Goforth: Spinning yarns, stomping feet
Published 3:00 am Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Anyone who attended the closing concert of the 2015 Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival will remember the young storyteller who stepped away from the microphone and sang an old shape note song a cappella. He sang the poetry and then the notes.
The audience sat spellbound.
That young storyteller was Josh Goforth and he’ll be back on stage at the 2016 Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival Saturday afternoon and night at the Troy Center Theater on the campus of Troy University. And, he will light up the stage with his energy and his big mountain grin just as he has done on stages around the globe.
Goforth is rather young among professional storytellers but, the Grammy-nominated musician has played everywhere from the café down the street to Carnegie Hall and the Grand Ole Opry. He has performed in 49 states and all across Europe and in Japan. He played fiddle for the movie “Songcatcher” both onscreen and on the soundtrack.
So Goforth is right at home on stage whether he’s playing foot-stomping fiddle music or telling stories of his growing up among the tobacco fields in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
Goforth was raised in a musical family. His first influences were church and music. But, for Goforth, growing up, music took a backseat to working on the family farm. Both sides of his family raised tobacco.
“Grandpa Worley would ride in his truck out to the tobacco field or hoe all day long, or top the flower, cut it off so the leaves get bigger,” Goforth said.
He remembers standing with his grandfather as the auctioneer went down the rows, hoping they would get a good price for their tobacco when he reached them.
“We raised food in the garden — I picked beans, squash, tomatoes, and with my grandmother canning, we had plenty of food,” Goforth said. “It was a unique childhood. When I went to college, nobody was raised like that. People in Madison County just took care of their own; we were secluded until recent years.”
But music changed Goforth’s life. His great uncle gave him a guitar, another showed him chords and he joined a weekly jam session in the back of Adams Pharmacy.
Storytelling came as naturally to Goforth as playing music. Growing up in a tight-knit mountain community, he was surrounded by storytellers.
“I never really thought about storytelling as an art because it was just something that happened all the time,” he said. “I would listen to my grandmother tell ghost stories and my granddad tell old tales.”
He was introduced to professional storytelling while traveling and performing with David Holt, a Grammy-winning musician and storyteller.
He realized the stories he had heard all his life were filled with interesting characters. He began to weave those stories – those characters – into his performance. And, for Goforth, it was almost impossible to separate the music and the stories. One enhanced the other. So, what Goforth will bring to the stage of the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival is the best of both of his worlds – music and stories.
Saturday concert times at the Trojan Center Theater are 10 a.m. ($10) and 2 ($15) and 6:30 ($10). Tickets for the 2 p.m. concert are limited. Tickets are available at The Messenger.
The Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival is sponsored in part by the Alabama State Council on the Arts with support from the National Endowment of the Arts.