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In Jonesborough, two exclusive storytelling encores

Contributed • Nov 11, 2019 at 9:15 AM

As the season for live storytelling draws to a close in Jonesborough, a handful of very special opportunities remain to take in live music and storytelling concerts before the end of the year—including Japanese guitarist Hiroya Tsukamoto’s much-talked-about Jonesborough premiere.

But first up is seven-time Grammy nominee John McCutcheon, who was once described by Pete Seeger as among the country’s best songwriters.

Deeply admired by the late Johnny Cash, McCutcheon works in the tradition of Seeger and other folk grassroots activist-songwriters. He has mastered more than a dozen different instruments, but he’s perhaps best known for his singular ability to play the hammered dulcimer.

McCutcheon began steeping himself in traditional Appalachian music as a young man. He’s been a featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival many times, and the Washington Post has described his stories as having the “richness of fine literature.”

McCutcheon’s show, “Renaissance Man,” will only show twice at the International Storytelling Center (ISC) in Jonesborough. Both performances are on Thursday, Nov. 14 — one at 2 p.m., and one at 7:30 p.m. — in ISC’s intimate state-of-the-art theater.

Advance purchase for all performances is recommended, with tickets available for purchase on ISC’s website (storytellingcenter.net), in person or over the phone. Walk-in seating is available the day of the show, while supplies last. Tickets for all performances are $20.

The week after McCutcheon’s special appearance, Hiroya Tsukamoto will take the stage on Saturday, Nov. 23, at 2 p.m.

Tsukamoto, who hails from Kyoto and is now based in New York City, is an acclaimed guitarist with a deep appreciation of oral tradition.

“I am a musician, but what I do is a unique combination of eclectic acoustic music and stories—like a journey to different places,” Tsukamoto said. “I tell stories about my hometown, about my grandparents’ stories and experiences in the U.S., crossing cultural and musical borders.”

Tsukamoto has been described as a “a poetic spirit and an engaging storyteller, with a stage presence that is both humble and confident” by the Monadnock Center for History and Culture and “the best live guitar performance of my life” by a reporter for Rochester City News.

McCutcheon and Tsukamoto have been invited to Jonesborough as encore performers for the 2019 Storytelling Live! season, which officially concluded at the end of October. The popular program brings a new storyteller to perform at ISC each week. The lineup for the 2020 Storytelling Live! season will be announced soon, with the season launching next May.

ISC will also host a handful of tellers in December for the holiday season, including the Uncalled for Trio (Kim Weitkamp, Bil Lepp, and Andy Offutt Irwin) and Tim Lowry, who will be reprising his annual performance of “A Christmas Carol.”

Local discounts are available to ticketholders, with ticket stubs earning a 10 percent discount on same-day dining at Main Street Café (lunch only), Olde Towne Pancake House, Texas Burritos & More, Krazy Krepes, Jonesborough Barrel House, the Icing on the Cake (lunch only), and the Corner Cup. Additionally, Boone Street Market is offering 10 percent off prepared meals and 5 percent off any other purchase.

The premier sponsor of Storytelling Live! is Ballad Health. Additional program funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Niswonger Foundation, Eastman Credit Union, the Mooneyhan Family Foundation and Food City. Media sponsors include News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times-News, Herald & Tribune and Cumulus Media.

The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about Storytelling Live!, including the full 2019 line-up, or to purchase tickets, visit www.storytellingcenter.net  or call 800-952-8392.