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All that jazz in Orillia

By John Swartz

The Orillia Jazz Festival started Wednesday night with Rik Emmett at the Orillia Opera House. (New seats -- woohoo!) Over the next four days, there's still plenty of music to enjoy.

Thursday night, Turbo Street Funk is back and it's not even July; they were here a couple of years ago serenading Gordon Lightfoot at the Mariposa Folk Festival. The Geneva Event Centre is the venue. The Old Town Hall Players provide the comic relief -- improv -- for the festival at the Geneva Friday night, and Paul James will be in Saturday to return things to normal with the cousin genre, blues. Get tickets at genevaeventcentre.ticketleap.com.

If you like singers, you won't want to miss Matt Dusk at the opera house Friday night. He has good sensibility for the old standards, particularly some of the least-often performed, and can, in flashes, sound like Sinatra. Get tickets at the box office, 705-326-8011.

Among other singers playing the festival are Linda Carone at Apple Annie's Cafe Friday at noon. Barbara Jordan is at the Hog 'N Penny Friday and Saturday with Danny McErlain on piano. Carol McCartney will be with the Joe Huron Trio at Brewery Bay Food Company Sunday afternoon replicating the music they did a couple of months ago for one of the warm-up concerts. Steph Dunn is at Era 67 Friday night.

For a little sax, piano on the side, Floyd Hall and Amanda McLeod will be a Rustica Pizza Vino Friday and Saturday evenings. He'll team up with Mike Lewis at Carousel Collectables for a noon gig Saturday. Colleen Allen will be with the Joe Huron Trio Friday night at Brewery Bay.

Pianists taking centre stage include the great Will Davis Trio at Mariposa Market Sunday afternoon. Another warm-up concert figure, Adrean Farrugia, is back with the Joe Huron Trio at Brewery Bay Saturday night.

If you like tons of brass, the Brassworks gig at the Geneva Saturday afternoon will work. The Orillia Secondary School jazz band will join them. In the evening, the Orillia Silver Band has a concert at St. Paul's Centre featuring a newly commissioned piece by Toronto composer Ty Watson, A Life Well Lived. Because it's the jazz festival, they thought they'd throw in some music from the play Chicago, and since the Mariposa Arts Theatre is doing that play in November, they thought they'd have some of the cast along to perform. It's a benefit for Hillcrest Lodge, too. Get tickets ($20) at the door.

That's a lot of great music and musicians to hear, and I'm not done. If you miss Lance Anderson's Miles of Blue Sunday afternoon at St. Paul's Centre, well, I have no words I can print here for you. This is going to be outstanding because Anderson has George Koller, one of the best bassists in the country, playing with him. He also has Alexander Brown in to do the parts Miles Davis would have played on Footprints, Kind of Blue and Cool Jazz (as in the concert subtitle, the Music of Miles Davis). I'd go hear it if it was just Anderson, but for many, the trumpet is kind of necessary. The URL is way too long for the ticket link, so go to orilliajazzfestival.com to find it, or get them at Alleycats Music.

I thought it odd Jerry Leger was on the menu for the festival -- he's not exactly known for his jazz -- but after listening to some of his latest stuff, I think you'll be suitably surprised with what he's written and how it fits the festival. He's at Apple Annie's Saturday afternoon.

Last is something special. You might have seen the name Mayfly's Landing in this space before. They are new and played the Mariposa Folk Festival in the summer. The band will be at The Brownstone Saturday night, and I'm telling you now it will be the hottest place with the freshest-sounding blues on Mississaga Street after 10 p.m. Add this one to your itinerary after seeing others in the front half of the night.

Images of fall

Another Images Thanksgiving Studio Tour is done. I did something different this year and only went to two venues, but I still had a great time.

Conversation with Jimi McKee is always fascinating. Friday afternoon at quitting time, he'd sold eight pieces, which is the point of the event -- to sell art. So, good for him. I learned something I didn't know. Years ago, McKee tasked himself with recreating 35 pieces Norman Rockwell originally painted. They are the only ones in existence because those original 35 paintings were destroyed in a fire and McKee did his work from photographs of the pieces. Well, Rockwell saw some of the earlier completions and gave his blessing to McKee to finish the rest. He has two of them and I got the story because I've seen Rockwell originals dozens of them and I thought the two McKee has were originals.

At the Leacock Museum, Murray Van Halem had a few new paintings of Toronto scenes, a different take on the Flatiron Building, and several night scenes of streetcars he did in an impressionist style I liked a lot.

Upstairs, Mike Bailey had the whole floor for his photographs, including one of a Muskoka chair I have also taken shots of. We had a nice conversation about getting prints made in which I found out he has his own printer to make prints up to 40 inches. Everything you saw on display, he printed. That's unusual since most others use a printing service to get their work out of a computer.

Sunday, Travis Shilling, not part of the tour, had a small gathering to show some new and unique pieces he's done. Again, the conversation was enlightening, but then, at Shilling's shows, it always is.

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


Swartz's shorts

  • The Orillia Museum of Art and History's (OMAH) list of nominees for its History Awards is out. On the list are Wally Bremner, Qennefer Browne, the Chippewas of Rama First Nation Powwow, the Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum, Leslie Fournier, Jim Lewis, Craig Mainprize, Alda McMahon, the Orillia Vocal Ensemble, the Rama Historical Society, Randy Richmond, Dennis Rizzo and Ross Greenwood (for Mariposa Exposed), David Town and Bob Willsey. They aren't telling what categories those folks are nominated in; they are for preservation, events, reconstruction, lifetime achievement and for the sesquicentennial. We'll find out how it all goes Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
  • The Teen Town Reunion in August was a fundraiser for the Orillia Youth Centre and, last Friday, organizers turned over a cheque for $3,300.
  • Lee Contemporary Art has a new exhibit of Annie Kmyta Cunnington's work, with some eye-catching pieces. The Carmichael Canadian Landscape Show is on at OMAH. OMAH's history night is Oct. 18 with local students recounting their trip to Vimy Ridge. Art and Home Studio on Peter Street has a new exhibit; and Peter Street Fine Arts is featuring work by Lyndell Oldfield.
  • Coming up: The Brownstone has Slow Leaves (slow to turn, I hope) in Thursday night; Taylor Holden and the Law of Averages is in Friday night; Gunner and Smith are in next Wednesday night. Mariposa Arts Theatre's movie night has Loving Vincent at Galaxy Cinemas Orillia Oct. 18; get tickets at the door (4 and 7 p.m. shows). Liona Boyd, Ted Barris and Steve Burrows are at the Leacock Museum Oct. 14 for Lit on Tour. The annual Coldwater Witches Walk is Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. Steely Dan is still on the road, despite Walter Becker's death last month; they are at Casino Rama Oct. 19. 

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