Ontario comes alive with Elvis and other musical acts

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Memories of Elvis, the Beatles, Johnny Cash, ‘60s’ jukebox hits along with some fiddling around highlight this summer’s entertainment calendar.

Yes, the hills are alive with the sound of music festivals and plays along with jazz and blues fests in every part of “one-tank trip” country.


Thank you very much

The popularity of Elvis Presley never seems to wane even 35 years after his death.

The Collingwood Elvis Festival has become one of the largest events of its kind paying tribute to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Its 18th edition runs from next Thursday to Sunday (July 26 to 29) with some of the world’s best “tribute artists” performing daily and in competition.

There are also dances, parades, family events, midway rides and games, great food and piles of Elvis memorabilia for sale.

Along with tribute artists, attending will be Jerry Schilling, a confidante of Elvis, and Cynthia Pepper from the Elvis movie "Kissin’ Cousins.”

Also coming are Sam Thompson, Elvis’ bodyguard, and Lowell Hayes, Elvis’ jeweller. www.collingwoodelvisfestival.com; 1-866-444-1162


And now ladies and gentlemen . . .

Theatre impresario David Mirvish presents the North American premiere of the “gritty, powerful rock ‘n’ roll drama” Backbeat: The Birth of the Beatles.

The show at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre runs now through Sept. 2 and tells the real-life story of five teenage lads from Liverpool, England who dream of becoming a successful rock band.

When John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe get a gig in Hamburg, they believe the road to stardom is theirs.

The “intense and compelling drama” is punctuated with all-time rock ‘n’ roll Beatles’ classics including Twist and Shout, Rock ‘n’ Roll Music, Long Tall Sally, Please Mr. Postman and Money.

It also shows Paul and John collaborating on early songs, providing an insight as to how their private lives inspired their compositions. www.mirvish.com; 1-800-461-3333


I hear the train a comin’

Lyrics from Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues will echo down on the farm with lots of toe-tapping, hand-clapping and down-home fun at the Walters Dinner Theatre.

The family homestead of the Walters Family Band in Bright, between Woodstock and Kitchener, welcomes Johnny’s brother Tommy Cash and his band from Sept. 3 to 8.

He will entertain with Johnny’s hits and tell about growing up in Arkansas in the Cash household.

Sold-out performances continue through Aug. 4 with Rita MacNeil while other shows include Michael Twitty, performing music of his late father, Conway, Aug. 27 to Sept. 1, and the season wrap-up with the Walters’ clan, Oct.1 to 6. www.walterstheatre.com; (519) 463-5559


Fools in love

Why Do Fools Fall in Love? is an age-old question pondered along with hits from the ‘60s at Stage West Theatre Restaurant in Mississauga.

The jukebox musical written by Roger Bean of the Marvelous Wonderettes runs through Sept. 5 at the Vegas-style nightclub theatre.

The plot has four “girls” at a bachelorette party discovering “more about each others’ lives than they ever imagined.”

It features good old-time rock ‘n’ roll songs including Baby I’m Yours, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, I Will Follow Him and the title tune, all for a groovy outing with a killer buffet included. www.stagewest.com; 1-800-263-0684


Rhythms, waltzes, jigs and reels

They’ve been “fiddling around” in Shelburne, northwest of Orangeville, for 62 years now.

The Canadian Open Old Time Fiddle Championship is back from Aug. 8 to 12 featuring “top fiddlers in competition for more than $17,000 in prizes,” said publicist Caroline Mach of the Rotary Club of Shelburne.

It includes a concert by the Blazing Fiddles, Cape Ceol fiddle and step dance show, jam sessions, parade, beer garden, Battle of the Bands, pork barbecue, Aerosmith and country superstars tribute bands, open-air market, entertainment and food at the legion, camping and more.

The championship starts with the play downs on Aug. 10 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Centre Dufferin Recreation Complex (Shelburne Arena).

Contest finals are Aug. 11 at 6:30 p.m. and feature the Black Family and a judges’ showcase with Webb Acheson, Karen Reed and Kelli Trottier. www.shelburnefiddlecontest.on.ca; 519-925-8620