By the end of Upper Canada Playhouse’s exuberant, foot-tapping tribute to the music of rock ‘n’ roll, the audience was on its feet, cheering, singing along, demanding more.
Memories of Rock & Roll, the Chris McHarge and Colin Stewart show currently running at Upper Canada Playhouse, is that kind of show. It gets your blood rushing and your hands and feet moving.
The show is built around the life and times of the legendary “Moondog”, the on air name of Alan Freed, a Cleveland/New York radio personality who first coined the phrase, rock ‘n’ roll. Freed almost single-handedly launched the mainstream careers of black artists like Little Richard and Chuck Berry, and white artists like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Derek Marshall assumes the role of Freed, charming and enlightening the audience. In the course of the show, Marshall/Freed takes the audience from the disc jockey’s early years at WJW in Cleveland, playing controversial new beat records to a burgeoning youth audience, to Freed’s phenomenal success in the Big Apple. He “never played a record on air that I didn’t love myself.” What mattered to him, always, was the music. Was it good? Did it have the rhythm that “got to the kids?” Freed shrugged off the hate mail and threats as he mixed “black and white” music on air, and on the concert stage. The music, the show makes clear, was everything.
And it’s the music in this McHarge/Stewart production that wows the audience.
The back up, on-stage band made up of Brian Asselin, Robin Pitre, Mike Ray, Don Reid and Colin Stewart himself (on bass), is incredible. The singers they pay tribute to would be honoured that such stand out artists are “playing their music.”
What can one say about Aaron Solomon, who carries all the vocals in the show on his own shoulders?
What a voice. What a showman. Is there anything that man can’t sing?
When Solomon sings, you’d swear that it was Johnny Cash standing up there, or Buddy Holly, or Richie Valens, or even the King himself. Solomon’s voice is a phenomenon, with a range you have to hear to believe. His energy appears boundless. It’s little wonder that the audience was on its feet cheering at the end of Memories of Rock & Roll.
If you don’t already have tickets to Upper Canada Playhouse’s production of Memories of Rock & Roll, the show is sold out. However there is a waiting list: contact the Playhouse at 613-543-3713 to check.
Upper Canada Playhouse has another great show opening on November 27: the world premiere of Lights, Camera…Christmas! a holiday family production by renowned author/actor/director, Jesse Collins.
Heart-warming, funny, full of outstanding music and dance, this show might just remind everyone (as it does for tv host Gordie Roberts, played by the terrific Derek Marshall) that there just might be more to the Christmas season than “making a buck.”
Tickets for Lights, Camera…Christmas! will go quickly. Contact the Playhouse for information about this next production coming in November.
In the meantime, as Memories of Rock & Roll continues its run at UCP, a final word from the late Alan “Moondog” Freed. “Let’s face it – rock ‘n’ roll is bigger than all of us.”
It’s taken model railroader, Sheldon Oglestone, close to 10 years to bring his beloved Ontario North to Morrisburg, and he now wants to share it with the public.
Oglestone has re-constructed the place of his childhood and early years in Northeastern Ontario in his basement using his love of trains and model railroading as a base. The extensive layout features Oglestone’s home community of Temagami (60 miles north of North Bay) and the Ontario Northland train system which connects communities from North Bay to Moosonee to James Bay.
A locomotive engineer, Oglestone was employed by Ontario Northland before he began a 14 year career in the Canadian Military.
He never lost his love for trains nor the area he grew up in, and so, 25 years ago, he turned his memories towards model railroading.
After retiring from the military, he and his wife Florence moved to Morrisburg (Florence has roots here), from Osgoode, where he left behind a model railroad layout “that was pretty much wall to wall in an 18 by 18 foot room.”
A year after he settled into his Morrisburg home, a new layout was started, and now he says, it is “99 per cent finished.”
For that reason, he has decided to open it as “The Ontario Northland Museum” to the public, by appointment only, starting this Saturday, January 14, from 2-4 p.m. Although there will be no admission charge, donations will be accepted and these donations will be given to the Dundas County Food Bank.
Visitors to the Museum can expect to immediately feel Oglestone’s love for the railroad, model railroading and his home community.
“I still go up once a year and run the real ones (trains). They still let me play with them. I do a little fishing. I speak Cree, and I have a lot of friends up there.”
Oglestone also has a lot of friends in the Morrisburg area, and many of them are fellow model railroaders. Shortly after he arrived in town, he was tracked down by fellow model railroader Steve Skerry and together they formed the Seaway Model Railroaders club which meets regularly at the McIntosh Inn and now has 28 members.
Many of the members enjoy visits to Oglestone’s basement where, “I invite the guys over, and we play with it. It’s sort of a game.”
Oglestone has 18 trains, (not all run at the same time) which have all the bells and whistles…sounds and lights.
He has passenger and freight trains running through Temagami, Moosonee, Cobalt and Cochrane and, from memory and extensive research, he has constructed a number of buildings located in each of these communities in the years from 1955 to 1975.
The first step was to lay out the track, followed by the landscaping which includes hills, ponds and bush lots. There are both lumber and mining camps and farms and farmlands.
He even constructed a Tim Hortons at Cochrane, which, he points out, is the birthplace of Tim Horton. Ironically, Cochrane didn’t get “a Tim Hortons until 1995.”
There is an actual model of the Latchford Bridge over the Montreal River and the now closed iron ore “Sherman Mine’ at Temagami. Also featured is the famous “old Cochrane Train Station.”
In nearby Temagami is located the ‘actual’ Busy Bee Restaurant and Grant’s Home Hardware.
From his imagination, Oglestone has added some fun setups, such as a car crash, where, “the guy wasn’t hurt bad enough, so I broke his leg.”
In another spot, bears are climbing over a vehicle stopped along a roadway and nearby, police have a motorist stopped and the SWAT team is out in full force.
Reimer Express Line and Coca Cola trucks are all making their deliveries.
“It’s mostly been from memories, all compressed of course. I’ve actually had people come up from New York to see it. A lady came with her son from New Hampshire and he didn’t want to leave. Everyone who sees it is thrilled.”
“It’s a hobby. It’s a relaxing thing to putter about and now that it’s 99 per cent finished I want to share it.”
Those wishing to visit the Ontario Northland Museum located in Sheldon’s home at 28 Blake Crescent in Morrisburg, are invited to call 613-543-2445 or e-mail email@example.com. It will be open, by appointment only, on Saturday afternoons.
Following three generous donations to Meal on Wheels (headquartered in Morrisburg) on Wednesday, October 31, chair Glenn Beckstead said, “We are so appreciative of the support that has come from the community since our call for help went out.” The call for help involved the need for funding to purchase pricey insulated trays/tray liners and carry bags used in the delivery of meals. Meals on Wheels needed to replace some trays and increase the quantity to accommodates the program expansion in Iroquois which means meals are now available five days per week, up from the previous three days. Last Wednesday, Meals on Wheels received a $500 donation from Morrisburg Branch 48 of the Royal Canadian Legion (which tops up a previous $500 donation), a $1,000 donation from the Morrisburg and District Lions Club and a $400 donation from Robert Jordan Construction. Two weeks ago, the Iroquois/Matilda Lions dropped off a cheque for $1,000. Beckstead, said that in addition to the special projects (tray purchases and Iroquois expansion) the generous donations will help with the everyday expenses of purchasing containers and utensils needed by the program. “The donations will also help us to maintain the high quality of our meals which we are so proud of,” said Beckstead. In the photo top, Meals on Wheels vice chair Joyce Millard (centre left) and cook Ruth Doesburg accept the Legion donation from past president Maurice Praine (left) and Legion Poppy Chair Tom Fisher. Bottom, Millard is joined by cook Brenda Bradley to accept the donations from Morrisburg and District Lion Susan Hubert and Robert Jordan.