Book the date

John Swartz

I had a nice chat with Lance Anderson earlier this week about the Orillia Spring Blues Festival. The festival starts June 5 and once again the main stage will be in Couchiching Beach Park.

Morgan Davis is returning to Orillia to kick off the festival with a performance at the legion. It's more than just him playing guitar and singing, he's developed a show that educates, too. He'll be working his way through tunes that illustrate the history of the blues. The history lesson starts at 8 p.m.

Friday night, the beer tent opens at 6 p.m. Al Lerman, of Fathead, will be performing solo at 7 p.m. before the showing of a documentary film, Music From the Big House. It's a concert doc about Rita Chiarelli's performance at the Louisiana State Penitentiary near St. Francisville, La. The prison is otherwise known as Angola because that's the name of the post office at the prison.

Lerman has a new disc out, Crowe River Blues, which Lance Anderson played on and Alec Fraser produced.

A Celebrate Ontario grant of $40,000 enabled festival organizers to grab a really big headliner in the form of Booker T. Jones. In the 15 years of the festival there have been some big names (like James Cotton and Downchild) play here, but Booker T. is a game changer.

He's playing at the park Saturday night and Paul James following on the main stage just adds an extra kick. The reason James is following is his music provides more of a party atmosphere for later in the evening - not that folks won't be up and dancing for Booker, but you get the drift.

There will lots of music at downtown venues, too. Check in next week for more of the lineup.

Oh, one more thing. This year, for the first time, there is a gate fee of $10 for the stuff at the park and at the legion; entertainment at downtown venues is still free except for the food and drink you buy. You get a wristband good for the whole weekend. You can get them at the door or in advance at Alleycats Music and Art on Mississaga Street, or at the Opera House box office.


Summer theatre at the Opera House starts next week. Laugh Out Loud is still the production company, and formally partnered with the Opera House this season. That means the production team of Dave Campbell and Tim Webb are back doing what has proved in past seasons to be fantastic work.

Dave is directing the first play, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, a comedy with Peggy Mahon and J.P. Baldwin starring. It's a story about an older, lonely lady and a younger dance instructor. It's always the dance instructors, isn't it?

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks opens at 8 p.m. June 6 with two previews (3 p.m. on June 5 and 2 p.m. on June 6). It runs to June 23.

The plays that follow are Murder in Noirville, Mid-Life: The Crisis Musical, and a sequel to Sexy Laundry called Henry and Alice: Into the Wild.

Get tickets at the box office. There's a deal on: $116 if you buy four tickets.


If you aren't doing anything Saturday at 1:30 p.m., drop by the library - IT'S OPENING!

Actually it's open now, regular hours, and the ribbon cutting is at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

I've been in and I think it looks great. There are new books, DVDs, CDs, and books on CDs. Not all of that is new, but there's enough added to the collection.

The children's area and the teen's area are making me wish I was a kid again.

There are still some things do be done inside. For example, some of the library's art collection may be up in time, but the majority of it won't be going up until the staff figures out where the rest should properly go.

It's been a long wait and I think we've finally got the library we deserve.

There's still a bit to do outdoors and I understand that stuff will be done by summer's end. I noticed Wednesday that the parking pay boxes are installed, but not working. Want to bet they are functioning by Saturday?

This is Orillia's biggest event since the West Orillia Sports Complex opened. Don't miss it.

Rants! Raves! Info? Write John Swartz at watchthisproductions@encode.com.

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Swartz's shorts

- This week is Orillia Youth Symphony Orchestra (OYSO) Week. Thursday, a group of OYSO members will be performing and coaching at Orchard Park Public School. All former members are invited to a reunion party Friday night at the Highwayman Inn. Pat Harber's band is playing and Trevor Fairchild has a display showing the 30-year history of the OYSO. Saturday, their annual concert happens at the Opera House at 7 p.m.

- Anne Walker's concert at the Coulson Church Saturday night was really good, except for the sitting in the ergonomically challenged pews part. It was a packed house and the restoration looked terrific. I like the maturity of her songwriting and she's clearly comfortable on stage. Her children joined her for a couple of tunes, too. Most of the stuff she sang was related to people and events of the Coulson area. I learned a few things about the local history. She's definitely worth seeing when she performs here again.

- Zephyr Gallery has It's a Jungle Out There with art by students Vanessa Villa, William Pedwell, Casey Madeline Elrick, Clairesse Lalonde and Claire Levesque. The art of Evan Cooke and Mike Morris at the Brownstone is still up. Xavier Fernandes and Susan McTavish have work on display at Alleycats Music and Art. The Orillia Museum of Art and History has Waterline Timeline and Industrious Orillia on exhibit.

- The Friday night concert series It's Friday, Thank God starts this week at the AquaTheatre in Couchiching Beach Park. This is gospel event that starts at 7:30 p.m. every week. Gerry Thompson kicks things off Friday. After taking a week off, Kathryn Marquis performs June 15 with Heavy Rain, Sean and Aimee Dayton, Soul Suhvivahz, Awesome Revelation, Jeremy and Connie Sinnott and Dan Bremnes following each week after. Aug. 10, Rob and Jodi Reid play; two weeks later, its Shekinah Praise and the Bob Hawkins Band wraps things up Labour Day weekend.

- Next Friday and Saturday, some local piano students are taking part in a master class relating to performance and composition put on by Conservatory Canada. Part of the activity includes a public rectal at St. David's Anglican Church June 9 at 2:30 p.m.

- Coming up: Era 67 has Bianca Rollo playing Friday on the patio; the Kristy Jenkins Trio is in Saturday. Sixteen Front has Mark Stewart playing Friday; Shawn Mei is in Saturday. McCabe's has a jam tonight with Jamie Drake hosting. Darrin Cranney returns to Orillia to play the Brownstone Saturday night (with Cassie Dasilva opening.) Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School students are doing Romeo and Winnifred, a remake of the classic Shakespeare play of a somewhat similar name; curtain tonight and Friday is 7 p.m. at the school.

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