Last night was SpeakEasy night in Columbus, Ohio, for a Storytellers of Central Ohio (also known as SOCO) event.
I love doing this--storytelling after dinner at a quaint German restaurant in the German Village of Columbus. We managed to get lost first--both Larry and I thought we knew exactly how to get to the restaurant, and of course we both were wrong. After 30 minutes of cruising around Columbus and seeing the state capitol, library and other sites of interest that we hadn't planned to see, we stumbled on the restaurant. God does protect fools.
The crowd was smaller than last year, but it was a good, storytelling crowd. That means that they were interested in where I found the stories, the different kinds of stories I told, and they had no problem singing along when asked.
I was excited about doing this event for several reasons: first, I would get to see many friends that I had not seen all winter; second, the restaurant is awesome; third, I had not told stories (except on this blog!) since mid-November, and fourth, I had some new stories and ballads I wanted to try out.
Usually for me storytelling is very quiet in the winter months, and that is fine by me. The roads and weather are never trustworthy in winter. I try to use the months to advantage by searching for new material. This winter I've added a story or two to my story bag, and I'm working on some new songs. So for the event last night, I chose the following material:
1. The Swapping Song--I sang the Appalachian version, but I found and am working on an English, longer version of this funny song that allows for audience participation.
2. The Big Potato--a story I heard told by the owner of a WV winery, and so funny I wanted to share this variation on a very old tale.
3. Sworn on the Odin Stone--an Orkney story that I first read in the book The Hogboon of Hell and I was so drawn to it I wanted to tell it--but it seemed to be under copyright. Later I found the story online; I emailed the website owner who happened to be a descendant of the story's author and he graciously gave me permission to tell the story. I tell it with the addition of an old lullaby, and I can tell after having told it only twice that it will be one of my best.
4. Trees They Do Grow High--an old ballad I have been working on. I didn't do it as well as I would have liked; it wasn't quite ready for performance, I found after I started into it. Ah well. We can't all be perfect, and it gave me a chance to find out just what needed a work. I love the melancholy and romance of this song.
5. Burnt House--a ghost story based on events in a small community in central WV that are supposed to be true. This is one of my best stories and it went well last night.
6. The Glass Slippers, a new story for me which I will post tomorrow, is a story from an island off German'ys Baltic coast. Since we were in a German restaurtant, it seemed a fitting choice.
7. The Devils' Nine Questions ballad--based on Child Ballad #1 (Riddles Wisely Expounded) this ballad is fun for it's playfulness and the opportunity for audience interaction.
Later, after an open mic session that included MC Joyce Geary, stories from Ohio storytellers Larry Staats (originally from Sandyville, actually-my address), Melanie Pratt, Cathy Jo Smith, Julie McGhee, and Frank McGarvey, I wrapped up the evening with the traditional Bright Morning Stars.
It was a wonderful evening, and well worth the drive. We got home around midnight, stoked the fires and hit the bed because the alarm would be going off at 6am and I'd be off to work again.
Now I'm tired and I think I'll go to bed, but I wanted to share the fun of last night's storytelling.