Muskoka To-DAILY

Elvis, The Beatles, Nylons – lots of great music across Central Ontario Friday, Saturday, Sunday

It’s going to be hot weekend for music in Central Ontario from the 1950s to 2000.

A great Nylons reunion again Friday night and Saturday features a great songs and a great band.

A great Nylons reunion again Friday night and Saturday features a great songs and a great band.

From Collingwood, where the 20th annual Elvis Festival welcomes Priscilla Presley for three days, to the Beatles Festival in Orillia and in Gravenhurst the Nylons (see review below) and Ribfest at the Wharf take centre stage with entertainment.

Elvis Presley’s wife is the star attraction among dozens of Elvis performers at Collingwood, where she presided over a $250-a-plate dinner last night to launch a new photo book about people who wore The King’s iconic sunglasses, with photo by Chris Ameruso, who will also be on hand.

She’s also in the boatbuilding capital on Georgian Bay Saturday to sign autographs and sell the book on the main street amid the downtown concerts and showcase Saturday night at the arena.

Priscilla Presley will be at Collingwood Elvis Festival July 24-26.

Priscilla Presley will be at Collingwood Elvis Festival July 24-26.

Presley opened the ceremonies Friday and is at a ticketed mayor’s reception this afternoon at 5 p.m.

Saturday she will be at the Collingwood Library (Simcoe & St. Marie) signing books at the library from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday and 3-5 p.m.

And all day is the Elvis impersonator competition outdoors behind the main street arena.

And throughout town at restaurants, the legion, halls and pavilions performers are putting on shows for three days that cover his music from his Elvis pelvis days in the 1950s to his leather days in the ’60s and jumpsuit days in the 1970s.

Beatles Festival in Orillia Friday & Saturday

If that’s not enough, and your taste are for the Fab Four, Orillia is the place to be.

They’ve moved their festival up from September to this Friday and Saturday.

Hear the Beatles ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah’ and ‘Strawberry Fields’ by all kinds of artists.

Christopher Ameruso and Priscilla Presley have co-written book based on photos of people wearing Elvis's iconic sunglasses.

Christopher Ameruso and Priscilla Presley have co-written book based on photos of people wearing Elvis’s iconic sunglasses.

The Orillia Beatles Celebration is partnering with The Downtown Orillia Management Board and moving the annual event to the weekend of July 25 & 26 to coincide with the summer sidewalk sale. Now in its eighth year, this festival will focus on the British Invasion.

“You can expect magnificent Beatles tribute bands, as well as other great performances with some Brit-Rock flare,” says Chairman of the Downtown Orillia Management Board, Ralph Cipolla. “The sidewalk sale will have huge summer discounts, British-themed vendors, collectible appraisers, a beer garden and a Main Stage with outstanding headlining acts.”

The Downtown Management Board has transformed their popular Leacock Sidewalk Sale into a Beatles theme, something both organizing committees found complementary and easy to do. “There are two simultaneous events happening”, explained Susan Willsey of the DMB, “Downtown merchants get to have their traditional summer sidewalk sale and the Beatles Committee gets to program their festival to a potentially new audience.” The downtown merchants will be out on the street amongst the Beatles and British themed vendors that will feature everything from food to collectables from Downton Abbey and Coronation Street.

Newly appointed Orillia Beatles Celebration chair Donald Porter is enthusiastic about the move. “We wanted to do something big for the festival this year as we believe it had reached its attendance potential for September. The DMB is very easy to work with and Beatles shouldn’t have too much difficulty attracting their usual crowd plus more. It’s a win-win situation.”

The event is two a full two days and is being dubbed as the “Orillia Beatles Celebration and Street Festival”. Opening at 10 am on Friday July 25, guests and visitors can shop locally, find Beatles and collectable vendors and listen to Beatles tribute artists and performers on a number of stages downtown. Friday night, the Orillia Opera House will host “The McCartney Years”, a professional touring production that recreates the authentic feel of Paul McCartney and Wings’ legendary Wings over America Tour from the 1970’s. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by via

There are also two street dances Friday and Saturday night both of which cost $5.The Casino Rama Cares Main Stage performances include:


The Willwinders – 8pm

Beatlemania Revisited – 10pm


Charlotte and the Dirty Cowboys – 1pm

Griddle Pickers – 2pm

Kayla Elizabeth – 3pm

The Beagles – 4:30pm

The Argues – 6pm

Shimmy Rabbitson – 8pm

The British Invasion – 10pm

Nylons tribute to Brill Building at Op

By Marilyn de Lang

GRAVENHURST — The stage of Gravenhurst’s Opera House rocked as Micah Barnes and his old friends from The Nylons paid homage to the prolific ‘60s era of American pop music. Stand By Me: The Music of the BrillBuilding featured hits from the likes of Carole King, the Drifters, and The Righteous Brothers with tunes such as ‘Save the Last Dance for Me’, ‘On Broadway’, ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’, and ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’.

Manhattan’s Brill Building is probably the only structure bequeathing its name to a distinctive musical genre. The Brill Brothers survived the Depression era by converting their clothing shop into rental space for music publishers, who produced scores for the famous big bands of the time. By the mid-20th century, it had become home to songwriters like Burt Bacharach, Carole King, Johnny Mercer, and Neil Sedaka; and the BrillBuilding acquired its unique place in musical history.

A one-stop shop for talent, an artist could purchase a song, get an arrangement, print some copies, hire musicians, record a demo, and book a promotion deal all in the same building. The airwaves of the time were filled with the music from this creative hive, and its rhythms and melodies still dominate the dance floor.

Micah began singing the legendary BrillBuilding material with The Nylons, and was inspired to create the Stand By Me concert when he was living and composing in New York. Fellow Nylons Billy Newton Davis, Gavin Hope, and Tyrone Gabriel — with Daniel Barnes on the drums, Russ Boswell on bass, and Michael Shand on keyboards — were recruited to join him in this rousing tribute to “the three-minute pop songs that changed the world”.

With the finesse of accomplished a cappella singers, the harmonies were tight and true. The selections ranged from powerfully rendered lyrical ballads to energetic early rhythm-and-blues, made more piquant with upbeat jazz inflections. Micah recounted the story of the Brill era through a reflective musical recitative; and the concert wrapped up with a fabulous performance of the title tune that brought the audience to their feet.

A true gift to the Opera House’s celebration of its 80 years of summer theatre, the music of Manhattan came alive with verve and enthusiasm, evoking an era that earned a permanent place in the pop music scene.

The next highlight at the Gravenhurst Opera House reunites Marilyn Lightstone and Cedric Smith (best known for their roles in The Road to Avonlea series) in the contemporary play, Love Letters, by A.R. Gurney, playin

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