The Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center will reopen on Saturday, Feb. 17, and 2019 Grammy nominee Victor Wainwright and his band will be the first performance in the venue since 2022.
The PAC's $1.7 million renovation, completed by Ormond Beach company Bomar Construction, Inc., was funded in part by Volusia County ECHO dollars. The renovated 1982 building now has a new lobby, a donor wall, improvements to the exterior façade, a new art installation and new seating in the theater, thanks to a donation by Paul Holub, a local developer.
For Wainwright, it's an honor to be the first performance at the PAC.
"I'm very humbled to be asked to do that and I'm honored and I'm excited — all three," Wainwright said.
Wainwright, a seven time Blues Music Award winner, is no stranger to the greater Daytona Beach area. A graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, he lived in Daytona Beach for about five years. He's performed at various local venues, including The Bank and Blues, 31 Supper Club, the Ocean Center and the News-Journal Center. Back when the Daytona Blues Fest was held annually, he and his band would perform there too.
That's why he is looking forward to performing at the PAC.
"Having a venue that's capable of supporting an act like myself, who are playing large venues, is really special and very exciting," Wainwright said. "I'm super excited to come down and play to and show this band off to a whole bunch of people that may have not had the opportunity to see them before."
His band is not your average blues group, he said. When he put together Victor Wainwright and The Train, he wanted to put together a group that as fun to listen to, with a sound inspired by BB King, Ray Charles and Jerry Lee Lewis.
His greatest musical influence was his grandfather. His musical journey began at the piano bench beside him.
A former air traffic controller, Wainwright lived in Memphis for about 18 years before moving back to his hometown of Savannah, Georgia, a year and a half ago.
Having a performing arts center is extremely important in communities, Wainwright said. Music groups like his — where people play instruments live — is meant to be heard and enjoyed in person, he added. During the recent pandemic, more people became aware of how precious live music is.
"Because it is an art," Wainwright said. "It's a form of expression that really does move people's emotions and that's the whole point. We want people to come in and smile. I'll crack jokes and we want them to laugh and I'll play something slow and soulful and maybe even sad — maybe we get some tears, and that's all good because people need to let those emotions out."
He cheers to live music at every show he does.
"My whole point is if we're having fun, then the crowd is having fun," Wainwright said. "And if the music is fun, then everyone's going to leave feeling good and having had a good time."