This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

If I was writing a script about pirates, the biggest challenge would avoiding tropes about pirates. I’ve been thinking of what would be original. It’s kept me up trying to come up with a line or scenario that doesn’t rely on pirate lore. I have learned a lot over the years, just by chance, and most of its boring, mundane tidbits that other writers have stayed away from.

I did come up with something that might have made it to a Monty Python skit. It’s a fight scene. Close hand to hand, or sword to sword, fighting. The place doesn’t matter, though if it was on the sea the rolling of the ship might be something to factor in, but I haven’t thought that far.

So here it is. The pirate captain (not Kidd because I’ve learned he was really just a thieving businessman who let his crew do the dirty work, so a 45th president kind of guy)… wait, that might work in a comedy. Anyway, the captain is confronted by our hero and he’s trapped against a wall, or into a corner, something like that. They square off.

“Prepare to die,” said the captain (I know that’s the line from the good guy in the best pirate movie).

The good guy said, “what’s that crap on your shoulder?” and as the pirate turned her head to look, the good guy clocked the pirate with his hand (and the hand guard of his sword) and the scene is over.

I’ll let you think about that for a second because when you get it you will most certainly groan.

Of course a scene like that would happen some way into a movie and the running gag would be the parrot has diarrhea.

This came to mind because the Pirate Party is happening at the Port of Orillia. This little thing is growing in popularity. It was one of the first things chamber of commerce executive director, Allan Lafontaine came up with when he landed in the office chair a few years ago.

There was quite a good sized crowd on hand last year for the walking of the plank event (Saturday, 2:30 p.m. where the cardboard boats traditionally sink). There were a good number of people who got wet to make a show of it last year and they raised $15,000. The money – then and this year – is going into a Rotary Club fund which will be used for the next upgrades to the Aqua Theatre.

One aspect of the event starts Friday and continues all weekend. The Treasure Hunt is designed to get people up the hill and into downtown. Participants can pick up a map at the port building or the Orillia Public Library. On it are illustrations of 8 pirates. There are 8 businesses downtown, each with one of the images on display. All you have to do is get your map stamped at each and turn your map. There will a draw for tickets to see Herman’s Hermits at Casino Rama on September 22.

Friday night reenactors move into the park and set up camp. I do mean camp. Some of them belong to the Canadian Pirate Association (who knew?), and many are coming from out of province (including Quebec). During the day they’ll be participating in a couple on the water raids at Stevie’s house (11 a.m.) and the port (1 p.m.) – 11 a.m. on the Champlain Sailing Club Sunday – and also some land battles in the park (1:30 p.m.).  Sunday there will be a battle at sea at 2 p.m.

Allan told me the port is booked solid for the event and as of Friday morning they are still adding names to a wait list for slips. There are prizes for the best dressed crew and boat.

The Orillia Museum of Art and History has been running a walking tour of downtown, Guns, Gangs and Grog, all summer (when I say running I mean operating, though wearing comfortable shoes would be a good idea) and for the weekend they’ve created a version just for the Pirate Party. They’ve added some content related to the waterfront and the tour ends at Couchiching Craft Brewing. I went on the tour at the other end of summer and for people who complain there’s too much crime happening downtown these days they would be very interested to learn about Orillia’s almost lawless days 100 to 150 years ago for comparison.

You can register for the walking tour online. There is a charge and tours are hourly from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

There will be music too. The Connors Brothers play at 8 p.m. Saturday. They were last here for Mariposa’s first fall outdoor concert a couple years ago. They are a fantastic band and their drummer, Conor Boden, is one of the best kept secrets in music.

Orangeman plays Sunday at 8 p.m. They played last year’s Pirate Party. Their music is drawn mostly from 80s hits. I’m trying to figure out from their promo pic if they are inspired by Devo (not one Devo tune in their repertoire), Blue Man Group, or Clockwork Orange.

You may have heard the roads are a mess and parking near the waterfront is too. Here’s a map of the road construction, and one of where to park.

If it’s red, it’s closed
Where to Park
More About All Those Concerts This Fall

The Orillia Concert Association is getting ready for a new season of concert events featuring five performances.

The Stratton Soloists

The first happens October 29 at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church with an ensemble made up of principals from the Toronto Concert Orchestra. This is the orchestra Kerry Stratton was the conductor of. Consequently the ensemble took the name The Stratton Soloists.

November 26 the venue shifts to St. Paul’s Centre with concert pianist Daniel Vnukowski. From Windsor, he is the founder of the Collingwood Music Festival and the morning host on Classical 96 FM.

A familiar group is featured in the January 28 concert at St. Andrew’s. Saxophonist Chris Robinson fronts a group with Will Davis on piano. If you’ve seen these two at Couchiching Craft Brewing on a Sunday afternoon, the difference this time is they will have a bassist and drummer along for the gig.

A trio of clarinetist James Campbell, pianist Angela Park and soprano Leslie Fagan will perform at St. Andrew’s March 24.

Rounding out the schedule, Ensemble Vivant will be at the Opera House May 5. This group covers classical, ragtime, Latin and American tunes.

This concert series remains one of the best deals just about anywhere. Season passes for all 5 concerts are still only $90. They will be available starting September 7 online.

That link takes you to the Opera House ticket page. Boy has the Opera House landscape changed in the last few weeks. Of course there’s a few clone bands and acts (John Lennon, Johnny Cash, Rolling Stones, Travelling Wilburys) and a few events I’ve already mentioned during the last few weeks (Dwayne Gretzky, Comic Strippers, Second City0, but there’s more. October 6, just in time for Thanksgiving, the Old Dance Hall Players are doing Nothin’ But Stuffin’.  Andre-Philippe Gagnon (or will it be Andre-Philippe Gagnon?) is in October 21. Zachary Lucky has teamed up with Richard Inman for a month long tour of Ontario that ends here Oct. 29. Lance Anderson and a cast of thousands does the world famous Mariposa 60 in 60 concert November 18. Ryan Bellville (Netflix’s Workin’ Moms) does stand up November 30.

Sandwiched in between all that are three days of Orillia Jazz Festival concerts with Holly Cole, Lance Anderson and World Jazz Asylum, and Brassworks right after Thanksgiving. Mariposa Arts Theatre has a special 50th anniversary production for one week only starting November 9.

I don’t want to get to far ahead, but I think some of you might be mad if I waited to tell you the Mudmen are coming back to Orillia for their usual January concert (January 27th) and Irish Mythen is back for her first (I think) performance at the Opera House March 23. You could say bagpipes and rock don’t’ mix – except for when the Mudmen do it and you could say I don’t like women singer/songwriters, except for Irish Mythen, and people would understand. I guarantee, if you want to do something different either of these two concerts will be great to see. Especially Irish; you’ll feel like you have to be exhausted for her just by watching her perform.

The link above will get you to tickets for all of these events.

The Shorts

  • The job posting to become the next Mariposa Folk Festival artistic director is out. Deadline to apply is Sept. 11. See the details online.
  • The annual Images Thanksgiving Studio Tour is happening sooner than you think. Can you believe it? It’s the 40th annual tour. You can find a map and artist details online.
  • The deadline for this year’s Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards nominations is October 20 and you can find the form online. The awards night is November 22, at Creative Nomad Studios starting at 6 p.m.
  • The Orillia Museum of Art and History has a walking tour Wednesdays at 7 p.m. called Gangs, Guns and Grog (more next week) and it ends at Couchiching Craft Brewing, register online; Ted Fullerton’s exhibit The Serpent’s Egg is up until Oct. 7; three other exhibits are up for now – Steeped In History has artifacts for OMAH’s collection which relate to tea and teatime, Homage is jewellery made by Donald Stuart and an exhibit of Elizabeth Wynn Wood’s drawings, sketches and sculptures is in the Carmichael gallery; the monthly History Speaker’s series starts Sept. 20 with Chris Newton talking about 50 years of Mariposa Art Theatre; it’s on Zoom and you can sign up online… St. Paul’s Centre’s Call to Action 83 Art Project in the Ogimaa Miskwaaki Gallery can be seen on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon.
  • OMAH has been gathering ideas for establishing some kind of Gordon Lightfoot exhibit. Several people have forwarded their ideas and OMAH’s exec. director, Ninette Gyorody is inviting people who have contributed to the discussion to meet at OMAH Sept. 13 at 1 p.m. The agenda includes review ideas already submitted, sorting out the next steps and establishing a committee.
  • Glen Robertson has a few new tunes to check out on his Youtube page. He’s one of those musicians doing great things I was referring to above.
  • Aaron Mangoff is out in Vancouver and he’s got some new tunes to listen to. They’ll be part of an album with his new band, Stale. Listen to and/or buy them online.
  • Brent Mayhew has a concert Sept. 16 at 2 p.m. in Hawkestone. He’ll be playing music by Schubert, Chopin and Brahms. Tickets are $25 and you can reserve seats by phoning or texting 705-326-6999 or emailing
  • This summer’s Coulson Concerts series held in the old Coulson Church continues Sept. 24 with Paul Mills and Anne Walker (whose family owns the church) will play. You can get tickets online.
  • Mariposa’s third outdoor autumn concert features Aysanabee, Aleksi Campagne, Angelique and My Son The Hurricane. It’s October 14 at ODAS Park and you can get tickets online.
  • The Orillia Youth Centre has a few fundraising concerts happening. The Sadies, the Ronnie Douglas Blues Band and Jerry Leger will be doing the Roots North annual fall concert Sept. 23. Roger Harvey -with Tim Kehoe playing pedal steel – (and Terry Savage and the Big Bad Jug Band have just been added to the lineup) is returning to Orillia for a gig at St. Paul’s Centre September 29 and in Collingwood Sept. 30. Get those tickets here. You can also get tickets at Dapper Depot.
  • St. Paul’s Centre has a slate of concerts happening. Reay is opening for The Lowest of the Low Sept. 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 (Youngsteen tickets here) Tickets for The Orillia Big Band at St. Paul’s September 30 go on sale Sept. 5 at the St. Paul’s office.
  • There is an opportunity for people to perform with the Jorgen Ballet Company for a Nov. 25 performance at the Opera House. It’s for people ages 8 to 17 and you can find all the audition details online.
  •  Quayle’s Brewery has Alex Barber in Sept.1; Rebekkah Hawker is in the afternoon Sept. 2 and Sam Johnston in the evening; Chris Staig plays Sept. 3 … Couchiching Craft Brewing has the Griddle Pickers doing a birthday bash for Sean Patrick Sept. 1 with guest Terry Savage (tickets); Jakob Pearce is in Sept. 2; the Offcuts play Sept. 8… The Old Dance Hall Players imrov comedy is doing Angry Yoga at Cards and Coasters Sept. 18; get tickets online… The Offcuts play the Sunken Ship Sept. 2.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Former Mayor Steve Clarke being escorted to his fate by Port of Orillia harbour master, Allan Lafontaine at the 2022 Pirate Party.

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