‘The Donald’ is back by popular demand

Published 10:31 pm Monday, January 26, 2009

Donald Davis.

Enough said.

“I don’t know how to say how great a storyteller Donald Davis is,” said Wynn Montgomery of Atlanta. “When I saw in the Atlanta Constitution Sunday that Donald Davis was going to be in Brundidge and Troy, Ala., I started Googling to see where that is.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Montgomery called Monday morning requesting tickets for what he said is one of the best lineups of storytellers he has seen.

“Bil Lepp is one of my favorites,” he said. “I’ve seen him many times and he never fails to make me laugh until my sides hurt. But, Donald Davis. There’s just nobody like him.”

Davis will be one of the featured tellers at the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival in Pike County this weekend. Bil Lepp, Kathryn Windham and Carmen Deedy will join him in what Montgomery said is a fantastic-four lineup.

“I’ll tell you how good Donald Davis is,” Montgomery said. “My sister didn’t know anything about storytelling and I took her to see Donald Davis and she’s hooked. She’s on his Web site constantly looking to see where he’s going to be.”

Montgomery regularly attends the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tenn. as well as other major storytelling festivals.

“I’ve been to a lot of storytelling festivals and I’ve heard a lot of tellers but Donald Davis is definitely my favorite and he’s the star at Jonesborough. And these other three are right up at the top, too. You won’t find a better lineup of storytellers.”

Montgomery said Davis never ceases to make him laugh.

“But, at the same time, he makes me think about my family,” he said. “I’m from the South and almost every story he tells reminds me of somebody that I knew or know. Hearing him tell stories triggers my own stories and that’s what a great storyteller does.”

Around storytelling circles when someone speaks of “The Donald,” they are talking about Donald Davis, the dean of storytelling.

Bruce Waston, a writer for the Smithsonian Magazine, said of his Jonesborough experience, “Beneath the huge canopy, Davis had 1,500 people hanging on his every word. A master of timing, he measured some sentences drop by drop, poured others out like water from a pitcher.”

Davis was born in a Southern Appalachian mountain world rich in stories and into a family of traditional storytellers who have lived on the same Western North Carolina land since 1781.

“I didn’t learn stories, I just absorbed them ,” Davis said, adding that he grew up hearing gentle fairy tales, simple and silly Jack tales, scary mountain lore, ancient Welsh and Scottish folktales, and-most importantly-nourishing true-to-life stories of his own neighbors and kin.

It was his Uncle Frank, a man who “talked in stories,” who helped Donald capture the real and daily adventures of life…and it was Uncle Frank who gave him the creative courage to tell about them.

“I discovered that, in a story, I could safely dream any dream, hope any hope, go anywhere I pleased, fight any foe, win or lose, live or die,” Davis said.

Davis is a master storyteller whose stories often leave listeners limp with laughter at the same time they struggle with a lump in the throat.

Tickets are available for the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival Saturday morning concert (10 a.m.) and the night concert (6:30 p.m.) by calling 334-735-3125 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday or on-site at Rues Antiques in Brundidge during the same hours. The Friday night and Saturday afternoon concerts are sold out.

The Pike Piddlers Storytelling Concert is sponsored annually by the Brundidge Historical Society with support from Troy University, the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.