Concert celebrating Gordon Lightfoot set for Saturday in Orillia

Organizers say the concert is sold out at the 677-seat venue

By David Friend

Fans of Gordon Lightfoot will gather tonight in his hometown for a concert honouring the late folk singer-songwriter.

In what was initially planned months ago as a tribute to a living legend, “Early Morning Rain: The Legend of Gordon Lightfoot” now serves as a celebration of a life well lived, after Lightfoot died Monday at age 84.

The two-hour show is being performed at the Orillia Opera House by Leisa Way & the Wayward Wind Band under the direction of Toronto composer Bruce Ley.

The program is described as capturing the spirit of Lightfoot’s live performances, with renditions of “Early Morning Rain,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Carefree Highway,” and many other Lightfoot favourites. The musicians will carry the show along with facts and anecdotes about the singer.

Organizers say the concert is sold out at the 677-seat venue.

The band’s leader Way, who was born in Kitchener, Ont. and grew up in Sudbury, told The Canadian Press she hopes the concert serves as a comfort to people looking to celebrate the joy of Lightfoot’s music.

She says a concert tour was originally planned several years ago with dates in more than 25 Canadian cities before the COVID-19 pandemic postponed those plans. She still plans to take the show on the road.

Many people are expected to gather in Lightfoot’s hometown this weekend to pay homage to his legacy. On Sunday, a public visitation will be held at St. Paul’s United Church from 1 to 8 p.m.

After Lightfoot’s death on Monday, Orillia residents began placing flowers at a bronze statue of the singer in a local city park. The city lowered its flags to half-mast and books of condolences were available at the opera house and Orillia City Centre.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2023.

Banner image via The Canadian Press