It was late fall 1980. A blustery wind was blowing the last leaves from the trees outside a stunning old Adirondack Mountain log mansion. Inside, large windows looked out over a beautiful clear mountain lake, and a warm crackling fire flickered in an ancient stone fireplace. In front of the fireplace a beautiful woman sat in a sturdy wooden rocking chair talking.
As she talked, shadows of the flames danced across her face and I fell in love. It would have been normal for me as a young man to have fallen in love with this beautiful, good-hearted woman. The surprise for me was that this time, instead, I was in love with the words that were flowing from her.
She was telling a story I still remember — a simple Japanese folktale called “The Stone Cutter” As that weekend continued, people of all shapes and sizes sat in that same chair and as they talked, I laughed, cried, hoped and dreamed. This art of storytelling, this simple pure art of talking had stirred up inside me a deep sense of connection to life with all its ups and downs. I was in love. Though I didn’t think I could tell stories… that weekend churned inside me. So it was that half way into a 3,000 mile bicycle tour of the U.S. in a school near the Mississippi River I told my first story. One hundred and fifty 5-9 year olds sat on the floor with a wide eyed stare, till I said “and the wild things roared their terrible roars”. One hundred and fifty children opened their mouth and let go a roar. They were so involved they didn’t know they were roaring. I was hooked… I couldn’t have imagined that two years later I’d combine this art of storytelling with my love of music and hang up a shingle to the world saying storyteller/musician. Sixteen years, a wife, two kids, a mortgage and several thousand performances and workshops later, that shingle is still the same. The journey has brought me to many places. I’ve met lots of fine people and a few curmudgeons. I’ve know great exhilaration, and humbling bumps and bruises. The feeling I had when I heard that first story next to the flickering fire, when 150 children roared back at me, that feeling in me is still the same. What I’m after through these simple arts is to bring people of all ages the gifts of laughter, wisdom, and insight, and leave them with nourished minds and spirits.