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COLUMN: 'Stellar' Roots North Festival hit all the right notes

Orillia has 'bounced back from those strange pandemic years — stronger, more vibrant, and with even more events.' says arts and entertainment columnist
Taylor Perkins, Bleeker lead singer, captivated the Roots North Music Festival audience last Friday night at St. Paul's Centre.

First off, I just want to tip my hat to Mariposa Arts Theatre (MAT) for its sold-out final weekend of I’ll Be Back Before Midnight. MAT is strong and keeps getting stronger, you heard it here first.

Next up for this tireless group of talented volunteers? The Second Annual Queer Cabaret, held at the MAT warehouse on Brammer Drive on June 21 and 22. This is a 19-plus event, and tickets are not on sale yet…but auditions are happening May 10 and 11. For lots more information on what those look like, click here. Keep your ears to the ground regarding when tickets go on sale, this event sold out in record time last year.

MAT is also hosting auditions for its November musical, Gypsy, on May 24-26. Check that same page for more information on that, and how to be included.

Also want to give a huge shout-out to the tireless and wonderful volunteers at Roots North for a stellar bunch of shows last weekend. The tenth anniversary will be very hard to beat, but I have no doubt they will do it! Standout shows for me were Begonia and Bleeker, both on the mainstage. I heard many of the satellite shows around the region were fantastic as well. Kudos to Roots North!

This last weekend of April is proving to be just as busy as the rest of the month has been, and May is looking just as full. Orillia has definitely bounced back from those strange pandemic years — stronger, more vibrant, and with even more events in arts and culture than it had before.

Orillia Museum of Art and History is hosting the 27th Annual International Women’s Day Art Show, April 27 to July 30 in the Mulcahy Family Gallery. The opening reception is this Saturday (April 27) from 1 to 3 p.m. Come out and see incredible artwork from dozens of talented women. The theme this year is “Beyond the Surface.”

The Orillia Opera House (OOH) is busy this week starting off with a Stampeders concert tonight at 7:30 p.m. Continuing the “Wow are they still performing” theme, Lighthouse is playing at the OOH on May 2 at 7:30 p.m. On April 25, Able Theatre presents its spring show, Start! You can get tickets to all of these shows at

This Friday, the OOH is host to the Paddling Film Festival World Tour, presented in Orillia for the first time. This is a fundraising event, and partial proceeds will go towards the rebirth of a local, Orillia Paddling Club ... we used to have a canoe club here over a hundred years ago!

From the press release: “The Paddling Film Festival showcases some of the best paddling films in the world. This international competition is a year-long tour across the globe and screening to over 30,000 outdoor enthusiasts and their families. The festival recognizes the best paddling films in a series of categories like best whitewater kayaking film, best canoeing film, best fishing film etc. It aims to inspire more people to explore rivers, lakes and oceans, push physical and emotional extremes, embrace the lifestyle and appreciate the heritage of the wild places we paddle.”

Organizer Dave Mitchell is an outdoor enthusiast and the driver behind the rebirth of the paddling club. He would love to see everyone come out and support this great night of film, whether they come themselves, or buy tickets to donate for others. Tickets are $28 and you can get them at

There are a couple more notable OOH shows in the next couple of weeks. Classic Lightfoot Live plays May 4 at 7:30 p.m. and this is a show Lightfoot fans do not want to miss. This fantastic tribute band has been travelling all over Ontario with its Lightfoot show and receiving rave reviews for it. Featuring great musicians including locals Steve Ayers (Lightfoot’s nephew) and keyboardist Lix Anderson, this band is really the premiere Lightfoot tribute artist. Don’t miss this great show! Tickets

And May 5 at 2:30 p.m. our friends at the Orillia Concert Association bring us Ensemble Vivant. This lovely chamber music group brings us classic gems from classical, ragtime, Latin and American songbooks and will be just the thing for a Sunday afternoon. Tickets are $40 and can be found here

Not to be outdone, St. Paul’s Centre is also humming for the next while. The Mariposa Folk Festival Showcase is this Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. Come out and pick your top three artists out of the 10 competing for the chance to play the folk festival this summer. Admission is free!

May 4 at 8 p.m. also at St. Paul’s, enjoy the Excursions Concert with the Orillia Silver Band. This will be a chance to explore the world of music through travel with conductor Neil Barlow at the helm. Tickets at the door or through

Not to be outdone, The Cellar Singers also present its spring concert, H.M.S. Pinafore, on May 4, at 3 p.m., just across the road at St. James’ Anglican Church. This will be a hoot of a rollicking good time, and just the ticket for a hopefully sunny afternoon. Tickets at

Quick notes on more live music? Coulson Concerts presents Emily Jean Flack on Sun. April 28 at 2 p.m., tickets here.

Samantha Windover plays Friday night and Stephen Bernard Saturday, at Couchiching Craft Brewery.

Live at the Loft at Quayle’s Brewery presents Meredith Warboys Thursday, Jakob Pearce Friday, My Missing Piece Saturday, and Chris Staig Sunday afternoon.

There’s a Pure Country 106 Country Video Dance Party this Saturday night at ODAS Park, a fundraiser for the Severn Rodeo. More information and tickets here.

And the Orilla Kiwanis Music Festival continues to this Friday. Come out to St. Paul’s Centre to hear live music from all ages, stages, and instruments. For the full schedule, click here.

And word is out! The Orillia Youth Centre has announced its full lineup of fall fundraising concerts, starting in July with Farmfest and finishing up in November with Danny Michel and Steve Poltz at St. Paul’s Centre. Keep an eye on the Orillia Youth Centre social media for all the updates, but the November concert tickets go on sale Friday and you won’t want to miss out, this show sold out last year in record time. Tickets

More, much more, next week. If you have arts news, send it to [email protected] by Tuesday at noon to be included.


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