By Reenie Marx

On Saturday, November 25, Arbor Gallery Cultural Centre will be presenting a benefit concert at Vankleek Hill Collegiate Institute (VCI) at 7:30 p.m. featuring the well-known singer, songwriter and TV personality, Wayne Rostad. With just over two weeks to go, I decided to call Wayne at his seaside home in Nova Scotia to see how he’s preparing for the big event.

R: First, I’d like to clarify something for all of us….am I correct in saying that it’s been over two years since you last did a concert like this?

Wayne: Yes, that’s true. Other than two small gigs that I did recently in Ontario, I only started singing again about eight months ago.

R: Why is that, Wayne?

Wayne: A few years ago I realized that I’d been working flat-out for the last 27 of the 48 years I’ve been in the entertainment industry, and I was exhausted.  So when I came out east to build my house by the ocean it just felt right to take a break, a kind of sabbatical.  At the time, I thought I might be done making music, and I wasn’t even sure that I’d ever go back to it. I got so caught up in house-building that I didn’t even touch a guitar for over two years. Looking back now I’d say it was like taking a holiday, and I realize it was probably the best thing I could have done because it enabled me to come back re-energized and inspired. There’s song in my heart again.

R: Was there any specific thing that motivated you to start playing again?

Wayne: There were many friends over the years who would ask me how come I wasn’t playing anymore and they often urged me to start again, but some part of me just knew I wasn’t ready yet. Then about a year ago I met a woman who was genuinely interested in hearing me play and it rekindled my musical fire. The moment I put my guitar back in my hands I realized my passion had never really died, I just needed to give myself a true rest and trust that it would come back if and when the time was right.

R: Obviously the time is right and we’re so happy to be the one of the first ones to receive all that new creative energy flowing through you. So how are you feeling about the upcoming concert?

Wayne: I’m truly excited, I find myself thinking about it nearly every day. I’m really looking forward to coming to Vankleek Hill and doing what I love best, sharing the craft that I’ve honed over many decades, telling my stories and singing songs. As many people probably know, I spent years traveling this country, and along the way I met some truly amazing people.  I have so many heartfelt moments I want to share about the people I’ve been privileged to meet.

R:  I’m curious to know Wayne, do you make a kind of plan, or list of songs before a concert?

Wayne: Only loosely. This is not the kind of concert where you come in, take your seat, and passively watch it unfold. My concerts are all about the interaction between myself and the audience. That sense of communion is what I love best, other than singing, and it’s crucial for me. It’s also what makes each concert unique, because the audience I’m performing for actually becomes part of it. So, of course, I’ll have many of the old favorites ready, but some new songs as well and then, well, we’ll  just see how it unfolds.

R: We know that Bobby Lalonde will be setting up the sound system, is there anything you’d like to say about that?

Wayne: Bobby is a consummate professional and that makes a huge difference for both the performer and the audience. Anytime an artist is asked to perform the two most important questions to deal with are the venue and the sound system. Both of these need to be right, to ensure the best experience for both the audience and the musician. I have total confidence in Bobby and his team to provide the perfect balance of sound for the VCI Cafetorium where the concert is taking place.  No matter where people are seated in that room they’ll be able to hear every word and note clearly without having their ears damaged!

R: This concert is being given as a fundraiser for Arbor Gallery Cultural Centre. Why do you feel the Centre is so important to this community?

Wayne: A cultural centre is vital to a small community, perhaps even more than one that’s located in a big city. It becomes a place where younger and older generations can develop and display their various artistic talents. Schools are a great place for regular education, but they  often don’t have time or money to focus on the arts, so that makes places like Arbor Gallery a vital part of the younger generation’s development.  When cultural events, like those sponsored by Arbor Gallery, take place they strengthen the fibre of the community and knit it together.

On a more personal note, for me it’s been a great experience getting to know Vankleek Hill and discovering the many talented artists, of all kinds, who live here. If I can help in some way to keep Arbor Gallery Cultural Centre alive and well, I am happy to do so.

R: Thank you, Wayne for taking the time to give us this interview and I look forward to seeing and hearing you on November 25.

As of this date more than 200 tickets have been sold. There is a seating limit of 400. People often wait to the last minute to purchase tickets, but you are encouraged to buy your tickets now rather than wait til the last minute. Tickets are available at The Review, Scotiabank VKH and Alexandria, Bobby Lalonde Music, Arbor Gallery Cultural Centre and online at waynerostad.eventbrite.ca.  This is going to be a very special concert, an unforgettable two hours.

Please note: Doors open at 6:30 pm and there will be a licensed bar; however, drinks cannot be brought into the concert area.  The show starts at 7:30 p.m., so guests can arrive early and enjoy a little social time with friends. Seating is first come, first served.