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'A lot of fun': Roots North Music Festival takes over Orillia

'It's opening up the doors and bringing people to town. That's the most important thing,' says local musician

The Roots North Music Festival has taken over Orillia for the weekend.

Musicians are performing in more than 20 bars, restaurants and cafés that have transformed into music venues for the 10th edition of the festival.

On Friday afternoon, Steve Porter took to the stage at Alleycats Music & Art. It was his first time performing at Roots North.

"I like to be involved with music and I love playing music," he said. "I like having the chance to represent the town because I really love it."

Porter, a folk, country, light rock, blues, and reggae artist, moved to Orillia about a year ago from the Newmarket area.

"This gets me more known," he said. "It gives me the chance to get my name out there."

He says the atmosphere in downtown Orillia this weekend is "really great."

"People are playing in all sorts of venues. It's opening up the doors and bringing people to town. That's the most important thing," he said.

Alleycats owner Mike Rothwell says the festival is a celebration of "great-quality music."

"It's a lot of fun," he said. "There's a good community spirit."

He says the festival happens at the perfect time of year for downtown businesses.

"The springtime festival of Roots North brings some attention to the downtown and Orillia in the shoulder season," he said. "It's great for everyone who is involved with it."

The Mitch Beube Band performed jazz at The Sunken Ship Tropical Bar and Tiki Lounge on Friday evening. The band consists of Beube and Jason Crawford from Muskoka.

"We started together 24 years ago," Beube explained. "We have never played this festival before, but it's been really great."

The band frequently performs in the Orillia area and recently put on a show at Apple Annie's Café.

"We like that all the restaurants do really well during this weekend," Beube said. "I'm glad we can play for an audience that enjoys jazz."

He says The Sunken Ship was an ideal venue for his band.

"We do some Latin songs," he said. "That really fits with the tropical theme."

He credits the festival for providing smaller bands with a "huge" amount of exposure.

"Before we even played a note of music here, the restaurant filled up," he said. "I think people are really keen on coming to Orillia to hear a variety of different artists." 

Tammy Grant, owner of The Sunken Ship, is happy to partner with the festival for the second year in a row.

"We've really delved into live music over the past two years," she said. "I think this festival helps us get feedback on all the acts and it brings a lot of people to the city."

Grant hopes the festival will bring new patrons to her restaurant this weekend.

"The promotion that the festival does is amazing," she said. "I find people walk around with the maps they hand out and stop at all the businesses along the way. It's really great."

More information on the festival can be found here.


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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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