Bobby Curtola has been at this for a long time: almost six decades of performing. He started when he was 18. He’s now in his early 70s. He has been through, seen and heard it all. He’s also performed, I am sure, when he’s been tired, injured or ill. I’m sure there were people who had a hard time going to the stage on a Friday night a few weeks ago having heard about the shootings and violence in Paris. Imagine, having to go out there, and smile for the people, after having learned that?
But no one can prepare you for losing your life partner, and in such a sudden and tragic way.
Yesterday a car crash took the life of Karyn Rochford, Curtola’s wife. She was alone in a car driving in less-than-optimum conditions in Nova Scotia. The roads were not the best. It was a head-on. There were injuries sustained by others, but they will recover. Rochford was the lone fatality.
With this happening just a week before Christmas, Curtola could be forgiven for taking a time out to grieve. I know how he feels. I lost my first wife to a car accident in 1986. It took me two months to get back on the air. Curtola will be back on stage in four days, at a 2pm matinee that’s long been scheduled at Showplace.
It speaks to his professionalism, his strength, his courage and his faith. I spoke with him at length several weeks ago and I can speak to the fact he has all those attributes in spades. And one more – a sense of true blessing. He feels genuinely blessed to have the opportunity, even after all these years, to trod the boards and sing the good old songs that people remember.
I dare say he regards his fans as his family. And so, on Saturday (as of Wednesday afternoon the show is still on) at 2pm, he will bravely and courageously take to the Showplace stage. In memory of Karyn. I’m sure she would have wanted him to do the show anyway. It will be hard – to smile, to sing the happy songs when your heart is breaking and raw. The pain, probably invisible to us, will most assuredly be consuming his every fibre.
But sometimes, getting back to work – getting right back on the horse – can be helpful. And rather than retreat to solitude to grieve, he needs us right now. To share this with his family – his fans.
Let’s fill that place on Saturday, for him -and in Karyn Rochford’s honour. Regardless of your particular taste in music, take a few hours out of your day and show a really good guy some love and support.
He has dispensed love and heart in performance for decades. On Saturday, in Peterborough at Showplace, it’s time to give back. Give A Little Love, as one of his many hits might suggest.
He’ll be playing with a very heavy heart. Perhaps we can help him with the heavy lifting – just a little.