RIMERSBURG – Radio has been connecting people for more than a hundred years, but it was actual boxes of vintage radio equipment that recently spurred a friendship that not only connected Rimersburg with New York City, but that will also bring a Broadway performer to the area for a free concert this weekend.

It all started a few months ago when Tim Yeany, Rimersburg’s mayor and owner of the Rimersburg Mercantile antique shop along Main Street, got a call about purchasing a large collection of vintage radio and recording equipment in the Pittsburgh area.

“There was just tons of vintage equipment,” Yeany said, noting the previous owner operated a pirate radio station and collected items for years.

Over the course of weeks, Yeany said he brought the collection back to Rimersburg and started selling pieces online on eBay.

One potential buyer reached out about the items, and the two connected via phone calls.

“Wow, that voice — there was just something about his voice,” Yeany said of the buyer, who told him that he owned a recording studio in New York City and that he used vintage analog equipment, such as old reel-to-reel tapes.

“It has a different sound, a better sound,” Yeany said of the non-digital format.

The New York man purchased a number of items, and he and Yeany continued to talk, with each one telling the other about their lives and line of work.

“I found him and his business extremely interesting,” Yeany said, noting that the man asked for photos of Yeany’s store so he could see what else he had for sale.

Through their conversations and new friendship, Yeany said he learned that the man was Joshua Rouah, who began a career singing and performing as a child and continued into adulthood, with roles on Broadway in the musicals “Grease” and “Wicked,” as well as a traveling tour of the classic “South Pacific.”

“He’s extremely talented,” Yeany said, adding that Rouah, now in his mid-30s, also plays several instruments and went to college for music and theater. “He sent me music. I was blown away.”

Rouah offered to record a song for Yeany, who said he would love that, but would like to be in the studio when he recorded it.

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And so, earlier this month, Yeany and his partner, Dan Burkett, traveled to New York where they spent a couple of nights nearby Rouah’s studio in Brooklyn.

“He built it all himself,” Yeany said of the studio, named Kizmit. “The vintage equipment is out of this world.”

Over the weekend visit, Rouah and his girlfriend took Yeany and Burkett around the city, touring various sites and enjoying the local restaurants.

Yeany said that Rouah’s family hails from Egypt and Canada, and his girlfriend is from China, so the couple were very intrigued about the rural small town of Rimersburg that Yeany calls home.

The New York visit led to an invitation for Rouah and his girlfriend to come to Clarion County, to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner with Yeany and Burkett.

“He said, ‘I want to do a show for you,’” Yeany explained. After telling him there were no theaters available in Rimersburg, Yeany said he began thinking about the possibilities.

He reached out to the folks at the Jerusalem United Church of Christ near his shop, and made arrangements for Rouah to perform a concert in the church on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 27, at 7 p.m.

“He’ll be performing classics, Broadway and Christmas music,” Yeany said of the free show.

Yeany said that while some might find it odd that two strangers could connect over some old radio equipment, it’s not unusual for him to develop friendships in his line of work.

“Through my life, I’ve met lots of people like this, through deals happening,” he said, recounting a transaction involving an old juke box that he sold some years ago to a man in Nashville. A friendship ensued, and Yeany found himself driving the juke box to Nashville where he enjoyed seeing the city and visiting the Grand Old Opry.

This time it was New York City, and a free concert in Rimersburg by a Broadway performer.

“It’s strange how things happen,” Yeany said.

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