This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

There’s a few things going on this weekend and there were a few which happened last weekend. First the new.

Cloud Gallery has the first of their 3rd annual Fall Showcase Series of short, two-week long exhibits of work by some of their 35 artists they represent. First up is a paring of Lori Meeboer and Jennifer Woodburn. They stayed up all night to come up with the title, Pairing Palettes.

There’s a more in depth look at the series of shows here. Each exhibit opens with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. and everyone is welcome to attend. Cloud Gallery is part of Creative Nomad Studios.

Next, the Orillia Concert Band and the Orillia Big Band split the menu for a concert at St. Paul’s Centre at 7:30 p.m.

Orillia Concert Band rehearsing.

The OCB plays the first half with the highlight of the set being Von Suppe’s Poet and Peasant Overture. Once you hear it, if you ever watched a cartoon, you’ll know it.

The center piece of the second half with the big band is Chick Corea’s Spain, though some might think it’s Take A Train.

Get out of here Lawrence, it’s Take the A Train.

Singer Millie Schop has been popping up at a few concerts lately, and she’s going to be in both halves of this concert singing Blue Moon, The Look Of Love and Orange Colored Sky. The concert is also serving as a fundraiser for Hillcrest Lodge. You can get tickets at the door.

Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. The Orillia Concert Band is at the Opera House. Their guest performer is pianist Kyung-A Lee. She’ll be playing Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Piazzolla’s Libertango with the OSB, to arrangements by conductor Neil Barlow.

The band will also play music by Bach, Chopin, Gershwin and Verdi. You can get tickets online.


It all started Friday night at the Opera House with the Orillia Jazz Festival’s centerpiece gig with Holly Cole. Accompanying her were Aaron Davis on piano and George (want me to make this thing sound like a whale?) Koller on bass.

This is what in the jazz world serves as a power trio. Aaron has played here before, as has George. As an accompanist, Aaron does not overplay the main attraction, Holly, but when it’s his turn to take the lead, well, hold on. George is one of the most animated musicians around and he’s fun to watch. Listening to him is informative; he’s one of the most innovative players on any instrument. Like I inferred above, he manages to get sounds out of his instrument few other would even think of wanting to do.

There’s a reason Holly is one of the top jazz singers in the world. She can handle any style from the torchiest, to the bluesiet and jazziest music. The full house gave her a standing ovation at the end, and not the kind that happens because a few got up and who wants to be seen still sitting.

Last Saturday was nuts with three big events happening. The Orillia Museum of Art and History was first with the opening of their annual Canadian Landscape Show. This one always packs the gallery. There were several pieces, which if security wasn’t so tight, might have gone home with someone. Me.

I particularly liked a carving called Common Keel by John Notten. It’s a wood carving of an old ship on top and a canoe on the bottom, it’s hooked up to a pedal operated motor which rotates so the ship and canoe reverse positions.

There is a juror’s prize ($1500), won by Lori Harrison for Three Pines, and the Kevin Batchelor prize ($1000) for emerging artists won by Peter Cheung for Natural Beauty. Here’s a few photos from the opening.

OMAH's Canadian Landscape Show Opening

Image 1 of 7

Next it was off to ODAS Park for the Mariposa Folk Festival’s third outdoor fall concert. The sun was out, it’s was kind of warm and the trees were all green (I don’t think they are supposed to be).

I missed the first of the four acts (Aleksi Compagne). I kind of remember Angelique Francis’s set from the first iteration of the concert held two years ago. However her entrance was a good reminder. She stormed out from the wing when her band started up. There was no energy unemployed while her band played some funk R&B music. On top of that, she had a horn section. I’d forgotten she used a horn section, so that was a nice bit of icing on my cake.

Aysanabee was next. His music was a bit of introspective, slow down and listen music compared to the previous set. Good songwriting that demands focused attention form the audience.

Then the mob ruled. My Son the Hurricane is a dozen little whirlwinds working together to make everyone get up and dance. They lost some of the audience who couldn’t handle the bombastic nature of their music.

Last time I saw them they had a horn section of the usual size , trumpet, trombone and sax. This time they had three trumpets and three trombones and a sax (one didn’t make the gig). You haven’t lived until you heard these folks do the Edgar Winter Group’s Frankenstein. It never would have occurred to me to arrange it for a horn section to be played with a controlled chaos. It was glorious.

The next time the horns made me really pay attention was with their sharp ensemble hits in Elton John’s Benny and the Jets. I’m don’t know who does their horn arranging, but whoever it is does a great job replicating the sound of the original pieces of music and not making it sound like brass instruments are covering for something else in both cases.

The rest of the set was a whole lot of upbeat, rhythmic goodness and watching singer, Sylvie Kindree bop all over the stage and try to match the volume of the rest of the band was entertaining in itself.

My Son the Hurricane

Image 1 of 4

In the evening, the Orillia Jazz Festival had Lance Anderson and the World Jazz Asylum playing at the Opera House. Lance, you did it again. The band (Quammie Williams, William Sperendei and Simon Wallis) was awesome. The big surprise here was George Koller was playing bass. He was not listed as one of the gang previously. Heck, I didn’t even realize it was him onstage because the piano was blocking my view – until his first big solo happened.

I met someone during halftime who is fairly new to Orillia, came to the show for something to do, and was completely blown away by the band and the music; was more surprised to learn Lance lives down the street, so to speak. I said, oh are you in for surprise when you get to check out the other bands we have here.

There wasn’t a dull moment in this concert. The first song of each set also included a couple dancers from the Toronto Metropolitan University’s dance department. Lance said they basically, like jazz, made it up as they went along – with the benefit of a rehearsal with the tunes in the afternoon.

Sunday afternoon, Brassworks anchored a concert which also featured a band made up of students from all three high schools and a choir combined from both OSS and Twin Lakes.

Alex Dean wasn’t able to be there. Curtis Metcalf, who is the ringleader, said Alex got sick and cancelled out of the first gig of his long illustrious career. Because of that, they had to re-jig the playlist a bit because the opener featured Alex and they obviously couldn’t do that. So they went with Chicago’s Make Me Smile. Food choice. Pianist Danny McErlain soloed in each half, and Millie Schop was along to sing a tune as well, teaming up with Danny and the rhythm section to do Georgia.

The high school band did a tune with bassist Duncan Hopkins conducting. Hopkins has played bass with Diana Krall, Peter Appleyard, Rob McConnell, Lester Bowie, Kenny Wheeler, Don Thompson, Moe Koffman, so the kids getting to workshop their music with him during the week was good for them, and us, because the band sounded very good.

As did the choir, which sang All That Jazz. They worked through the week with Brenda Uchimaru who stands in front of several academic and community choirs. I remember this piece from the movie, and the kids did a great job delivering the nuance of the phrasing. Uchimaru also counted off the all hands on deck finale piece Earth Wind And Fire’s Fantasy.

The Shorts

See Part Two Sunday for the Shorts and more.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: The Orillia Silver Band is in concert Sunday afternoon at the Opera House

Rants & Raves

Support Independent Journalism