This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

The Arts Orillia Gathering Festival of First Nations Stories is happening at the Rama Community Hall May 31 and June 1.

Friday evening’s event was to have featured music producer and DJ Les Boulanger, but he has cancelled at the last minute because of an emergency. Fortunately for the festival organizers there were enough minutes they found a replacement in Wolf Saga.

Wolf Saga

He is a Native musician from London, Ontario. His music has been classified as electro-pop, which means he’s a one man band creating his music with a guitar, synthesizers and computers.  His music is influenced by David Bowie.

Saturday, at the John Snake Memorial Community Grounds (on Rama Road, north of the community hall), starts at 5:20 a.m. with a Sunrise Circle and then returns to the community hall for a great list of authors and artists telling their stories. But first, breakfast is being served from 7:30 a.m. to 9.

Sherry Lawson and Chief Lady Bird will start the readings at 9. Sherry of course is well-known, an author of three great, and sometimes hilarious, books. She’s working on her 4th book. Chief Lady Bird is a recognized and acclaimed visual artist who has a strong interest in the environment.

Noted photographer and documentarian, Keesic Douglas, has had his work shown internationally and is concerned about many of the same things as everyone else, but from an Indigenous perspective. He will speak about the Binoojiinyag gaa-bi-giiwejig-Children who came home project, which is people telling their stories about being taken from their communities to go to residential schools.

Next, after a lunch break, Christa Big Canoe & Julie Williams will tell stories about Indigenous governance. At 2 p.m. Armand Garnet, returns to the festival. He is the editor of the Oxford Anthology of Indigenous Literature, twice shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award, and a film maker.

Last, at 3:45 Alicia Elliott who a National Magazine Award and was named to the Best American and Best Canadian short stories lists, along with Leacock Medal for Humour award winner Drew Hayden Taylor will speak.

The event is free to attend. You can RSVP online.

Gord’s Send Off
Gordon Lightfoot at the 2015 Mariposa Folk Festival

Last week’s tribute to Gordon Lightfoot, which happened at Massey Hall was recorded by the CBC.

The musicians participating included the Lightfoot Band, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, Blue Rodeo, Allison Russell, Aysanabee, Burton Cummings, Caroline Wiles & Bob Doidge, Meredith Moon, Sylvia Tyson, The Good Brothers, Tom Cochrane, William Prince and many others.

It will be broadcast July 1 on CBC Gem series Live At Massey Hall (sign up) on Canada Day, on CBC Music from 4 to 6 p.m. and on Radio One from noon to 2 p.m.

Youth Centre Concerts

The Orillia Youth Centre has produced concerts in the fall for a number of years. In fact the first one post pandemic in the area was theirs, held outdoors at the Barrie Drive-in with Hawksley Workman headlining.

The last weekend of September concerts held at Fern Resort have been very successful and raised a lot of money for youth center programs. A couple years ago they expanded with concerts on other dates and producing concerts in other communities.

This year they went crazy with 9 concerts scheduled. Leading off the pack is Farm Fest, which happens in Sebright, July 1. The acts are the Lonesome Ace String Band with other to be announced.  

They are doing a whole weekend at Creative Nomad Studios starting September 20 with the Griddle Pickers, Andrew Alli and Josh Small, and Sam Johnston (Sammy). The afternoon on September 21 is with and with afternoon and evening concerts on September  21 is with Sammy,  Andrew Alli and Josh Small,  and Bella. In the Evening The Ronnie Douglas Blues Band headlines with Andrew Alli and Josh Small. September 22 Sammy and Bella perform.

The big one is happening September 28 at St. Paul’s Centre with Matchedash Parish debuting new music. Opening is Roger Harvey. The other big one happens the next day at the youth centre with Skye Wallace.

We all have to wait until November for a fantastic evening as Danny Michel and Steve Poltz return (concert was sold out last November.

You can get tickets for any of those online.

Port Side

The chamber of commerce is gearing up for a summer of fun at the Port of Orillia and Centennial Park. Their first event is the renamed Sunshine Festival June 7 to 9. The music they have lined up for each day will be provided by Dav Dickenson and Farrucas – both of which played past summer festivals at the Port.

The chamber is also having live music every Saturday night this summer. Jakob Pearce is playing June 15. They have DJ Santa doing the dockside music for Christmas in June on the 22nd, mainly because some of the boaters have live music happening and it’s likely they don’t want a real battle of the bands happening. The Offcuts are playing June 29.

July? Well, that’s maybe up to you. The chamber is taking applications and you can find them online.

Coldwater Studio Tour

The Coldwater Studio Tour happens June 22 and 23. They have retrenched the venues somewhat to locations in Coldwater (the mill, the community center, the legion, etc) and located several artists at each, which saves driving through the countryside to individual studios.  There are 7 venues in total.

They have 38 artists lined up to show their recent works.  They also have a draw which you can enter online at the link above. Aside from things to hang on a wall, you can also see some sculptures, jewellery, pottery, woodworking and even guitars.

The Shorts

  • Sunday June 2 St. James’ Anglican Church has an organ recital happening at 3 p.m. It’s sponsored by the Simcoe Muskoka chapter of the Royal Canadian College of Organists. The recital is given by Kathy Kemerer and her repertoire includes works by Bach, Franck, Mendelssohn, Hayden and others. The program was developed for the 200th anniversary of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Butler, Pennsyvania, where she is the choir director and occasionally the organist.  This is also the 75th anniversary of the installation of St. James’ Casavant organ.
Art by Brigitte Granton at Cloud Gallery
  • Last Saturday’s My Happy Place art show at Cloud Gallery was successful on two counts. One, the gallery was packed for most of the time I was there and about 20 of the 27 artists participating in the group show were on hand. Two, they sold 9 paintings, 7 of them before the show officially opened.

  • Anne Walker has Tannis Slimmon and Lewis Melville in for the next of the summer concerts at the Coulson Church on June The rest of the schedule is: July 28 Wendell Ferguson; Aug. 25 Anne Walker; and Sept. 29 Blair Packham. You can get tickets online.
  • St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church is celebrating their 173rd anniversary May 31 and June 1 with a number of events including and art exhibit of works by John R. Newton.
  • Mariposa Arts Theater has their 2nd annual Queer Cabaret happening June 21 and 22 at their rehearsal hall on Brammer Drive. Tickets are not available yet, but will be online here.
  • The Opera House has the Laugh For Lake Simcoe fundraiser with Ron Josol, Fiona O’Brien, and Jeff McEnery June 22. Get tickets  online.

  • Canada Day is returning to Couchiching Beach Park and the organizing committee has some room on it, and they are looking for sponsors and people to volunteer the day of. You can find out more online. Also not being in Couch while construction happened, they lost their regular midway – but, they have juts found a replacement in a tough market where several companies closed because of the pandemic. Wow, brand new website since I last visited two weeks ago. Email to have your band play the Aqua Theater
  • The Orillia Museum of Art and History has the 27th annual International Women’s Day Art Show in the main gallery; you can also see an exhibit of work from an art program for kids called Regent Park Public School Grade 6/7 Garden Design Program; OMAH also hs Backra Bluid an exhibit of works by photographer Stacey Tyrell; the June  19 History Speaker’s Night is with Anna Marino of the Leacock Museum speaking about A Leacock Love Story; 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 new art by Al Manseau and the ODAC artists wall has changed…  Peter Street Fine Arts has a collection of work by Gina McHugh featured in May. ODAC artists have a new show up in the Green Room at the Opera House called Spring Awakening.
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has the Half-O-Ween Drag Show May 31; June 1 Dav Dickenson is in… Quayle’s Brewery has Kat Chabot playing May 31; Bella Francis June 1 and Patrick Hunter June 2… The Hog ‘N Penny has Alex Rabbitson in May 31 for a sing-a-long set at 9 p.m.; Open Mic Sunday afternoons with Sean Patrick, Michael Martyn John MacDonald, Jessica Martin and whoever else shows up…  Lake Country Grill has Jaclyn Kenyon playing May 29… Picnic has Amber May in June 2… Ronnie Douglas is at Alleycats Music May 26 at 1 p.m. … Fionn MacCool’s has an open Mic hosted by Jamie Drake Wednesday evenings… Even Steven is at Blue Moon Junction June 1.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Drew Hayden Taylor, Sherry Lawson and Keesic Douglas will be at this weekend’s Gathering Festival.

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