This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

From the better late than never office; last week was all messed up. From the holiday upsetting the usual timelines of a week (oh crap, it’s Saturday, not Friday), to an immobilized car and wrong parts, then right parts but little fitting aggravations, and my birthday colliding like a series of discombobulators, this little thing we do each week got pushed back (heh, there’s still time) far too much. Here we go.

Lightfoot Days is back. The last weekend festival all about Gord was in 2018. That festival had a 5 year run, which while it was lasted was good, but didn’t have the growth in popularity one could hope for. Now there is renewed interest.

“This is building on what we did before with the years of Lightfoot Days (2014 to 2018). This is picking on that for what would have been his 85th birthday month. We know there is such a longing in Orillia and far beyond Orillia to do a variety of things that celebrate and honour who Gordon is,” said Karen Hilfman Millson.

The idea to resurrect it came to Karen in July. The clamour for some kind of event, hopefully ongoing, started days after Gord died. There are 4 Gordon Lightfoot Facebook pages, the largest being the Gordon Lightfoot Fan Club and not only were people from all across Canada and elsewhere asking for some kind of celebration, and despite several who said they were going to try to organize something where they lived, many people where hoping such a thing would happen in Orillia.

“We’ve done a lot. A Mariposa did a lot. It still felt like we needed to do something within Orillia that would be responsive to people of the wider community.”

She organized a core group of seven people and last week they went public with their intent. Karen is quick to point out while it may have started with her, she’s does not bear a title.

“We’re actually all quite equal. We have seven working on it directly and then we have others that are willing to help with different pieces of it,” she said.

Steve Eyers, Eric Kidd, Gordon Lightfoot and John Stinson

They went with a new name –Lightfoot Days Pop-Up Festival, when they had some key pieces in place. Friday, November 3, Classic Lightfoot Live will play at St. Paul’s Centre. The band has Gord’s nephew Steve Eyers, Red Shea’s guitar student Eric Kidd and the most unlikely person doing the singing John Stinson (unlikely in that he has captured Gord’s tone and temperament in a genuine and not contrived way).

Of course, like the other festivals (Roots North, Jazz Festival) most of the itinerary does not require a ticket or cover charge, but this headliner event does, and you can get tickets online.

Alleycats Music will have an open mic on the Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. and Picnic was three musicians lined up to perform between 2 and 4 p.m. Karen said there will be other venues playing along, but those details are not complete (check back in here or the group’s Facebook page – linked above – periodically for updates).

Two venues important to the story of Gord, St. Paul’s Centre, where Gord sang in the choir, and the Opera House will have tours Saturday. The St. Paul’s tour will have video interviews (and one audio recording) Gord did at the church, “They’ve never been shared before,” and will dispense little known info about Gord’s connection to the church.

One of example of which will be at the Sunday service. Gord’s funeral was not a public one. Karen was the officiant and she is writing the reflection part of the Sunday service.

“I may not be well enough to speak it, but I will write it. It will weave in some of the elements of the funeral I did for Gordon.”

Karen has been getting treatment for cancer and recently also had a gall bladder operation. She said she is doing much better, but getting her energy back is taking time.

The Orillia Museum of Art and History will have a display from their collection relating to Gord. The Streets Alive project normally disappears like the bears when winter, or the playoffs, come, but all the sculptures available relating to Gord will still be downtown for the festival.

Also on Sunday, at 12:30 p.m. there will be birthday cake available at Mariposa Market. Gord’s birthday was November 17.

Karen said the team is working to add more elements to the festival, one of which is getting a hotel deal(s) for out of town visitors.

More Concerts

Over here trying to build up energy reserves for what already was a busy fall concert season, and it looks like we’ll all need more.

Kyung-A Lee and the Orillia Silver Band

The Orillia Silver Band is doing something different, for them. Their October 22 concert at the Opera House has a guest. Having a guest is not new, but having a guest pianist is. Kyung-A Lee will be on stage to play Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Libertango by Astor Piazzolla. The OSB’s conductor, Neil Barlow, wrote the arrangements for the band.

The OSB will also do pieces by Bach, Chopin, Gershwin and Verdi. Tickets are available online.

The Opera House has added one more concert. This one is by Rick Fines. I last saw Rick do a whole concert at a Mariposa fall gig in the before times and thoroughly enjoyed it. The tunes are great and so are the jokes. Those tickets are here.

There’s a lot more, but you’ll have to keep reading the end because I‘m not going to retype all of it, and because of the lateness cutting and pasting will take more time than it did to write this sentence.

A Little More Gord

Aside from getting some kind of festival happening, two groups have been working on creating some kind of permanent museum exhibits. To that end OMAH put out the word in July to have people interested in contributing and send in their ideas. Those people are invited to meet at OMAH September 13 at 1 p.m. to discuss and  review ideas already submitted, sorting out the next steps and establishing a committee. Of course that doesn’t mean your inspired, latest flash of brilliance isn’t welcome.

Meanwhile, Monday’s Orillia Council agenda includes an item from Mayor Don McIsaac. He wants approval from council to set up a working group (including Pam Carter, Stephen Davids, Chris Hazel and Steve Clarke) for the purpose of establishing  a museum.

I know there has been some discussion with the estate and God’s wife, Kim, about acquiring some of Gord’s things suitable for a museum exhibit, and part of the working group’s agenda will be finding community partners (money) and to also include supporting events, other memorials and opportunities to name things for Gord. The mayor has set a deadline of October 30 to report back to council if the working group gets established.

The Shorts

  • The annual Images Thanksgiving Studio Tour is happening sooner than you think. Can you believe it? It’s the 40thannual tour. You can find a map and artist details online.

  • The Orillia Concert Association series remains one of the best deals just about anywhere. Season passes for all 5 concerts are still only $90. They are available online. The Stratton Soloists ensemble opens the series Oct. 29, pianist Daniel Vnukowski performs Nov. 26, the Chris Robinson / Will Davis Quartet plays Jan. 28, James Campbell and Angela Park perform March 24, and  Ensemble Vivant closes the series May 5.

  • 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.

Lynn Fisher OMAH’s New Development Officer
  • The Orillia Museum of Art and History has Ted Fullerton’s exhibit The Serpent’s Egg up until Oct. 7; Opening Sept. 23 are new exhibits; 50 Years Of Mariposa Arts Theatre (reception Sept. 23 1 to 3 p.m.) and A Close up on Carmichael (showcasing OMAH’s collection of related items); Jennifer Zardo’s Home Sweet Home is already up; and from the have you ever been to jail Joey file, see The Orillia Police And The Sir Sam Steele Memorial Building; 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; and congrats to Lynn Fisher, former ODAC chair, as OMAH’s new development officer (fundraising)… St. Paul’s Centre has the Call to Action 83 Art Project in the Ogimaa Miskwaaki Gallery…  Cloud Gallery’s Meet The Artist series continues with a visit to the gallery from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 16 by David Carmichael…. Hibernation Arts is hosting the students and their art from the Sustainable Orillia calendar project Sept. 12 from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

  • 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) playing. You can get tickets online.

  • Mariposa’s third annual 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; the Skydiggers will be in Dec. 14 for a Christmas concer.t You can find tickets for all those online (Youngsteen tickets here) Tickets for The Orillia Big Band at St. Paul’s September 30 are on sale at the St. Paul’s office.
  • Tangents is organizing a Halloween concert/fundraiser for the Comfie Cat Shelter at St. Paul’s Centre. Joining them are Dead Beyond Fear and Get ‘N Dirty. Its Oct. 28 at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for this all-ages event and you can get them online. The music is metal and there will be vendors and grub. Wear your costume.
  • The Orillia Silver Band has a concert Oct. 22 at the Opera House. Their guest pianist is Kyung-A Lee, who will be playing Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Libertango by Astor Piazzolla. The band has music by Bach, Chopin, Gershwin and Verdi lined up. Tickets are available online.
  •  Quayle’s Brewery has Jojo in Sept.15; My Missing Piece plays (afternoon) Sept. 16 and Greg Booth and Jerry Levine (evening); Sept. 17 it’s Patrick Hunter (afternoon) and Gen Cyr (evening); Jakob Pearce is in Sept. 21; Burke Erwin is in Sept. 22 … Couchiching Craft Brewing has Valerie Burns and Dave Chun in Sept 16; Chris Lemay plays Sept. 17; Stephan Bernard plays Sept. 17; Sept. 20 is Rock and Roll Trivia Night… The Old Dance Hall Players imrov comedy is doing Angry Yoga at Cards and Coasters Sept. 18; get tickets online.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Gordon Lightfoot At The 2019 Mariposa Folk Festival.

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