Another pandemic? Michael Reno Harrell ready, just in ‘Case’

Published 2:34 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2024

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Michael Reno Harrell is not really sure he had ever even uttered that word before the spring of 2020.

Michal Reno Harrell

Michael Reno Harrell is a storyteller. He travels all around the country telling stories and singing songs about his life in Appalachia. But the pandemic changed the way of life for him and other master storytellers.

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“For those of us who have made our living telling stories over the years, being on the road is just a way of life. Airports and rental cars, agencies have been as much a part of our lives as Wal-Marts and Cracker Barrels are to most folks.

“There have been long periods in my life that I have slept in over 200 beds in a single year. That just comes with the life we traveling storytellers picked.”

So, what did the storyteller do when all that comes to a screeching halt and he found himself at home twenty-four-seven for a couple of years.

“Luckily, I have a studio out on the back of our property here in western North Carolina so I spent time working on new stories and writing songs.”

One day while the storyteller was straightening up his studio, he ran across a pad of drawing paper.

“As a young man, I had noodled around with drawing so I thought, ‘Why not try and draw something instead of spending another day twiddling my thumbs?

“I found a pencil, sharpened it with my granddaddy’s old Case pocketknife, sat down at my desk and began to ponder what the subject for this drawing might be. I looked down on the desk and there it was, my old pocketknife. So, I drew that and darned if it didn’t turn out pretty well.”

Michael Reno Harrell put the image on Facebook and got several nice comments.

“Then, some fellow asked if I might be willing to sell the drawing.  Since two years of bookings had flown out the window with the closing down of the world, I quickly accepted his offer.”

Since that first drawing, Michael Reno Harrell has sold close to a hundred others.

“I don’t think I’ll ever sleep in 200 beds a year again,” the storyteller said. “I would love to keep telling stories, but only as long as it leaves me time to draw.”

Michael Reno Harrell will be one of the featured storytellers at the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival the last weekend in January. He will have several of his drawings to show and tell.