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Storytelling festival returns with in-person performances

Sounds of the Mountains

Lyn Ford says the past couple of years have been interesting for her as a storyteller, but there was always something missing.

“Because I had travelled to places like Berlin, Germany, to Pakistan to share stories, but it was in those little boxes in the Zoomiverse. So, it’s kind of hard to feel the connections with people. That’s one of the reasons why I am really looking forward to the Sounds of the Mountains Storytelling Festival, face to face.”

Ford will be sharing original stories from her family’s multi-cultural

African American Appalachian heritage, what she calls Affrllachian.

“A term created by Frank X. Walker in Kentucky. He was the very first African American poet laureate for the state of Kentucky. And he created the term Affillachiareminding people that the hills are a very diverse place.”

Many of Lyn Ford’s stories are folktales from her family, especially her father.

“His memory, his face, his voice they’re in my head and my heart. And so I do share some folktales he had told me. In fact, a lot of my material comes from family. I can’t think of anybody in the family who didn’t tell some kind of story. But that doesn’t mean I’m sharing them word for word. I’m shring them from the heart.”

Another storyteller looking forward to being in front of a live audience at Sounds of the Mountains is Josh Goforth, a storyteller and musician.

“The way I perform is just to sit down, play some tunes, and then start talking. It should feel like you’re on a front porch and we’re all kind of together.”

And, as with Lyn Ford, Goforth says his storytelling comes from family.

“I was hearing stories about my, you know, my great, great, great, great grandfather. You know I was hearing stories about people from the late 1700s, early 1800s. And that’s because those stories had been passed down through my family.

I always tell this one story, you know, my grand dad, I used to go ‘round his house, if we eat a lot of food, like if we came ‘round there and just started eating and we just kept eating, you know, we were hungry, he’d say, ‘You come ‘round here like ol’ Luther Bell. You’re just like ol’ Luther Bell.” And as kid I’m like ‘Luther Bell? Whose Luther Bell?’ And I found out Luther Bell was this guy in the early 1800s that used to go help people like, you know, cut firewood for themselves or whatever they needed. And he would eat a meal with them. And then he’d to to the next place and do that again and eat a meal with them. So, he’d just be eating meals all day long and helping people with their work. So, that’s what that spawned out of, I mean, if that story hadn’t been passed down, nobody would know who Luther Bell was.”

Bringing the Sounds of the Mountains Storytelling Festival back live feels good to Festival Director Alan Hoal.

“It is a huge relief. I got to tell you, I can’t wait. I’m really looking forward to it. I mean I always look forward to these festivals, but I tell you after two years in the online Zoom wilderness, so to speak, it’s going to be a big relief. I think there’s going to be a lot of energy coming back live.”

Sounds of the Mountains Storytellng Festival this weekend, Friday and Saturday at Camp Bethel just north of Roanoke, with Lyn Ford, Bill Lepp, Len Carbral, Barbara McBride Smith, and Josh Goforth, with his stories and fiddle.

For more info:

Sounds of the Mountains

Luke has been affiliated with WVTF for many years, with first contact in 1980 on assignment for the Virginia News Network. From the late 80s to the mid 90s he volunteered for Voice of the Blue Ridge and answered phones during fund drives. He was a station stringer reporter in Charlottesville in the early 00s, contributing to Studio Virginia and later working at the station's Water Street studio.