Monday, April 28, 2014

Montana Storytelling Roundup

I spent one and half lovely days in the company of a group of talented, motivating, colorful, and delightful individuals. The Montana Storytelling Contest has been held in Cut Bank, MT for the past twenty years. When I was invited this year by fellow MT author Kari Lynn Dell (also emcee for the night), I was so thrilled to be asked that I didn't give myself time to remember that I don't like speaking in front of people. I lose focus. The thoughts in my head build faster than I can say them, and that's when the words come out in a jumbled mess, especially when I'm as passionate about something as writing. 

That didn't stop me from saying "yes" because if it had, I would have missed out on meeting the actor/musician/storyteller, Neal Lewing, whose folk and Irish music had me tapping my feet and wishing for an encore. 

I would have missed out on Scott Kirby's awesome ragtime music, or his beautiful piano composition that literally inspired the idea for a new story. 

Tim Joyner's beautiful paintings would never have made such a fun, yet profound impression on me. He stood on stage Friday night and painted throughout the performances. The painting was then raffled off at the end. Apparently he does this every year, and his work was beautiful.


I might never have heard Jared Rogerson's fun Cowboy-Americana music, or listen to James Sticka retell his story of Jacob and the Giant with such entertaining enthusiasm. 

Leslie Millar's humor and Ellen Baumler's interpretive history might have remained off my radar for years, had I not gone.

Sometimes, stepping outside of oneself is worth the effort because of the amazing people we have the opportunity to meet. I have discovered that my public speaking days are happily behind me in high school and I'm in no hurry to revive them, even with small groups. However, there is a connection made between reader and writer, and writer and writer, that can't be fully formed over an internet connection. This year, the Montana Storytelling Roundup taught me that those one-on-one connections are not only necessary and valuable to any type of artist, but also a great deal of fun. 

After 20 years, the Montana Storytelling Roundup came to an end, and I was honored to be a part of the last event. The Great Falls Tribune did a nice story about the roundup that you can read here:  20 years of Montana Storytelling Roundup ends Saturday.

Of course, I can't seem to attend any event where books and music are involved without adding to my growing library. 

From Ellen Baumler, I picked up a copy of Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan, and a copy of Beyond Spirit Tailings: Montana's Mysteries, Ghosts, and Haunted Places.  

From James Sticka, I picked up a copy of Jacob and the Giant for my nephews.  

As I write up this post, I've been listening to the music of Neal Lewing and Scott Kirby. Yes, it was a weekend of great success in more ways than one. 

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