FAIRMONT — Looking for something different to do this weekend?
Come listen to some blues. Listen to some stories.
The West Virginia Blues Society is holding a “Blues Night Out” Saturday at Christopher’s Banquet & Conference Center, 104 Van Kirk Drive, Fairmont.
“They have something here twice a year,” said Butch Tennant, owner of Christopher’s.
“Last year we had a tribute to Muddy Waters.”
Buffet begins at 6 pm. followed by featured artist Johnny Rawls at 9 p.m.
The Mississippi native began playing professionally while still in high school with such stars as ZZ Hill, Little Johnny Taylor, Joe Tex and the Sweet Inspirations. In the mid-70’s, he went to work for OV Wright as Wright’s band director. After Wright’s death in 1980, Rawls led Little Johnny Taylor’s band until 1985, when he began touring as a solo artist and made his first solo recording under the Rainbow label.
Rawls is accomplished in producing, songwriting, horn arranging, rhythm, lead and bass guitar, keyboard, vocals and background vocals. He started his own record company, Deep South Soul, in 2002. His 2006 CD, “Heart and Soul,” was nominated for “Best Soul Blues Album of the Year (2007)” by the Blues Foundation.
He’s been nominated four times for the W.C. Handy Award. His most recent award came from the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame for RB Male Vocalist of the Year 2006.
Rawls has performed at the Chicago Blues Festival twice, The Russian River Blues Festival, The King Biscuit Blues Festival, The Portland Waterfront Blues Festival, Poconos, as well as festivals in Sweden and Poland. He tours constantly, playing well over 200 dates a year.
Still want more?
Go on over to Fairmont State Friday and Saturday for some fine storytelling.
FSU, FSU’s Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center and the West Virginia Storytelling Guild present the Mountain State Storytelling Institute Friday and Saturday at the Falcon Center. “Creating the Tapestry of Culture: Weaving Stories for a Lifetime” is this year’s theme.
The Institute is a two-day conference featuring scholars and storytelling professionals. The intent is to provide academic, professional and personal development of those interested in storytelling as scholarship, art, a teaching tool and a profession. Workshops will feature members of the West Virginia Storytelling Guild, Fairmont State University and West Virginia University faculty, and FSU students.
Potential session topics include the following: oral history collection, incorporation of sound effects into story, “The Story Box Project,” the use of technology in storytelling and story collection, preserving family stories, the use of folk literature in storytelling, storytelling in the classroom, the creation of historical storytelling, storytelling techniques, storytelling in writing and multicultural stories.
A storytelling presentation will take place Friday from 7-7:30 p.m. at the Wallman Hall Theatre. It is free and open to the public, said Francene Kirk, FSU associate professor of speech.
The storytelling begins at 7:30 p.m. with keynote scholar Kevin Cordi, storyteller in residence at Ohio State University. His story work has been commissioned by the National Youth Storytelling Hall of Fame, Newsweek and The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. As a story teacher, he is considered one of the nation’s primary advocates for youth storytelling
Keynote speaker will be Connie Regan-Blake, “the premier female storyteller in the United States,” Kirk said. She has been featured on five audio and two videos produced by PBS and has performed at the nation’s top folk music and storytelling festivals, including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.
“She tells folk tales, children’s tales, personal tales. She’s a performer,” Kirk said.
“A lot of people use storytelling in their work. Teachers and ministers very often tell stories to make a point without beating their audience over the head. Storytelling is the passing down of culture from one generation to the next. Dad talking about his parents. It’s a transition of culture.”
Workshops on using current technology to preserve history, culture and storytelling will also be presented, she said.
At 1 p.m. Saturday, the Mountain State Storytelling Institute will feature “Potluck,” a theatrical “feast of stories, poems and songs about food and the community.”
Admission is $5 for the general public. Tickets will be available at the door. The Potluck performance is sponsored by the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.
Potluck creators and performers Karen Vuranch, Julie Adams and Colleen Anderson are well-known throughout the state. Vuranch has toured the state telling stories and performing her one-woman shows, “Coal Camp Memories” and “Homefront.” She also portrays Pearl S. Buck and Mother Jones.
Singer-songwriter Julie Adams is the featured vocalist on “Mountain Stage” and has performed with Kathy Mattea, Sarah McLachlan and others. Colleen Anderson is a noted writer who work has been published in Redbook and Arts and Letters. Her essays are featured on West Virginia Public Radio.
For those attending the Mountain State Storytelling Institute, the performance cost is included in the registration fee. Vuranch, Anderson and Adams will also present workshops for the Storytelling Institute.
“Our culture takes storytelling for tranted,” Kirk said, “It’s a natural part of Appalachian life. As technology takes on so much a part of our lives, we fail to recognize the importance of oral transmission of information.
“Storytelling provides lessons and entertainment ... and cultural elements. Our identity is based on stories. From our grandparents and parents, we learn what’s important. Where did we come from?”
Eileen Evans will talk about creating historial characters and will do a presentation as Coralei Franklin Cook, a suffragette who had taught at Storer College in Harpers Ferry.
A workshop will also be given on collecting oral history and “really listening to people. That’s a gift you can give. People don’t feel listened to anymore.
“These are solo performers,” she said of the presenters. “Each brings his or her own specific talents. If you like theatre or reading or stand-up comedy, you will like storytelling.
“Sometimes people think of storytelling as a children’s activity, but if you go to the national storytelling festival, you will recognize this is an entertainment and educational opportunity for adults.”
This project is being presented with financial assistance from The West Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Registration for the entire institute is $50 for the public and $35 for students. Participation is limited to 100. For more information or to register, contact Susan Bailey at (304) 347-4203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
E-mail Debra Minor Wilson at email@example.com.
FAIRMONT — Looking for something different to do this weekend?
Happy 150th birthday, West Virginia
It’s not often you’re invited to a 150th birthday celebration.
But when West Virginia throws its Big Birthday Bash on Thursday, June 20, downtown Fairmont will be the place to be.
FSU continues its tradition of musicals
Fairmont State University’s Town & Gown Summer Theatre continues its longstanding tradition of musical productions when it presents “Little Women” and the world premiere of “Farmers Market the Musical” this summer.
McNeill: ‘Poet embracing Central Appalachia’
With West Virginia’s 150th birthday coming up in less in less than a month, organizations all over the state are coming up with their own unique ways to celebrate the sesquicentennial.
‘Whispers in the Wind’ set at fort
It’s a day for remembering.
That’s why Memorial Day was invented, after all — to commemorate those who fought and died for their country, both past and present.
MusicFest Saturday at East Marion
According to mental health indicators collected by federal health agencies, West Virginia has a long road to travel.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports the state is among the highest in the country for individuals experiencing major depressive episodes, to say nothing about general psychological distress.
‘Woman of Courage’ book signing Saturday
The Marion County Historical Society will be hosting Bob Thompson, author of “A Woman of Courage on the West Virginia Frontier: Phebe Tucker Cunningham,” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday for a book signing.
Traditional Music Day set May 11
With April showers behind us, the days are getting warmer and the sun brighter. It’s a good time of year to sit in the sun and enjoy it, and Pricketts Fort wants to help make it happen.
Country Music Hall inductions Saturday
The Sagebrush Round-Up, which houses the Country Music Hall of Fame of West Virginia, is hosting its second annual induction for West Virginians who have made significant contributions to the country music scene here in Marion County and across the state and country.
‘Follies’ celebrating 40th year
The word calls to mind the Broadway shows of the 1940s and ’50s with their elaborate costuming and big production values.
History Expo April 6 at courthouse
“History doesn’t have to be boring. History can be fun.”
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