Saturday, October 22, 2005

I remembered when Eth-no-tec first appeared on the storytelling scene; lots of discussion on the storytell listserv about their style, the theatrics of it, whether it was storytelling or not. I couldn't wait to see them for myself, so I made sure I was in a tent on Friday that featured them.

Yes, they are theatrical in their presentation, but so are many other tellers, Milbre Burch, for instance. They came to storytelling from theater, so why should that surprise anyone? As for whether it's storytelling or not---yes, it is, and a delightful and refreshing take on the art form. I've always marveled at tandem tellers and their ability to work together. To add in the visual presentation of these two completely staggers my very small brain.

We had the special pleasure of seeing them perform along with a friend at the Saturday Fringe Festival. The story they told is one that was a bit of a touchstone for me. Storytellers get to a point where most stories are familiar to us in some form. Yet I heard this completely new to me tale not once, but three different times at the Festival from three different tellers--Odds Bodkin, Jennings and Ponder, and by Eth-no-tec and friend at the Fringe.

I missed only two sessions due to my booksigning commitments. I'd bought tickets for the Ghost Story concerts in the park, but the cold rainy weather kept me in the tents instead. Yet another reason to return to Jonesborough.

The funniest personal incident for me occured Saturday afternoon. Kevin Kling has landed on the storytelling scene in a big way, packing any tent in which he appears and gaining standing ovations for his funny, touching and almost Jack Benny style delivery that has to be experienced live to fully appreciate his considerable talent. Kevin Kling was also my youngest brother's roommate back in their starving student days. I had a message to deliver and all my friends knew it. Before his solo set, my friend Yvonne Healy got his attention to introduce me.

"Hi Kevin, I'm Gwyn Calvetti, really looking forward to your set, but I have one question for you."

I'm sure he was already wondering who this flake was.

"Does the name Fritz Johnson mean anything to you?"

For a moment, he had this look of 'where did THAT come from, and why HERE?' but he simply responded with a hesitant, "yes?"

Knowing my brother as I do, I can understand Kevin's hesitancy.

"Well, I'm Fritz's big sister, and he has a message for you. Here's his number, and he says, 'Call me, Butthead!'"

Kevin broke into a guffaw, took the card and said, "Well, great! Thanks!"

Later I caught up with him in the Marketplace Tent and had the chance to have him suggest which of his CDs would be perfect for Fritz. I do hope that he and my brother can reconnect. After hearing him tell, I understand perfectly why he and Fritz connected in the first place.

I could write books on all the wonderful tellers, the stories and the entire Jonesborough experience. I'll conclude my lesson by saying, in the immortal words of the Terminator---

"I''ll be back!"


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