Thursday, October 27, 2011

The day in the life of a storyteller

Well maybe not a day, maybe an extended day ending on Sunday morning! 

I had three performances on Saturday, and all were outdoors.  I left the house on Saturday morning at 8.15 am for the first performance in Lebanon, NH at the Food Coop in Centerra Place.  I set everything up, did a sound check, got a little shopping in and then walked around telling families I was about to begin, trying to pull an audience together.  As I told my tales the audience grew, and I shared, over the almost two hours, quite a few stories!  Some were requested by fans who knew my work, others I told were new to them.  I looked at the faces and saw enjoyment, but then as I began packing up, a couple of families arrived saying they thought I started later, so we sat down and I told a couple of other tales which I enjoyed. It is funny, but as I had been packing up I had felt like something was not quite right in me ending, so telling more with those folks just arriving, seemed to put things right.

I packed up my gear and headed north to Lyme NH for their town's 250 year celebration.  Again it was outdoors and the humidity, which had begun high was getting higher.  The place which had been set up was next to a banqueting tent where a band were playing.   They were very good, but I would not be heard over the music, and I did not have any intention of starting a volume war with my PA system!  That would help no one.  We looked at other spots and then discovered that the band were were ending when I was due to begin!  This was a very large event and different people were in charge of different things so organizers were not aware of all the logistics - the event was so big with a lot going on throughout the day and evening.  Once I was set up and put on a fresh (and by this I mean clean!) shirt I waited for the band to end at 1 pm.  They did another song and then started another.  I explained to the organizer that I had to leave at 2 pm as I had a gig in southern Vermont later that afternoon; the longer they played, the less I could tell.  I began about 15 minutes late, but it was a good group and a real mix of people.  I had children wearing diapers, an elderly couple sitting holding hands, teens, young families and a guy covered with tattoos.  Some sat down and listened, some hovered listening to a tale or two and then leaving, others stood thinking they would leave after 'this tale' but staying for the next and listening to the entire 55 minute set.  The band played late because they and their audience were enjoying themselves.

The band in Lyme were not the only band I was to hear that day as later, when I was in Wilmington, Vermont I got to listen to a blues band.  I arrived in time to set everything up again for the third time, PA system included, and changed into another shirt!  The humidity had not lessened and I had come prepared!

In Wilmington there was a street party going on which was another day-and-into-the-evening event.  My contact,  was wonderful and helped set everything and as it began to spot with light rain, she found a tent to put the audience under.  I sat outside of the tent enjoying the lady-rain, the drizzle, that lightly fell.  Some of the stories I told that day were duplicated but some were not.  One thing about performing a lot in one day is that you can tell a larger family of stories.  It keeps me fresh and I not have think - did I tell that bit yet, or was that at the last performance?  A fear that haunts busy days, but one that did not play that Saturday.  It was a similar event in the  way that some folks came and went to explore other activities that were going on, but some stayed for the long haul despite the damp, some even stood with umbrellas.  Although I was mainly telling to those in the tent, when I looked up at those around I amazing and thrilled at the number of people standing, listening.  The power of story is incredible and not to be under estimated.  It was great to see people smiling in the wet.

After I was packed away, I wandered around looking at everything that was going on and stood in the rain listening to a really good blues band complete with sax.  They sounded great and appreciation was shown by a couple of young kids and grown-ups dancing along to the fabulous music, on the road in the rain.

I got home at around 9.15 pm. and brought myself, my drum and the mail indoors, unpacked some of my stuff, read the mail and went to bed.

On Sunday morning I got up late, fed the animals, got myself some breakfast, made a cup of tea and listened to the CD which had arrived the day before in the post.  It was, of course, a storytelling CD!  It started my day off well.  I wrote a blog review of the CD that you can find here on A World of Stories -CD Love Story Review.

My ego likes to think it is me people are watching and listening to, but in reality it is not me at all.  When I am doing my job properly I am not even there.  It is the stories that draw people in and keep them listening.  I find myself constantly amazed at how powerful stories are.  Why else would someone stand in the rain with or without an umbrella and watch me?  There was a street full of activities and the smell of good food was everywhere.  It is the stories, and I am blessed to be able to tell a good story and be able to try to make this my living.

Also see Laura Packer's blog: on a different day in a life of a storyteller!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Simon, what a day you had! Thanks for sharing. Scott J.