SURREY — He’s a musical man with a soft spot for Surrey, but Amrit Bains wasn’t always in love with the “sweet” city.
Bains, a career bus driver who moved to Surrey five years ago, was initially reluctant to do so.
“I heard the negative things and I told my wife, ‘Oh, I don’t want to go there,’ and she pressured me to move here, and I kept my wife happy,” Bains admitted. “And I came here and said to her, ‘You are right!’ The people are friendly and they say hello, and I enjoy this place, you know.
“People are very quick to say all kinds of negative things about Surrey, but the fact is people who actually say those bad things, you ask them and they usaully haven’t even been to Surrey.”
The fun-loving, ever-upbeat Bains, a Cedar Hills-area resident, returns to Surrey Arts Centre’s main stage this month to play another concert, this one dubbed “Rock With Me,” on the evening of Saturday, Aug. 12.
For Bains, his show at the Bear Creek Park soft-seater is beginning to feel like a mid-August tradition.
“This is the third year of my full-blast concert (at the arts centre), and it’s an annual event,” he explained. “I perform at a lot of other events, but those aren’t my own show, my concert, which I do once a year only, because it takes a lot of work, a lot of my time.
“The concert, it’s getting better and better,” he continued, “and when that happens it means you’re on the right track. People come from other areas, too – from Abbotsford, New West and Vancouver, and it’s good that people travel to see me perform. I’m very happy that people enjoy it, and they usually have good things to say about Surrey when they come here,” he added with a laugh.
Born in India, Bains settled in Port Alberni and worked at a lumber mill when he first moved to Canada in the early 1980s.
Since then, making music has taken up more and more of his time, to the point where quirky videos for songs such as “Free Like a Junglee” and “Super Sweet City” have been clicked tens of thousands of times on his busy Youtube channel (www.youtube.com/user/TheStormyStormy1).
“My main desire is, if I can share my music with people, then I am happy, because I don’t think my music should be kept to myself only,” Bains said. “I like to write songs and make sure, as much as I can, to share them with people.
“I’m still driving a bus to pay my bills,” he added, “and making music is just for the love of it, honestly. I was on stages as a child performing music, so it’s just in my heart, you know.”
In concert, Bains likes to involve his audience as much as possible.
“I like to make the concerts fun, and I don’t want to have a show where people are listening quietly or experience something with very deep meaning, you know,” he said. “I want them to feel good and laugh, enjoy themselves, and every now and then I tell them about my life, my expereinces. But at every show I do sing some ballad songs, maybe two, something like that – songs that are more serious, loving songs. They can’t all be bumpy dance songs, you have to have ones with sweet melody, too.”
For the show-closer, he prefers to play a particularly energetic song he wrote and recorded.
“‘Free Like a Junglee’ is usually the last one (played), when people really go crazy and want to come up on stage and dance – in a good way, because they let loose,” he said.