Looking for a reason to celebrate? One thing worth celebrating is the thriving music scene to be found in Smiths Falls and Lanark County.
This area has always been home to many talented musicians, from the old time fiddlers of the 1940s and 50s, to the country singers whose original songs made the Canadian charts in the 1960s and 70s. Today Lanark County is still home to some award-winning folk and roots artists, and maintains a strong base of blues and country fans.
To help mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, Smiths Falls took advantage of the availability of some special federal funding to help host an ambitious series of musical performances throughout the year.
Given the success of On the Roll in enhancing the entertainment value of events organized by community partners, and in helping to attract visitors to town, the Smiths Falls Economic Development and Tourism department plans to continue the series in 2018.
“Building on the success of the On the Roll Music Series last year, the town and our community partners are looking forward to bringing live music to the stage at a variety of venues in 2018,” said Ingrid Bron, Economic Development and Tourism Coordinator. “We’re looking forward to working with our community partners again to enhance their events with live music.”
The town has also issued a call for musicians wishing to be added to a roster of acts for upcoming events. Anyone interested is asked to email information to email@example.com.
The town has set aside some funding to help with both musical entertainment and promotion for certain key events in 2018. Heritage House Museum will be hosting a number of events, including the popular St. Patrick’s Day Irish Kitchen Party, featuring Celtic music by Seventh Town.
The town also has ambitious plans in 2018 for Canada Day, which will be marked by a full four days of music. Centennial Park will be the setting for this year’s Canada Day festivities. Arrangements have also been confirmed for a special performance at the Station Theatre June 29 by blues and soul artist Angelique Francis. Other events the town looks forward to supporting include Rideau Paddlefest June 2, the sixth annual Healthy Living Festival June 6, the Spirit of the Drum Powwow June 9 and 10, the Rideau Rendezvous Motorcycle Rally July 7, and the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario’s Trainfest, coming up Aug. 25-26. A new event in 2018 is an Art Fair, to be held at the Smiths Falls Memorial Community Centre Aug. 18.
Music in the Courtyard, an afternoon of entertainment at Davidson’s Courtyard, will be returning in 2018 as part of Doors Open activities in Smiths Falls, Sept. 15.
The On the Roll Music Series in 2017 featured more than 35 separate events, beginning in February and culminating with a final Year-End Jamboree Dec. 29 headlined by Juno Award-winning performers Jenny Whiteley and Joey Wright.
More than 160 individual musicians participated in about 55 separate performances throughout the year. A number of performances featured Irish and Celtic music in a tribute to Smiths Falls’ history as a community settled and built by immigrants from Ireland. The series also showcased the talents of classical, blues, folk and rock musicians, both local and from outside the area.
Along with the involvement of some well-established local favourites like Eddy and the Stingrays, Poetic Justice and the Doherty Brothers, the series also drew on the talents of some musicians from other parts of Canada, including award-winning Maritime songwriter Jared Lutes. Trenton-based duo Moon Sugar, who perform a mixture of original songs and well-known covers, lent their talents to a summertime musical afternoon at Davidson’s Courtyard.
Smiths Falls’ Irish heritage was celebrated at a number of events, including the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario’s Emerald Gala and two events hosted by Heritage House Museum. A delegation of visitors from Ireland came to Smiths Falls in June, and were treated to a special dinner in their honour at the Smiths Falls Golf & Country Club, with Ireland’s ambassador to Canada in attendance.
Canada Day 2017, with the support of the On the Roll Series, saw a solid six hours of entertainment featuring veteran blues-rock trio River City Junction, the Steel City Rovers, Ottawa’s “Blues Lady” Maria Hawkins, Aboriginal artist Andy Mason, and the local Canada 150 Youth Choir.
Another highlight of the year, and one of the best-attended Smiths Falls events of 2017 was the Spirit of the Drum Powwow, which is returning in 2018.
Canada 150 celebrations in Smiths Falls finished on a high note at the Year-End Jamboree hosted by Royal Canadian Legion Branch 95 on Dec. 29. In addition to music by headliners Jenny Whiteley and Joey Wright, the audience was treated to a dazzling array of talent including up and coming local country singer Amanda Jordan, and music by Bruce Enloe, Tom Watson, and Andy Mason.
This article was first published in the April 2018 issue of Hometown News. For more articles from our April 2018 issue, pick up a print copy at a local retailer (find a list of locations here) or read our digital version.