An Introduction to "A Winter's Tune"
(from the 2006 10th Anniversary Program)
Most likely you are now sitting in the beautiful Wealthy Theatre and watching friends and interesting strangers fill the warm red seats. Or maybe you're knocking around the lobby in line for concessions, perhaps browsing CDs. Not wanting to look lost or idle, you're reading this program. Well then, how about a story?
Once upon a time Johnny* set out to be a rockstar. He traveled the heartland with a crack band inspiring dances, romances and other tale-worthy adventures. He made a record (yes, a record, I have one) and it looked like "it" was going to happen.
It did; but maybe not quite the way he thought.
Johnny realized that being a musician is hard work; and like all hard-working folk, musicians need time to relax, refocus and renew. And that's where Lamb's Retreat for Songwriters came from.
And that's where we came in.
The Retreat's Saturday Night Concert is the inspiration for A Winter's Tune (named after a song named after a Shakespeare play). Staff members on tall stools share the stage, each plays one song then "passes the guitar" to the next trying to "better" the last. The banter, humor, and ability to "go deep" with just an instrument, a voice, and a song produces a far richer experience than simple entertainment.
Lauran and I, burned out from our own travels down the road of rock returned revitalized. We accepted an invitation from the Vineyard East Cafe to put on a "Christmas Song Showcase." Artists were called and Chuck Petersen brought in GRTV's new, mobile to capture it, and a tradition began.
From the very start we threw down a "challenge:" write a new "winter, holiday or seasonal" song and interpret a song "traditionally played" during the winter holidays (an evergreen classic to something more modern).
Over the years AWT has been presented at different venues including One Trick Pony, UICA, Ladies Literary Club, and Schuler Books and Music eventually landing at its current home; the just-formal-enough Wealthy Theatre. The setting heightens the sense that something special is being created. And you're part of it.
Generating community, even if temporal, between local and regional songwriters, and between performers and listeners is an unstated goal of the event. Part of developing community is to add to the community trust; AWT and the performers have raised funds for organizations that work for the common good such as ACCESS (All-County Churches Emergency Support System), Heartside Ministry, and Hospice of Michigan. This year we return to our roots by donating the proceeds to WYCE.
THANKS to the many wonderful songwriters that have performed for AWT; not all could fit today, but you can find CD's by many of them in a special display at Schuler Books and Music.
And because for years listeners have requested recordings from AWT, select tracks will be available as purchasable downloads at Octoberday.com in the weeks following the concert. Sign up on the mailing list for details (or visit Octoberday.com over the next couple weeks).
We hope this year’s performance of favorite and requested songs from the past 10 years of AWT proves to be joyful, reflective and heartening (like the season itself). We hope the songs shared engage mind and spirit, hold up a hopeful mirror, generate a laugh and perhaps touch your heart.
And we hope to hear you singing.
- J. Oscar & Lauran Bittinger
*"Johnny" is the affectionate name for a real person. The song he wrote for AWT 2005, "Watch Out For Deer" is featured on his latest CD "Feel That" – Visit him at www.JDLamb.com
FOR MORE INFO including a growing archive of pictures, stories, lyrics, links and soon, purchasable downloads visit AWintersTune.com