WFPK brings Waterfront Wednesdays indoors for winter

The+Wood+Brothers+perform+for+91.9+WFPK%27s+latest+Winter+Wednesday+on+Jan.+22+at+the+Clifton+Center

The Wood Brothers perform for 91.9 WFPK’s latest Winter Wednesday on Jan. 22 at the Clifton Center

Taylor Ferguson

Free, live music by artists featured on a local radio station with refreshments to boot; WFPK offers not only Waterfront Wednesdays in the summer but also Winter Wednesdays for the second year in a row at the Clifton Center.

John Harris, Executive Director of the Clifton Center, said Winter Wednesdays was a result of a brainstorming session between him and WFPK Program Director Stacy Owen.

The Wood Brothers perform for 91.9 WFPK's latest Winter Wednesday on Jan. 22 at the Clifton Center
The Wood Brothers perform for 91.9 WFPK’s latest Winter Wednesday on Jan. 22 at the Clifton Center

“The Clifton Center and WFPK have been good partners for quite a while,” Harris said. “Two years ago, Stacy Owen and I sat down to talk about ways we might collaborate, and the idea of Winter Wednesday came out of it.”

Owen said since WFPK is a non-profit, it’s much easier to partner with another non-profit.

“I wanted to do the winter series in a seated venue,” Owen said. “The Clifton Center is a member supported arts center, much like public radio.”

Presented by 91.9 WFPK and the Clifton Center, Winter Wednesdays is a free to the public, first come first seated event held on the fourth Wednesday of every month. The season began in November and will run till February.

Owen said that WFPK’s non-profit sponsors- Water Development Corporation and Clifton Center- and a month of free radio promotion is what makes all this possible.

“They provide their venues in exchange for a percentage of revenue from the bar and vendors,” Owen said. “WFPK sells up to four sponsorships that help cover the cost of production and staffing and bands with new albums play for free in exchange for the radio promotion they’ll receive.”

Owen believes it’s important for music lovers in the community to have a place to come together.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the best of our local music scene and national artists who are on the rise to get in front of a very active audience. A free show is also a wonderful way to say thank you to our members and listeners.”

Harris agrees that the greatest benefit is to the hundreds of people who’ve had the chance to experience great music for free.

“I can’t speak for WFPK but, for us the reward is that our mission is ‘to serve as a gathering place for art, culture, and ideas’ so these concerts are just another way to help achieve our mission,” Harris said. “Beyond that, we like the fact that the Winter Wednesday concerts bring people to the Clifton Center who may have never been here before. It exposes the Center to those who we might not reach otherwise.”

Brianne Henson, 26, New Albany, attended the latest Winter Wednesday on Jan. 22 and said she had been coming to Waterfront Wednesdays for years but hadn’t learned of Winter Wednesdays until recently.

“I’m just thankful for something to do in this awful cold weather that’s inside,” Henson said. “Now I have something to look forward to once a month again.”

The Clifton Center covers some of their cost by staffing the bar with their own personnel, keeping 100 percent of the revenue from selling drinks.

“It’s a mutually beneficial relationship,” Harris said.

Owen said when selecting bands to play for their Wednesday events she choose bands she feels strongly about and, “wants to champion.”

“Up and comers with new releases as well as core WFPK artists who I think will have great energy in a live setting.”

Harris said the Clifton Center can hold 496 people at capacity and it’s usually completely full on Winter Wednesdays.

“In fact we’re forced to turn quite a few people away.”

Harris believes just having the opportunity to experience free, live music is what’s most important.

“Some people can’t afford concert tickets, so this gives them a chance. And, it’s harder and harder these days to find great music in great theaters, so we like to continue giving people the chance to do that.”

Visit WFPK’s Winter Wednesdays site to get the full season’s schedule.