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Top tellers returning for Pike Piddlers storytelling festival

The 2019 Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival will celebrate Alabama’s bicentennial year by welcoming to the stage two nationally acclaimed storytellers who are the foundation of the annual Pike County storytelling festival.

Sheila Kay Adams and Donald Davis will take center stage with popular tellers Kevin Kling and Michael Reno Harrell on January 25 at the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge and on January 26 at the Trojan Center Theater on the campus of Troy University.

Mernette Bray, a member of the Brundidge Historical Society’s storytelling committee, said Sheila Kay Adams sowed the seeds for a successful festival with storytelling events in 2005 and 2006 and helped lay the groundwork for the weekend festival in 2007.

Donald Davis actually changed his schedule in order to help get the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival off to a successful start that same year.

“Donald Davis has been with us every year since 2007 and Shelia Kay Adams is second only to him in the number she has been with us,” Bray said. “We could not celebrate this special year in Alabama without them.”

Adams is a seventh-generation ballad singer, claw-hammer banjo player, author and master storyteller. She has received the Brown Hudson Award for her contributions to the study of North Carolina folk traditions. She is has received the North Carolina Heritage Award and the NEA’s National Heritage Fellowship, the highest award given to traditional artist.

Donald Davis is the dean of storytelling.

“When you think of storytelling, you think of Donald Davis,” Bray said. “The first time I heard him, at the National Storytelling Festival, I stood outside a packed tent, in the rain. Hearing him was worth it.”

A writer for the New York times wrote of Davis, “I could have listened all morning. His stories often left listeners limp with laughter at the same time they struggled with a lump in the throat.”

Michael Reno Harrell and Kevin Kling were popular choices for the Alabama’s bicentennial year. Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival audiences have loved them, Bray said.

“Kevin Kling is not only an amazing storyteller, he is an amazing person,” Bray said. “He has not let a birth defect that affected his left arm and a motorcycle accident the paralyzed his right arm slow him down. His stories are both hilarious and tender. He is a favorite among storytellers and audiences. We are honored to have him back.” 

Michael Reno Harrell is a hilariously funny man who tells his stories and then sings them.

Harrell is a storyteller, a singer, songwriter and musician. The first time he was at the storytelling festival, the committee knew he would be invited back again and again.

“If you don’t like storytelling, you’ll still like Michael Reno Harrell,” Bray said. “His stories and songs are original and so is he.”

The Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival will also feature a tribute to Alabama’s legendary storyteller, the late Kathryn Tucker Windham. Details to be announced.

Tickets for the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival are available by calling 334-685-5525 or 670-6302. Tickets for the Friday night performance at the We Piddle Around Theater are $25. Seating is limited. Tickets for the Saturday, Jan. 26 storytelling concerts at the Trojan Center are $10 (10 a.m.) $15 (2 p.m.) and $10 (6:30) and all-day ($30). All tellers will be at each concert and different stories will be told.