Maybe you’ve seen her and her partner Chris Rodrigues busking along the streets of Asheville, North Carolina, surrounded by dozens of mesmerized onlookers. Or maybe you’re one of millions of people who saw one of their viral videos as they radiated through Facebook or YouTube.
This weekend, you’ll have two chances to catch Abby and Chris in the region.
The duo’s first appearance this weekend will be another stop at The Willow Tree Coffeehouse and Music Room in downtown Johnson City on Saturday night. The venue’s owner, Teri Dosher, said the only tickets left for the performance are standing-room only spots for $18.
Ever since their viral videos, Abby never fails to bring a full house when she and Chris cross the mountain for a performance, Dosher said.
“I booked her before she went viral and we probably had 25 to 30 people at $10 a ticket, and now she’s selling out at $18 and $26 a ticket,” Dosher said. “If you go to one of her shows where she does storytelling and tells the story of her life and how she got to be doing what she’s doing, she’s fascinating and really a beautiful human.”
The second performance will be part of the Jonesborough Storytelling Guild’s Tellebration on Sunday at the McKinney Center, where you can hear stories from the road and how one might become a spoon player.
The worldwide Tellebration event begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the McKinney Center for the Arts, 103 Franklin Ave., in Jonesborough.
Abby is one of just a handful of professional spoon players, or spoonologists, in the world. Her path to play the spoons wasn’t an easy one – but one viral Facebook video was enough to propel her into a worldwide spotlight.
The pair’s performances are steeped in tradition – Chris, decked with his guitar, harmonica and a tambourine strapped to his shoe, provides the rhythm, melody and vocals to their songs as a one-man band, while Abby works her magic with her spoons in her hands and desk bells at her feet.
One wrong train was all it took for Abby to wind up in Asheville, and it didn’t take her long to fall in love with the city. Art and music permeate the culture, she said, and that’s what drew her to move there about six years ago.
She met Chris there, and the two instantly clicked and began busking on the streets of Asheville, gaining more and more recognition.
In fact, busking is still their favorite way to perform, Abby says. In addition to being a performer, she works to alleviate some laws that make street performance difficult. So far, she’s advocated for busking rights in other cities including Chattanooga and Spartanburg, South Carolina.
“It’s a way to kind of have a musical community, folks passing around tradition, thoughts, ideas,” Abby said, adding that busking brings all sorts of unique entertainment to the streets in places like Asheville. “When else would you see a human statue? When else would you see a magician or a juggler?”
In her years of performing, Abby has begun incorporating storytelling into her performances. She doesn’t tell every story at every show, and at some performances, she lets Chris do most of the talking. But Sunday’s storytelling performance will give the duo a one-on-one chance to connect with the crowd through their stories.
Abby said she hopes to motivate people through her storytelling, and serve as a beacon of inspiration for those who hear her story.
“I’m hoping folks will hear some of the things that I went through and see me and see somebody who doesn’t give up and maybe do that for themselves,” Abby said.
You can keep up with Abby and Chris on their respective Facebook pages, where they post tour dates and videos of their new songs.
Email Jessica Fuller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.