Sunday, October 7, 2007

National Storytelling Festival : Friday

Home again after a great weekend. Our plan worked--at least until the trip home. More about that later.

Since we could only be at the festival a short time, and since one of my primary goals was to be able to visit with friends, we only purchased tickets for two events: Friday night Midnight Cabaret and Saturday night Ghost Stories. A friend had to cancel her B&B reservation, so we were able to stay at the lovely Holly Haven. We would rest and be fed in a beautiful setting.

We left later on Friday than anticipated--work has a way of intervening in other plans. Even so, we stopped at Beckley at our favorite antique mall to browse. We continue to add to our coal mining collection, and this stop yielded a miners safety lamp, self-rescuer, and tag pin.

So it was late when we arrived at Holly Haven. We checked in (after a few passes up and down the road looking for the driveway) and didn't even stop to unload--just took off for Jonesborough.

The first person we saw on the street was storyteller Ed Stivender. A quick hug and how-are-you and we continued on our way to pick up our tickets. Once our business was complete we could slow down a little. We found a coffee shop and picked up a couple of cups, carried them to a bench outside, and engaged in our favorite occupation--people-watching.

We didn't see any familiar faces, but storyteller Janet Ross of Tennessee stopped, offered M&M's and we fell into conversation about, of all things, funerals we have known and wakes (she calls it "calling hours"). I found that West Virginia isn't the only place where strange things happen at these events, although I think my tale of the stun gun fight at the funeral of a local man probably topped our impromptu swap.

Then it was time for the Midnight Cabaret. The tent filled quickly and we pulled a couple chairs to the side so we had a good view of the stage.

Sheila Kay Adams is one of my favorite performers. I could listen for hours to her ballad-singing. She opened with Pretty Saro, a ballad of love and loneliness, but the change of dates at the beginning of the song (1732 instead of 1849) startled me, and the melody was slightly different too. I decided that I could live with the way she sang it (as if my opinion made a difference!) and settled in to listen to the rest of the set.

We headed back to the car, chilled by the night air, and made our way to Holly Haven to unpack, unwind and sleep.


Tim said...

I've only been to National once, back in 1993, when the Midnight Cabaret was relatively new.
I can't even remember who was performing, because it just wasn't that interesting. Whoever was on was doing new material, so just like you experienced, it wasn't what we were expecting, and it was not "A-list material."

I can see how Kevin Kling's repertoire would be a much better fit for a midnight show... then again, he's been working so hard on fitting his materials into regular festival formats, I wonder how he did.

Granny Sue said...

I don't know, and I wish now we'd opted for the Saturday cabaret too. I was being careful not to burn out my husband--he's a good listener, but his usual bedtime is 9pm (bricklayer, you know). So I'd already pushed the limits on Friday, keeping him up for 20 hours straight.

I've only been to the cabaret session once before, and that time the performer kept strumming her guitar and teasing the audience with it; I wanted to hear her play! But after a half hour I got tired of slow reminiscences and left. So I'm 0 for 2 right now with this particular format. But I'm willing to try again. I realize that I came with my own expectations, and perhaps my mind should have been more open to something new from her. Still, I don't think she was "on" for the performance, or that it was the quality we tend to expect at J'boro.

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