Sunday, March 29, 2009

Uncalled For Tour Performance at ETSU

Rocky and I had lots of laughs last night at the Uncalled-For Tour at ETSU's Culp Center in spite of the ordeal of getting there with our breathless selves. Without the help of good friends, Paul and Diana Conco, I'm not sure we'd have made it.

As it was, we left by the back exit so we could get to the car easily and therefore did not have a chance to talk with our teller friends Kim Weitkamp or Bil Lepp or to meet Andy Offut Irwin, the three Uncalled For Tour performers. Kim called us after the performance so we got to chat a bit at least.

Besides us and the Conco's I saw a few other BCS members there, Carole Ann and Mike Miller, and Leon and Pam Overbay. Our Tellabration guests Rudi and Arlene Angelmaier were there and also our ex-member, Linda "Tiger" Francis.  

Coincidentally, March 28 is Bil Lepp's birthday so much ado was made complete with birthday hats and the traditional song. The M.C,, David Claunch who is also the clown Dilly-Dally, presented Bil with presents of a red nose, huge spectacles, a giant-sized comb and other things my senior brain doesn't remember.

The storytelling program was worth every dollar it cost. I don't think there was more than 10 seconds without a laugh. Well, maybe when Kim was describing her first catfish "noodling" trip and the audience sat in rapt attention.  The program opened with a song and closed with a song, and in the middle, Kim sang a touching song about her father that followed her story about selling potholders. 

Bil lived up to his reputation as a tall tale raconteur with two tall tales, a rather rambling (but hilarious) one about deflating Easter bunny baloons and the second about a congregation holding a rodeo in a newly built church building.

Andy, whom I had never heard before, also entertained the audience comparing the chicken business of Georgia with the subway business of Manhatten. He is a favorite teller of the Conco's and they got their wishes granted when his second story was about his Aunt Margarite.

The tellers concluded with an improvisational story based on five words suggested by the audience and finalized the program with a summary of that story in song with Andy on the guitar, he and Kim providing the vocal, and Bil performing a very funny interpretive dance.

I was laughing too hard to take too many pictures, but here are three. Take your time and enjoy.  Mimi

Thursday, March 26, 2009

No Earth Day Production

Since I haven't found a venue for an Earth Day program, I am going to quit looking.
The Bristol Library had too many other things going on in April, the most important being National Library Month which they are celebrating the week before.

Since Earth Day falls on a Wednesday, it would have to be a daytime program. I do not believe Steele Creek Park would have had any attendance during a weekday. I wanted to keep the weekend open so folks can attend the Sounds Of The Mountains Festival in Bethany, VA if they want to. (I want to.)

We have only a few female tellers available for a children's program so that didn't seem feasible. Anyway, it got so difficult, I decided to just skip it.


However, let's think about doing an April Fool's Day Celebration next year. All humor. I think that would draw an audience.  I'll get back to you on that!  

Friday, March 20, 2009

Java J's March 19

 I arrived at Java J's on time last night. Terry was already there; however, we found our space occupied by the Bristol Business and Professional Women's Org, too many to take on in a fist fight! :) Actually, they were very friendly and quickly admitted they had assumed they could have that space without checking first.

By 7:00 Leon had arrived. We bought coffee drinks and settled at a large Mission style round oak table a little ways away from where the BB&PWO had ordered food and spread out their papers all over the rectangular table that along with their chairs, took up our entire "telling space."

A guest, Carl Jenkins, a prospective member, joined us and we all decided to wait until just before our program was to begin and if we had an audience, we would ask the women to move. Well, it never came about. No audience, other than Carl, showed up so we carried on telling anecdotes and tales among ourselves at the round table built for four. 

Carl and Terry are both beginners, and since Leon and I are old-timers, we were able to answer a lot of their questions about creating and telling stories. Terry told a very entertaining story he had hoped to tell in front of an audience about Andrew Jackson's three duels. Jackson is a well-known figure and legend in this region due to having been a lawyer in Jonesborough for some time. Terry was open to comments and suggestions  from us as we gave him feedback.

Leon told an anecdote he had recently heard from his mother about a relative's childhood during the Civil War. Carl is a Civil War re-enactor and discussion moved into "Us (Confederacy) versus Them (Yankees)." Interestingly, two of us had been raised in Tennessee, and two of us moved to the area as adults after we had been raised in Indiana and New Hampshire respectively.

I expressed some feelings I had about being labeled an "outsider" and related some incidences of culture clash I had experienced during my 25 years of residency. (Terry has been here only one year.) Carl who is retiring soon as a high school history teacher talked about the reasons current Southerners won't let the Civil War die. He made good points about not wanting their cultural heritage taken away from them, and the history of "northerners" coming into the area to tell Southerners what they thought was a better way of doing things. It has now grown into a credo of "don't mess with the way I do things," or "mind your own business." 

When someone who is not a local speaks out about something they think is of national interest,
the local hears it as "I know how this should be done better than you do," and thinks his business, individuality, philosophy is being demeaned. The example I had given was my asking a neighbor to paint out some graffiti on his corner shop that I thought demeaned the whole tiny community we live in, and he refused saying if I wanted it repainted, I could do it myself. I saw myself as a concerned citizen interested in our community, and thought he was being obstinate and rude, while, Carl pointed out, my neighbor saw me as not minding my own business and telling him how things should be done. 

They said my approach was too straightforward and confrontational. I didn't think it was confrontational at all, although I will agree I was upfront with what I wanted. My colleagues last night suggested I should have pressured my neighbor through his church or a community group. Perhaps, but that is a piece of passive-aggresive-ness that I have tried to discard from my character traits.

Well, my discussion with the guys last night did help me to understand my neighbors better if I think about it. I did present some points, however, my friends eventually agreed with, such as "Southern" and "Yankee" qualities are not in the DNA but are ways of looking at the world. 

I'm amazed that as their Director I've lasted as long as I have with few disagreements. Perhaps because I've been ready to listen and to compromise.  My goal now is to mind my own business, and if, for the good of the group, I must mind their business, I find another way to approach and talk about the problem.

The problem BCS  now has is that the group is not supporting each other as well as they could. They don't attend  the monthly events if they are not scheduled to tell, and the feeling of a group community is not nourished until a Special Event when everyone greets everyone else like it's a family reunion. I'm hoping to help the camaraderie grow through the Story laboratories that are planned for this summer. We'll see. I'd love to put someone else in charge of the labs, preferably a Southerner who will know better how to motivate them. Hmmm, let me think about that a bit.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Thufferin' Thuchatash--It's Thamuel

 Pat Musselman the only female storyteller in the program held her own and closed the Arts Array program with her audience favorite, Samuel. Pat likes it especially because she gets to make lots of funny noises and that's why the audience likes it, too!
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Leon, The Boones Creek Bard

 Leon Overbay was also one of the storytellers for the Feb. 5 Arts Array program in Abingdon, VA. He's shown here following the show with one of the members of the audience, an old friend of his.
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Arts Array Program Feb. 5

 I did not get to tell at this storytelling program due to ice and snow that prevented me from getting up and down the hill leading to our house in the woods. However, four BCS members managed to get there and had a really good program with a most appreciative audience. Well, maybe they weren't really applauding; perhaps their hands were just shaking from the cold.

All joking aside, those present could not believe that so many people turned out for this free storytelling program sponsored by the Arts Array pBrogram of Virginia Highlands Community College. The ice and snow were not so bad as to affect those who lived on village streets and flat rural roads. But the temperatures were frigid!
BCS members who told were G. Lee Hearl, Paul Conco, Leon Overbay, and Pat Musselman.

I really hated to miss it. Sponsorship meant that the program was free to the public, but a small fee was received by the storytellers. In these economic times, the small fee was appreciated very much.

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Big Mouths In A Little Pond

Unlike beavers who chomp things down,
We're like big fish in a little pond,
But like our cousins, we gather in groups,
And help each other jump through hoops
Of words. They're our delight,
We always hope to get them right.
So, come and hear us when we tell,
We guarantee your hearts will swell.

Mimi Rockwell 
(copyrighted Feb. 28, 2009)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Finally, finally--I successfully uploaded Beaver Creek's new website yesterday. The Old Christmas performance of Jan. 6 of this year is there, but the blog will continue here. Blogs are like journals and you need to write in them often, even once a day sometimes. Blogspot sponsored by Google is a very easy way to communicate with members of a group. Especially nice is the ability to show relevant pictures, either individually or in a slideshow.

I hope you will experiment with this Blog and make your ideas and thoughts known through the Comment process. 

At the bottom of this blog you will see the words "Atom Post." If you click on that, you will receive updates of all the posts and comments on your email provider's homepage so you don't have to keep loading this blog and then find there isn't anything new there.

If you experiment with this for awhile, you'll see what I'm talking about and discover how convenient it is. Of course, I'm assuming you are not acquainted with blogging when perhaps you can blog rings around me. I hope you will enjoy this blog, so my efforts are not in vain.

The url for our new website is Mimi 

How To "Follow" This Blog and Make Comments

To become a follower of this blog, in the right hand column of the home page you will see, "Follow and Connect With Your Friends" or words to that effect. Click on this and fill out what is needed. Be sure to save it (usually a button somewhere below) It should return you to the blog's home page (where the posts appear). If you have selected a photo of yourself on the page you just filled out, you will see a tiny little photo that you submitted under "Followers." You will notice that the number of followers has now gone up by one (YOU). You are not obligating yourself to anything, just letting the world know that you are a fan of this blog. 

If you wish to post a comment, look at the end of the latest posting. You will see the word "Comments" or something similar, along with the image of a pencil. Click on those words and a page that looks the same will come up, but with all the other comments that have been made (if any). When finished writing your comment, you can click on "Preview" to see what it's going to look like, or you can click on "Post" or "Publish" if you are satisfied with it. Be patient, it takes a little time for the computer to post it.

If you have trouble, send me an email, and I'll try to help from my end.

Friday, March 6, 2009

About Us

We are a non-profit group of storytellers founded in 1997 and located around the region of Bristol, TN and VA. This city of 50,000 people lies in both states located near the Holston Range of the Appalachian Mountains between Virginia's Blue Ridge and Tennessee's Smoky Mountains.

And yes, there is a Beaver Creek that flows through the city. It begins in Virginia and joins the Holston River in Sullivan County, Tennessee. This is the area where most of our members live or where they were born. 

Our mission is to improve and advance the Art of Story through performances, education, and public relations. Most of all we gather together to have fun!

Our founding members are Mimi and Rocky Rockwell (Mimi remains the Director), G. Lee Hearl, Pat Musselman, Joyce Moore, Wilhelmina Banks, and Isaac Freeman.

We tell monthly at Java J's Downtown, a coffee shop on State Street, the street that divides the city into two states. We also perform at some special events as scheduled through the year.