Appalachian ‘Keillor’ coming to town

Published 6:46 am Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Storyteller and folklorist Gary Carden is coming to the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge for the annual June Buggin’ Tale Tellin’ on June 9 and 10.

Carden, from the mountains of Western North Carolina, is regarded as an Appalachian Garrison Keillor.

Carden’s mother left him on the doorsteps of his grandparents after his dad, a mountain musician, was murdered by a local drunk when he was two years old.

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He was raised by his grandparents in a house filled with the past. He grew up listening to Grady Cole and Renfroe Valley on the radio while his grandfather tuned musical instruments with a tuning fork and sang hymns from a shape note hymnal.

He grew up with June apple trees, comic books, the Farmers’ Federation and Saturday movies.

He told his first stories to 150 white leghorn chickens in a dark chicken house when he was six years old and he’s never stopped “telling.”

Carden is a master storyteller and he’s also an award winning author and playwright. He wrote the one-woman play, “Birdell,” that was so well received at the We Piddle Around Theater in the summer of 2008. Carden’s one-woman play was the initial performance in summer “spoken word” events at the We Piddle Around Theater.

Carden is one of the storytellers featured in the recently published book, “Southern Appalachian Storytellers.”

Of Carden’s own book, “Mason Jars in the Flood,” award-winning author Lee Smith, said, “Half the time I can’t decide whether to slap my knee of burst into tears. This is the loveliest language that has ever been put on paper.”

Carden will entertain at the luncheon at 11:30 a.m. on, Thursday, June 9 and at the Supper Show at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, June 10.

Tickets are $20 for each performance and include pre-show music, the lunch/ supper and the storytelling event. Group rates are available. Tickets are on sale at Rue’s Antiques in Brundidge and at The Messenger in Troy or by calling 334-735-3125 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 735-3675 other times.