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COLUMN: It's time to get jazzed up, Orillia

Jazz festival taking place this weekend at plenty of local venues, columnist explains
Thompson Egbo-Egbo will perform Oct. 14 during the Orillia Jazz Festival.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, enjoying family, friends, and gorgeous Thanksgiving colours in the area.

This coming weekend is the Orillia Jazz Festival, being produced, for the first time, by Arts Orillia, with support from the Orillia Opera House. It’s wonderful news that Arts Orillia took this festival on. It’s a great initiative but certainly a lot of work for the volunteer committee that previously produced it.

Arts Orillia has organized a fantastic lineup for this three-day festival, with main-stage acts being showcased at the Orillia Opera House, and other musical acts at several Orillia restaurants and cafés.

Friday at 7:30 p.m., the festival kicks off with Trinity — Music, Dance, and You. This is music by the Thompson Egbo-Egbo Trio with choreography by Vicki St. Denys. Enjoy lots of interpretations of traditional and modern pop music by Thompson, with Jeff Halischuk on drums and Randall Hall on bass, along with five dancers to add to the mix.

Saturday night, the jazz fest continues with Copacabana, performed by Brassworks with special guests, youth musicians from Orillia. Brassworks is a team of fantastic local musicians and music teachers who perform as volunteers as a service to music, youth, and the jazz festival. This will be a great evening of big band music, and I bet you will recognize some of the musicians on stage.

Sunday at 2 p.m., the headline acts at the Orillia Opera House finish off with Lance Anderson’s show, Take Five: Dave Brubeck (Words and Music). Lance will be joined by Vern Dorge on alto sax, Terry Clarke on drums, and Neil Swainson on bass. We all know the high calibre of performance this will be.

Tickets for all the headlining acts are available through the Orillia Opera House box office, at 705-326-8011 or

If you want to enjoy the Orillia Jazz Festival in a different way, there are many musicians playing at different food venues during the festival, as well. There is no cover, but, of course, you would be expected to enjoy a meal during the music. Participating restaurants/cafés are Couchiching Craft Brewing Co., Lot 88, PICNIC, Lake Country Grill, and Apple Annie’s Café.

Participating musicians include the Chris Robinson/Will Davis Duo, Barb Jordan and Peter Hill, Joe Adamick — Taggart Trio, and the Phoenix Jazz Quintet.

For the full lineup of restaurant shows, click here. It’s going to be a great weekend of music for all lovers of jazz.

Mariposa Arts Theatre’s (MAT) annual general meeting is coming up on Oct. 18 and you can attend either via Zoom or in person. Click here for all the deets and to get signed up.

Speaking of MAT, do you have your tickets for its production of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show yet? The show is running in November at the Orillia Opera House and there is no doubt it will be a sellout, with a stellar cast and the incredible quality MAT is known for. Get your tickets today here.

Speaking of the Orillia Opera House, there is a lot coming up in the fall lineup, notwithstanding the Orillia Jazz Festival and The Rocky Horror Show. Oct. 21, check out the film premiere of The Ace and the Scout, about Billy Bishop. Oct. 22, it’s We Walk the Line, a tribute to Johnny Cash and June Carter.

Oct. 23 at 2:30 p.m., the Orillia Silver Band presents its fall concert, Folk Festival, exploring folk music from around the world.

Oct. 27, Dwayne Gretzky takes to the stage, performing classic hits you want to hear. And Oct. 28, Second City will make you laugh with the show Best Friggin Time. Proceeds go to the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital Foundation.

The Orillia Concert Band is fundraising for Information Orillia in its fall concert Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Centre. Special guests are the Orillia Big Band (previously the Orillia Little Big Band) and Autumn Debassige, and the music apparently covers Bach to Bacharach. Admission is by donation ($15 suggested).

Don’t forget the next History Speakers series, on the Dieppe Raid, with Jayne Poolton-Turvey, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. To register for this free informative talk, email [email protected].

Also don’t forget the special Orillia Youth Centre concert with SAMMY and Skye Wallace Oct. 28 at Creative Nomad Studios. For tickets, click here.

If you are an artist, the City of Orillia still has a call out for submissions for the Stack Gallery at the Orillia Recreation Centre. More information and an application form are here.

Finally, the Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards nominations are now open, but not for long. Nominate a special person, place or event in arts or heritage before the deadline of Oct. 21. The nomination process is all online and is fairly simple. To see the nomination categories and the nomination portal, click here.

Have a great week, and if you have arts news, send it to [email protected] by Tuesday at noon to be included.


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