This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Friday night Terry Savage, Roger Harvey (with Tim Kehoe playing pedal steel) and the Big Bad Jug Band have a fundraising concert for the Orillia Youth Centre at St. Paul’s Centre. The proceeds will go to the Nelson Bell and Jake Beers scholarship funds.

I haven’t seen Terry for a while. Roger was here a year ago and had a great concert (this is the third in the area this week) and I finally get to see the Big Bad Jug Band.

Bring an extra $20 because you can get a limited edition 7″ vinyl recording of Roger’s The Ballad of Jake Beers and Nelson Bell.  The cover art was done by Brian Walsby, an artist who lives in my brother’s neck of the woods in North Carolina. Showtime is 7 p.m. and you can get those tickets here or you can try your luck at the door.

While I’m dealing with St. Paul’s, there are a number of concerts happening there. Saturday night The Orillia Big Band is playing music for a dance. I don’t dance, well I do, but I’ve been told I shouldn’t, so it’s a concert for me.

Strangers to this drivel might not know big band music is my drug, so I’m excited to see what the former Little Big Band has become (Randy Hoover told me more players, but unfortunately no Buddy Rich in the fake book). It’s too late to get tickets from the church office, so try your luck at the door.

There are other concerts. 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; Sloan’s Chris Murphy is in Nov. 16; and the Skydiggers will be in Dec. 14 for a Christmas concert. Find tickets for all those online (Youngsteen tickets here).

You’re Not Going To Believe This

Some bad news. Tucked away in a council information package Orillia councillors get each week was a note from the City’s new culture coordinator, Allie Bradford. She’s new so much of what I have to say is about the decisions made by others.

She is outlining to council the fate of the story pole Jimi McKee and Wayne Hill made, which was up to September last year a fixture in the lobby of the Opera House. That is until it was hastily removed following an uniformed complaint about what that piece of art is. I wrote about all the problems with the complaint and decision already here and here.

Council was being informed, “This memo is to advise members of Council that the Story Pole formerly located at the Orillia Opera House has been deaccessioned from the City’s permanent public art collection.”

The City is dumping it. What a travesty. This is such a disservice to Jimi and Wayne who have created several pieces of art which have graced the community.

The marching order to staff from council, which was based on a flawed report was, in part:

“…to undertake additional consultation and investigation with the artist and other relevant Indigenous groups regarding options for repairs, possible updates to the artwork, in addition to an interpretation regarding its relevance in Orillia and report back.”

The excuse staff gave a year ago and council took to hastily get it out of the Opera House before a big schmoozefest for a Native group took up residence there for a few days was there were structural issues, which Jimi refuted. The bit about an opinion was particularly galling.

Let’s suppose you have a 1975 Gremlin, and someone who knows very little about the car says, ‘we should get an expert opinion on what kind of car it is, if it’s a car, and we’ll ask the folks at BMW.”

What do you think the reply is going to be?

“Vell, it has 4 veels, and green paint. vee vould never use green paint, and our veels are much better.  It would never do 200 kph on the Autobahn. It also is not Cherman engineering, und they zell those cars to anyone and vee only zell to entitled big zity American schnobs. Zo, this Automobile would never be a BMW.”

So the folks at the museum of anthropology at the University of British Columbia said:

“…support deaccessioning the piece from the City’s collection due to concerns surrounding cultural appropriation and misrepresentation of Indigenous Cultures from the West”

Jimi McKee with the Story Pole in question at This Year’s Starry Night.

What a slap in the face. First, if you read the previous stories, that story pole is not and never was intended to be a representation of anything West Coast. It’s a story pole about Orillia’s history so cultural appropriation doesn’t figure into it in the slightest.

What do you think they’d say about a story pole from Finland? These things are found all over the world. Hell, what do you think they’d say about a totem pole from the Chippewas of Rama?

Unfortunately the memo to council closes with, “… this step looks to ensure the municipality’s public spaces are welcoming and inclusive places for our Indigenous peoples who visit and call Orillia home.”

“… our Indigenous peoples?” That’s not too patronizing. It’s not welcoming if someone, with no expertise and a self-proclaimed claim to expertise makes a frivolous complaint about whatever it is you do.

The folks at UBC should be ashamed for going on record over something they did not know anything about, or why they were being asked to opine? Whoever is really behind this farce of a decision at City Hall should also be ashamed for the naked ambition to get rid of the art.

I wouldn’t blame Jimi if he told the City to pound sand for anything they might ask him for in the future

That, Was A Concert

Last Saturday night’s Orillia Youth Centre/Roots North fundraising concert at Fern Resort with Jerry Leger, The Ronnie Douglas Blues Band and The Sadies was so much better than it set out to be.

First the room; it was the second concert I’ve seen in the Bergwen Conference Centre. This room is the best venue for its capacity around. There were 200 tickets sold and it didn’t feel like the room was packed tightly. It’s well appointed with tiered seating so every seat had a good view. The sound was excellent, the guitar amps weren’t sent through the house PA, and the vocals, drums and bass were blended just right with everything.

The performances. Jerry has some really good songs. I don’t have any of his albums (going to fix that), and don’t have the occasion to listen very often, but I have seen him live several times. He would introduce a song as, ‘this was the single from X album,’ or ‘this is the single from the last album,’ or ‘this is the single coming from the new album,’ and all I could think of was several of the other songs were the ones I would have chosen as singles.  Each tune was entertaining.

Ronnie Douglas and company were next and toward the end I had a thought, ‘we are so bloody lucky to live in Orillia and have a band this good from our own town.’ It’s not just Ronnie, there are other great bands too, but these guys (Dave Hewitt (drums), Tim Kehoe (bass), and Rick Greensides (guitar) were the illustrative example Saturday night.

You don’t just get the music either. Ronnie gives a history lesson, who wrote the tune, who made it popular, why it is an important song in the blues catalogue, etc.  Each song had an effect on Ronnie’s development as a musician.

My favourite moment was when Ronnie started to play an intro to a tune. I thought, ‘this is going to be Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.”  It was, and the audience applauded as soon as they recognized what they were hearing when the first verse arrived. The band played it slower than any of the other 368 versions (my favourite, Buffy Rich) and Ronnie and Rick took advantage of the tempo to lay down some virtuostic solos.

Having Tim on bass, playing it like a guitar, has given the band a new dimension to their sound; he fills in so many ornaments without straying from the function of playing bass. Tim is a great guitarist, plays pedal steel like a pro, but he could set the world on fire with how he plays bass. And Dave, solid tempo and groove. He’s always played like that. He’s not flashy, but as I’ve said before, your band is nothing if your drummer isn’t up to it and he’s the rock all the other stuff sits on. I admire his rhythmic choices and ownership of where each tune is going.

The Sadies were outstanding. Turn the amps up to max and just control the sound with how you play – which wasn’t ear splitting loud (except when necessary). Travis Good is an exceptional guitarist. One minute he’s picking like Chet Atkins or Roy Clark, the next it’s Dick Dale. Their show does not stand still, If you like Rock-a Billy, you’ll get it. If you like Punk, that too. Surf, big waves or little?

Near the end he had his dad, Bruce, and mom, Margaret onstage to each sing a song. That was bonus for the audience and they showed their appreciation.

On the whole, this concert was a guitarist’s dream, maybe a wet dream. Heck two drummers in the crowd were excited to witness it. Of all the fall Youth Centre fundraisers (Kevin Gangloff said it’s been 8), this one was the best – and the others have been amazing to see. Can we do this line up again, next year?

More than $15,000 was raised for the Youth Centre.

They’re Going Nuts I Tell You

Does anyone remember in the before times I said the folks at the Orillia Museum of Art and History were outdoing themselves with the number of exhibits and events they had scheduled? It seems they passed the water bottle to the folks at the Opera House. Several more concerts have been added to the schedule and general manger Wendy Fairbairn said I should see the spring schedule.

Carl Dixon

They have 13 events in October. New is a concert by Carl Dixon October 28. It’s about the music and the journey. Carl played in bands that opened for Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and is best known being a member of April Wine, Coney Hatch and The Guess Who.

The Old Dance Hall Players are bringing their weirdness (improv comedy) to the Opera House October 6 under the show title Nothin’ But Stuffin’. These folks are Orillia’s premier improv comedy troupe. They’re our only one, but they are still the best. If you don’t laugh, you aren’t paying attention.

Dwayne Gretzky is in October 5. The Orillia Jazz Festival has three gigs, Holly Cole October 13, Lance Anderson and company October 14. And Brassworks with an allstar jazz band of students from Orillia high schools – plus  a choir – October 15.

October 20 The Comic Strippers are in. No, it’s not autobiographical. Second City follows up October 25.  In between the Orillia Silver Band fall concert is October 22 and a documentary called Four Feet Up will be shown, with an accompanying panel discussion; it’s about an intimate and touching experience of child poverty in one of the world’s richest nations. That nation would be Canada.

October 26 something different is coming to town. The Family Crow: A Murder Mystery  is a puppet comedy/mystery show by Adam Francis Proulx. It’s  not a kids show, but I’m sure kids will like it too. October 27 magicians Ted and Marion Outerbridge bring their show Mysteries of the Keyhole House to town. The performance has a storyline – about their own house.

Closing out the month is our own Zachary Lucky with Richard Inman October 29. What? No Halloween show? You can get tickets for any of those shows online.

Also new to the schedule since the last time we met here are December concerts by Lunch at Allen’s and the Barra MacNeils.

The Shorts

Not gone, just a little late this week. Look in tomorrow.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: A special edition of Roger Harvey’s song commemorating Nelson Bell and Jake Beers

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