Stage set for 41st annual Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough

Sue Guinn Legg • Sep 9, 2013 at 3:44 PM

The 41st annual National Storytelling Festival is set to run Oct. 4-6 in downtown Jonesborough.

Nineteen featured tellers are lined up for three days of main-stage performances in the festival’s circus tents, with many more events also planned.

The festival brochure is available for pickup and online. And there’s a new director on board at the International Storytelling Center anxious to see it all play out.

“I cant wait. I expect to enjoy myself,” ISC’s new Executive Director Kiran Singh Sirah said.

“I’m interested in seeing how the festival works, what goes on inside the tents, what goes on outside the tents and how everyone comes together to listen to other peoples’ stories and hear new voices.

“I love the community spirit. I understand some of the best stories are told in preparation for the festival. ... I am a storyteller, too, and I look forward to the opportunity to tell my story.”

Pre-festival activities will get under way Oct. 2 at the International Storytelling Center with a 7:30 p.m. performance by Donald Davis. A familiar favorite in the storytelling community, Davis will be sharing a selection of heirloom stories handed down through his family in a performance titled “Did I tell You About the Time When?”

The party will begin in earnest Oct. 3 in the festival’s Library Tent with a Get the Party Started music and storytelling concert featuring Grammy-winning folk artist Tim O’Brien and Nora Jane Struthers and the Party Line beginning at 7:30 p.m.

An icon of American folk, bluegrass and old-time music, O’Brien won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album and has twice been named the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Male Vocalist of the Year.

Struthers is also an award-winning singer-songwriter deeply versed in old ballads and story-songs. Her touring Party Line band features multi-instrumentalists George Aaron, Jonah Lewis, Joe Overton and Drew Lawhorn.

The diverse lineup of featured tellers at this year’s festival include Shelia Kay Adams, a seventh-generation North Carolina balladeer; Geraldine Buckley, a New Voice teller from the United Kingdom; Brazilian storyteller, mime and illusionist Antonio Rocha; Native American Joseph Burchac; Asian-American Charlie Chin, a teahouse-style storyteller; poet Menton Sparks; and Shonaleigh, a teller of Yiddish oral tradition.

Special events scheduled throughout the weekend include:

  • Ghost Stories on the grounds at Mill Springs beginning at 8 p.m. Oct. 4 and 5.
  • A benefit Yarn Spinners Party for the ISC featuring conversations with several of the featured tellers, to begin at 5 p.m. Oct. 5.
  • Midnight Cabaret, an adults-only storytelling and music concert featuring “Tougher than Woodpecker Lips” storyteller Elizabeth Ellis and Kim Weitkamp and the Broken Bucket Band at 10:30 p.m. Oct. 5.
  • Story Slam, which will pit seven selected tellers in a competition to tell the best five-minute story, at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 5 in the Creekside Tent.

For a complete schedule, festival brochures are available at the Jonesborough Visitors Center, the International Story Center, shops all over Jonesborough and online at www.storytellingcenter.net.

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