Three elements of a romantic evening––wine (for those older than 21), comedy and smooth jazz––will converge at Main Street Studios in the show “Romance on Main Street,” which takes place at 7 p.m. on Valentine’s Day.
In association with Canoe Ridge Winery, this show will feature the Whitman College jazz ensemble Downright Citizens at 7 p.m. and Whitman’s comedy improvisation group Varsity Nordic at 9 p.m.
“This show signifies what is hopefully just the beginning of a new relationship between Whitman’s musical, artistic and theatrical communities and the wider artistic community in Walla Walla,” said Canoe Ridge Manager and alumnus John Klein ’10 in an email.
This new relationship has not only provided a new space for students to perform, but it has also brought previously unrecognized Whitman talents into the public eye. Downright Citizens is a jazz quartet comprised of sophomore Cam Hancock on drums, alumnus Jonas Meyers ’13 on piano, junior Max Bates on saxophone and senior Nathan Radakovich on bass. All of these musicians have played together separately but never together in this particular group.
“I’m just glad to get out and play with these guys in town, because they’re really good players,” said Hancock. “It’s cool that they’re adding this element of comedy as something new. I’ve never done anything like that before.”
Hancock has played at five wineries and finds that his experience playing at wineries is often different than playing for students.
“When we do gigs at wineries, we cater a set list to what we’re doing,” he said. “This idea of soft jazz in the background and people milling around with wine glasses has a certain aesthetic.”
Varsity Nordic has performed for Whitman students every other Tuesday during the school year in Kimball Auditorium, but they have never done a show for the residents of Walla Walla.
“We have just never pursued [performing in Walla Walla],” said sophomore Varsity Nordic member Rose Gottlieb. “We’re very casual.”
Gottlieb also recognizes that the clientele at a winery will offer a different reaction than Whitman students.
“They will be older and might not have seen improv before, so they could have a different sense of humor than students,” she said. “Maybe they’ll be less rowdy. But there’s going to be wine, so maybe just as rowdy.”
Varsity Nordic recently placed second at a college improvisation tournament in Seattle and plans to travel to Vancouver over spring break for another college tournament. Their performance at Canoe Ridge Winery will begin at 9 p.m. and last an hour and a half.
Tickets for the event are $10 at the door or online. Students 18 and older are admitted, and wine will be available for purchase for those 21 and older. The event will take place at 207 W. Main Street and doors will open at 7 p.m.