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Lavallee unplugged

Aboriginal recording artist opens folk festivalÕs evening concert



Who: Wayne Lavallee

What: 2 nd Annual Pemberton Folk FestivalWhere: Pioneer Park (Pemberton)When: Saturday, June 11, 7 p.m.

Wayne Lavallee isnÕt much of a nightclub act and heÕll be the first one to admit it.

ItÕs not like LavalleeÕs raw, country-tinged classic rock ÕnÕ roll songs wouldnÕt be more than welcome in a joint where people just want to have a couple beers and a round of two step.

ItÕs just that the acclaimed Vancouver-based aboriginal singer/songwriter prefers the theatre. HeÕs a storyteller at heart, taken to engaging his audience with the narrative or the emotion that inspired the lyrics, the melody and the moment."I canÕt really do that in a club," Lavallee says, "really connect with the audience and share with them, speak about my experiences or the songs and where they come from.

"ThatÕs a real storytelling trait. I think people really love hearing about that too," he continues. "When I see a show I want to know more about the artist, rather than them just playing song after song."LavalleeÕs affection for the theatre extends beyond performance compatibility. Music has been his longtime companion, but it was the theatre that saved his soul.

He got his first guitar at the age of five, his Christmas request from a Kamloops community cable television Santa Claus. The music stayed with him through tumultuous teenaged years, bouncing through foster homes. A classic Iron Maiden/Judas Priest-loving, longhaired Zep-head skid rocker, the music was there through the hard years that befell him after dropping out of school at 16 to live on his own.But things turned around after a successful audition for VancouverÕs Spiritsong native theatre company in 1990. At the age of 20 Lavallee discovered not only a love for the stage but the culture he had grown up without. He absorbed his lost heritage like a sponge."I knew I was aboriginal but I didnÕt really understand what that meant to me," Lavallee recalls. "When I started coming to know myself in that way, I started exploring aboriginal sounds and fusing them together. "IÕve been experimenting a lot trying to create a sound that I can really call aboriginal music, instead of just being an aboriginal musician that just plays blues or rock ÕnÕ roll," he adds. "I just wanted to make sure it really related to the aboriginal experience whether lyrically or through the music or the vocals."Inspired by artists such as Buffy Saint-Marie, Kashtin and Robbie Robertson, LavalleeÕs combination of classic American John Cougar Mellencamp-style radio rock laced with traditional aboriginal vocal arrangements and narrative lyrics has won the artist accolades from both the aboriginal and non-aboriginal music communities.

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