During the dark days of winter almost a decade ago, a group of local musicians noticed a lull in the live performance market for emerging acoustic artists in Halifax. Led by Heather Gibson, now of Company House, the first In the Dead of Winter festival was a quaint ode to acoustic music.
As organically as it started, the festival grew annually to include more musicians and additional venues.
Once the festival found its footing, Gibson passed the torch to current festival director and acoustic musician, Don Brownrigg.
“We kept it small for the first three years, only making confident steps when we were sure we could,” Brownrigg tells me.
“Since our board is still involved in the music industry, we can keep an ear to what a musician wants.”
Building slowly and working from their own experience gives Brownrigg and his co-directors an advantage that has led to the expansion of the festival into Wakefield, Que. at the award-winning Black Sheep Inn.
As the festival expands so does its notoriety in the festival circuit adding more impressive names to its line up.
Attracting acts like Martha Wainwright and Shawn Colvin, the four-day festival is breathing life back into winter in Halifax.
“There’s always room to grow and have the big names we’ve scheduled this season,” Brownrigg said. “But it’s really important to have emerging artists who are just getting their start and keep it inviting for them as well.”
Wainwright returns to Halifax and is bringing with her a new voice.
“My styles of writing and singing over the years have come together to create my most recent material which is making my very excited,” says Wainright, who is performing at The Spatz Theatre on Friday at 8 p.m.
“Stylistically, my music is more representative of my taste and now it’s jelling together into its own more defined voice.”