Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tenting Tonight

The storytelling starts in bright cool sunshine in all the big white tents simultaneously.  The first two hour session samples short stories from a number of tellers. Subsequent sessions feature two tellers for longer sessions and each evening another showcase with short presentations from several – a good chance to see  most of the participants and choose where to go tomorrow.   We were prepared for world class tellers and we laughed till our sides split at Bill Lepp discussing things that started out as compliments in his head, but weren’t received that well by his wife. Waddy Mitchell told cowboy poems or Buckaroo poetry as they call it on the “ranges of the West.”  Bill Harley, who has told stories in 2600 schools, took us back to when we knew our job “was to explore the zone between Yes and No.”  and sang the most touching ballad about a quiet young schoolteacher who  always tried to do the right thing and not cause any trouble “but I will not give this test.”
There were lots more, but surprising to me –I don’t know why – was the music.  Spencer Bohren, 45 years as a guitar picker from Wyoming, via New Orleans and the Delta “didn’t know I was a storyteller until Friday.”  But he was a natural, telling about how he acquired his steel guitar and nearly missed playing Henry Townsend’s 93rd birthday, then playing the Cairo Blues , a song that has deep personal meaning for me…
Women in Cairo will treat you nice and sweet
Women in Cairo will treat you kind and sweet
Get your hand and knock you off your feet
Kick you and knife you, beat you and cut you too
Kick you and knife you, beat you and cut you too

Henry told Spencer that when his band got to the edge of Cairo, the Sherriff pulled them over and searched their car for guns and knives.  Finding none, he gave them each one before he let them enter town.
 Not  a big surprise was David Holt, who has mastered everything with strings, learned from and played with the best mountain musicians in history. (He now tours with Doc Watson and does the PBS show.)   What was cool was hearing him play with Josh Goforth who first approached Bill in a middle school auditorium and now records with him.
Willie Claflin sang a Scottish ballad A cappella for twelve minutes interpreting with asides and hand gestures. Then he brought his son Brian on stage (the only time they sing together all year). Brian discussed his new support group for Adult Children of Storytellers and brought his  concert partner, ”spawn of two storytellers”  to conduct a “meeting”.  It was hilarious, and then they slid right into a song for three perfectly matched voices. 
There were so many many high points…Everyone should see this again and again and we plan to.
BUT, You Ask, What about the FOOD?   Just the highpoints….
  • Three Bean chili
  • Cuban sandwiches
  • pulled pork, beans and potato salad
  • cheesecake to die for
  • Southern Peach Cobbler with ice cream 

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