By John Swartz
It’s Orillia jazz Festival weekend. I’ll get into it a little more below. If you are surprised by this info and feel the need to scramble to organize your evening, or get tickets to the Opera House show, here’s the link to the schedule.
I really want to discuss the Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards first, mainly because you only have until October 20 to submit a nomination. You can find the submission info and form here.
There are 5 categories: the Education in the Arts, Culture and Heritage Award; the Heritage: Restoration, Renovation and Publication Award; the Event in the Arts, Culture and Heritage Award; the Emerging Artists Award; and the Qennefer Browne Achievement Award.
I want to talk about the event award. Previously I suggested someone could nominate the Scottish Festival because they moved it to Tudhope Park and didn’t seem to miss a beat, maybe even had some elements that worked out better. I also suggested the Operas House summer theatre program because they’ve had good success with their program since it came under new management and the last couple years have been outstanding with the choices of plays offered and the number of tickets sold. I also had the Orillia Silver Band for consideration because their series of concerts exhibit some of the finest musicianship of all of our arts groups.
But I was having a conversation with Allan Lafontaine a few weeks ago and we talked about the Pirate Party Weekend. During the course of the talk it occurred to me the Chamber of Commerce should get a nomination for the Pirate Party. Why? For starters, of all the years I’ve been writing about arts and culture here, no one has had an event on Labour Day Weekend. There were a couple of attempts that went nowhere. The Pirate Party, on the other hand has done nothing but get bigger and better each year. This year, despite the mess Centennial Drive is in, they had as large a crowd show up as last year, they had a full marina, and the participants (all those folks who haven’t updated their wardrobe since the 1850s) where greater in force.
Allan begins hyping this ting in the spring and his effort has turned an otherwise dead weekend into a tourist attraction. He and the chamber should be nominated just for taking an idea further than where others have failed.
On the education side, I have mentioned the OSS music department should get a nomination. Last spring they had a very successful music festival with bands from all over Central Ontario coming here to perform and compete. They also produced an incredibly good Dixieland Jazz Band and just in the last month they’ve had Roger Harvey and Aleksi Compagne in to do songwriting workshops with the students.
In the Emerging Artist category I suggested Sam Johnston should be nominated. I also suggested Chris Robinson and Will Davis – a jazz duo – who have been getting wider recognition they are one of the Orillia Concert Association concerts this season, which I think is the first time in my memory any group from Orillia has been part of the OCA season concert menu.
The Quennifer Browne Award nominees I suggested are Steve Orr, without his financial support many of the music events would either not happen or be as successful. I also suggested the outgoing Mariposa Folk Festival artistic director, Liz Scott, should be nominated. I don’t know about you, but the festival, which as always, has a great lineup, was overextending themselves the last 7 years under her watch. I also think the Orillia Silver Band could be nominated in this category. They have been giving us years of outstanding programming and outstanding playing which should be recognized.
Some people have said I should formally nominate the people and groups I highlight. While I can write about them and remind you of some of the achievements from the past year, to get involved beyond that would be a step too far for a journalist. On top of that I have been previously involved with the awards presentation and I don’t think it would be proper to make a nomination of anyone or group.
Jann Wenner can maybe get away with it with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but he’s still taking a lot of heat over how that thing is run. While creating a Hall of Fame was a great idea, and it is his idea, being so involved with it was a mistake. Rolling Stone magazine could have produced the awards presentation, but he should have handed off everything else to somebody else and not been involved with say, keeping Rush out of the Hall of Fame for some many years and putting Dolly Parton in. His direct involvement with who gets in has made the Hall of Fame a bit of a joke and I think the ORAH Awards are too important to the community for me to muddy things up.
The deadline for this year’s 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.
There are still a few tickets left for Holly Cole’s performance Friday night at the Opera House, and for Lance Anderson and the World Jazz Asylum (John Johnson, Quammie Williams, William Sperendei and Simon Wallis are in the band, and dancers from Toronto Metropolitan University’s dance department) playing Saturday night. Have you ever seen anything Lance has produced that isn’t spectacular? Me neither.
Sunday afternoon Brassworks is having a concert. They are beefing up their ranks with some members of the 4th Street Jazz Project for a couple of tunes – and the whole show with Alex Dean on sax. They also have a band made up of students from all the high schools performing and the combined choirs from Twin Lakes and OSS will be performing too. Brassworks could easily do a whole concert on their own, but for several years they have included the high school bands in their Jazz Festival concert.
The 4th Street Jazz Project has their own concert Saturday afternoon at Cards and Coasters (2:30 p.m.) and they have the Jazz Beens (Christina Bosco, Ian Munday, Deb Halbot and Brian Pretty) sharing the stage.
As I said above, you can see the whole schedule for all the venues online.
Yes it’s that time of year – for the annual fall concert. This time the performers are Aleksi Compagne, Angelique Francis, Aysanabee and My Son the Hurricane. Each has performed at the summer festival, Angelique at the first after-the-before-times fall concert and this year’s show will be great. The concert is at ODAS Park from 1 to 5 p.m. and since it’s outdoors, you can still get tickets.
We’re Not Done With Saturday
The Orillia Museum of Art and History is opening the annual Landscape Show at 1 p.m. Saturday. This event is always jam packed. Part of the event is announcing the Juror’s Prize ($1,500) and the Kevin Batchelor Emerging Artist Award ($1,000). This show attracts entries from across the country, 47 of them.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Holly Cole, Lance Anderson and Quammie Williams are performing at the 2023 Orillia Jazz Festival.