Music will fill the downtown air during the annual Orillia Jazz Festival, Oct. 11 to 15, as local and world-class jazz performers take various stages big and small.

“We’re different from other festivals,” notes Susan Willsey, who has been associated with the festival since joining the organizing committee four years ago.

“We gather up venues and cultural institutions in the community that are already kind of happy to do this kind of thing, and do it naturally, organically.”

She says that the 27th annual festival is “a little different,” because “it’s spread out in the community in smaller venues, so you get a different experience and with jazz.”

Matt Dusk and his band are a headline act, who will perform at the Orillia Opera House, October 13. The Opera House is an old historical performance venue that looks like a castle, according to Willsey, and seats 700 people, while the Geneva Event Centre seats 200.

St. Paul’s Centre United Church has also rebranded themselves as a performance venue who “still do their church work, but they have a converted their sanctuary into this beautiful auditorium.”

The Museum of Art and History will also put on a “very flashy and interactive event with jazz foundations,” she explains.

Local restaurants are also presenting acts at no cost. “The nice thing about it is you don’t have to have a hundred bucks to spend on a weekend ticket – anybody can purchase a date on any level,” says Willsey.

They have matinees on Saturday afternoon that can be enjoyed with the purchase of a coffee.

The ticketed concerts will have a silent auction to assist with fundraising for this “great event” that relies on the support of the community.

“There’s lots of local representation but it’s world class,” Willsey says. “We’re so lucky that the jazz world has excellent talent in Toronto that’s willing to come up north to perform.”

Casino Rama and Bayshore broadcasting have been loyal supporters of the not for profit event for years. Downtown Orillia has also been supporting them as a sponsor and board member as most of the venues are downtown venues.

The City of Orillia also provides a grant along with several smaller private donations.

To view the full line up of performers and participating venues:

Photo: Lily Frost performing at Apple Annies Café 2016

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