By Nick Smith

South Coast Story Teller's Guild members Bob & Linda Pruitt.

Music, dance and storytelling have been the three branches of the performing folk arts since mankind first learned to talk and sing. Weirdly, though, some folks tend to view them as totally separate things, even though there are many marvelous performers who are involved with two or more of the three. The connection between music and dance is easier to perceive, but the connection of storytelling is just as strong. Consider how much storytelling took place in performances by Woody Guthrie, Utah Phillips or Pete Seeger, or how much there is nowadays in the concerts by artists like John McCutcheon. Or, listen to Prairie Home Companion sometime and listen to how much spoken word performance there is going along with their wonderful music.

This year’s Folk Alliance Region West [FAR-West] conference in Oakland was a wake-up call for people who had forgotten the connections between folk music and storytelling. There was a panel discussion on the ways that music and storytelling are used together, and the finale event of the conference was a storytelling concert, featuring tellers from up and down the California coast.

It’s only right that this happen in the fall, because it’s story season. People think of stories at Halloween, but in fact as the days grow shorter, there have traditionally been stories told all through the fall and winter, in places where they actually have seasons.

Here in southern California, we still don’t have fall weather as such this year, but we do have the season of the story. The biggest share of it is coming in November, with an event called Tellabration. For over two decades, storytellers around the world have put on shows on the 3rd or 4th Saturday of November. While the concept started in New England, Tellabration spread around the world, with events held on every continent except Antarctica so far.

The idea of Tellabration is to share the art of storytelling, not just a performance by a single storyteller, so the evening events typically involve multiple tellers performing on the same night. The evening concerts are typically for adults, who have too often forgotten that it’s fun to hear someone tell a story. Most Tellabration concerts are inexpensive, as concerts go, and any profits typically help support the storytelling guild which puts on the show.

This year, there will be at least four Tellabration concerts in southern California, plus a week-long storytelling celebration at the Pasadena Public Library.

- Saturday, November 15th at 7 pm, the Storytellers of San Diego will be performing at Chalice UU Congregation, 2324 Miller Ave, Escondido. Tickets are $15, and the show is for ages 12+. Performers include Aunt Li-Anne and some of San Diego County’s other finest Tellers: Linda Whiteside, Fred Laskowski, Mindy Donner, Mary Holma, Patti Christensen and James Nelson-Lucas, Charles Johnson, and Marilyn McPhie.

- Saturday, November 22nd at 1:00 pm at the Mission Viejo Library, 100 Civic Center, Mission Viejo, CA 92691 949-830-7100 , the South Coast Storytellers Guild will host a daytime Tellabration event. Tickets are $5 per person, or $10 per family. Tellers for that event include Ron Chick, Carol Miller, David Whiting and Dave Chittenden.

- Saturday, November 22nd at 7:00 pm at the Folk Music Center in Claremont, 220 Yale Ave., the Inland Valley Storytellers will put on their show, in this hallowed hall. Dorothy Chase, one of the founders of the Folk Music Center, was a talented storyteller, and this event is held there in her honor. The performers for this event include Angela Lloyd, Karen Rae Kraut, John St. Clair, Adrien Lowery, Nick Smith and Ron Chick. Tickets for this are $10. Recommended for age 12+.

- Saturday, November 22 at 7:30 pm, the Long Beach Storytellers are hosting their Tellabration event at the El Dorado Nature Center, El Dorado Park, 7550 E. Spring Street, in Long Beach. Tickets for their event are $5.

If that’s not enough for you, or if you have younger children, then maybe you’d like to visit the weeklong “Tellabration: A Celebration of Storytelling” events at the Pasadena Public Library. During the week of November 16-22, there will be a total of ten daytime storytelling shows for the whole family at various branches of the library, featuring story theater Flights of Fantasy and storytellers Marilyn McPhie, Karen Golden, Angela Lloyd, and Ina Buckner-Barnette with percussionist Chazz Ross. Visit the Pasadena Public Library website cityofpasadena.net/library/ and click on the “Events and Programs” tab for the actual schedule.

Nick Smith is coordinator of the Caltech Folk Music, as well as a performing storyteller.