Storytelling features local musicians

Published 11:15 pm Thursday, January 21, 2010

Storytelling Festival is professional storytelling at its best, and it’s even more than that.

The annual storytelling festival opens with supper and stories at the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge on Jan. 29 and continues with storytelling concerts at 10 a.m. and 2 and 6:30 p.m. at the Trojan Center Theater on the campus of Troy University.

Each concert features four of the top storytellers in the country. Donald Davis’ stories that leave listeners limp with laughter. Kevin Kling’s homespun humor and autobiographical tales are as enchanting as they are true to life. Barbara McBride-Smith’s colorful voice reminds listeners of a fire and brimstone preacher or a carnival barker and Elizabeth Ellis’ witty and wise stories are delivered in down-home Southern style.

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And to get things off in Southern style that’s as down home as Ellis herself, the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival features pre-show music by some of the most popular bluegrass/Southern gospel groups and singers anywhere around.

The WPA Scratch Band, the house band of the We Piddle Around Theater, will open the Friday night concert on Jan. 29 and will be back on stage at the 2 p.m. concert at the Trojan Center Theater on Saturday, Jan. 30.

The WPA Scratch Band includes Dan Fraley, Lenny Trawick, Pete Jordan Sr., Pete Jordan Jr., Willie Moultrie and Robert Withrow.

Opening the Saturday morning concert at the Trojan Center Theater will be The Lighthouse String Ensemble, which has performed at the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival in Indiana and other festivals in Alabama and beyond. The featured singers for the ensemble are Amanda Benton Smothers and her dad, Mike Benton.

The Saturday night storytelling concert will bring a parade of talented musicians and singers on stage who are featured on the Brundidge Historical Society’s CD “Off the Porch Strong.”

The CD of sacred songs features Doran Burton, Shelia Jackson, Broken Strings, Lenny Trawick, Pete Jordan, Ron Jackson, Nicholas Cooper and, of course, the WPA Scratch Band. All are scheduled to be on stage.

Other performers on the CD are the Rivertown Girls, Lenora Senn, Mae Spurlock, Sheila Kay Adams and the Lighthouse String Ensemble.

The morning and afternoon pre-show music begins about 30 minutes prior to the storytelling concerts. The music for the night concert will begin at 5:45.

Lawrence Bowden, president of the sponsoring Brundidge Historical Society, said the pre-show music alone is worth the price of admission.

“We invite everyone to join us for music and storytelling at its best,” he said.

Tickets for the Saturday concerts are available at Rue’s Antiques in Brundidge or by calling 735-3125 and at The Messenger in Troy. The Friday night concert is sold out and only a few tickets remain for the Saturday afternoon concert. The Pike Piddlers Storytelling Concert is sponsored in part by the Alabama State Council on the Arts, a partner with the National Endowment for the Arts.