Jazz vocalist Deborah Winters has a long history with Mill Valley’s Throckmorton Theatre, performing there since the theater opened in 2002.
“It’s kind of like a homebase for me,” Winters says of the theater. “(Theatre founder) Lucy (Mercer) is so gracious, she supports the musicians and she takes care of everyone. It’s a beautiful facility for Marin to have, and it’s just an extraordinary room. It has such a warm vibe to it, I just love that theater.”
Of her many shows at Throckmorton Theatre, Winters is best known for her annual “Jazzin’ Up The Holidays” concert with the Peter Welker All Star Band, which she and Welker started a decade ago, and which annually sells out far in advance.
“It was sad to not do it last year, and Peter moved to Arizona, but I’m hoping to still be able to do it again,” Winters says.
Last year, Winters performed the final show at Throckmorton Theatre on March 9, on the eve of Marin County’s pandemic-related shutdown. During the 15 months since that show, Winters says her life was on pause in many ways, even though she still occasionally performed virtually, and taught vocal students over Zoom.
Throckmorton Theatre has also been dark for most of the last year, with exceptions for some limited-capacity children’s and teen theater productions in which all performers and audience members wore face coverings.
This week, Winters will press “Play” on live music again, and Throckmorton Theatre will return to in-person concerts in “The Gathering: A Musical Celebration of Reconnection” on Thursday, July 1. The event features Winters performing uplifting, joyful tunes with pianist Frank Martin, bassist Sascha Jacobsen and percussionist Ian Dogole.
“I’m kind of pinching myself, honestly, because I have a show,” Winters says. “I’m anticipating a lot of emotion; I feel like I’ve been through a lot of waves of emotion this last year. I think it’s going to be quite an extraordinary night, and it’s going to be very special because we have been underground for so long.”
The show will include several original compositions from Dogole, Martin and Jacobsen, and the ensemble will also play songs by an eclectic array of legendary artists including the Beatles, Duke Ellington, Burt Bacharach and many others. The venue will be fully open for a full audience for this first concert in over a year, and the show will also be livestreamed for at-home audiences.
“I’ve been really cautious, so I don’t feel terribly uncomfortable about it,” Winters says of performing for a full audience. “Of course, we’re all vaxxed, and the theatre is asking that if you are not vaccinated, to wear a mask.”
While Winters is unsure if her annual “Jazzin’ Up The Holidays” concert will happen in 2021—especially with Welker now living in Arizona—she is excited to get back on local stages, teach vocal students in-person and work on new recordings.
“Never a dull moment,” she says. “Even in the pandemic.”