happy new year 2018 -- Tim & Leanne Newsletter


  • Opening Remarks
  • Festival Gig
  • Chautauqua NoShows
  • What's Next
  • Obligatory Pet Picture
  • Something About Storytelling
  • CDs
  • Closing Remarks


2018! Well, another one down. Once again we say whew, we've made it this far. So far.

This is a nice little thaw we've got on right now, isn't it? --after that brutal plunge into the kind of Ultrawinter Vermonters used to get every year, but which nowadays comes as such a rude surprise. Nex month we'll see the light growing. And then, and then, and then...

Trapp Family Lodge called us in for another December holiday show. We've done 25 of them there over the years; more than that actually, 25 is just the total since I started keeping track in Filemaker. Nice turnout, warm response, sold some CDs. It's a nice space, and nice people, but you never know how many are going to figure out you're there. This visit, a not inconsiderable portion came down because they saw us in the lobby or ran into us on the elevater as we came in, an hour before showtime, recognized us (from Trapp, Jay, Basin Harbor, New World Festival, First Night, etc), and changed their plans so they could attend the show.

Don't let that happen to you! Make your plans now! We have at least one more public show in us (we're not counting on anything beyond that.) It's coming right up. And it's FREE. (echo effect: freee freee freee freee)

T&L Family Set
1:00-1:45 PM
Montpelier Spice on Snow Festival
Kellogg Hubbard Library

We're part of the Family Track, so we're FREE.

The Festival features lots of other things going on all around Montpelier:
concerts, workshops, jams, etc.
Unlike the sets on the family stage,
many of these events cost money,
• some of them are very cool
• the festival helps support its producer,
The Summit School, which is
a worthy cause
they need volunteers!

Festival Website
Facebook Event
Cajun Events
Festival Schedule


One of the reasons it has been so long since I sent one of these out is, I'm embarassed.

I planned three Chautauqua shows at the Four Corners Schoohouse: September, October and November. I scheduled the acts, wrote & sent out publicity, reserved the room, all (for a change) well in advance.

We did the first one during foliage season: Jennings & Ponder with guest star Blue Fox. It was a good show. Enough people showed up so that nobody felt weird about being there, we had some new material-- I sang & played harmonica blues, Blue and I swapped stories about performing on the street-- good music, snappy folktales, warm brownies neither mushy nor tough. Folks definitely had a good time, the show was a success in that important way.

But --- but but but but but-- we drew too small a crowd to support two professional acts. After paying for the room and refreshments there was only $50 left, which I chose to give to the guest performer. We made nothing. For our last Chautauqua, the performers split $400, which I had been hoping was a trend.

I was tired afterwards. After all the promotion and preparation (our shows take a lot more prep than they used to, more about that some other time), shopping and postering, cooking, setting up, bottling down my disappointment so I could perform with spirit (you owe it to those who do show up), then packing up afterwards and cleaning the room, I found myself dispirited.I turn 70 this year, and apparently no longer have-- or at least I didn't have then-- the reserve of optimistic energy that you need to combat such feelings.

So when the time came to do the Halloween chauatauqua, we just... didn't. I cancelled the Thanksgiving event with Tom Azarian too. I didn't send out any newsletters, or go on Allen LePage's Sunday morning radio show.

But back in learly September I had finally figured out how today's newspaper/online event listings work, & had sent out releases about all three shows well in advance, widely. And I never figured out how to cancel them. So we had two nonexistant shows with excellent print promo.

I don't know if anybody went. Nobody called for tickets or reservations, nobody yelled "where the hell are/were you???"

On the other hand quite a few people got excited after each no-show, when they saw us with our dog on the bike path or walking in the mall, saying "you're those storytelling people I read about in the paper, aren't you?" I believe many of our peers are under the impression that we're more active than we've been. These are good things, in a Trumpian kind of way..

Does anybody know of anybody who showed up to a dark room? I don't. If you do, or if you are such a person, please tell me. I would apologize and try to make it up to anybody who went out for nothing. In any case, I'd really like to know.

Anyway, I'm calling a moritorium on self-production. I think we'll get at least a few more duo shows-for-hire from time to time, and we'll probably do a few freebies. I'll keep you posted.


We still do a school show now and then. We work with smaller groups than we used to, charge less & bring along only concertina and uke.

Jan 30
Lakeview School
School-Community Program 
6:30 pm
Greensboro VT


As I've written here before, I have a sketchy plan to make a small book-- or perhaps part of a series of small books that can turn into a bigger and more comprehensive one, but small to start-- containing tales and short fragments that I've collected from folk transmission, served on a bed of comments about what they are, and where they come from and how I got them, and especially how to perform them effectively. I hope to use it as the basis of an oral presentation of some kind.

You've seen early drafts of some of that material here, that's always been one of the main purposes for our newsletter project. Some of that has shown up in folklore and storytelling journals.

I hope to have a preliminary draft of that book-- or at least enough of an outline to know what still needs to get written-- by Summer. That's my current project, perpetually shuttling front burner to back burner to fridge.

Again, I'll keep you posted.

Li'l Doggy Wonder isa dog in the sunThe Sunshine of Our Life

Something about Storytelling


There was a kind of folk-teller revival in the nineteen seventies, paralleling the folk music revival in the sixties. It ground to a halt for many reasons, but not the least of them was this: folktales are mostly gone from oral transmission, and making an effective performance of a folktale taken from a book is hard.

The stuff that makes spontaneous oral material work does not survive translation into text. Exact transcripts of fine oral performances are often unreadable. In order to create a decent experience for the reader, any decent writer insticnctively replaces what has been lost by turning it into half-way decent written prose. The result does not sound right when spoken: more (too many) words, sturdily (klunky) built structure, a (kitschy) colorful variety in vocabulary, careful (fussy) sentences, etc.

Let's leave the question of dialect alone for now, merely noting that the tales that survived the longest were in deep dialect, and you don't sound right talking that way unless you actually do talk that way. In fact, you make decent people wince.

To achieve the original impact of a well-told tale, a good reival folkteller must strip off all that crap and somehow-- in my experience, mostly through performance, like standup-- reinvent what it was designed to replace. The result will, once again, look terrible on the page.

Writing... leaves out much of what makes language tick: timing, prosody, emphasis, tone. Language is more than libretto; we shouldn’t settle for the sheet music when we can have the performance.
from "The Samantha Test" by Brian Christian blogging at newyorker.com 1/1/2014

Most people assume that meaning is embedded in the words they speak. But according to forensic linguists, meaning is far more vaporous, teased into existence through vocalized puffs of air, hand gestures, body tilts, dancing eyebrows, and nuanced nostril flairs. The transmission of meaning still involves primate mechanics worked out during the Pliocene era. 
from “Words on Trial” by Jack HettThe New Yorker 7/23/12

The moment "talk" is put into print you recognize that it is not what it was when you heard it; you perceive that an immense something has disappeared from it. That is its soul. You have nothing but a dead carcass left on your hands.... I wouldn't talk in my sleep if I couldn't talk better than that.
Mark Twain (to a journalist, explaining why he was nixing publication of an interview, after reading the transcript.)

In fact, speech is characterized by all the things writing teachers tell students to eliminate from their prose in the interest of clarity: repetition, contradiction, exaggeration, run-ons, fragments, and cliches, plus an array of tonal and physical inflections-- drawls, grunts, shrugs, winks, hand gestures--unreproducible in written form. People talk for hours without uttering a single topic sentence. Yet we generally understand speech perfectly and instantaneously. We don't have to keep going over the same sentence three times to figure out what the person is trying to say. People communicate with their bodies much more effectively than they do on paper. You cannot make a semicolon mistake when you're talking...

Friends of the critic Desmond MacCarthy, who was a member of the Bloomsbury circle, thought that he was a fantastic talker, and that his genius was never reflected adequately in his writing. One day, some of them invited MacCarthy over and hired a stenographer to hide outside the room and record his conversation. MacCarthy showed up and obliged by talking brilliantly. After he left, the friends waited impatiently for the transcription to arrive. They read it. The writing was completely banal.
Louis Menand, from "Comp Time", The New Yorker 9/11/00



winter surf

Anybody still reading?

I have to stop here, we're getting ready to go visit my sister and her husband. I'll be checking email while we're gone.

Write and let us know how you're doing, hope to see you down the line

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