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This past Friday the 10th at 7pm the Folklore and Ethnomusicology Student Association (FESA) held their second annual storytelling jam in the “Folklore Church” on Indiana Ave.

The "Folk Church" and Storytelling Jam Audience

Our President, Kip Hutchins, treated this event as his special priority, and having not attended last year, I didn’t understand the draw. Having spent a night in the unique lull that good stories in good company can put over you, I now completely comprehend his excitement.

The evening opened with an introduction and welcome from Kip, followed with an opening story from his childhood tradition, an Appalachian tale called “Soap, Soap, Soap.”

Kip Opening the Storytelling Jam

Next, we were regaled with another traditional story by Dr. McDowell, the chair of the department, from his area of study; Colombia.

Dr. McDowell

The night continued with a few more scheduled personal narratives, traditional stories, folk legends, and some of the audience were even inspired to get up and tell a story on the spot.  Krystie Herndon, a familiar face to many of us, and a great supporter of FESA, even made a late appearance after attending her younger son’s awards banquet- favoring us with her retelling of “The Bill Joke.” Oh come on, you know this one…

As I mentioned before, I was a little apprehensive of this storytelling jam event, so when FESA was having a hard time finding enough storytelling volunteers to pull it off, the pressure was put on the officers to come up with something, even if it was just a joke or riddle. I thought, and I thought, I brainstormed, I even considered stealing a story I had recently read in my Irish Music and Culture class. Instead, I just pushed the pressure off onto my good friend Drew, who’s father was very fond of telling stories. Drew never complained or threatened to cancel on me, and I knew I could rely on him to come up with something spectacular!

So when the night was upon us, I was so blown away with his semi-biographical myth, and the welcoming atmosphere of the event, that I was suddenly reminded of a story that hadn’t even entered into my mind as a possibility to tell, it was like a revelation. I was so moved in the moment to share an old favorite of my own: my WORST DATE EVER story.

Sorry readers, you’ll have to meet me sometime to get the whole saga, let’s suffice to say, it was pretty awful. Here’s a little teaser: the last line my eighty year old grandma admits to spitting on my date in a McDonald’s once.

In any case, now that I know what the storytelling jam is like, I’m looking forward even more to planning a springtime music jam for the FESA. I’ll post details here, and I hope to see you all at our next movie showing: This Thursday the 3rd, Cannibal Tours, at 7:30 P.M. in Lindley Hall.

Synopsis: When tourists journey to the furthermost reaches of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea, is it the indigenous tribespeople or the white visitors who are the cultural oddity? This film explores the difference (and the surprising similarities) that emerge when “civilized” and “primitive” people meet. With dry humor and acute observation CANNIBAL TOURS explodes cultural assumptions as it provides a pointed look at a fabulous phenomenon.

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Movie Night: Keita!

This Thursday, November 4th, 7:30 p.m., Woodburn Hall 120, FESA will be showing the film Keïta! l’Héritage du griot. Part folk tale, part analysis of contemporary and traditional West African values, Keita! is the story of a young boy as he learns the Bambara epic of Sunjata Keita. Keita portrays the dichotomy between traditional values and ways of learning and modern, Western-style education all the while interspersing scenes of a classical West African tale of heroism and magic. In French and Bambara with English subtitles. Bring your friends to this FREE event!

More about Keita!

Keïta! received the Best First Film Prize from the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (Fespaco) and was awarded the Junior Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.[1] The New York Times praised the film, claiming it “succeeds admirably in keeping… history alive.”[3] In a 1995 interview, Kouyate reflected on the experience and commenting on traditional society, saying:

Sometimes when you don’t know where you’re heading, you have to return to where you came from in order to think things over before continuing your journey. Today, with all the things happening to her, Africa has trouble finding which direction to take—modernity, tradition, or some other road. We are not really capable of digesting all these things. We don’t know who we are, and we don’t know where we are going. We are between two things. Between our traditions and our modernity.[4]

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