The end of the year is approaching, and it really is starting to feel like winter here in Central Oregon. However, winter is a season of complex emotions—and it can mean different things for different people. Everyone is in different places this time of year, which is something important to consider and be empathetic towards. But finding warmth in winter is possible—and that's exactly what Merideth Kaye Clark, Mont Chris Hubbard and Brandon Woolley aim to do with their special concert series, "Winter Song." No two shows of "Winter Song" are the same, and that's because those in the audience will help influence the material. Some lucky volunteers might even get to perform on stage.
Learn more about the inspiration behind "Winter Song" and how it works in our Q&A with Merideth Kaye Clark below, as the group readies for two nights at the Tower Theatre Dec. 28 and 29.
Source Weekly: How long have you been doing "Winter Song" and what sparked the idea for this show?
Meredith Kaye Clark: We created Winter Song in 2017 for Portland Center Stage. It ran there for the holidays for two seasons! We took a hiatus the last couple years—and we're so happy to be back this year!
Winter Song was originally created as a pairing with a reading of Truman Capote's classic short story, "A Christmas Memory." We were mesmerized and inspired by his storytelling and started our creation by writing our own memories of winter. What good times did we remember? What makes this time of year so unique? What is difficult about the season? We then made a song list of our favorite songs from the season. Of course, there are holiday favorites, but also music for sitting by the fire, coziness, nostalgia, humor. We started shaping the show using our stories and song ideas and then we realized that what was missing was the communal sharing of the stories. We had at our fingertips a whole audience, full of their own experiences—why not use those, too?
SW: Can you explain how the audience will help influence the material in the show?
MKC: Our show starts with a gathering. During the pre-show, we invite the audience to join us onstage. There will be music, a bar for winter beverages and the cast is there to meet. We have three questions we ask to cultivate stories from the audience: 1. Where do you escape to during wintertime and why? 2. Can you share a time when a family or holiday tradition didn't go as planned? 3. What are your favorite or least favorite things about winter? We then take the answers we get from the audience that night and we anonymously weave them into our show, connecting the songs. Our show is different every single time, depending on what the audience brings with them!
SW: The end of the year can mean a lot of different things for people, whether those feelings are good, bad or even both. How do you and the band navigate through that as performers?
MKC: It is a complex time of year, that's for sure. We make a solid point to make sure we acknowledge, through music and our stories, that complexity. It can be a sad, lonely, contemplative time. We will go there in "Winter Song." We will also laugh at ourselves with you, tell funny stories, personal stories, sing silly music, dance to holiday classics and sing together. There truly is something for everyone, no matter how you feel about winter.
SW: You guys will actually be doing two nights here at the Tower Theatre. Are you excited to close out the year here in Bend?
MKC: We are thrilled to be coming to Bend! The Tower is such a beautiful and classy place to see music, film and theater. We are ready to soak up a little sunshine, maybe see some snow, and take in the city for a couple days. It's also a treat to do repeat performances. People will see it the first night and recommend folks come the second! The week in between Christmas and New Year's can be a bit of a lull, and if you aren't sure what to do at night, treat yourselves and guests to a lovely andfun show at the Tower.
Tue. Dec. 28, Wed. Dec. 29. Doors 7pm, show 7:30pm.
835 NW Wall St., Bend