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COLUMN: Roots North taking over city this weekend

Festival going all out for 10th anniversary, columnist explains
Begonia is shown at the Mariposa Folk Festival in 2022.

April showers bring May flowers. Keep that in mind as you negotiate the rest of this now soggy week.

If you were planning on going to the Mariposa Arts Theatre play, I’ll Be Back Before Midnight, you are too late. Week 2, the final week of the run at the Orillia Opera House, is sold out. Don’t miss Gypsy, a musical, coming in November.

This weekend is the Roots North Music Festival in Orillia. Incredibly, there are still some weekend passes available for this wonderful festival, celebrating its 10th anniversary. Weekend passes are $65 and get you into both nights, five acts, of main-stage festival awesomeness. And, they can be shared. If you can’t go Saturday night, just pass your pass (see what I did there?) to your buddy and they can go in your place.

For its 10th anniversary, Roots North has pulled out all the stops in all of its programming. In addition to the five main-stage acts (Begonia, Bleeker, The Redhill Valleys, Spencer Burton, and Julian Taylor), Roots North presents many other festival acts, mostly for free, at venues around our area.

The fun gets started this year on Wednesday night, with Andrew Walker at 5 p.m. at Lake Country Grill, and the second iteration of Writers in the Round with songwriters Michael Martyn, B Knox, Mitch Szitas and Corey Taylor at 7:30 p.m. at PICNIC. You can grab tickets for the PICNIC show here.

Thursday, Chris Lemay is playing at FARE restaurant at 5:30 p.m., so make a dinner reservation and come enjoy.

Friday, St. Paul’s Centre main-stage doors open at 6 p.m. and you can enjoy a beverage from Quayle’s Brewery and browse the large and enticing arts market located downstairs at St. Paul’s Centre, before enjoying The Redhill Valleys, followed by Bleeker. The music gets started there at 7:30 p.m.

Also playing Friday — no festival pass needed — a myriad of musicians including an open mic at Apple Annie’s Café at noon, Steve Porter at 3:30 p.m. at Alleycats Music and Art, Sidney Riley at 5 p.m. at Quayle’s, Mitch Buebe at 6 p.m. at The Sunken Ship Tropical Bar and Tiki Lounge, Ronnie Douglas at 8:30 p.m. at Couchiching Craft Brewing Co., DJ Set in Stone at 9 p.m. at Lone Wolf Café, and Kevin Foster at 10 p.m. at Kenzington Burger Bar.

Saturday, the fun continues all day, with Record Store Day at Alleycats, Bryan Sutton in the morning at the Orillia Farmers’ Market, Sully Burrows at 10 a.m. at Mark IV Brothers Coffee Roasters, Jack & Dan at 11 a.m. at Apple Annie’s Café, Boomer Babies at 11:30 a.m. at a secret location in downtown Orillia, Samantha Windover at 1 p.m. at Quayle’s Brewery, Sully Burrows at 1 p.m. at Hibernation Arts, Sean Patrick Jam at 1 p.m. at The Hog N’ Penny, Sammy at 3 p.m. at Blossom Plants & Goods, Rebekah Hawker at 5 p.m. at Quayle’s Brewery, and Geoff Booth and the Joy Collective at 5 p.m. at The Sunken Ship Tropical Bar and Tiki Lounge.

The main stage continues with the art market, snacks, and beverages at 6 p.m. at St. Paul’s Centre, with Spencer Burton, Julian Taylor and, finally, Begonia. Weekend passes are required.

The rest of Saturday night? There’s a Youth Open Mic Night at 6 p.m. at the Orillia Youth Centre, Bella plays at 6.30 p.m. at Rustica Pizza Vino, Sammy and the Band at 8 p.m. at Brewery Bay Food Co., karaoke jam at 8 p.m. at Lake Country Grill, Cam Galloway at 8:30 p.m. at Couchiching Craft Brewing Co., Fiddling Jay Edmunds at 9 p.m. at PICNIC, and Michael Constantini at 10 p.m. at Kenzington Burger Bar.

Sunday, the festival wraps up with The Wanted at 10:30 a.m. at The Common Stove (reservations highly recommended —, Alex Rabbitson at 1 p.m. at Alleycats, Genevieve Cyr at 1 p.m. at Quayle’s Brewery and, finally, Richard Benson at 3 p.m. at PICNIC.

Phew. It is going to be a wonderful weekend of music to celebrate the 10th anniversary of this little festival that could, started and run entirely by incredible volunteers in this incredible city of ours. I urge you to get out to as much music as you possibly can, and buy a festival wristband to keep the music coming. More information is at

If opera is more your thing, this Saturday at 12:55 p.m., come enjoy Live from the Met at Galaxy Cinemas in Orillia, with La Rondine, by Puccini. This is a romance with incredible music and, of course, a Metropolitan Opera star-studded cast. Also comes with secret backstage tours and interviews, so come check it out.

Coming up after this music-filled weekend? More music. The Stampeders are coming to the Orillia Opera House on April 24 at 7:30 p.m. Get tickets

The Mariposa Folk Festival Showcase for 10 emerging artists/bands is coming to St. Paul’s Centre on April 27 from 1 to 5 p.m. Come enjoy this free show as the artists vie for the chance to play at Mariposa 2024; only three will be selected.

Also that Saturday, from 1 to 3 p.m., is the opening of the next shows at the Orillia Museum of Art and History, including the Women’s Art Show. More on that next weekend.

This Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., meet artist Lisa Litowitz at Cloud Gallery in Orillia.

St. Paul’s Centre presents Missa Gaia, Earth Mass, this Sunday at 3 p.m. to celebrate Earth Day. Join a bunch of fabulous musicians including Blair Bailey on this special offering. Admission is by freewill donation.

And, finally, if you are an artist, the new Orillia Art Cub is hosting a meeting May 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Orillia Public Library Community Room. This will be a planning meeting for the group. If you want to grow as an artist, build a supportive arts community, or grow your arts business, come out and get involved.

Have a wonderful although wet weekend in Orillia, and if you have arts news, send it to [email protected] by Tuesday at noon to be included.


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