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Bil Lepp this week's storyteller in residence at ISC

Contributed • Sep 9, 2019 at 12:00 AM

The world of storytelling isn’t a culture of celebrity. But if it were, you’d definitely be reading articles about Bil Lepp in its tabloids.

Known for blending a naturalistic style with the outrageous form of tall tales, Lepp’s work is celebrated for his humor and inventiveness. After just a few decades in the storytelling world, Lepp’s rich repertoire is already the stuff of legend.

The performer will soon bring a wide selection of old and new tales to Storytelling Live!, a concert series that brings a new storyteller to Jonesborough each week. Produced by the International Storytelling Center, Storytelling Live! includes daily matinees in an intimate theater tucked away in the organization’s downtown headquarters.

“I'm a featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival a few weeks after my residency, but I don't want to repeat myself too much,” Lepp says. “I’m still deciding which stories to tell at the Festival and as Teller in Residence. I like to keep it fresh for the audience.”

In April, Lepp performed as the season opener for the Storytelling Live! series, which extends through the end of October. A recording from that appearance, “Book Report,” is now available.

Lepp sees his job on the stage as an extension of the kinds of conversations people have every day around the dinner table. “Every other person in the world has a thousand stories in their head that they’ve never written down,” he says. “In conversation, you share those little experiences from your life. Mine are just longer and in a more professional form.”

On the evening of Thursday, Sept. 12, Lepp will offer a special evening concert, “Chaos Doesn’t Happen on Its Own.” The nighttime performance will begin at 7:30, with tickets priced at $15.

Matinee performances will be offered for five days, Tuesday to Saturday, Sept. 10-14. Lepp’s matinee performances at the International Storytelling Center all begin at 2 p.m.

“The evening concert is going to be a mix of some of my newer stuff with of some the less often-told, but just as good, Skeeter and Bil stories,” says Lepp.

Skeeter is Lepp’s real-life best friend, but they didn’t meet until they were adults. All of Lepp’s stories about their childhood together are tall tales.

“The concert material is sort of a chronological pseudo-memoir of the origins of Skeeter and the crew, with a little backstory thrown in.”

Tickets can be purchased in advance on ISC’s website, in person or over the phone. Walk-in seating is available the day of the show, while supplies last. Tickets for all afternoon matinees are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students and anyone under 18.

Exclusive discounts are available to ticketholders for the evening concert and matinee shows. Ticket stubs will earn a 10% discount on same-day dining at Main Street Café (lunch only), Olde Towne Pancake House, Texas Burritos & More, Krazy Krepes, Jonesborough Barrel House, the Icing on the Cake (lunch only), and the Corner Cup. Additionally, Boone Street Market is offering 10% off prepared meals and 5% off any other purchase.

The premier sponsor of Storytelling Live! is Ballad Health. Additional program funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Niswonger Foundation, Eastman Credit Union, the Mooneyhan Family Foundation, and Food City. Media sponsors include News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times-News, Herald & Tribune, and Cumulus Media.

After Storytelling Live! ends its 2019 season in October, it will host a few seasonal encore performances throughout the remainder of the year.

The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about Storytelling Live!, including the full 2019 line-up, or to purchase tickets, visit www.storytellingcenter.net or call 800-952-8392.

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