This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

If you thought the Orillia Scottish Festival was next weekend, think again. It starts tonight, Friday. I guess I got used to there being a weekend between Mariposa and the Scottish fest and the fact this is the third weekend of July (the weekend the festival staked out for years) just didn’t register.

So, tonight, the traditional Ceilidh happens at the legion starting at 7 p.m. Strange Potato is the band making music all night, and there will be a performance by the Orillia Pipes and Drums. Jonathan Flemming is the guest piper. Flemming is the son of Duncan who created the festival in 1978. There are still a few tickets available online.

Saturday, and Sunday you can catch breakfast at the legion, and if you have a festival button get a 10% discount.

The main action on Saturday happens at Tudhope Park. There is a free shuttle bus from Orillia Recreation Centre to the park every half hour starting at 10:30 a..m.

There is a parade, but it won’t be downtown.

‘Unfortunately the logistics of getting the participants to downtown and back again economically and timeline, we just couldn’t do it,’ said festival organizer Carrie Dunn.

The parade will go from the Barnfield Recreation Centre through Tudhope Park at 12:30 p.m. to the field where mass bands will happen after the parade. The field in question is the same one that forms the concert bowl for Mariposa.

The usual compliment of vendors the festival has will be open all day, as will the children’s play area. The beer tent is open from noon to 6 p.m. when things shift back to the legion.

There will be three stages for performances by participating pipe bands. The Pipe and Drums of Canada, a mass band, which practices here in Orillia, will perform at 2:30 p.m.

The 48th Highlanders Military Band will be in the parade and do a concert performance at the legion at 2 p.m.

The annually rivalry between the police and firefighters resumes at 3 p.m. with a number of contests; a tug of war, a caber toss (no real cabers will be harmed because they aren’t using real cabers) a Welly Toss (boot toss) and a beer stein completion (doing silly tasks, winner is the one who doesn’t spill anything).

Things start to wind up following the 5 p.m. mass band performance

Sunday’s itinerary includes the annual Kirkin of the Tartan at St. Andrew’s Church at 10 a.m. and a Ceilidh at the legion with the Pipes and Drums of Canada and a group called Guelph Celtic playing pub tunes.

You can see all the finer details about the Scottish Festival on their vastly improved website.

Last Words About Mariposa

Well, not my last, ever, but until next year. That doesn’t count the off-season concerts.

As usual, there is so much going on at the festival it’s impossible to see everything. And, judging by the looks of pity from some, I was often not at the right place at the right time for some happenings.

No matter, I had a good time and saw some great performances.  I think the most enjoyable thing was seeing a little girl banging away on a pair of congas. It makes my heart warm to see them starting so early.

I have to say, I’m liking Steve Poltz the more I see him. He’s a ball of energy on stage, many of his songs have humourous content, and he tells some great stories. He’ll be back in Orillia to play a concert at St. Paul’s Centre November 24 with Danny Michel. Danny is another great performer you can’t help but like once you’ve seen him on stage. He was at the festival, but unfortunately I needed to be elsewhere at the same times as his workshop gigs, so I only got to see him walking by the green room. Get tickets for that concert online.

I don’t have a good reason why I never listened to Rufus Wainwright’s music before. There is so much to hear, I miss a ton of music. I really enjoyed his singing, between songs banter and the entire aesthetic of what he presented.

Another band I liked what I heard was the Wood Brothers. Again, can’t be in two places at the same time so I only heard about 3 tunes, but they were more rock than I expected and it was good.

Has Tom Wilson got the bassiest voice you ever heard?

It was also very enjoyable to hear all the music at each of the stages I caught performances at. By that I mean every instrument used and every singing voice – clearly. The sound mixing and EQ was the way it should be. I get so tired of seeing a guitarist playing a solo and not hearing it, or straining to make out what a singer is singing and I did none of that this past weekend.

I first became aware of the sound Friday night when Tankia Charles‘s band was playing in the pub. Her music is a kind of funk/soul/R&B collage, which demands separating all the musical voices and combining them at the speakers to remain distinct separate voices. A mush of boomy bass guitar and pounding bass drum and snare like so many board operators think we want to hear would have destroyed her music.

It also helped to energize the fairly full pub to get up and dance. It also was a pretty full pub too, which has to be amazing for the performers to see so many people digging your music they way they were.

In contrast, The Trews audience the next night was jammed together in the tent, outside the tent and all the way back to the end of the fenced area. I’ve heard of pub audiences of that size, but always was elsewhere in the park and to see so many cheering and dancing people (not much room for dancing though) is to redefine the mean of full.

Paul Langlois’s band had what most would call a full house, but there was still some room for the determined. Could I have stayed for more? Yes, but Tegan and Sara were on the main stage.

I don’t know anyone who looks like they enjoy playing their music more than Matt Andersen. He’s the last guy in a line up you’d pick to be one of the best blues guitarists on the planet and a great singer, yet there he is, all over the stage and beaming like he just got an extra slice of cake.

Speaking of hearing singing, was anyone else totally surprised by how much power and range Judy Collins still has at 84? I hope I can still type and drum when I get to be that age. My neighbours probably don’t have the same dreams, but oh well. I’m a little disappointed she didn’t do Send in the Clowns, but hey, it’s not my call and I’ll take what she did do.

Gordon Lightfoot @ Mariposa 2016

Another thing I appreciated is how the festival treated the absence of Gord. It could have been overbearing, or it could have fallen short. They managed to hit the right level with the opening set Friday night with a cast of dozens, The afternoon workshops and Sunday’s appearance by Gord’s band with some singers doing his tunes their way. The renaming of the main stage to the Lightfoot stage is a fitting tribute. Ten or twenty years from now that one thing will be there to remind those who knew Gord, and his fans of what this festival owes to him. It will also be a good point of conversation with newbies about why the stage is named for him. As the Chinese say, you aren’t dead until the last time someone mentions your name. Of all the things the festival could have done, renaming the stage is the simplest, yet most brilliant way to memorialize Gord.

The other thing about this festival is the scope. So many vendors, a kid’s play area jammed with so many things to do on a plot of land big enough they can run forever and not have to dodge anyone. On that, that’s our job to look out for them. One little guy would have mashed his ice cream cone into me if I didn’t stop walking; I had no idea which way he was going to go because he was walking like he’d been out all Saturday night and watching his ice cream like it was going to do tricks or something and not where he was going.

The festival created a new vendor area for local agencies and organizations surrounding a new stage. There had to be more than a dozen groups represented. There seemed to be more food vendors too (and fewer seagulls).

Oh and there were more volunteers. It used to be pegged at 600 for a few years and this year the festival organizers were saying there were 700. These are the people who make the festival tick. There is so much to do from taking the garbage away, to running instruments and musicians to their stages, to cooking and serving meals and a bunch of other things I’m overlooking. Those of us who go just to enjoy and experience really owe the volunteers a decent, enthusiastic thank you.

And to the people leading the organizing, you have made one of the most professionally run festivals I’ve ever been to. The organizing committee are all volunteers. While many of them are using their paid gig experience to make this festival happen the way it does, this writer understands all of it happens and the way the volunteer grunts do their tasks comes from your direction and attitude not to be anything less than the best anyone can do. You created a machine, and even though some key positions have different people in those roles this year, the thing just keeps working.

I understand a lot of people had complaints about getting into the park on Friday night. Part of that was because of changes to the park itself and therefore the layout of festival elements and methods – the rules of engagement – had to change, but I’ll bet next year those things are addressed. If there’s one thing the organizing group does best, it’s analyze and adapt.

Thanks folks for providing the best party in town. Let’s do it again sometime.

The Shorts

  • Mississaga and Peter Street is closed Friday and Saturday nights. The artists in the Arts District will be out with their stuff on the street on Friday nights.
  • Norm Foster’s very funny Moving In is playing at the Opera House until July 21. Next, Mark Crawford’s Bed and Breakfast starts July 26. Norm Foster’s Half Way There starts Aug. 16. You can get a deal on tickets for all three plays right now. See my review of Moving In here. Duck Soup Productions has Matilda running every Tuesday, and on the Civic Holiday weekend; it’s for kids and you can get tickets here.
  • 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.
  • The Orillia Youth Centre has a bunch of fundraising concerts happening soon. 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 . Get tickets here. There also is the Poltz/Michel concert mentioned above.
  • 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 is investigating how to create something to honour Gord. Under consideration is a permanent exhibit, a temporary exhibit, or something online. They want input from groups and individuals. 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 September – 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… Cloud Gallery has Angela Lane and her art on hand July 15 from 11 a.m. to  3 p.m.
Run With the Kittens
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has Catfish Gumbo playing July 14; Cam Galloway is in July 15; Will Davis and Chris Robinson play jazz in the afternoon July 16; James Gray plays July 20 and Run With the Kittens (must see) are in July 21…  Quayle’s Brewery has Kat Chabot playing July 14; Michael Brown July 15; Kyle Wauchope July 16; James Gray July 21 and Reay July 23 (must see too)… Brassworks has a gig July 23 with the 4th Street Jazz Project, Alex Dean and the OSS Dixieland Band along at  2:30 p.m. at the Orillia Salvation Army Citadel… 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… Even Steven is playing the Blue Moon Junction July 15… Bleeker Ridge is opening for Our Lady Peace at Horseshoe Valley July 15; get tickets online… Mathew Good playing at St. Paul’s Centre Oct. 19; tickets.

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

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