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Goforth back ‘by very popular demand’

Storyteller and Grammy-nominated musician Josh Goforth stepped from behind the microphone at the 2016 Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival and sang an Appalachian ballad a cappella. The audience sat almost spellbound.

“The hair stood up on the back of my neck,” said Martha Williamson. “I’d never heard anything as moving as that.”

At the other end of the storytelling spectrum, Michael Reno Harrell, storyteller/singer/songwriter, leaves storytelling audiences in stitches with his downhome humor and the yarns he spins and the stories he tells … and sings.

Goforth and Harrell will both be back  “by very popular demand” at the 11th Annual Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival this weekend at the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge and the Trojan Center Theater in Troy.

Both are from the mountains of Western North Carolina. They both tell stories. They both sing. They both play acoustic instruments.

They are both outstanding entertainers, said Sara Bowden of Brundidge who has attended every Pike Piddles Storytelling Festival.

“I want to be at every Festival and at every concert,” Bowden said. “I don’t want to miss a single word. I have a favorite storyteller – the one who’s on stage at that very moment.”

Bowden said she is amazed at the musical talent of Josh Goforth the “cute as a bug’s ear fiddler” and tickled pink by that “funny, funny man with the long white hair.

Goforth, a Grammy-nominated musician, plays at least 10 instruments by ear but is most famous for his fiddling. He played fiddle for the movie “Songcatcher” both onscreen and on the soundtrack.

Goforth has appeared on the Grand Ole Opry and at Carnegie Hall. He has toured extensively and shared the stage with noted entertainers including Ricky Skaggs, Open Road and The Yonder Mountain String Band. He has a positive energy that lights up stages around the world.

He has performed in 49 states, all around Europe and in Japan.

“Josh Goforth is a masterful storyteller,” said Chris Foster, president of the sponsoring Brundidge Historical Society, he will light up the stage at the Pike Piddles Storytelling Festival with his stories and his music.”

And, then there’s Michael Reno Harrell, an award-winning songwriter and veteran storyteller whose performances have been compared to his granddaddy’s pocketknife, worn and familiar but razor sharp and with a point. His original stories have been described as Appalachian grit and wit.

“Michael Reno Harrell reminds you of Jeff Foxworthy with a guitar and a mountain accent,” said Cathie Steed, a member of the BHS storytelling committee. “He tells hilarious stories and enhances them with story/songs that have catchy tunes and funny lyrics.”

Harrell’s recordings top the American Music Associations charts year after year. He has toured most of the United States, much of Europe and throughout the British Isles.

Goforth and Harrell will be joined on the stages of the Pike Piddles Storytelling Festival by Donald Davis, the Dean of Storytelling, and Adam Booth, a new voice at the festival.

“All four are incredible storytellers,” Foster said. “They have all appeared at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee and that’s enough said. We are honored to have them here in Pike County.”

Tickets for the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival this weekend are available for the 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturday concerts at the Trojan Center Theater on the campus of Troy University. For tickets call, 344-9427 or 670-6303. Tickets are available at The Messenger.

The Friday night concert at the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge and the 2 p.m. concert at the Trojan Center Theater are sold out.

Goforth will perform for students from Goshen, Pike Liberal Arts, Pike County and Charles Henderson high schools and Troy University on Friday.