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Teller to share music, mystery

The International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough will soon host a special series of performances by Kim Weitkamp, a popular humorist, musician and storyteller.
Often associated with industry icons like Bil Lepp and Andy Offutt Irwin, Weitkamp is known for everything from ghost stories to original guitar numbers. She tells old folk tales and funny personal stories, often in the same set — usually punctuated with a song or two for good measure.
While she’s a celebrated expert on traditional tales and classic forms, Weitkamp is perhaps best known amongst her peers as an innovator. In many, if not most, professions, that’s a trait that’s automatically tallied in the “plus” column. But in storytelling, a medium with a special emphasis on tradition and preservation, folks can be a little suspicious when it comes to trying new things.
Fortunately, Weitkamp is such a talented and tireless ambassador for the form that she can win over the most serious of skeptics. “I’m trying to get people invested in storytelling,” she said. “I’m still preserving the ancient art. I’m just having a lot of fun doing it.”
Weitkamp’s appearance in Jonesborough is courtesy of ISC’s Storytelling Live! series, which hosts a new performer each week through October. Matinee shows will be offered daily Tuesday through Saturday, Aug. 11 – 15, in the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall. Showtime is 2 p.m. sharp, and tickets are just $12 for adults and $11 for seniors, students and children under 18.
The storyteller’s matinees will pull from her favorite genres, including tales from her own childhood. “I’ve got a whole new section of my childhood that I’m bringing to the stage,” she said. “It’s really funny stuff.”
She’ll also share more recent personal stories, folk tales and even ghost stories, which she firmly believes should be year-round entertainment.
“Suspense, thrillers, spine-tingling mysteries — this stuff is good all year,” Weitkamp said.
“Just ask Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. They’re not just selling books in October, so we as storytellers shouldn’t save those stories for October either.”
On Thursday, Aug. 13, Weitkamp will host an additional evening show. A groundbreaking performance created especially for ISC, the show “Murder Mystery at the Storytelling Hall,” will be a living story with plenty of opportunities for audience participation.
Tickets for the exclusive Thursday night show are only $15. Advance purchase for it, as well as the matinees, is highly recommended.
All ticket holders will save 10 percent on same-day dining at The Dining Room, Jonesborough General Store and Eatery or Main Street Café.
Information about this season’s performers, as well as a detailed schedule, is available at www.storytellingcenter.net. Storytelling Live! is supported by program sponsors CrestPoint Health and Eastman Credit Union, and media sponsors News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times-News, Herald & Tribune, Cumulus Media and Foster Signs.
Additional funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Niswonger Foundation, and the Arts Fund of East Tennessee Foundation.
The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
For more information about Storytelling Live! or to make a group reservation, call (800) 952-8392 ext. 222 or 913-1276.