We’re home from our annual pilgrimmage to Jonesborough, TN for the National Storytelling Festival.
Bold Whisper’s Jennifer Einolf, DTM and I will be offering The Tell It Well Intensive on Oct. 10 at Meadpwbrook Country Club in Chesterfield.
Remember: You Matter. Your Stories Matter. Tell Them Well!
The Storytellers Channel
What an amazing weekend!
My wife, Marie, and I just returned from the 47th Annual National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN. I am both enervated and energized. As usual we wound up grabbing a hotel room on the way back extending the trip by a day. I just didn’t have the energy to keep driving after having listened to close to 20 hours of stories over three days.
On top of listening to great stories told by great tellers, we chatted with audience members from all over the world including some folks from our hometown, who introduced themselves after noticing Richmond, VA on our name tags.
We ran into Hettie Farley, and Sarah Snyder, members of the Virginia Storytelling Alliance; two others, Sheila Arnold and Lynn Ruehlmann, were telling. We saw Cheryl Mason from Nashville, who we hadn’t seen since attending Donald Davis’ week-long storytelling retreat on Ocracoke in 2016.
We had lunch with National Storytelling Network Board Chair, Bill Wight, and caught up on the exciting developments out in Kansas City.
Steven Saltzberg, a Storytellers Channel teller, told his story of questionable childhood memories that he developed in our Stories Matter! Workshop at the SWAP in the Old Schoolhouse. So, now, he can proudly wear his I Told at The National Storytelling Festival button.
As we drove home, Marie’s and my conversation turned to who were our favorites. It’s always tough, our perennial favorites Bil Lepp, Donald Davis, Andy Offutt Irwin, Minton Sparks, and our own Sheila Arnold were delightful. We would have expected nothing less. Sheila’s Freedom Stories was a presentation, we’ll be privileged to hear multiple times.
Antonio Rocha’s physicality coupled with his energy and enthusiasm stands out as a highlight. Antonio, a native of Brazil, lived in Maine now. If you get a chance to catch him take advantage of the op. His Virtual Reality story is hysterical.
On a more somber note, Laura Simms, Artistic Director of the Hans Christian Anderson Storytelling Series in New York’s Central Park, condensed version of her Unlocking Nine Locks was deeply moving. Dealing with surviving rape, this presentation was obviously not for children. It left her audience with an elevated sense of the courage survivors need to face their trauma.
On a totally different note, Jeff Doyle was one of the new voices showcased during Exchange Place. For a long time to come thinking of his saga of travelling cross country with his grandparents in the Cadillac Starship Enterprise will bring a smile to my face and maybe even an involuntary chuckle.
Music played a vital part in this years festival. Whether it was John Jackson augmenting Minton’s poetic narratives, Rev. Robert B. Jones, Jr.’s Three Chords, Five Notes: The Story of American Music, or Josh Goforth’s Gospel and Folk Songs we tapped our toes, clapped our hands and were transported to places far away inside the vast expanse of our memories and imagination.
But for me the greatest performances of the festival were Donna Washington’s. Suffice it say Ms. Washington was awe inspiring. An army brat, she was raised on military bases around the world, she now lives in North Carolina. She has a passion for folk tales and weaves them into her personal narratives and vice-versa. Her style resonates with me. I grew up with personal stories interwoven with bible stories, folk tales and the occasional down right lie skillfully inserted to shine the light of truth where it may have been obscured.
Let me encourage you to attend next year’s festival. It’s the first full weekend in October in the lovely little town of Jonesborough, TN just about 30 miles south of Bristol off I-26.
Either way, look for ops to hear storytellers wherever you are and most importantly, encourage your family and friends to tell you stories that matter to them and who knows they may even be willing to listen to the stories that matter to you.
As I reread this it sounds exhausting. Ironically, even though I was too tired to drive straight home, I am jazzed, I am pumped up, I am raring to go. Because once again, I’ve seen how story can transport people. How it can melt boundaries. How it can unite!
Don’t forget. You Matter. Your Stories Matter. Tell Them Well and Tell Them Often.
And Remember to Listen.
It’s one of the nicest things we can do for one another.
I Want to Hear from You
Just 51 weeks until next year’s festival. I need to make our hotel reservation now.
Write me and tell me a story that matters to you.
Til next time,