As the last notes of Twinkle echo through The Company House on Gottingen St., the crowd is momentarily stunned silent.
And then applause erupts.
Emily Shute, the pianist for the evening, smiles shyly and rises from her keyboard to exit the stage.
Wednesday’s show, a tribute performance of the Tori Amos album, Boys for Pele — which will turn 20 on Jan. 22 — is the opening for the annual In the Dead of Winter festival.
The festival, now in its twelfth year, is a non-profit, three-day acoustic music festival held in Halifax in the last week of January before heading to Wakefield, Que., for the second week of February.
Dana Beeler, an organizer for the festival, says the purpose of the festival is to help both established and upcoming artists, locally and across the nation, connect with each other.
The festival is also designed “to give an opportunity for new artists to begin playing gigs around Halifax,” says Beeler.
First taking up residence at the Khyber Club in 2005, the festival now calls The Company House (lovingly dubbed the CoHo) its headquarters.
A Sorta Fairytale
Tara Thorne, a local musician and journalist, was the impetus behind Wednesday’s tribute.
Hailing from Lantz, N.S., Thorne says Amos’s music made an impact when she was in her early teens.
“In 1997, I heard (Boys for Pele)…I just found (Tori Amos) really smart and really weird… In my little sheltered, rural life I had never come across anyone like that and it changed the course of my music education,” says Thorne.
When the time came to tackle Boys for Pele, Thorne decided to approach Heather Gibson, founder of In the Dead of Winter, about making the tribute part of the festival.
“(I) loved the idea (of the Amos show) because it highlights an amazing songwriter, an amazing album and incorporated several terrific performers from our community in our show,” says Gibson.
The festival officially began last night.
Each night, three shows will be held simultaneously at a triad of venues on Gottingen St: the CoHo, Bus Stop Theatre and AlterEgos Cafe.
Saturday, the CoHo will host an open mic performance and brunch followed by a workshop.
“Life on the Stage/Life on the Road: A Women in the Music Industry Session” is the next installment in a series of workshops put on by the CoHo specifically aimed to address the concerns of female performers.
For tickets and information, visit the IDOW website.