Sam Payne, a storyteller and singer-songwriter based in Utah, will appear as the second teller in residence in the Storytelling Live! series, an artistic residency program produced by the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough.
Throughout his weeklong appearance, May 9-13 (Tuesday through Saturday), he’ll offer daily matinees at 2:00 p.m. in the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall on ISC’s downtown campus.
Payne got his start in the entertainment industry as a professional musician, but even before his career shifted into storytelling, he sensed a strong connection between stories and songs. “Maybe this is true for everybody, but all my big experiences in life are so easily triggered by the memory of a piece of music,” he says. He often mixes old standards and the occasional song from a musical into his sets, reliving those experiences with his audience.
Payne considers even the musical portions of his program as a form of storytelling, and works hard to blur the line between where a song ends and a story begins. “Some of my stories might be described as musical stories,” he says, “but others are stories about music. Then there are the pieces I play that are simply stories in and of themselves.” He has a strong interest in the American tradition of folk music, a form that heavily relies on jazz, which gives his sound an idiosyncratic twist, and narrative.
Payne, a trained actor, also co-directs a children’s Shakespeare company where he works with kids starting at age three. One play he recently directed had three generations from one family. “We have four-year old murderers hiding behind trees with their cloaks and knives,” he says. “It’s really something to see.”
The Storytelling Live! series, which runs through late October, will bring a new teller to Jonesborough each week for at least five matinee performances. Tickets are just $12 for adults and $11 for seniors, students, and children under 18 for all performances. Advance purchase is always recommended. Ticketholders can present their ticket stubs for a 10 percent discount on same-day dining at JJ’s Eatery and Ice Cream or Main Street Café, two popular eateries in Jonesborough.
Information about all performers, as well as a detailed schedule for 2017, is available at www.storytellingcenter.net.
The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about Storytelling Live! or to make a group reservation, call 800-952-8392 ext. 222 or 423-913-1276.