This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

The Orillia Sunshine City School Music Festival held at the end of March at Orillia Secondary School was great. It was an entire week of one band after another all day and into the evening each day doing their best to impress a panel of judges. High marks got several bands invitations to compete in the MusicFest Canada competition in Toronto in May.

There were no posted results and each band kept their ratings to themselves. While the music was great, the seating was not. My souvenir was a week of back pain.

I have more to say about the performances in a separate piece.

That Was Good Too

The Orillia Silver Band’s last concert at St. Paul’s Centre had the Orillia Vocal Ensemble along to play. The band played superbly, as usual. The audience really liked Mariposa Sketches, which was written for the OSB.

This tune, by Len Ballantine, is in 5 parts and is based on the composer’s impression of settings from Sunshine Sketches. There is one part where the sound bounces around the band between brass voices and among the percussionists. This is a microcosm display of the band’s excellent timing capabilities.

Everything they did was performed very well. The big piece was Glorifico Aeternum composed by Dean Jones. This piece, at 11:30 in length, does not take it easy. The hardest working member of the band was Ross Arnold playing tympani. I think he played more notes in this one piece than in all the other tunes on the menu. This piece is one of those you want your band to play just to show off how good you are, or how suicidal. When it finished the audience gave a standing ovation. And yet, there was more to come.

The Orillia Vocal Ensemble, sang some tunes in the first half and did a medley from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with the OSB to send us to intermission. The OVE keeps getting better with a more balanced sound.

After the Glorifico, they rejoined the OSB to sing Song of the Mira,  and Hymn to Freedom. The former most people recognized once it started, the other might as well be Orillia’s official song because it’s been done so many times by so many groups, though I think this is the first time I’ve heard it done with a band as good as the OSB and a full choir.R

Roots North

The Roots North Music Festival is happening April 19 and 20. The main stage performances at St. Paul’s Centre have been set for a while.


The Red Hill Valleys open for Bleeker of the 19th. This is the first opportunity we’ve had to see Bleeker in some time. They have new music they have been letting out a song at a time since the New Year.

The Red Hill Valleys are from Hamilton. They do Country Rock and have a number of albums recorded.

Saturday’s main stage show opens with Spencer Burton. Next up is Julian Taylor. Julian was part of Staggered Crossing, which played here once or twice. On his own he was part of Mariposa last year, and at the Junos was on stage for the tribute to Robbie Robertson (part of the same set with the tribute to Gordon Lightfoot). He’s got a few Juno nominations and a Canadian Folk Music Award.

Begonia closes out the show. She also was nominated for a Juno this year. She was supposed to play Roots North in 2020, but of course, that didn’t happen.


There are a number of venues which have musicians playing. Things start Wednesday night with Andrew Walker at Lake Country Grill and Michael Martyn, Mitch Szitas, Corey Taylor and B. Knox at Picnic. Thursday, Chris Lemay will be at Fare (Leacock Museum).

Friday the music starts at noon with an open mic at Apple Annie’s. Steve Porter (Alleycats), Sydney Riley (Quayle’s) have afternoon gigs.

The traditional Roots art market in the basement at St. Paul’s opens at 6 p.m. (concert is at 7), but the other venues will start at 6 p.m. with the Mitch Buebe Band at the Sunken Ship. Ronnie Douglas is at Couchiching Craft Brewing and Kevin Foster is at Kensington’s.

Did you know April 20 is Record Store Day across Canada? Alleycats has something happening in the morning to mark the occasion. Side note: I looked into it and there’s a website, complete with a list of all the vinyl, some new titles and some re-issues, being released on the 20th.  Also in the morning small ensembles from Orillia Secondary School will be playing at the Farmers’ Market, Sully Borrows will be at Mark IV Brothers and Jack and Dean will be at Apple Annie’s.

There’s a strange listing for 11:30 a.m. which reads: “Boomer Babies – Secret Location – Downtown Orillia”. What does that mean? Derick Lehman said, “If you’re out and about on Saturday you’ll find them. Trust me.”

At 12:30 p.m. Apple Annie’s switches over to an open mic to start an afternoon of performances around town. Samantha Windover (Quayle’s), Sully Burrows (Hibernation Arts) Sean Patrick (Hog ‘N Penny –jam session), Sam Johnston (Blossom Plants and Goods), Rebekah Hawker (Quayles), and Geoff Booth and the Joy Collective (Sunken Ship) all have afternoon gigs.

The Orillia Youth Centre has an open mic at 6 p.m. Other evening gigs are with Cam Galloway (Couchiching Craft Brewing), Fiddling Jay Edmunds (Hog ‘n Penny) and Michael Constantini (Kensington’s).

Sunday The Wanted play brunch at the Common Stove, Alex Rabbitson is at Alleycats, Genevieve Cyr is at Quayle’s and Richard Benson is at Picinc.

You can see the complete schedule and get tickets online.

The Shorts

  • Students at Twin Lakes Secondary School are doing Murder On The Orient Express. At the school Apr. 10 to 12. Showtime is 7 p.m. and tickets are $10 which you can get at the door or by calling the school , 705-325-1318.

  • The Orillia Big Band has a dance happening at St. Paul’s Centre Apr. 12. They play mostly stuff from the big band era, and a few more recent tunes. The extra sauce is having  Milli Schop singing with them and she does a fantastic job. You can get tickets on line.
  • Danny Webster just released an album’s worth of new music which you can listen to and buy on Bandcamp.
  • So the success of the first two Back to the 90s Video Dance Parties was so good ($14,000 raised in December), Derick Lehmann has a third one happening May 25 at the Roller Skating Place at ODAS Park. This time around the fundraiser is to buy bikes for kids. Get tickets online.
  • The Orillia Museum of Art and History has a solo exhibit by Robyn Rennie called Seeing Beyond; another exhibit is a series of old 8mm films showing Orillia as it used to be called Grant’s Legacy: Capturing Orillia’s History on Film, you can see it anytime, but they have a movie night every Thursday until April 18 – complete with wine, beer and popcorn; also see, Sybil, a collection of fibre art by artists associated with the celebrated Sybil Rampen; OMAH also has a new chapter of the  online history of Orillia bands about the Orillia Kiltie Band; The April History Speaker’s Night is with Frances Helyar on the 17th, she’ll be talking about the art of C.W. Jefferys and his relationship to Simcoe County, it’s online and you can register here.… St. Paul’s Centre has the Call to Action 83 Art Project in the Ogimaa Miskwaaki Gallery… Hibernation Arts has the ODAC collection featured all month and Gayle Schofield has a timely collection to see… Peter Street Fine Arts has a collection of work by Sue Emily featured in April.

  • Mariposa Arts Theater opens their next play, I’ll Be Back Before Midnight, Apr. 11 and it runs to Apr. 21. Also at the Opera House this month The Stampeders are in Apr. 24; Able Theatre does Start Apr. 25; Apr. 27 see the World Tour Paddling Film Festival; Lighthouse plays May 2; Amy Sky and Marc Jordan May 3 and Classic Lightfoot Live is in May 4. Get tickets to any of those online.
Anne Walker
  • Anne Walker is having another round of summer concerts at the Coulson Church. The schedule is: Apr. 28 Emily Jean Flack; May 26 Jowi Taylor with Six String Nation; June 23 Tannis Slimmon and Lewis Melville; July 28 Wendell Ferguson; Aug. 25 Anne Walker; and Sept. 29 Blair Packham. You can get tickets online.
  • The Tall Pines Music and Arts Festival in Gravenhurst is happening in July and like last year they have a n online vote to find a band or two to complete their main stage lineup. There are a few bands and musicians here in Orillia entered into the contest. You can vote online for either Alex Kaye Black, Domicile, Pauper’s Grave, Noise Hotel, Pat James and the Whole Truth, and Lyric Dubee.
  • If you are in Toronto next week Al Henry has an exhibit opening Apr. 13 at the Donna Child Fine Art Gallery. you can also view the show online.
  • Canada Day is returning to Couchiching Beach Park and the organizing committee has some room on it, and they are looking for people to volunteer the day of. You can find out more online.
  • The Leacock Medal for Humour’s annual student humourous writing competition submission period closes April 15. Ontario students are eligible to enter and the top prize is $1,500, with two $750 runners up prizes. You can find out details online. Winners get to read their stories at the annual Meet The Authors night June 21. Tickets are now on sale for all Leacock Medal events in June. Terry Fallis is emceeing the Meet the Authors night and Steve Patterson the medal dinner.
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has James Gray playing Apr. 6; Mr. B. and the Band Apr. 12; Sam Johnston and Jeff Davis Apr. 13… Quayle’s Brewery has Giant’s Tomb playing Apr. 6; Lyric Dubee Apr. 7; Dave Beal Apr. 12; Matt Playne Apr. 13 and Jared Stafford Apr. 14… The Hog ‘N Penny has the Kempencelts in to play Apr. 6; a drop in Open Mic happens Sunday afternoons with Sean Patrick, Michael Martyn John MacDonald, Jessica Martin and whoever else shows up; Bobby Dove is in Apr. 12 … Picnic has Meredith Warboys and friends playing Apr. 7… the Sunken Ship has Julio Barrio Salsa Apr. 6.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: The OSS Hawks Jazz Band at the 2024 Sunshine City School Music Festival

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