This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Saturday afternoon, July 29, Creative Nomad is the venue for the final installment of the Orillia and District Arts Council’s Visual Reconciliation project – The Seven Grandfather Teachings. You may recall this is a travelling show that happened in different Simcoe County galleries (three of those in Orillia). The idea was for four artists, Ted Fullerton, Paul Shilling, Xavier Fernandes and Julie Tian to each create art reflecting their interpretation of what each of the teachings means to them.

This last one is about wisdom. At 1 p.m. each artist will talk about their painting and answer questions. For this event the art created for the other 6 instalments will also be on hand.

From here the entire exhibit moves to Martin Luther University College in Waterloo.

A Lot Of Jazz And Bands

Last Sunday afternoon Orillia Brassworks had a concert at the Salvation Army Citadel. Originally it was supposed to be a Sunday Evening Band Concert at the Aqua Theatre, but the summer series of concerts got cancelled. So they decided to have it anyway in a different venue. They called their concert Why Not!

They also had the Orillia Secondary School Dixieland Jazz Band along to perform and the 4th Street Jazz Project.

Brassworks also had Alex Dean sitting in, who soloed and pretty much carried the tune on Wave. And they had Christina Boaco sing Fly Me To The Moon and Sway. She played piano for the balance of their part of the program.

I liked their entire repertoire, but in particular the last two tunes. Pat Metheny’s James and St. Thomas.

The Dixieland Band was great. I’ve heard them do Hello Dolly before and I think it’s great those 7 kids can play this idiosyncratic music and run the solos through the ensemble they way they do.

This was the first time I’ve heard 4th Street. I was not prepared for the size of the band. There were 9 saxes, 6 trumpets, 6 trombones plus drums, bass and piano. They opened with Earth Wind and Fire’s September, but tagged the intro to Chicago’s Make Me Smile at the top. Right away the ensemble sound and execution caught me off guard. They had a nice blend and balance across all the instruments, and if you think of how Make Me Smile starts, it works best when everyone is nice and tight with the timing – as 4th street was.

I particularly liked a tune called The Chicken, which a few big bands played back in the day, Trofeo de Bolos and Jericho.

The latter tune I was expecting a stock rendition that to me would have clashed with the rest of the program. But, the arranger, Chris Sharp, used the format of Sing, Sing ,Sing to lay out the tune and the band’s drummer, Brian Adduono, did a good job with the solo gaps inherent to both tunes. I looked up who Chris Sharp is and it turns out we have about a dozen mutual friends.

That would have been a great way to end the concert, but all the musicians got on stage and closed out with Stevie Wonder’s Knocks Me Off My Feet, which Brassworks’s Curtis Metcalf arranged, and what seems to becoming  a tradition at their concerts, Copacabana.

The concert was free, but they were taking donations to send kids to summer camp and raised about $1,500.

Fall Concerts

Last week I was thinking things are looking good for the fall with the number of concerts happening I’ve already told you about. Then Mariposa got into the act.


Their third Autumn concert features Aysanabee. I met him at the 2022 festival and he’s a pretty nice guy and a heck of a good musician. He was recently announced to be on the shortlist for the Polaris Prize.

The prize is interesting. It’s worth $50,000 to the winner. The prize was first awarded in 2006 and created by Steve Jordan. Who? Yeah, he’s a suit, formerly with True North Records and Warner Music and is now the senior director of CBC Music.

Oh great, you might be thinking, another industry self congratulatory award program. I don’t think so. The criteria is artistic merit; bands, their labels or agents can’t submit for consideration. The jury can’t have anyone connected on a paying basis to any artist, so journalists, broadcasters, etc get to be on the jury. That jury is a pool of usually 200 people from across Canada, some from mainstream organizations and some from local organizations (like me, but I’m not on the jury) and they submit their nominations. Math comes into play and a long list of 40 albums make the cut, of which 11 jurors selected from the pool vote by secret ballot for the shortlist and prize winner.

There are only two prizes awarded, first and second, but all other shortlisters are considered to be second place and get $3,000 each. The winners and list makers contain the famous, infamous, and people and bands you never heard of. It seems to me to be a truly democratic process that rewards great music, not popular or best selling music.

I consider making the list to be an honour and to win something to really brag about. A few years ago they even created a Heritage Award to catch up on great albums made before 2006. The jury selects 12 albums each year, a public vote picks one and the jury another. Gord has one of those. Again the list of heritage winners has the famous, infamous and the who? (not the band, but never heard of them).

So congrats to Aysanabee.  Also on the dance card for that concert are Aleksi Campagne, Angelique Francis (she played the 2021 concert), and, are you sitting down? My Son The Hurricane.  The concert is October 14 outdoors at ODAS Park and you can get tickets online.

Apparently the folks at Mariposa didn’t think that was enough. They have Lance Anderson recreating the 60 in 60 concert he did at last year’s festival on November 18 at the Opera House.

The original premise was to play 60 tunes, one from each year of the festival, in a one hour set. Last year Lance told me there were too many tunes he had to leave out, so the show has been expanded to 90 minutes, which will still probably leave out a lot.

The band includes Matt Weidinger, Quisha Wint, Selena Evangeline Mike Daley (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Wayne Deadder (guitar and vocals) Russ Boswell (bass) Bucky Berger (drums). You can get those tickets online.

Meanwhile, Lance thought he didn’t have enough to do and we do have a jazz festival happening in October. He’s holding down the Saturday night gig at the Opera House with the World Jazz Asylum. It’s also a CD release party. The band includes John Johnson, Quammie Williams, William Sperendei and dancers from Toronto Metropolitan University’s dance department. Guess where you can get tickets.

Holly Cole (Photo by Rodney Bowes)

The Friday night jazz festival gig at the Opera House is with Holly Cole. Yup, you read that right, Holly Cole. If I have to outline why and who she is, you need a bigger rock to live under, with a deck, they’re on sale all week at Home Hardware. Tickets.

The Sunday gig is with Orillia Brassworks. It’s in the afternoon and their idea of having others join them like the concert last weekend started with the Orillia Jazz Festival a few years ago when they had the jazz bands from the high schools join them. I think that’s the plan this year too, Curtis was saying something about it last weekend, but I wasn’t paying attention.

We’re not done. The Orillia Youth Centre has a bunch of fundraising concerts happening. You already know 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 those tickets here. The Steve Poltz/Danny Michel concert sold out the week after Mariposa.

St. Paul’s Centre has their own slate of concerts happening. Just announced, Reay is opening for The Lowest of the Low September 21; Tommy Youngsteen will be back in town, this time to do Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album on October 13; Matthew Good is in October 19 and Sloan’s Chris Murphy is in Nov. 16. You can find tickets for all those online. Wait, I’m not done with St. Paul’s yet. The Orillia Big Band is at St. Paul’s September 30, but tickets aren’t on sale yet.

This one is not a concert, but will be a regular weekly thing. St. Paul’s has hired a new music director to take over for Blair Bailey. Dan McCoy was at Trinity United Church in Gravenhurst. He did his masters at the University of Music Franz Liszt in Weimar, Germany, so I’m going to guess he’s got some chops. He also worked as accompanist with several choral groups, including the Cellar Singers. McCoy starts September 1.

The there’s the Opera House. They have a bunch of tribute acts in after the summer theater season is over – and Dwayne Gretzky. They also have the Comic Strippers and Second City doing shows in October. You can get tickets for any of that online.

I’ll bet I’ve missed something.

The Shorts

  • The Opera House opened Bed and Breakfast this week. This comedy by Mark Crawford is fast paced and very funny. Read the review here (when it’s posted). It runs until Aug. 11 and you can get tickets online. Duck Soup Productions has Matilda running every Tuesday, and on the Civic Holiday weekend; it’s for kids and you can get tickets here.
  • A fundraising event for the Sharing Place Food Bank is happening at the Roller Skating place at ODAS Park Saturday July 29. It’s 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 you can still get tickets at Alleycats Music or online.
  • 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.
  • The Orillia and District Arts Council and the City of Orillia are teaming up again to present events in neighbourhood parks this summer. 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 Museum of Art and History has a new weekly walking tour Wednesdays at 7 p.m. called Gangs, Guns and Grog (more next week) and it ends at Co0uchichign Craft Brewing for a beer, register online; The submission deadline for the 22nd annual Canadian Landscape Show is Aug. 11. The theme is Tradition Transformed and you can find submission details here; Ted Fullerton’s exhibit The Serpent’s Egg opened Friday evening with a large crowd on hand; it will be up until Oct. 7; 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; Hibernation Arts has guest artist Nicole Rulff’s work on display for the month of August; she’ll be in the gallery Aug. 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. … Cloud Gallery has Victoria Pearce in the gallery Aug. 12 from 11 a.m. to  3 p.m. for their Meet the Artist series.
  • Quayle’s Brewery has Sam Johnston playing July 29; Chris Lemay is in July 30; Chris Staig is in Aug. 3; My Missing Piece Aug. 4; and Patti and Mick Aug. 5… Couchiching Craft Brewing has Tamica Herod in July 29; Will Davis and Chris Robinson do jazz July 30; the Rick Robichaud Band is in Aug. 4 and Cam Galloway is in Aug. 5.

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

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