Friday, November 11, 2011

Facing the Threat, Work Towards Peace

In the last decade, our modern societies have been ruled and controlled by fear and intimidation. One of the reasons why the Occupy movement has struck such a nerve is that people are tired of being afraid. Many of these people have spent the last 10 years being afraid, having their worst fears stoked and amplified until they acted without thinking, letting others do the thinking for them. There is only so much people can take that kind of manipulation before they break down. When that happens, they can either curl up into a ball and accept it all, or they dig their heels into the ground, let their courage give them the strength to start moving forward, pushing their fears aside.

The Occupees are facing the risk of arrest, violence, and as winter approaches, the unforgiving elements of nature. And yet, they continue to peacefully assemble to protest a system that has victimized not only the 99% of yesterday and today, but also the other 99% of tomorrow. They are sacrificing themselves now so that others will not need to sacrifice themselves later.

When we wear the Red Poppy at this time, we are remembering those men and women who had to push their fears aside to face an enemy that threatened their families, their loved ones. This remembrance applies to all those warriors, on all sides of the conflict: the Canadians, the Americans, the French, the British, the Iraqis, the Afghans, the Germans, the Japanese, the Koreans, the Mexicans, etc. This also applies to those people who are protesting and calling for change, often in the face of violent opposition by those who can only benefit from their efforts. These social warriors are exercising their courage so that the rest us won't need to.

Personally, I have only recently heard of the White Poppy, which is worn as a symbol of peace, but the White Poppy has been in circulation for almost as long as the Red Poppy (a difference of only  5 years). There is some debate over the wearing of the Red/White poppy, but I don't understand why we can honor the sacrifices of the fallen (Red Poppy) and recommit ourselves to peace in the present and future (White Poppy).

So wear your poppy, red or white, in remembrance of those who found the courage to face the threat in the past, in recognition for those manage to find the courage to face the threat today, and for hope for a peaceful, better tomorrow when the need for that courage is less.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Dead Don't Pay, with SFX!

Halloween is only a few days away, but unfortunately, I don't have a new ghosty story to share with you. Instead, I was contacted by my friend Rikki who has been adding sound effects to one of my previous postings The Dead Don't Pay.

The original recording was done before a live student audience somewhere in Montreal back in early 2009.

UPDATE: This track is currently featured on my new CD called "Did You Hear That?"

So I invite you to rediscover this story with the SFX that Rikki has added. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Audience Analysis

I was just reviewing the traffic statistics gathered by Blogger for this site and I was more than a bit surprised at the results. I expected that most of my visitors would be from Canada, but that is certainly not the case.

As of today, my All Time Audience Statistics are as follows:

United States: 2,774
Canada: 1,933
Russia: 723
Germany: 231
France: 222
Ukraine: 193
Netherlands: 156
Slovenia: 116
United Kingdom: 113
Poland: 71

But in the past week, my Audience Statistics are as follows:

Canada: 36
Slovenia: 34
United States: 27
Ukraine: 13
Russia: 8
France: 3
Poland: 2
South Africa: 2
Costa Rica: 1
Germany: 1

Incredible! Canada and Slovenia are neck in neck in terms of traffic! I would really like to know who is watching this blog in Slovenia!

I don't get many comments on this site, but I would really appreciate it if you could leave me a comment stating who you are, how you found the site, and where you come from. It fascinates me.

And finally, the story post that has gotten to most number of pageviews (312) is the one that has the La Befana story in it. Amazing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Guest Teller: Ian Ferrier

Back on October 3rd 2011, I hosted Montreal's first Story Slam called Conte SLAMtastique Storytelling. It was held at Shaika Cafe in NDG and we had over 30 people attend our first event. Very encouraging!

Our first guest teller was local poet and spoken word artist Ian Ferrier. I had met Ian a few times in the past year at other spoken word events, namely his own evening called Wired On Words. Ian has also interviewed other storytellers and performance artists that I admire, so over all, I was a fan of his work.

Ian showed up with his guitar and amp in tow, ready to astound and amaze. His performance was unbelievable and the crowd was greatly impressed. He performed two of his own pieces: Blue Train and Emma's Country. I saw quite a few teary eyes at the end of his second piece, so the crowd was obviously moved.

With Ian Ferrier's permission, I want  to share the first piece he performed. This is taken from his CD "What is this Place" (which also contains Emma's Country).

Blue Train -- Written and performed by Ian Ferrier (7:35 minutes)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Throw Poetry Collective: The Delicious Lie

The great folks at Throw Poetry Collective invited me to tell a story at their event in September 2011. Since I wasn't participating in the slam competition, I wasn't restricted to the 3 minute limit, so I was able to tell a proper story at a decent pace.

So here's the video of me telling the story of The Delicious Lie.

I have few other vids of stories I've told. If you want to see them, check out my website's Media page.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Skeleton Woman with Drums and Rattles

So this past summer, I was at a festival in Ontario and I had the opportunity to tell the tale of Skeleton Woman with the band Wychwood Children. This telling was completely unrehearsed, although the drummer (Rikke LaCoste) and the rattler (Greg Currie) knew different versions of the story. We had the chance to talk a little about the story and the particular moments that needed emphasis, but the rest of it was completely improvised in terms of mood music.

The performance was recorded, but the microphone is physically behind the musicians instead of being in front of me. Consequently, the drum and rattle are really loud and my voice is softer. I tried boosting the sound and filtering out the instruments a bit, but it's not ideal.

However, I really happy with my telling of this story. It's still a work in progress, but it gets better every time I tell it. I want it to be a touching love story despite the presence of a skeleton. I still need to work on the ending, but its coming along.

Skeleton Woman -- Told by JD Hickey with Wychwood Children on drums and rattles(6:42 minutes)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

TaelStrum in NDG in August

Join TaelStrum for tales and music as we take part in NDG Arts Week! We will be performing at the Centre Communautaire NDG on August 21st and August 27th at 11am. It's family show, so feel free to bring your kids!

There's lots of artistic stuff going on in NDG! For more information on the NDG Arts Week, please visit http://www.cooplamaisonver​

TaelStrum at NDG Arts Week
August 21st and August 27th
11:00am - 11:30am
Centre Communautaire NDG
3757 Prudhomme
Montreal, Quebec
Facebook Event page

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

August Story: The Delicious Lie

I've been sitting on this Indian story for months now, waiting for the chance to tell it at a festival that happened last weekend. Unfortunately, I didn't win the Bardic competition, but I got lots of great feedback from the people who heard it. This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite stories to tell.

In this version, I used the word "Bard" instead of "Storyteller" only because Bard is a term that this audience really relates to.

It's a shame that I couldn't have recorded the performance that night: it went off perfectly. I got all the details right, my projection was solid and strong (500+ people sitting outside around a campfire in a multi-ringed circle), and I was able to roll with the audience reactions and some light heckling.

I also want to thank the Wild Orchids for attempting to bribe the judges on my behalf: I was touched and flattered beyond belief. Bribing the judges is an unofficial part of the performances, which is done blatantly in front of everyone, but I've always made it part of the performance to NOT bribe the judges. The Wild Orchids made their own smoked chocolate ice cream and presented it to the judges on a silver platter (I had tasted it earlier and I almost felt like taking the bribe myself).

There is a slightly longer version of this story, but I've gotten so used to telling the 5-minute version, I've decided to stick with it. This was recorded in my office with no audience present. If I can find the right music, I may add a musical soundtrack later.

The Delicious Lie -- Told by JD Hickey (5:19 minutes)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bardic Etiquette

A Bardic is a type of talent show and can include singing, music, dancing, acting, storytelling, poetry, magic, juggling, and more! A bardic usually involves several performers who each take the stage (or the centre of a circle) in turn, and the performances are usually less than 10 minutes long. Sometimes a bardic can involve judges and prizes, but it's often just a venue to showcase our community talent and while-away an evening.

A bardic is usually held at night around a campfire, although there have been venues with stages, lighting, and microphones. But a bardic is usually a low-tech, cozy, and home-grown evening of entertainment.

Bardic Etiquette applies to both the bard and the audience. The Bard and the listeners both enter into a pact where the listeners pledge to open themselves to the bard, and the bard pledges to share something inspiring. The chances of the Bard failing in this pact are as epic as the legends of old, and if the Bard is not ready to move his listeners, his listeners will move away, leaving the Bard powerless.

Truly, a Bard without an audience is a fool talking to himself. This is why the Bard needs to pick his material carefully, rehearse it methodically, and deliver it passionately. Any power he wields over his audience is given freely to him; it is not wielded solely by him and it certainly is never lorded over his audience (or at least, not for long).

When a bard performs a piece in a bardic, the audience is expected to:

* turn off their cellphones
* be respectful towards the performing bard
* be quiet, attentive, and responsive
* support the bard by participating when asked
* show appreciation at the end of a performance (applause)

When the audience gives the bard a venue in which he can perform, the bard is expected to:

* have selected, prepared, and rehearsed his performance
* speak in a loud, clear voice (where appropriate)
* make eye contact with the audience as much as possible
* speak respectfully and eloquently
* present a piece that fits within the Bardic theme
* perform within the agreed time-limits

This is a really touchy subject, both for the bards and the audience. Some say that no one should heckle the performers, while others say that a bard should expect and know how to deal with heckling. Some people even think heckling is a venue for expressing consequence-free abuse. Heckling is an attempt to distract or disparage the bard during his performance, ruining the performance itself and potentially humiliating the bard.

As an absolute rule, you should NEVER attempt to humiliate a performer, no matter how bad you think the performance is. It doesn't make you a hero, it doesn't make you a good person, and it can do incalculable damage to the artist. Having the courage to stand before any group of people and lay yourself bare before them is no small feat; having a person simply take that risk deserves your respect. Most performers will tell you that performing for a crowd is terrifying, so part of bardcraft is learning how to master that fear and use it to better your performance.

The Bard has craft something beautiful that he wants to share with you, the audience. Give him a chance to do that, and if you don't like it, it'll soon be over and you can move on to the next Bard. If you can't stand the performance, then maybe you shouldn't be in the audience in the first place. You can always walk away.

Trying to destroy a Bard during his performance from the comfortable safety of an anonymous crowd is an act of cowardice. Hurtful hecklers are bullies who cannot stand to see someone else live the glory that they are too afraid to seek for themselves. They should be pitied, but not tolerated.

How a Bard can Deal with a Heckler

There's no way to predict how an audience will act during a performance, so it's best to be ready for anything. The Bard needs to understand that anything can happen, accept it, and even relish it. It's the dangerous beauty of live performance. But if you need to deal with a Heckler, here are some suggestions:

1. If someone shouts out something that adds to your story, find a way to work it in. If you can't work it in to your performance, take a moment to give a smirk in the direction of the caller, and then move on with your performance.

2. If one or more people continue to make too much noise, stop your performance and wait for them to quieten down. The rest of the audience will usually tell them to shut up. DO NOT attempt to silence them by shouting back: this only feeds their satisfaction in controlling you.

3. If a person shouts out something derogatory ("YOU SUCK!!"), try to ignore it and move on with your performance. If the abuse continues, stop your performance and wait for them to quieten down. The rest of the audience will usually tell them to shut up. If you know who this person is, find them after the show and make them explain why they felt the need to say such awful things. DO NOT deal with it during your performance.

4. If you keep getting interrupted, walk away from the stage quietly. You have failed to hold the audience's attention, so take your lumps, move on, and learn. Maybe your material wasn't right for the show, maybe you weren't ready, and maybe the audience wasn't ready. Maybe you need to revisit your performance and figure out what went wrong (length, timing, language, topic, etc.) Try to keep your ego under control and take this failure as a chance to be better next time.

Note: I have rarely seen this happen in a formal bardic; it usually happens during an informal gathering of friends or colleagues. It's important to realize that sometimes you need to pick your moments and your audiences more carefully. If you're surrounded by children, telling them a 2-hour epic tale will not hold their attention. If you're in the company of adults, leading a "Little Bunny Foo Foo" sing-along won't always go over well. If the adults are drunk, their attention span may be too limited for even a 5-minute tale. Pick your moments carefully.

Audience Participation

There is a way for the audience to take part in the Bard's performance in a positive, constructive way. Some Bards may see this as a dangerous suggestion, but I know that audience can be so enthralled with a performance that they may call out to the Bard as a show of support.

When in doubt, don't shout. If the Bard is young in his career, you should refrain from calling out until he gains more experience and more confidence. You can test the waters by calling out encouraging words or something appropriate to the story. For example, if the Bard is singing a song about a beautiful woman, you could burst out with exclamations ("Wooohoo! Hawt Girl! Sexy!"). If the Bard is encouraged by this, he may feel confident enough to adlib his way through the song based on what the audience is giving him.

You could also engage in known cliches, challenging the Bard to respond in kind. Again, if the Bard is telling a story about a beautiful woman, you could call out "How beautiful WAS she?" The Bard should be able to roll with that without missing a beat ("She was so beautiful that she looked just like you!").

To know when it is appropriate to call out anything more challenging to the Bard, you need to take the time to get to know the Bard first. Maybe talk to him about his performance, find out how he feels about audience participation, maybe even warn him that you will say something during his performance, so he should be ready for it.

But in all cases of audience participation, keep it short. The Bard is the main attraction, not you. What you want to do is add to his performance rather than take away or distract. Anything more than a few words of encouragement or challenge can damage or destroy the sacred moment between performer and the audience. If you have more to say, then swallow your fear and walk into that Bardic space yourself. Until then, respect the Bards that choose to take that risk.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

June Story: A Glimpse of Paradise

This story has become a favorite of mine mainly because I get to say the phrase "Muhammad, may peace be upon him" three times in the story. I'm not sure why, but getting to say that phrase makes me happy.

At the beginning of this story, I mention the source of this tale being the Andrew Lang Fairy books (specifically the Orange Fairy book). If you are interested in faery tales of any kind, I suggest you start with these (there are 12 in the series), and the links I have provided allow you to read the stories online.

This story was recorded at Hurley's Irish Pub (Montreal, Quebec) in October of 2010 when I was asked to replace the mighty Mike Burns, who was suffering from the flu at that time.

A Glimpse of Paradise -- Told by JD Hickey (8:06 minutes)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

TaelStrum gets rave reviews!

After our one show at the Montreal Fringe Festival 2011, here's one of the reviews we got:

Reviewed by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
I had actually gone to the venue to see After The Storm but, as happens during the Fringe, there was a switcheroo and I found myself in this other show once again involving music man Shayne Gryn. I'm game for damn near anything in the Fringe and hoped that whatever Gryn et al. would offer would make up for the ugly space. Generally it did, though I am not a fan of story telling. David Hickey, the raconteur, has a good repertoire, though, and Gryn's accompaniment and occasional lovingly played and sung solos made the hour pass quickly and well. The duo play together at bars and pubs around the city, and elements of both their work will be part of the show I did not get to see, After the Storm.
 Awesome! We're so excited!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Montreal Fringe Festival: After the Storm

 I'll be taking part in a collective piece during the Montreal Fringe Festival put together by Headless Goat Productions. I won't be in every show (due largely to scheduling conflicts), but I am committing to the following dates:
After the Storm: St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
DATES: June 2, 4, 5, 9, 16, 17
LOCATION: MAI 3680 Jeanne-Mance #460 (OFF-D)
TICKETS: $10 to $12 available through the Fringe Box Office
(listed as After The Storm) 514-849-FEST

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Feed the Right Wolf

I was chatting with a couple of friends the other day when one friend said that Science held all the truth that people could ever need, while religion served only to mislead people by lying to them. I suggested that religion was actually performance art and it used myth to explore truths that could not be fully understood or explored by Science or Logic. My friend strongly disagreed with me, saying that religion was dangerous because the gullible put more faith in it than the truth of Science. This fact terrified her and she even went so far to say that my own spiritual beliefs scared her. Remembering an old adage that said you should never debate religion or politics in a bar, I let the matter drop.

Since that discussion the following story has been coming up quite often. Whether it be coincidence or not, I've decided to post it here to keep track of it, but also to remind me of the wolf I should be feeding rather than giving into despair or wallowing in the horribleness of people and world events (which usually gets posted on Facebook).

Yes, there are terrible people and terrible things in this world, but I prefer to celebrate beauty, kindness, and generosity rather than gorge myself on the pornography of terror, violence, and the horrible depths of human depravity.

The Two Wolves

A Cherokee elder was teaching his grandchildren about life.
He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me… it is a terrible fight between two wolves.
One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, hatefulness, and lies.
The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, humbleness, kindness, friendship, generosity, faith, and truth.
This same fight is going on inside of you, and inside every other person, too.”
The children thought about it for a minute. Then one child asked his grandfather,
“Which wolf will win?”
The Cherokee elder replied…
“The one you feed.”

Monday, May 30, 2011

TaelStrum: After the Storm

TaelStrum will be performing as part of the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival

DATE: Friday June 3rd at 18h00
LOCATION: MAI 3680 Jeanne-Mance #460 (OFF-D)
TICKETS: $10 to $12 available through the Fringe Box Office
(listed as After The Storm) 514-849-FEST

TaelStrum is the duo of storyteller John David Hickey (aka "Hobbes") and musician/singer Shayne Gryn. The pair have been performing together for several years bringing a unique mix of storytelling and music to various cafes, pubs, and stages in and around Montreal.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May Story: The King and his Cow

I've just completed our whirlwind, cross-Canada, two-city storytelling tour with Marie Bilodeau. It started in April in Montreal and ended in Ottawa in May. What an awesome tour! We would've kept going, but all the roadies have either expired, run away, or were jailed. It's a rock'n roll life, this storytelling gig.

On the upside, I got to record a new story that I haven't told in several years. I heard this story years ago at some festival and I was told it was a Jewish folktale, but I haven't been able to find a reference for it. I hadn't planned on telling it, but I wanted to give the audience a story that they had never heard from me, and seeing as it was Spring, having a good cow story seemed appropriate.

This show was held at Maxwell's Bistro in Ottawa and it was an awesome performance space. Thanks be to the fabulous audience for mooing so pathetically on cue.

My heartfelt thanks to Marie Bilodeau who shared this tour (and more than a few roadies, I might add (that woman's appetite is voracious!)) with me. She's awesome and if you get a chance to see her tell or read her books, please do so. You will not be disappointed.

Also, mucho thanks to Ruthanne Edward and Rusty Priske who not only attended the show, but also performed in it. Rusty performed two of my favourite poems of his, so I was very happy and honored.

The King and his Cow -- Told by JD Hickey (6:27 minutes)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Story: The Giant's Garden

Happy Easter to all of you! I hope you were able to spend your Easter weekend with family, friends, and assorted loved ones. Please accept my apologies for the lateness of this post, but we were entertaining friends from Toronto and San Francisco, so the weekend was simply packed.

I'm sure you've noticed I've been posting less lately. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to record as many shows as I would have liked over the past year, so I'm starting to run out of recordings to post! This recording was made on April 17th at Hurley's Irish Pub (with special guest Marie Bilodeau of Ottawa). This was the first session of our cross-Canada two-city tour, which means the final leg of our tour will be taking place on May 14th in Ottawa (Facebook event, Blog post). If you're going to be in Ottawa that weekend, I hope you'll join us!

Also, faithful readers/listeners may notice that I posted another recording of this same story in April 2010. I don't usually repost stories, but I really like this version of the story (especially since it made a fella in the audience cry). The Giant's Garden is based on Oscar Wilde's classic literary tale The Selfish Giant.

As usual, the chocolate bunny on strings is Shayne Gryn.

The Giant's Garden -- Told by JD Hickey (7:03 minutes)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Storytelling in April/May 2011

Join storytellers JD “Hobbes” Hickey and Marie Bilodeau, with Shayne Gryn on strings, for an evening full of wonder, drama, laughter, music, and downright silliness.

This is Hobbes and Marie’s whirlwind, cross-country, two-city tour. They kick-off this storytelling tour-de-force in Montreal (April 17th) and end it in Ottawa (May 14th)! Crazy schedule! Even though they’ll surely be hoarse by the time they reach Ottawa in May, you can be sure that all they’ll want to do is tell more tales.

Marie Bilodeau, author of the “Heirs of a Broken Land” trilogy and “Destiny’s Blood” —
TaelStrum (Hobbes & Shayne) —

Montreal show:
April 17th, 7pm to 9pm
Hurley’s Irish pub
1225 Crescent St, Montreal
Google Map
Facebook Event

Ottawa show
May 14th,
Maxwell’s Bistro & Club
340 Elgin, Ottawa, ON
Google map
Facebook Event

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Really big PJs

Today on International Women's Day, I posted this music video by Storm Large called "8 Miles Wide" on my Facebook page to celebrate the fantastical presence of the strong women in my life (Warning: contains some adult language and images):

I was chatting with my friend Kat about the song and how catchy it is, but how it's not really kid-friendly. She then came up with a kid-friendly title of "My Pyjamas are 8 Miles Wide", which inspired me to rewrite the lyrics as follows:

My Pajamas are 8 Miles Wide
Based on Storm Large's "8 Miles Wide"
Lyrics by JD Hickey (March 2011)
Inspired by K. Summerbell

All of my life
They've never fit
But I won't complain and I won't quit
I'm ready for bed
So get over it
Everyone tells me I'm too much
Maybe it's just its not big enough for me
Can't you see
I'm gonna wrap myself up and be comfy

My pajamas are 8 miles wide
Absolutely everyone can come inside
If you can't cuddle, just run and hide
My pajamas are 8 miles wide

Tell me what is comfortable to you
Soft like cloud, strong like a suit
It's cool if it's snugly
But way better if it's cute
For all of those who'd rather sexy lingerie
I say go Amazonian
You can be slip into a Tarzan jammies
And be feminine


When I snuggle in bed and I close the door
I pull up the sheets and I want to warm
My super comfortastically mystical feminine goddess-core
And I hate it when women make those rants
About tank tops, boxers, or pants
There's nothing quite like cotton
To kick-start an all-night romance

My pajamas
They're universal
Soft like a house coat
But transportable
Sit next to me, the hot cocoa's fine
They're not my pajamas
They're our pajamas

[harmony chorus]
[just the boys]

A big soft hug
A big soft hug

If I ever get anyone into it, it would be a blast to record our own video and put it on YouTube. Another project to work on...

Monday, February 28, 2011

My first foray in the Spoken Word World

I say that it was my first time, but technically it was my second. A couple of years ago, I was asked to tell a story during a Coco Cafe evening that was to raise awareness for the Leukemia Registry and to help Heal Emru, but in that evening, I had no restrictions placed upon me.

Last night, I went to a Throw Poetry Collective evening at Le Divan Orange, which is held on the last Sunday of each month in Montreal. It was a small crowd (it was Oscar night and La Nuit Blanche was the night before, so those could've been factors), but they were eager and responsive. I was warmly greeted at the door, encouraged to add my name to the list of performers, and I found a comfy spot in a corner.

The crowd was pretty young, mostly on the University side of things, but most of them seem to know each other. I even ran into an old storyteller compatriot (Isabelle St-Pierre) who was there to share her latest poetic journey tale.

The setup of the evening is pretty simple: There were 8 performers, each being give 3:10 minutes to perform their piece. They are then scored by 5 judges in terms of content, presentation, and stage presence. The top 4 of these performers are selected for a second round, where they need to present a new piece. Points are deducted for going over the time limit (.5 points per 10 seconds) and the top three winners are announced. Between the first and second round, there is an invited artist who performs.

In the first round, I told Truth and Story, which fit inside the 3:10 limit easily. To my surprise, my overall score was in the lower 9s (out of 10), so I made it to the second round.

This was were my downfall occurred. I didn't realize there would be a second round, and I never dreamed I would qualify for this mythical second round, so I didn't have a second piece prepared. I quickly picked a second story (Love and Madness), mentally tore as many feathers off it as I could to make it fit the 3:10 limit, and delivered it as best I could.

The crowd loved it. The judges loved it. My final score was in the mid-to-upper 9s, but unfortunately, I went over the time limit by 30 seconds, which meant I lost 1.5 points, bringing me to the sad end of 4th place in the second round. Pooh.

Still, it was an awesome evening. I sat gobsmacked watching these artists deliver their pieces. Everyone has such raw talent, such hardcore passion, which is something that is not always present in storytelling performances. This is probably one of the reasons that Spoken Word is cooler and Storytelling is dorkier.

I've already mentally pulled the feathers off "The Blue Hippo" story, which makes a 12 minute story fit in the 3 minute limit, and I'm setting my sights on other stories in my repertoire. I've also dusted off my old poetry brain to see if the old girl's got any juice left in her. I'm not sure where this Spoken Word thing will lead, but I willing to try it out!

Update: the recordings of my stories from that night were put on YouTube! Thanks be to Throw Poetry Collective!

Truth & Story

Love & Madness

Thursday, January 20, 2011

More of My Tales on YouTube

I haven't been telling too many tales lately, so I don't have new stories to post on the blog. But I do have a few shows coming up in 2011, so I might have the opportunity to record some new stories. I've been spending the rest of my time trying to learn new stories.

I will be telling tales on February 11th in NDG at Casa Maura along with Sarah Comrie and Jack Nissenson. The performance costs $40 and includes a full meal (bring your own wine). Seating is limited to 45 people, so please contact Casa Maura and reserve your tickets today!

Tales from House of Maura
Friday, February 11th 2011
Casa Maura (6290 Somerled, NDG)
7pm - 10pm
(514) 482-0777
Facebook Event page

Back in October 2010, I told a couple of tales at a fundraiser in Atwater Library and to my amazement and great pleasure, it was videotaped! The person who shot the performance provided me with the videos and I was able to upload it to my YouTube channel. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Guest Teller: Ivan Coyote's "Hair Today" and Stuff

This past Christmas, there were more than a few books by Ivan Coyote being wrapped and unwrapped by a twinkling tree in our houses. I picked up a CD from Ivan last November when I saw her at the Ottawa Storytelling Festival and I've been playing it for many of my friends. I need to pick up her other CDs too.

These two YouTube videos have Ivan telling a story that I heard her tell at McGill University in Montreal in 2009 (although this specific performance was in San Francisco). I have this story in one of the books I got for Christmas, but I have no recordings of it. I hope you enjoy it.

Do I sound like a fan? You bet I am, but there's something dangerous about listening or reading too much Ivan. You'd think as a storyteller myself, enjoying Ivan's work would inspire me to continue developing as a teller. Part of me wants to produce more shows, write more books, record more CDs, and just perform more often.

But instead, the opposite happens. The small, insecure part of my artistic self sees someone as great as Ivan E. Coyote and wants to just give it all up. What if I never get that good?

It's silliness, of course, and I beat down that voice and go back to working on become that good someday. There are a few things I need to work on: I need to write my own stories (both folktales and personal, anecdotal stories), I need to promote myself more, and I need to develop a show that has more to offer than just straight telling (I'm working on that already with Shayne by adding more music to the telling).

The SweLL Company has put a clip on YouTube that features Ivan (see below). I like it's format and theatrical aspects, so I need to develop something similar for my own stories. I'm imagining a dark stage with a couple of spotlights for me and the musicians, with a backdrop of animated images that suit the story. I can see a few artistic mediums flowing together there.

Copyright© 2010 John David Hickey