Watch for the BIG guitar -
when you see it you know you are in Tennessee. And on your way to stories in Jonesborough for the National Storytelling Festival. Jim and i were there last week-end and it was wonderful.
The first time Jim and I attended we came as strangers, checking things out, now we come as pilgrims, to see friends, hear stories and feel at home in the charming town of Jonesborough.
Its sacred ground when there are tents and thousands of people enraptured by story. Try it and you will see.
West Virginia storyteller Susannah Holstein aka Granny Sue and her husband Larry were two we had really looked forward to seeing.
And a special treat was a chance to catch up Donald and Letty Nance. They live in Wytheville, VA now - but Donald and I first met at Piedmont Junior High School in Charlotte, NC and graduated in the same class from the fabled Central High School. Talk about feeling "at home" with someone. We recently discovered that we have been here at the same time for several years and never crossed paths. This year we made it happen.
A festival is a lot like life - great stuff and some disappointments. I guess keeps everything on a human plane.
Great "NEW" faces - I had heard that a storyteller, Motoko, was wonderful and not to miss her. She IS - and I am only sorry I did not see more of her work. Choices, choices, choices. Other new stand-outs for me, Delores Hydock, David Gonzalez, and Gene Tagaban.
Jim and I work as tent monitors so our assignments dictate some of our choices. I was grateful to be assigned to the College Street tent when Barbara McBride Smith performed her one hour story, "Hello Ricky Nelson, Good-bye Heart". (Listen to Ricky)
She brought you back to many memories of the 50s and 60s with freshness and laughter and then broke your heart with the ending. But, good storyteller that she is, she took care of her audience by bringing several musicians to the stage at the close and ending with the audience singing several of Ricky Nelson's best rockabilly hits. Wow! (Hear it again.)
Kevin Kling's Midnight Cabaret was amazing. His wit and humor take you on a wild journey and the laughs just pour out of you. All the laughter prepared us for the last two stories which were deeply moving and profound.
I might not have chosen to hear Kathyrn Wyndham as I had just heard several sets with her in Williamsburg but she was also performing at the College Street Tent during our shift there. 89 years old, fresh and strong, she talked to the audience, reminiscing about her childhood in Alabama.
Kathryn Wyndham ended her stories with this message:
"Family history and storytelling glues us all together.
Keep the tradition alive."