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Iconic teller to share childhood tales

Donald Davis is set to return.


Donald Davis has been telling stories in Jonesborough since the early years of the National Storytelling Festival. One of the most recognizable entertainers in the world, Davis offers funny, poignant meditations on his childhood in a deep Southern accent that’s almost as distinctive as his signature bowties.

Davis is one of the storytellers who is credited with the form’s shift towards personal narratives, an influential move that helped spawn organizations like the Moth and StoryCorps.

Appearing soon in the lineup of the International Storytelling Center’s Storytelling Live! series, Davis will give fans the rare opportunity to see him perform in an intimate setting.

The special appearance will run Sept. 30 through Oct. 3, Monday through Thursday. All daytime concerts are located in the International Storytelling Center’s intimate state-of-the-art theater, located on Main Street.

His performance schedule will be brisk, since shows usually sell out, with shows on Monday at 2 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and Thursday at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m..

In addition to his afternoon performances, for one night only, Davis will host “Women Who Raised Me, Chapter One,” an exclusive evening concert that will take place on the grounds of the National Storytelling Festival. Davis will share memories of two of the women who helped his mother raise him.

Scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 7:30 p.m., the concert is the first of two special events leading up to the 47th annual National Storytelling Festival. The second, a concert featuring the popular humorist Jeanne Robertson, is scheduled for Thursday night.

Both Davis’s and Robertson’s evening events will take place in the Festival’s Library Tent. Tickets are just $20 for all ages, and are available at the entrance while supplies last. Advance reservations are highly recommended.

The National Storytelling Festival, where Davis will perform for much larger audiences numbering in the thousands, is Oct. 4 – 6.

Storytelling Live! tickets, like all events sponsored by the International Storytelling Center, can be purchased in advance on ISC’s website, in person, or over the phone. Walk-in seating is available the day of the show, while supplies last. Tickets for all daytime concerts are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18.

Exclusive discounts are available to ticketholders for the evening concert and matinee shows. Ticket stubs will earn 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.

Storytelling Live! will conclude its 2019 season in October. A few encore performances, including several holiday shows, will be held at ISC through the year’s end.