This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Next weekend Culture Days happens once again. This event has been in the charge of the Orillia and District Arts Council for many years. This year you can check out the Orillia Vocal Ensemble at the Farmers’ Market at 11 a.m. September 23. As with the intent of Culture Days to expose people to arts groups in their communities and to encourage participation, bring your atomizer and you are welcome to join in.

September 30 young people, ages, 12 to 17, can check out the recording process at Simcoe mechanical Recording Studio (on Western Avenue, next door to Charles Pachter and Keith Lem’s studio/gallery). You can try your voice at singing into a mic (they want to do festive songs, which to me means Christmas tunes). It’s from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

October  5 Babarinde Williams will lead a drumming workshop at Georgian College. The afternoon session from 2 to 4 p.m. is for students, and the evening 6 to 7 p.m. session is open to the public, but you have to register and at time of publication there wasn’t’ an online link to do so.

October 12, starting at 7 p.m. Couchiching Craft  Brewing Company has the Flailing Shilaleighs (I know, but that’s how they spell it) performing. This is quite an eclectic mix if instrumentalists and singers. They’re going to do a range of German Beer Hall tunes; wait… wrong month. They’re from south of Barrie (everything good is from south, or north of Barrie). Of course it’s a sing along. If you stay late enough maybe they take it a step further and become the Flaming Shilaleighs. It’s probably a good idea to call and make a reservation.

ODAC has been working on strengthening the organization. Mike Bailey is president now. Earlier this year they absorbed the Orillia Fine Arts Association, which increased membership in ODAC, also a number of higher profile artists have joined. This is good. The board has been trying to improve what ODAC offers to the community, and having more people as members provides more pipelines of communication.

I’ve said it before, so here goes again, the benefit of having a strong, well populated arts council can be, and do, many things. ODAC is not just for visual artists; it’s not just for solo artists (groups should be members to (e.g. MAT, OSB, OCB, OVE, etc.).  Whatever your art is you can be a part of making it work for your craft. One of the things they have had in their sights is to be able to provide some group insurance for local artists. They are now able to offer group liability to artists, which is fantastic.

ODAC and OMAH are also jointly presenting the Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards November 22, at Creative Nomad Studios starting at 6 p.m. The deadline for nominations is October 20 and you can find the form online.

Also ahead ODAC has a one-day watercolour workshop at St. James’ Anglican Church. It’s September 19 from 1:45 to 3:45 p.m. It’s for people 55 and over. The info says all skills welcome, which doesn’t mean people like me (they graciously left out of the poster – except JS). While talent isn’t necessary, there are people like me who should confine themselves to just looking. If you want more info email

Bleeker Notes
Bleeker: Mike Van Dyk, Cole and Taylor Perkins and Chris Dimas

I had a chat with Taylor Perkins. Bleeker has been recording a new album in Toronto with a new (old) producer. They previously worked with Brian Moncarz on the album, Four. Moncarz has also worked with Alice Cooper, Our Lady Peace, The Tea Party and The Trews.

They have a new tune coming out October 13, which you will be able to find on most online music services, and on their webpage.

Taylor said they’ll have a new single (likely the tune above) out in January, followed by an EP in March. They have a couple gigs lined up for Ottawa and Toronto in December, but the band is thinking they’d like to have a concert here in Orillia when the album comes out.

They are also working on setting up a tour for the summer. Some of the dates they’ll be headliners, and some as opening acts.

An Old Chestnut

Every once in a while Facebook serves up a fantastic revelation. This morning I stumbled on a video of Mel Torme playing drums. That was nothing new to me, I’ve seen many videos of Mel playing drums. I had a thought, why does nobody ever include Mel in a discussion of great drummers?

Screen Grab, CTV’s One Night Stand With Lionel Hampton, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa and Mel Torme

So I made a Facebook post. A friend of mine chimed in saying there is video of Buddy, Mel, Gene Krupa and Lionel Hampton together playing drums. I found it. It’s truly a moment in music history that has been overlooked. What’s even better is on rewatch I caught Mel Lewis was also playing, but not as a featured drummer. Other greats playing were Gerry Mulligan and Ted Kennedy.

Anyone would need big chestnuts to sit behind a set of drums with Buddy and Gene in the room, let alone also sitting behind sets. Mel had nothing to worry about, he’s in their league.

Then my friend gave me some background. He said his friend’s father was part of the production crew and the program was shot in the Scarborough CTV studios. One better, his friend’s father bought the drums Buddy used. It’s hard to fathom it  was in Canada this happened, one hour from my home. How is it this is not common knowledge among musicians, especially drummers. As my friend said, had we known it was occurring, we know where we’d have been on that day, skipping school to go to school.

Needless to say it was a great start to my day, and it makes me happy to be able to shine some light (as the tagline to our logo reads) on this moment of music history more people should know about.

OMAH’s New Exhibits

The Orillia Museum of Art and History has one gigantic reception happening September 23 from 1 to 3 p.m. for three exhibits debuting. 

The three shows are: 50 Years Of Mariposa Arts Theatre, A Close up on Carmichael (showcasing OMAH’s collection of related items) and Jennifer Zardo’s Home Sweet Home.

Mariposa Arts Theatre is one of our great institutions. One of the things they will touch on in the exhibit (and in Chris Newton’s History Speaker’s night, Sept. 20) is Oh Really, Orillia. If you are new, this was an annual event with several nights of performances lampooning living in Orillia. The cast included Ken Brown, Harry Speed, Debbie Drumm, Bill Price and Jim Foster, I’m not sure how many contributed to writing it, but I know the latter three did. Of course there were others in the cast too, and they never fired a dud. The Speaker’s Night happens online, so register, online, to get details how to take part.

Also on exhibit at OMAH is The Orillia Police And The Sir Sam Steele Memorial Building, which is set up in the basement jail cells. The Carmichael exhibit is in advance of the annual Canadian Landscape, juried art show. This one attracts entries form across Canada. The theme this year is Tradition Transformed.

Ted Fullerton’s exhibit The Serpent’s Egg up until Oct. 7.

In other arty things, Hibernation Arts has an event that is as much social as it is art show. The Equinox Art Gathering happens September 22 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. … St. Paul’s Centre has the Call to Action 83 Art Project in the Ogimaa Miskwaaki Gallery.

Lightfoot Days

I wrote about this last week, so this is update info. The headline event is with Classic Lightfoot Live at St. Paul’s Centre. The band includes Gord’s nephew Steve Eyers, Red Shea’s guitar student Eric Kidd and John Stinson playing guitar and doing the singing. Recently they added Liz Anderson to the lineup. She’s along to play keyboards (and strings says Steve Eyers) and has already done three gigs.

The band has been travelling to many places to perform. Most of the happenings of the festival will be free, but not this one. Get your tickets online. The event is from November 3 to 5, so there’s some time to catch up on developments, but mark your calendars.

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
  • 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 Oct. 14 at ODAS Park and you can get tickets online. Lance Anderson is recreating the 60 in 60 concert he did at last year’s Mariposa Folk Festival on Nov. 18 at the Opera House. It’s been expanded to a 90 minute show and Matt Weidinger, Quisha Wint, Selena Evangeline Mike Daley (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Wayne Deadder (guitar and vocals) Russ Boswell (bass) Bucky Berger (drums) will be performing with Lance. You can get those tickets online.
  • The Opera House has several tribute acts playing during the next few weeks. There are also concerts by Dwayne Gretzky and Rick Fines happening, and the Comic Strippers and Second City are doing shows in October. You can get tickets for any of that 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 Sept. 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 Oct. 13; Matthew Good is in Oct. 19 and Sloan’s Chris Murphy is in Nov. 16; the Skydiggers will be in Dec. 14 for a Christmas concert. You can find tickets for all those online (Youngsteen tickets here) Tickets for The Orillia Big Band at St. Paul’s Sept. 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. 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 Greg Booth and Jerry Levine in Sept. 16; Sept. 17 it’s Patrick Hunter (afternoon) and Gen Cyr (evening); Jakob Pearce is in Sept. 21; Burke Erwin is in Sept. 22; Kyle Wauchope plays Sept. 23 and Bob Watts is in Sept. 24 … Couchiching Craft Brewing has Stephan Bernard playing Sept. 17; Sept. 20 is Rock and Roll Trivia Night; Even Steven is in Sept. 22 and James Gray plays Sept. 23.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Bleeker At Work

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