Mariposa’s Annual ‘An Evening of Blues & Gospel Xl’ Show Feb. 4. 2023

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Orillia, ON – January 4, 2023

Mariposa in Concert’s (MIC) wildly popular ‘An Evening of Blues & Gospel’ Show returns Feb. 4, 2023 with another incredible lineup of all-star vocalists and musicians assembled, arranged and directed by Orillia’s own JUNO award winning producer, Lance Anderson.

“This is our 11th annual Blues and Gospel Show,” MIC Chair Pam Carter said. “It is a sell-out every year and provides a much-needed mid-winter relief for attendees.”

The show will be held at the Orillia Opera House. Tickets are $35 (all fees and taxes included) and are available at the Orillia Opera House box office or online at

Winner and 2020’s nominee for the Maple Blues Piano/Keyboard Player of the Year, Lance Anderson, is musical arranger and director of the show. Bobby Dean Blackburn, one of Canada’s earliest R&B artists will be joined by Matt Weidinger on vocals and multiple instruments, Thomas Nelson on bass and vocals and as in past years, Lance will introduce an artist that is new to the Mariposa audience. This year, that artist is Verese Vassell-Bowen, a spectacular gospel and soul vocalist from Guelph.

Lance Anderson’s musical connections run deep in the industry and he always assembles a stellar group of artists, We sell out this show every year and people are well-advised to pick up their tickets as soon as possible.

Bobby Dean Blackburn

R&B artist Bobby Dean Blackburn gained legendary status as the first black entertainer on Yonge Street in Toronto. Starting in 1959, Blackburn made a name for himself with his band, Bobby Dean and the Gems, playing in the afternoons at the Zanzibar a Go Go on the Yonge Street strip for years. The Zanzibar began as a live music venue, featuring jazz and blues. Later, it became a dance club with go-go dancers. He helped provide opportunities for musicians who followed him.

Known as “Canada’s Fats Domino,” Bobby is a world-class soulful blues man and true Rock and Roller, with over 60 years of experience entertaining audiences around North America.

In his career, Blackburn has shared his stage with many of the legends of the past including Bo Diddley, Buddy Miles, Rick James and Liberty Silver. He also inspired four musician sons: tenor saxophonist Robert; keyboardist Duane; drummer Cory and guitarist Brooke. They perform under the group name, Blackburn.

It took until 2010 for Bobby Dean to record his first album, Don’t Ask … Don’t Tell, at the age of 69.  Now, he says he’s fulfilled because all of his four sons are musicians. “They are fulfilling a dream that I always had.”

Matt Weidinger 

Matt Weidinger has a voice like no other. The 28-year-old Kitchener, ON native is a passionate young songwriter, who is well known for his mature rock/soul vocals and impressive multi-instrumental (keyboards, guitars, mandolin) talents.

His unmistakable earthly tones captivate the hearts of anyone who hears it. He performs like a veteran musician on the piano and organ, and is equally proficient on guitar, bass or mandolin.

Although some consider him a throwback of the ’60s, he still has the capacity to grab the attention of both the old, young and everyone in between. He’s an “old soul” who easily commands the attention of any crowd.  His passion for music and performing is contagious. Starting his music career at the ripe age of 15, Weidinger has had the pleasure of playing a variety of venues around Southwestern Ontario on a weekly basis. He also performs at multiple blues festivals around the province and across Canada.

Verese Vassell-Bowen

Verese Vassell-Bowen is a singer, songwriter and recording artist based in the City of Guelph. She graced the Canadian gospel scene in 2016 with her debut album Forever Praise.   This project blends a combination of traditional, contemporary, neo soul, and even spoken word into a soul-stirring musical work. Her new single I Am Enough takes you on a journey from pain to praise. 

Verese served as the Artistic Director for Guelph Black Heritage Society’s Juneteenth Celebration 2021. She has gracefully shared the stage with some of southern Ontario’s finest musicians and singers.  Verese also served as executive producer and visionary for the annual Joy in the City, A Christmas Gospel Celebration and Women in Worship (May 2018). Her music can be found on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and other digital music outlets. 

Thomas Nelson

Thomas Nelson is a Canadian bass player and vocalist. Born in Luverne, Alabama, at the age of two he moved with his family to Niagara Falls, New York during the Great Migration. At five years of age, he began singing and was a featured soloist in school and church.

Influenced by James Brown, Wilson Picket, Sam Cooke and The Beatles, at 16 Thomas formed his first band, Supreme Soul. He carved out a space in the local music scene and became a highly respected vocalist and bassist performing in events and night clubs. He is a 2020 Inductee to the Niagara Falls, NY Music Hall of Fame.

In 1970, Thomas immigrated to Canada and began performing with a variety of bands in the Niagara Falls, Ontario music scene. The late Colleen Petersons’ invitation to be in her backup band led to nine performances in the Spring of 1979 at Massey Hall, one of the nine was as an opener for Gordon Lightfoot. Thomas moved to Toronto and the music scene was very kind. For four years he toured with Mark Haines and The Zippers, and recorded the LP Radio Jungle. Al Jarreau, Keb ‘Mo, Esperanza Spalding, James Jamerson, Larry Graham, Marcus Miller, The Staple Singers, Stevie Wonder and Weather Report are a few influences.

Lance Anderson

JUNO award winning producer Lance Anderson returns once again to reprise his role as musical arranger/director behind Mariposa in Concert’s annual ‘An Evening of Blues and Gospel’ Show.

Anderson, who has been performing for 50 years, was nominated for the Maple Blues Award for Piano/Keyboard Player of the Year, and his new band Matchedash Parish was nominated for two Maple Blues Awards in 2020 for: New Artist/Group of the Year and Record of the Year (Saturday Night).

The Orillia resident has still had a busy season getting back to work after the pandemic. The Last Waltz – A Musical Celebration of The Band; and Everyday People – The Music of Sly and the Family Stone, are two theatre shows that played festivals and concerts this summer. His words and music presentation, TAKE FIVE – Dave Brubeck was a hit at the Orillia Jazz Festival this fall. Add to that an orchestral work that Lance scored of Oscar Peterson’s ‘Canadiana Suite’ that will be performed by the Windsor Symphony, Feb. 11, 12, 2023.

In 2015, Anderson and Kelly Peterson, widow of the late Oscar Peterson, co-produced a three-CD set of Oscar Peterson classics entitled Oscar, with Love. Anderson himself contributed two performances – Sir Lancewell, an original composition Peterson wrote for him, and O.P.s Boogie, which Anderson wrote for Peterson based on some lines from one of the jazz legend’s solos.

Still one of the busiest producers and arrangers in Canada, Anderson looks forward to another year of projects, including a new CD by The Matchedash Parish, his new, large ensemble featuring Matt Weidinger. This group played to rave reviews at the Mariposa Folk Festival, Montreal International Jazz festival, Mont Tremblant International Blues Fest and the Kitchener Blues Festival in 2019. He also has a New Orleans based band called the NOLA Parish

Anderson is currently co-executive producer of the Boquete Jazz and Blues Festival and the Beaches Jazz and Blues Festival both in Panama.

Michael Sloski  – drums

St. Catharines’ based drummer Michael Sloski has performed and recorded with many of Canada’s top musicians and artists including Bruce Cockburn, (Wondering Where the Lions Are) Holly Cole, The Cameo Blues Band, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Manteca, The Domenic Troiano Band, The Dexters, Prairie Oyster, Strangeness Beauty, Danny Brooks, and The Rockin’ Revelators, Bill King’s Saturday Night Fish Fry, and has enhanced the sound on countless pop, rock and blues recordings at North America’s most prestigious studios.

He is a drummer’s drummer and has a legendary groove. Since 2003 and the release of their first CD, Footwork, Michael and Lance have played an organ and drum duo at festivals. The Joint Chiefs of Soul is the name of their next CD to be released in the spring of 2023.

The Mariposa Folk Foundation’s 2022-23 Concert Series is sponsored by Alleycats Music & Art, Apple Annie’s Café, Bell Chiropractic and Soft Tissue Centre, Cathy Cleary Design, Dapper Depot, Dentistry on West, Downtown Computers, Hog ‘n Penny Pub, IG Wealth Management; Lavender Hills Farm, Tim Lauer, Sales Representative, Royal LePage Real Quest Realty and Wildflower Farm.