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Storytelling in the South--"Life: Legends and Lies" in Athens, Alabama

Posted: Oct 27, 2010

Mark Twain may be one of the best known storytellers of all time and, by his own admission, one of the biggest liars, but the art of storytelling did not die out with the passing of Mark Twain one hundred years ago last December. Storytelling, always a finely honed southern craft, has thrived in the last century, and each year hundreds of storytelling festivals are held around the US, especially in the south.

The small Alabama town of Athens is expected to fill up fast this Halloween weekend with visitors as well as home folks gathering around the town square for the Fourth Annual Storytelling Festival. Last years' event showcased renowned author and storyteller,Kathryn Tucker Windham. The 2011 festival will feature a return engagement of this beloved storyteller.

This year up to 10,000 folks are expected in Athens during the two-day event featuring six outstanding storytellers – Donald Davis, Carmen Deedy, Bil Lepp, Sherry Norfolk, Andy Offutt Irwin, and Barbara McBride Smith. A dynamic musical duo called Trout Fishing in America will kick off the festival with a concert on Thursday night, October 28. Separate tickets may be purchased for this event.

Trout Fishing in America is the long-standing musical partnership of Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet. The name for the duo is taken from a Richard Brautigan novel, a cult classic in the 1960s. The two musicians have carved out a three-decade career of writing, recording and performing together.

Grimwood and Idlet received their fourth Grammy nomination for “Big Round World,” and the release of a children's book/CD, “My Name is Chicken Joe.” Their mix of folk/pop and family music is tempered by the diverse influences of reggae, Latin, blues, jazz and classical music. Trout Fishing in America recordings have earned three National Indie Awards and multiple Parents Choice Gold and American Library Awards in addition to their Grammy nominations. Their touring resume includes more than 40 states and several Canadian provinces.

Admission to the Trout Fishing concert on Thursday night is included in the Storytelling “Whole She-bang” weekend ticket package, but if you would like admission to the concert alone a $20 reserved ticket is required.

The storytelling will begin in the Storytelling Tent on the east side of the Limestone County Courthouse Square at 10 am, Friday, October 29, and continue through Saturday, October 30. Although the "Whole She-Bang" is a steal at only $65 per ticket, you can also purchase tickets for individual events or days. (Photo of the courthouse at the 2009 festival)

You may purchase tickets from www.ticketweb.com, at Pablo’s on Market in downtown Athens, or at the Athens Chamber of Commerce. Tickets are $40 for the entire weekend; $25 for Friday; $25 for Saturday; $15 for ghost stories, and $20 for the Thursday evening concert. Get the "Whole She-Bang" for only $65.  For more information, call 232-0400, 232-7370 or 232-5411 or visit the Athens Storytelling Festival web site.

-----Penne J. Laubenthal

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