For some, Sarah Conway’s annual “Revel in Your Spirit” show at Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett has become a tradition. She taps into the holiday spirit with carefully selected songs from the traditional holiday canon as well as hidden gems. In its seventh year, “Revel In Your Spirit” is Conway’s manner of celebrating the most wonderful time of the year with her community.
“Music any time of year brings people together,” said Conway, “but there’s so much in the holiday music. Just think about the imagery of the songs — elves and jingle bells and lights and choirs and stars shining down and wise men and gifts.”
She loves the stories, from the lore of the Bible and Jesus’s birth to the tales of Santa Claus coming down the chimney. And whatever the story, it seems, it’s all about joy and wonder.
“That’s why Christmas music is so uplifting,” she said. “You’re starting with wonder and magic. You have these two stories coming together, and there’s so much richness and goodness and wonder in both. There’s so much to sing about.”
There’s such a range of holiday music that is deeply ingrained in our subconscious, and Conway loves to take some familiar favorites and interpret them in her own way. But even more, she loves to find songs that people don’t know about.
“There are so many songs that we are only exposed to because someone else perceived them as hits,” she said. “But something I like doing is finding fabulous songs and introducing them to people.”
Conway constructs the show in a mindful way, with moments of joy followed by moments of reflection, to really take people on a journey. In fact, the structure of her upcoming show at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett was conceived of when she fell in love with one particular song and built the rest of the repertoire around it.
“I really wanted an opportunity to sing this song,” she said. She didn’t want to share the name of the song, encouraging people to come out if they want to hear it. But she did say it was poignant, and it touched her in such a deep way that she knew she had to share it.
“I love singing songs that go deep,” said Conway. “When a certain song touches you, it feels like a special opportunity to sing it. [This song] comes down to the universal love, to connecting us all. It’s when we go to that place for our heart opening, we are all connected.”
Because of Conway’s deep connection to each song, they sort of fell into place before she even realized it.
“The songs came together to create the show on their own,” she said, “as opposed to me deciding to do a show and then finding the songs to sing.”
Conway also brings together some beloved local musicians, whom she’s dubbed “The Playful Souls.” With Dan Koontz on keyboard, Bosco Michne on guitar, James Benard on drums and Klyph Black on bass, Conway has a strong backing. She also always brings in a saxophone for the holiday show, and is thrilled to welcome Jim Campagniola to the fold.
“Our band has played for all 10 years at the “Lighting of the Light” in Montauk, where we have fun rocking all the Christmas hits,” she said. “This will be our seventh “Revel in Your Spirit” Christmas show, where I delve into the more eclectic gems of Christmas songs.”
The evening is always a real community gathering, she says, and in no small part due to the venue.
“I love doing shows at the Talkhouse any time of year,” she said. “It’s the intimacy of the venue. But off-season, we draw the local community together and it’s so much fun to see your friends and feel the community spirit. It’s a warm family feeling, a great community, and a great vibe.”
Sarah Conway and the Playful Souls take the stage at the Talkhouse on Saturday, December 15 at 8pm. $15 cover at the door. For more information, visit stephentalkhouse.com.