Female singer-songwriters and winemakers come together for Wine, Women and Song at the Palace Ballroom on Friday. Performing are Barbara Ireland, Victoria Wimer Contreras, Kim Virant, Sera Cahoone, Star Anna, Betsy Olson, and friends.
That old sensuous trifecta of “Wine, Women and Song” is the theme of an intimate performance happening Friday at Seattle’s Palace Ballroom. The event pairs local songwriters and winemakers — all female — for a few hours of classically-informed indulgence.
“They are three best things there are about living as a human being,” says Barbara Ireland of the night’s theme. “All three of those things trigger really exciting emotions.”
Ireland is one of six singer-songwriters performing, each backed by a rotating cast of musicians. She grew up during the pre-grunge era and played bass in notorious glam-punk band the Fags. Recently she’s been performing with Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard as part of his Hank Choir, singing songs by classic country star Hank Williams. Most of all, she says, she’s drawn to music with “that old-fashioned, smoky, sultry, jazz club, early-1950s feel.”
She won’t divulge her song selections — each singer has chosen four by female artists who’ve influenced them — but says they’ll run the gamut, which is what attendees should expect from each of the evening’s performers.
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There’s no heed to genre tonight, but Ireland admits some of that old glam-punk still lingers: “When I perform I still have the platform boots on.”
According to winemaker Anna Schafer of àMaurice Cellars in Walla Walla, wine and song are analogous in profound ways.
“Like music, wine has multiple notes in it, and you have a harmony of different flavors that come together and create, not necessarily a song, but they synergize and create different rhythms,” she says. “And of course music does the same. All these different types of flavors come together to create one specific thing that expresses itself differently every time you try it. And every time you hear a song, you’re not hearing the same notes.”
Though she’ll be surrounded by six other female winemakers, Schafer says that women are a drastic minority in the industry.
“I want to say there’s no more than 30 women in the state that hold winemaker title out of 650 wineries,” she says. “You’re throwing your body around a lot and trying to use it as a tool and that gives men an advantage from the way they’re built compared to women.”
No matter — as winemaker, she’s “the president of the winery,” she says, playing just about every role possible at the small vineyard. For the WW&S event, she plans to bring a limited-run, 2008 estate viognier wine called Sparrow — “maybe sneak it under the table” — and one of àMaurice’s more popular blends, the Tsutakakawa.
Organizer Debra Heesch, who put together a couple Patsy Cline tributes over the last year, as well as a major benefit called the Hootenany for Haiti at the Showbox in February, was looking for a novel way to present the music of these women, most of whom are friends.
“I like to come up with shows that I put a little more time into, a little more thought,” she says. “We can figure out a way to showcase these women in a different light as opposed to their own music, to get local musicians a new audience.”
While the wine flows freely, chef Tom Douglas will provide appetizers in the style of Julia Childs. Only 200 spots are available, and Heesch believes the event will sell out.
“It’s a great date night,” she says. “A lot of people have been like, ‘I got a baby-sitter. We’re going out that night!’ “