbourhood parks this summer. July 19 it’s a dance program at Walter Henry Park; Ronnie Douglas, Mike Dobransky and Alex Andrews will be at Hillcrest Park Aug. 2; Deb Brown will lead a drum circle at High Street Park Aug. 16; and Jakob Pearce will play music while the kids make art at Lankinwood Park Aug. 30. It’s all free.
  • St. Paul’s Centre has a great concert happening Nov. 24. They are pairing Danny Michel with Steve Poltz. If you haven’t seen either before I guarantee you will have a fantastic time. It’s a fundraiser for the Orillia Youth Centre and you can get tickets now (which is a very good idea) online. They also have Mathew Good playing Oct. 19 and you can get tickets online.
  • When you get to the link above for the Michel/Poltz concert, you’ll see there are a few other concerts benefiting the Orillia Youth Centre happening soon. Meredith Moon, Big Bad Jug Band and North River (with Nick Keays) will be at Farm Fest (Sebright) July 1 (all proceeds to the Nelson Bell, Jake Beers, and Vern Herron Dental Fund); The Sadies, the Ronnie Douglas Blues Band and Jerry Leger will be doing the Roots North annual fall concert Sept. 23; and Roger Harvey is returning to Orillia for a gig at St. Paul’s Centre September 29 and in Collingwood Sept. 30. Saving you some scrolling, get tickets here.
  • Derick Lehmann has a fundraising event for the Sharing Place Food Bank happening at the Roller Skating place at ODAS Park. Derick is the person behind the annual Ugly Sweater bowling fundraiser. This one is called Back to the 90s Video Dance Party, 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.
  • The Orillia Museum of Art and History has a new weekly walking tour stating July 5 called Gangs, Guns and Grog (more next week) and it ends at the Hog ‘N Penny for a beer, register online;  OMAH has a great tribute page for Jean Sargeant on their website. Jean, despite her young age, goes all the way back to the Hysterical Society and was one of the founders of the Sir Sam Steele Art Gallery; OMAH is investigating how to create something to honour Gord. Under consideration is a permanent exhibit, a temporary exhibit, or something online. OMAH wants input from groups and individuals and will be figuring out what to do after the Mariposa Folk Fest. If you have an idea, email; OMAH opened submissions for the 22nd annual Canadian Landscape Show, the deadline is Aug. 11. The theme is Tradition Transformed and you can find submission details here; Three exhibits are up until Sept. – Steeped In History has artifacts for OMAH’s collection which relate to tea and teatime, Homage is jewellery made by Donald Stuart inspired by 40 famous Canadian women, and an exhibit of Elizabeth Wynn Wood’s drawings, sketches and sculptures is in the upstairs gallery; The annual International Women’s Day art show is up until July 22… Hibernation Arts has guest artist Nancy Jones’s work on display for the month of July and the opening is July 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. … Peter Street Fine Arts has Pat Roser’s work in as guest artist for July… Ruane-Lea Marshall and Deby Melillo have an art show at KC’s Corner (Highway 12 and Fairgrounds Road) July 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Big Bad Jug Band
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has Paige Rutledge in for the afternoon July 7; Bob Taylor is doing the afternoon July 8; the Rob Watts Band is in July 13…  Quayle’s Brewery has Michel Neray in July 7; Sydney Riley July 8 Chirs Staig July 9 and Mitch Zikas plays July 13… Brassworks has a gig in Wasaga beach you might check out; July 11 they do the Jazz in the Park with Alex Dean guesting; July 23 they have the 4th Street Jazz Project, Alex Dean and the OSS Dixieland Band along at  2:30 p.m. at the Orillia Salvation Army Citadel… Steven Henry is playing at the Sunken Ship Friday evening (6 to 9 p.m.) along with James Legere and Joe Agnello; this is the same crew I saw a couple months ago and they’re worth seeing… The Big Bad Jug Band (Sean Patrick, Jim Fitzgerald – of Frankie and Jimmy –  Jessica Vitamin, Alex Rabbitson and Nate Robertson) is at the Hog ‘N Penny July 15… Matt Lund has another comedy show lined up for Studabakers July 17; Mac Trinidad wrangles the comics and does a set.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: 2022 Mariposa Folk Festival Front Row

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