I recently visited The Evergreen State College to meet with the individuals behind the local concert series, Olympia Winter Nights. Upon sitting down with the show's creators, talk does not begin with logistics, planning or any of the other topics one might expect to start off an interview. Instead, we talk about winter.
"The winter is dark, people stay indoors," explains Evergreen student and audio studio intern Scott Tipton. "And we built (Olympia Winter Nights) to coordinate with the winter season."
Tipton says it was important to incorporate the idea of winter into the Olympia Winter Nights (OWN for short) for a couple of reasons. Not only will OWN, a live concert series in the vein of PBS's Austin City Limits, be shot in the winter, but Tipton also believes that the dreary Olympia winters serve as a source of inspiration for area artists. It is this wintery inspiration he hopes to foster, and capture, with OWN.
"You got to have something to do in the winter months," says Tipton. "And we wanted to provide something to do in the winter months."
Tipton and the other co-creators of OWN (Evergreen media interns Matt McMillan, Loie Vaughn and Steven Chen) first discussed collaborating in the fall of 2010. The group wanted to work on a project that would utilize their individual areas of expertise, as well as take full advantage of the recently revamped Center for Creative and Applied Media (CCAM) at Evergreen. Inspired by the television program Austin City Limits and Seattle radio station KEXP's "Live at KEXP," the group dreamed up a live concert series that would feature local artists. After a quick check with Evergreen's electronic media staff to make sure a live television/internet simulcast would be possible, the group started work.
Consisting of one pilot and four episodes, OWN showcases local bands and musicians performing in a CCAM studio located within the Evergreen campus. Each episode features two performers and lasts about one hour. The performers play in front of a small studio audience in a very intimate setting. Video of the four episodes (the pilot was filmed in December) will be broadcast live on the internet and on TCTV Channel 77. Live audio of each episode will also be broadcast on local radio station KAOS 89.3 FM.
Loie Vaughn, a video production intern and co-creator of OWN, sees OWN as a great opportunity for local artists. She says that OWN's setting is perfect for performers who aren't used to large performances, while still allowing the performers the opportunity to share their music with the public. "We wanted a place where people can come and show their music without being intimidated by a large scale venue," Vaughn explains.
Another co-creator and video production intern, Matt McMillan, says that OWN provides interns, ex-interns and staff a chance to tinker with the CCAM media equipment that is relatively new to Evergreen. McMillan also says he is happy to see the interns using the CCAM rooms to their fullest potential.
"Everything is on a professional level," said McMillan "We're taking this space and utilizing it as best we can."
The first of the four episodes is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. Jan. 14. The first show will open with guitarist Patrick Meyer playing an acoustic guitar. The second act will be the Curious Mystery, a band on Olympia's K Records label. There are about 30 open spots in the CCAM studio for spectators to come watch the performance in studio.
All of the creators of OWN are nervous about the first show, but say filming the pilot episode in December helped them work through some kinks. Artists themselves, the four have worked diligently to put forth their best work. And sure, they might be a little nervous, but what talented artist isn't as a debut quickly approaches? Mostly they are confident that those who tune in to watch Olympia Winter Nights will be impressed with what they see.
"It's visually stunning," Tipton says.