In the Dead of Winter: Photo essay

T.Thomason stands a sillouette infront a screen displaying In the Dead of Winter's logo at the Mayflower Curling Club on January 25, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

T.Thomason stands a sillouette infront a screen displaying In the Dead of Winter’s logo at the Mayflower Curling Club on January 25, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

In the Dead of Winter is a unique festival experience that prioritizes songwriters. This doesn’t only manifest in the feel of the festival, but also in the physical presentation of the artists on stage. Some were used to performing alone, while others admitted openly into the microphone that they felt bare onstage without others behind them. This made the shows powerful, as sets were allowed to be vulnerable.

 

This openness created one problem, however: the buzz at the Carlton often overtook the performers. A festival volunteer had to go onstage to urge the audience to cut the chatter midway through the show, which helped, but after ten minutes or so the room volume raised again. The noise interrupted the performer-audience connection. I can’t blame this on the festival, as they seemed as annoyed as I was.

 

When groups did perform, the emphasis on writing and structure was clear in their music. Elements of performance were obviously present, but sharp songwriting took a lead over flashy solos or extravagant stage antics. An example of this was a collaborative set between Kayo and Maje. The two turned their performance into a sort of songwriter circle, speaking to each track in detail before performing, all while maintaining their energy and hooking the crowd.

 

The festival knows itself well and doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It is performer centered and concerns itself with guiding attendees in new musical directions. After experiencing the festival’s personality, I feel that these frozen moments capture In the Dead of Winter in its intimacy.

 

 

 

Russell Louder setting up for a song during their performance at the Mayflower Curling Club on January 26, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Russell Louder setting up for a song during their performance at the Mayflower Curling Club on January 26, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

 

Common Holly hitting a high note during her performance at the Carleton on January 24, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Common Holly hitting a high note during her performance at the Carleton on January 24, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Pansy Boys perform tear dripping duets at the Mayflower on January 25, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Pansy Boys perform tear dripping duets at the Mayflower on January 25, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Aphrose belts out passionately during her performance at the Carleton on January 24, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Aphrose belts out passionately during her performance at the Carleton on January 24, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

T. Thomason kicks his way through a guitar malfunction at the Mayflower on January 24, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

T. Thomason kicks his way through a guitar malfunction at the Mayflower on January 24, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Nicole Ariana walks under the light of her projector at the Mayflower on January 27, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Nicole Ariana walks under the light of her projector at the Mayflower on January 27, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Mo Kenny laughing after joking about a bid war on EBay on stage at the Carleton on January 24, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Mo Kenny laughing after joking about a bid war on EBay on stage at the Carleton on January 24, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Emilee Sorrey looking out into the lights at the Mayflower on January 26, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Emilee Sorrey looking out into the lights at the Mayflower on January 26, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Colin Buchanan of Sorrey focuses on his fretboard at the Mayflower on January 26, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Colin Buchanan of Sorrey focuses on his fretboard at the Mayflower on January 26, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

L Con performing in the audience using nothing but a portable speaker and three LEDs at the Mayflower on January 26, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

L Con performing in the audience using nothing but a portable speaker and three LEDs at the Mayflower on January 26, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Kayo makes some adjustments on a laptop early in his set with Maje at the Mayflower on January 27, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Kayo makes some adjustments on a laptop early in his set with Maje at the Mayflower on January 27, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Maje laughing as he jokes with Kayo on stage at the Mayflower on January 27, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Maje laughing as he jokes with Kayo on stage at the Mayflower on January 27, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Adam White of Mauno in the zone at the Mayflower on January 26, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Adam White of Mauno in the zone at the Mayflower on January 26, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Eliza Niemi of Mauno appearing ethereal in front of stage lights at the Mayflower on January 26, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Eliza Niemi of Mauno appearing ethereal in front of stage lights at the Mayflower on January 26, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Nick Everett of Mauno faces the audience as smoke swirls through stage lights at the Mayflower on January 26, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)

Nick Everett of Mauno faces the audience as smoke swirls through stage lights at the Mayflower on January 26, 2019. (Photo: Alec Martin)