March 05, 2006
Went to see Janis Ian in concert tonight at The Ark. This was the third night of the current tour and she was good-humoured and interacted well with the audience. Sang a good mixture of old and new. Here Comes the Night" and "Between the Lines" were great. "At Seventeen" was also great - sounded like it was written only yesterday and sung with the same conviction even though it is more than 30 years old. Only gripe with the evening was that it was way too short (about 1.5 hours) and songs like "Jesse", "In the Winter" and "Stars" didn't feature.
She did tell a good story about being at a folk festival in Ireland when she overheard two women debating in the portaloos whether she would sing her biggest hit or not. Her take off of a northern Irish accent wasn't bad!
March 04, 2006
Attended the first evening of the 19th annual storytelling festival at Ann Arbor's The Ark this evening. I had forgotten how enjoyable a good story can be and that stories are not just for children. Susan Strauss used her body and her voice to tell stories about creation and about a coyote who believed that it was more powerful than the surrounding grasses. With regard to complaints that she has on occasion received about the 'farting coyote' story and how children might respond to it she commented that "If you dam the river the waters get muddied."
Alice McGill closed the evening by reminding the audience that the human voice is the most powerful instrument. On a few occasions during the evening she got the audience to sing reminding us of proverbs from Zimbabwe that claim that if you can talk you can sing and if you can walk you can dance. She opened her presentation by telling us that her story was herself and convinced us of that by telling lively and engaging stories of her homesickness in college and her becoming a teacher and about Brer Rabbit's attempt to marry the king's daughter.
The evening reminded me of what a powerful medium storytelling can be for educating and how knowledge of generations have been passed on by generations (such as McGill's story of how Africans used to be able to fly - lore which could not, in the past, be shared with bakras). The underlying human element of storytelling was highlighted by Alice McGill when early in her session she asked for the house lights to be put up because when she tells stories she likes to be able to see the whites of her listeners' eyes