A New and Exciting Timpanogos
August 20, 2020
This era may have robbed us of the ability to get together in the way to which we've become accustomed -- under the big tents in the beautiful Ashton Gardens. But the time has brought with it a new and exciting opportunity: to bring the terrific storytellers of the Timpanogos Storytelling festival right into your living room. Sam will be MC'ing the kickoff event of the festival, and annual introduction to the year's storytellers called "Look Who's Talking." Click the link below for tickets -- only $25 per household, for a weekend of fantastic stories from world-class tellers.
Snake River Storytelling
June 20, 2020
Snake River Storytelling, an organization run by Idaho storytellers and organizers Robert and Kierra Burns and Lori and Omar Hansen, had their first online concert and festival. Sam was featured at the event, along with Bil Lepp, Kim Weitkamp, Andy Offutt Irwin, and Michael Reno Harrell. It was a terrific day of workshops, performances, and online hangouts with audience members across the country. COVID-19 has made some things more difficult in terms of communion between storytellers and their audiences, but in other respects, storytellers can reach farther, and to more more varied audiences, than ever before. Bravo, Snake River Storytelling! Look for more from this cool organization.
May 18, 2020
Sam worked on the team that produced Treasure Island 2020, a time-traveling, swashbuckling 10-part audio adventure based on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel, Treasure Island. Sam was the executive in charge of production, and played the villain of the piece -- the undersea explorer Frank Kinkade. The team was thrilled to be nominated for the Peabody Award, honoring excellence in broadcasting since 1941. You can hear the entire 10-part series at the link!
A Titan Graduation
May 14, 2020
In a triumph over the isolation brought on by COVID-19, Tuacahn High School for the Arts (the terrific charter high school for young artists, set among the red rock canyons of southern Utah) held an epic graduation ceremony characterized by grads staying safely in their cars in the parking lot of their beloved school, and listening to the graduation ceremony on their car radios. Principal Drew Williams and his team asked Sam to host the socially distanced evening, which featured several live and pre-recorded musical numbers and speeches, and ended in a spectacular fireworks show. Congratulations Tuacahn Titans, class of 2020!
April 15, 2020
Sam was asked to play harmonica in a special trio performance with guitarist Rich Dixon and singer Alex Boyé for a TV series called "Grace Notes" for BYU TV (we mentioned it here, in fact). The series features songs associated with the faith journeys of songwriters and musicians, and is hosted by the terrific Elaine Bradley of Neon Trees. The series hit the air this month. For more Grace notes, click the button below.
A Little Story from The Apple Seed
April 05, 2020
Featuring great storytellers from across the country, Sam's "A Little Story from the Apple Seed" video project was picked up by BYUtv as an interstitial program. bringing intimate storytelling performances, recorded live in the Apple Seed studio, to audiences across the country.
Songs of Hope and Hanging On
March 23, 2020
Like many of his storytelling friends, in a time of isolation associated with COVID-19, Sam took to the Internet to share stories and songs with listeners everywhere. "Songs of Hope and Hanging On" became a daily fixture, bringing songs old and new to Sam's family of fans.
March 12, 2020
Each year, the J. Reuben Clark Law School sponsors a number of storytelling initiatives for law students across the country. Sam has had the pleasure of serving as a consultant and workshop provider for LawStories, and The Apple Seed (Sam's radio show) has made recordings of the program's outstanding stories for the LawStories archive. This year was a terrific year for LawStories, featuring las students from far and wide. For those involved, it was the last public event before restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic were established. As such, LawStories 2020 will always be a landmark event in the memories of these new friends.
February 26, 2020
The Weber State University Storytelling Festival has brought terrific storytelling to audiences of all ages for nearly twenty-five years. Since 2017, Sam has had the honor of serving as the Weber State University Storytelling Fellow. This year, he was joined by Bobby and Sherry Norfolk, Kuniko Yamamoto, and many more for three days of storytelling magic.
Story Crossroads House Concerts
February 19, 2020
Sam loves doing house concerts. Hosts fill their homes with friends (and sometimes food), Sam fills the room with stories and songs, and happy concert-goers fill the tip jar with love. Story Crossroads has championed storytelling house concerts for several years, and Sam has played several of them. Here's a photo of Sam with his friendsMikaela Hansen and Andrew Holmes, who came home from a months-long trip across America by motor home, just in time to take in an evening of stories. These shows make for great memories.
A Little Love, with Cantorum
February 13, 2020
The fantastic chamber choir Cantorum has the terrific tradition of hosting a Valentine's Day concert, filled with love songs. Sam has been a fixture of the show, serving as guest MC, performer and storyteller for a terrific audience. It's an evening of wonderful performances by terrific singers, led by Steve Durtschi.
The Apple Seed Live
January 01, 2020
For the last several months, we've been gathering terrific performances recorded live before a studio audience in the Apple Seed studio. The performances are being recorded for both audio and video applications, and feature some of our favorite storytellers. Andy Offutt Irwin, Antonio Sacre, Geraldine Buckley, Bil Lepp, Bill Harley, and Tim Lowry have all joined us, with many more on the calendar. Watch for these pieces on BYUtv, on social media platforms, and, of course, on BYUradio too.
Announcing a Residency in Jonesborough
February 04, 2020
Sam is pleased and proud to have been selected (among so many of my very favorite tellers) to spend a summer week in Jonesborough, Tennessee, performing at the International Storytelling Center (in the beautiful Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall). He's doubly happy to be there during Independence Day, which in Jonesborough is part of Jonesborough Days, a community celebration not to be missed!
January 31, 2020
This little performance, filled with personal stories prepared and presented by the students, was one to remember. They wore their best clothes (even their teachers dressed up), and decorated the room with strings of Christmas lights. They filled an hour with tales of fishing trips and family cars, harvest time and hiking, pets and pals. Storytelling brings something incredibly special to a tiny school. How tiny, you ask? The whole student body is in this photo.
The Annual Sheepherder's Gathering
January 18, 2020
The Border Inn in Baker, Nevada is a cultural crossroads. Situated on the loneliest highway in America, it's part hotel, part concert venue, part post office, part general store, and one hundred percent full of the spirit of the West. At no time of the year is it more interesting to pay a visit to the Border Inn than in January, during the annual sheepherder's gathering. It's been going on for eighteen years now, with open mic nights, movies, speakers, live music, and great food. People come from hundreds of miles around to attend, some staying in the Inn, and some staying in the parking lot in their sheep camps. Sam and Suzanne were invited to be the featured entertainment for this year's gathering. What an experience!
Sunday Magic with Alex Boye
January 15, 2020
Here's a group that hasn't been together for awhile. Russ Kendall's wonderful Kaleidoscope Pictures is producing a terrific new music series for television broadcast on BYU TV, featuring great artists playing heartfelt songs in an intimate setting. It was a pleasure for Sam to play a little harmonica for his old friend Alex Boye, accompanied by the lovely guitar of Rich Dixon. These guys have all kind of watched each other grow up, from the early days playing at pizza places and in neighborhood song circles. Great fun to connect over this super project. In the photo are Rich, Russ, Alex, and Sam.
The Apple Seed, Live!
January 14, 2020
Sam's daily radio show, The Apple Seed, began a series of shows taped live before a studio audience, and featuring an impressive string of tellers. The series has hosted Andy Offutt Irwin, Antonio Sacre, Geraldine Buckley, Bil Lepp, Bill Harley, and, most recently, Tim Lowry, with many more on the horizon. Seating is extremely limited to these tapings, but if you'd like to join us for an upcoming Apple Seed Live experience, contact us! We'd love to have you.
Christmas at BYU Radio!
December 09, 2019
The Apple Seed, Sam's daily storytelling radio show, was home in December to all the superstars of BYU Radio as they shared Christmas tales old and new. Sam produced and hosted A BYU Radio Family Christmas, filled with stories and music from Julie Rose, Lisa Valentine Clark, Ritchie Steadman, Marcus Smith, Steven Kapp Perry, Spencer Linton, Jarom Jordan, Eric Glissmeyer, and more.
Behind the Mic for Railroad Tales
December 01, 2019
Sam and Suzanne got behind the mic to record the audio version of their book, Echoes of Hammers and Spikes, written to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Sam and Suzanne spent much of the year traveling with Clive Romney, Nic Chamberlain, Aaron West, Nino Reyos, and more of their friends to tell the remarkable story of the railroad to schools, festival-goers, and even at the Golden Spike National Historic Park.
Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble
November 21, 2019
The remarkable kids of The Acting Company delivered a chilling run of Shakespeare's Macbeth at the very cool Third Space Studios. Suzanne and Leah directed, and Sam wrote the music. Another impressive show from these very young actors.
Stories in Spring City, TN!
November 16, 2019
Karen Hilleary and her team of amazing board members and volunteers bring terrific theater experiences to the area around Spring City. The Theater is as cute as a button, and an evening at the Tennessee Valley Playhouse is always a memorable one. It was Sam's pleasure to do a show here -- in such a lovely place, in company with such great folks.
Tunes and Tales for Any Season
November 15, 2019
Sam was invited by Bill Wight, the chair of the National Storytelling Network, to share a stage in Kingsport, Tennessee as a fundraiser for the NSN, the largest professional storytelling organization in the country. Dr. Harvey told Cinderella stories from two very different cultures, and Sam shared family tales and music. It was a great evening before a warm and wonderful audience. Thanks, Kingsport!
As You Like It
October 19, 2019
Though The Acting Company usually does Shakespeare with child actors, once a year adults get in on the action too. This year, it fell to the grownups to present an autumnal As You Like It in the open air, surrounded by colored leaves. Sam played both dukes and Oliver Martext. The Acting Company has a 25-year history of bringing Shakespeare into the lives of young people, and As You Like It was a wonderful entry in its every-growing catalog of productions.
One of a Million Stars
October 07, 2019
Jonesborough gave Sam a career highlight. As he got ready to perform a story about the Mars rover Opportunity, he realized these folks were in the audience: Todd Barber and Trina Ray (along with Tracy Drain, not pictured). These guys all work for Jet Propulsion Labs. Together, they've worked on Opportunity, Cassini, Voyager, Galileo, Europa Clipper ... all the visionary projects that have fired our imaginations since we were kids. Performing "Opportunity" with these folks in the house was something very special. What did they think? Here's what Trina posted on her Facebook timeline:
"OK...I had one of the most enjoyable days of storytelling I have ever experienced. Every single teller that I spent an hour with today was incredible (Donald Davis, Bil Lepp Pippa White, Josh Goforth). But by far, the most impactful was Sam Payne, who was quite moved by the Mars Opportunity Rover. I suspected that this would be in the tale when the booklet mentioned astronauts and distant rovers and I had introduced myself to him before the set and gave him a NASA pin. Tracy Drain and Todd J. Barber were there too. It was incredible! There wasn't a dry eye in the place, and even thinking back on it is causing me to tear up a bit. Thank you Sam for your incredible story today!"
Trina, Todd, and Tracy, thank YOU. This was a very special day of storytelling. What a wonderful, wonderful treat. Sam wears that NASA pin with great pride.
Only in Jonesborough!
October 07, 2019
The National Storytelling Festival has been a gathering place since 1973 for people who love great stories. For storytellers, it's the center of the world, and Sam was honored to be invited as a featured teller this year. Eleven thousand people gathered to share the magic, in historic downtown Jonesborough, Tennessee, the oldest town in the state. It was a weekend of great stories, kind words, laughter, hearty applause, and the sacred tears of shared experience. The festival is brought to town each year by the International Storytelling Center, and it's the kind of experience you can only have in Jonesborough!
A Tune is Good for Any Weather
September 25, 2019
There's a new record in town! "A Tune is Good for Any Weather" is a live album, recorded in the historic Assembly Hall in Salt Lake City. It's an hour of stories and songs, with help from bassist Ian Camp and pianist Anthony Phan. The evening yielded a nice recording, that capitalizes on Sam's love for telling stories about powerful experiences with music. If you'd like to hear or download the album, click on the picture, or on the button below.
25 years of MOA
September 20, 2019
For 25 years, the BYU Museum of Art (the MOA) has brought world-class exhibits to Utah's public. And for an auspicious anniversary, Sam was happy to be part of the celebration, along with Ian Camp, Steve Keen, and Dave Bowen. Together, they shook the rafters with lively jazz tunes and the stories behind them, to a packed house of art lovers. It was an unforgettable evening filed with hoots, hollers, and a more dancing than that good old floor has seen in its good old lifetime. Here's to 25 years more!
Follow the Yellow Brick Road
September 13, 2019
Sam was invited back to the annual Treehouse Gala fundraiser, this year as Oz, the first wizard deluxe. Each year, the gala raises funds for the Treehouse to continue and expand its remarkable programs and exhibits, allowing families to "Step into a Story." Sam has been part of the gala for more than a decade.
The Homestead -- Feels Like Home
August 24, 2019
It's a tradition almost as long as Sam's storytelling career -- a summer concert at the Homestead Inn and Resort in beautiful Midway, Utah. Each summer, Ann Stevens manages one of the liveliest summer concert series' anywhere, on the lawn of the century-old Homestead. Audiences have grown from a few dozen to more than a thousand on a good night, and the evening always promises to be a highlight of summer. This year was no exception, as Sam told stories and sang songs for a terrific audience in the summer air.
August 15, 2019
Together with Gen Z media (creators of serialized adventure podcasts like 6 Minutes and The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel) and BYU Radio, Sam has helped produce a new serialized adventure podcast based on Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Tune in to BYUradio.org or SiriusXM143 in November for a jolly ride on the high seas in Treasure Island 2020, a time-traveling, high-seas family adventure with James Hawkins, in t-shirt and tennis shoes, at its center. In the photo, our intrepid radio extras "Arrrrgh" it up, under the direction of David Kreizman and Chris Tarry of Gen Z.
Tales at Teton
August 11, 2019
Sam shared the stage with Bil Lepp, Kim Weitkamp, Michael Reno Harrell, Tony Marr, Clive Romney, Robert Burns and others at the third annual Teton Storytelling Festival. Born on the weekend of a total solar eclipse in 2017, the festival happens nowadays mostly in the beautiful Romance Theater in lovely Rexburg, Idaho. This is a festival to watch -- a lovely destination weekend in a beautiful place filled with stories from some of the country's best. Always an honor to be invited.
July 11, 2019
Loveland, Colorado, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, hosts a terrific summer concert series on a stage in the middle of Foote Lagoon. Sam brought audiences to their feet with stories and songs, accompanied by long-time bandmates Drew Williams, Steve Flaig, and Steve Lemmon. A gentle rain served as the benediction for a terrific show, on cue in Sam's song "As Far as God Will Let Me," with its lyric "Oh the rain came down around us without warning." Great night with old friends and new.
Weber Storytelling Festival Youth Workshop
July 16, 2019
Each year, the Weber Storytelling Festival brings to the stage not only world-class featured tellers and wonderful regional tellers, but also more youth tellers than just about any other festival in the nation. Each year, the festival hosts a workshop for the youth volunteers at Treehouse Children's Museum in Ogden, Utah, and Sam was there to spend a couple of terrific days helping these fantastic kids get their stories on stage. The kids were all from Ogden, but the tales were from all over the world!
Henry V in miniature at Treehouse
June 21, 2019
For the last couple of years, Sam and Suzanne have taken Shakespeare to Ogden, Utah with a children's workshop at the remarkable Treehouse Children's Museum, resulting in the presentation of an abbreviated play in the bard's words (usually come music too!). These workshops and performances have been a very cool extension of Suzanne's work with children and Shakespeare in The Acting Company (bringing kids and Shakespeare together for nearly a quarter-century). This year, the intrepid band of wee Treehouse actors took on Henry V. The cockpit of the Treehouse Theater held, indeed, the vasty fields of France.
Stories and Music at Promontory Summit
July 12, 2019
The celebration of the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad continued on Friday, as Sam, Suzanne, Clive Romney, Nic Chamberlain, Austin Weyand, Michael Gross, Reyna Pikyavit, Aaron West, and more told stories and played music at the site of the driving of the last spike. A few thousand friends joined them on the windswept prairie, in the shadow of the newly promoted Golden Spike National Historic Park.
An Evening at the Casino Star
May 11, 2019
The little town of Gunnison, Utah, could have spent money on anything, and chose to spend it on renovating the terrific Casino Star Theater on Main Street. There's something very wonderful about that. Sam, Suzanne, and their pals filled up the hall on a Saturday night with songs and stories about the railroad -- part of a tour that would culminate the next day on the windswept plain at Promontory Summit, the site of the driving of the Last Spike that completed the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869.
Hammers on Spikes
May 09, 2019
This is a big year for railroad buffs. 150 years ago, the last spike was driven at Promontory Summit, completing the First Transcontinental Railroad. This year, celebrations all over the state called for the writing of a book and a bunch of songs. The book, written by Sam and Suzanne, is called Echoes of Hammers and Spikes, and the project includes 20 songs written by some of Utah's most beloved songwriters. Tonight, these stories and songs were right in the middle of the action, on stage at the historic Union Station in Ogden, Utah.
Anna Judah on the Senate Floor
May 09, 2019
It's not every day you get a phone call from a U.S. Senator's office in Washington DC, but that's just what happened the other day. As the nation prepared to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad, Utah Senator Mike Lee gave a speech on the Senate floor in celebration of a few of the women who played a role in this important American story. The speech was to include part of the story of Anna Judah, who, together with her husband Theodore, lobbied for a central railroad route over the mountains of the Sierra Nevada. Through Spencer Stokes, a commissioner of the Spike 150 celebrations in Utah, Senator Lee's office learned of some of the research Sam and Suzanne had done about the Judahs. A few phone calls later, and some of that research wound up on the Senate floor in Senator Lee's speech!
Kicking off Story Crossroads
May 07, 2019
Sam performs for almost 900 students and teachers in South Jordan in the first of many Story Crossroads events (the majority being May 13-16, 2019 with the 4th Annual Story Crossroads Festival - Murray & South Jordan, UT). The students were ready to party and probably could be heard a couple schools over!
Jonesborough, Here We Come!
January 01, 2020
Since 1973, Jonesborough, Tennessee has been America's home for people who love to tell and listen to stories. It's Tennessee's oldest town, and it's home to the National Storytelling Festival -- the birthplace of the storytelling revival. The festival happens each October, and this year, Sam was honored with an invitation to perform alongside some of the nation's finest. It's Storytelling's biggest family reunion, and We'd love to see you there! Click the button for more info!
Young People Finding out Where They Came From
April 27, 2019
On April 27, the Burns Arena on the campus of Dixie State University hosted over 4,000 teenagers, all of them bent on learning about their histories. They had been involved in a month's worth of electronically indexing historical records, and came together to celebrate their work in an enormous event called KinnectU2 (think "Roots Tech" for kids). Sam was joined on stage by old friends Ryan Tilby and Drew Williams for musical and storytelling fun. It was quite a morning.
Step Right Up! The Mic is Open!
January 01, 2020
Sam was invited to host an open mic night for young songwriters at Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts. Joined by Ryan Tilby and Drew Williams, Sam led an evening filled with terrific kids and their heartfelt songs. Sam did his share of performing as well, his songs and stories seasoned with workshoppy tips and principles for writing and performing. All this, with Alan Menken right next door, presenting his songs from the Disney catalog. What a remarkable place Tuacahn is!
April 12, 2019
Todd McCabe and April Moriarty have been making music together for two decades, Todd on the Piano and April on the violin. Each year around Easter, and again at Christmas, they open their home as a concert venue, for a house concert that includes some of their musical and storytelling friends. Sam has often been involved in the show, which he loves partly because the venue is about a block from the home in which he grew up. This year's Easter show included songwriter Cherie Call, too. A lovely two-evening run, to a full house. House concerts are one of Sam's favorite ways to share stories and songs. You'd be surprised at how easy it is to host one. If you're interested, click the "Contact" button in the navigation bar, and ask us about it!
March 15, 2019
Last year, the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University launched an experiment. It wanted to see if a storytelling program might make better attorneys out of their already incredible law students. The result, under the direction of Rebecca Clarke and Marie Kulbeth, was LawStories, a storytelling initiative that invited law students at BYU to write and perform stories based on their experience with the law. Sam was asked to consult on the initiative, and work with the students in workshop and studio settings to prepare and record the stories. This year, LawStories took a leap forward, inviting law students from all over the country to submit stories. 10 stories were chosen, and their authors were flown to Utah for a weekend of story workshops, performances, and a visit to Arches National Park. Sam was honored to be part of it -- teaching, recording, and consulting with the storytellers. The stories were smart, compassionate, and insightful. The photo shows the law students in a recording session, where their stories were recorded for potential broadcast on The Apple Seed, Sam's daily national radio show on the art of Storytelling. Click the button to read an article about the initiative from D. Gordon Smith, the Dean of the J. Reuben Clarke Law School. Here's to More LawStories!
Jazz for the Fishes
March 21, 2019
It's not every day that you get to make music in Utah's incredible Living Planet aquarium. But Sam, together with Ian Camp and Dan Waldis, was asked to fill the space with jazz for a corporate event among some of the most remarkable sea life on display anywhere. The photo is the view above Sam's music stand: enormous models of some of the earth's most amazing creatures. These leviathans (along with dozens of genuine, living sharks, turtles, rays, penguins, jellyfish, and more) got an earful of standards on what turned out to be a magical night.
March 21, 2019
Every other year, Turn Community services throws a very special pageant, celebrating the amazing lives of some of its remarkable special-needs clients. Sam was asked to perform as a guest on this year's show, and brought the house down with a not-to-be-missed rendition of "Octopus's Garden" (the theme of the show this year was "Under the Sea." In the photo, check out Miss Orem (also guesting) in her "Octopus's Garden" mask -- everyone got one. A high old time.
An Evening Dedicated to Bulgaria's Orphans
March 16, 2019
About a decade ago, Sam had the opportunity to visit Bulgaria at the invitation of One Heart Bulgaria, a terrific organization dedicated to providing resources for Bulgarian orphans. This year, he was inited to perform (along with Ian Camp and Anthony Phan) for the organization's biennial gala. It was an unforgettable evening filled with good food, education, and music. If you're of a philanthropic mind and you're looking to put a few dollars toward a cause that's doing real and tangible good in the lives of thousands of children, you should take a look at OHB.
Old Capitol Storytelling Festival
March 08, 2019
Utah's original territorial capitol, in Millard county, has been home for the last two years to the Old Capitol Storytelling Festival, bringing tales and tunes to audiences from Fillmore, Utah, to Ely, Nevada, and everywhere in between. This year, the festival focused on the stories associated with the building of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Especially for the festival, Sam and Suzanne wrote a stage show based on their book Echoes of Hammers and Spikes, and performed it with a terrific group of musicians.
February 25, 2019
For the past few years, Sam has held a storytelling fellowship at Weber State University -- his alma mater, and the place he first stepped on stage as a storyteller more than two decades ago. This year, the Weber Storytelling Festival was stuffed to overflowing with great stories from Ed Stivender, Antonio Rocha, Noa Baum, and Jasmine Cardenas. The photo is from one of Sam's performances in the historic (and very cool) Peery's Egyptian Theater, where many of the festival's concerts are held.
Florida Storytelling Festival
January 24, 2019
The Florida Storytelling Association is one of the most active storytelling groups in the country, and they've sponsored the Florida Storytelling Festival for years. The festival is held each year in the impossibly lovely lakeside town of Mount Dora. This year, Sam was invited to share the stage with Sheila Arnold, Ingrid Nixon, Shawn Welcome, Margaret Kaler, and a host of others for three days of lakeside storytelling magic.
A New Mexico Christmas
December 21, 2018
Every year, the Farmington, new Mexico pianist and composer Sheldon Pickering chooses a cause, and throws a Christmas concert as a benefit. It's always an incredible show, and has featured some wonderful artists over the years. This year, Sam was pleased to be invited as a guest artist. It was a wonderful evening in a beautiful, sacred space. Sam snapped the photo from the back of the performance space during sound check. A terrific visit to a terrific place.
Christmas on the Radio
December 07, 2018
FM100 has sponsored a Christmas concert series every year for about two decades. Sam has been on the FM100 stage a number of times over the years, and was glad to join Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband for a rolicking hour of music to make the season bright.
A Living Room Near You
November 16, 2018
House concerts are always Sam's favorite way to share tunes and tales. Story Crossroads has produced monthly concerts in the living rooms of willing hosts for the last few years, and they're always memorable. This show, in South Salt Lake, was a treat, filled with friends -- and tales -- old and new. Interested in seeing what the fun is all about? Try hosting a house concert of your own! Contact Suzanne at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
November 19, 2018
Over the course of 2019, Sam is working with the wonderful creative team at Gen Z (creators of The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel, Six Minutes, and more incredible, award-winning podcast projects for kids) on a new iteration of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island for BYU Radio. The first day in the studio was fantastic, and pictures in the photo you'll see some of the folk who made it happen: the cast and creative team behind what will be a fantastic podcast, ready for your ears at the end of summer, 2019.
October 29, 2018
The Timpanogos Storytelling Institute is one of the largest and most active storytelling organizations in the country. Each year, the Institute produces a number of exciting contests for storytellers, including the "Hauntings" spooky story contest each October. Sam is sometimes asked to judge the contests, and such was the case this year, as Sam joined a friendly audience all ready for the shivers. The stories were better than ever, and many congratulations to Steve Gashler, Andrew Holmes, and Mary Louise Hughes for delivering award-winning chills. The photo is of teller Teresa Gashler, sharing a personal twist on the legend of La Llorona. Spooooky!
October Stories 2018
October 24, 2018
Every couple of months, the Apple Seed; Tellers and Stories features a special live performance of stories from literature. The stories are sometimes obscure and sometimes well-known, and all are presented in a readers theater format by our little team of actors: Suzanne Christensen, Noah and Leah Kershisnik, and Sam. This year's October Stories featured tales of ghosts, dead folks, and magic words, all by Mark Twain. The show also featured musical guest Marvin Payne, and an intimate audience made up of friends and story enthusiasts (pictured in the photo, with our actors in the back). It all made for a terrific October evening. Wanna hear it? Click on the button below!
Tales in the Tunnel
October 27, 2018
Great weekend in autumnal Cache Valley, sharing stories, tunes, food, and great conversation long into the night with friends old and new. Just the right way to welcome All Hallows Eve. The venue? The Central Park Tunnels -- spoooky!
Autumnal House Concert Goodness
September 25, 2018
A neighborhood concert in my actual neighborhood, for my actual neighbors. Geese overhead. Fall coming on. So dang good. House concerts are my favorite way to share music and stories. Want to throw one for your friends? Click on the "Contact" button in the navigation bar to get in touch. Hosting a house concert is easier than you think!
Assembling at the Assembly Hall
August 28, 2018
Great fun performing songs and stories at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, in the lovely Assembly Hall. One of my favorite halls in the state. A delight to have Anthony Phan and Ian Camp along on piano and bass, and Joe Anderson making everything sound just right. What an evening. It yielded a nice little recoding too. If you'd like to hear it, just add your name to the website email list!
The Return of the Ghosts of Gardner Village
September 03, 2018
Nice evening making music in the studio with Nathanael Davenport, Clive Romney, Nancy Hanson, and Tammy Simister Robinson (Tammy’s just out of frame on the right. See her?). More than a decade ago, we were commissioned to write some songs together about the history of the 19th-century buildings at Gardner Village. This coming week, oddly, in a freak opportunity, we’ve been asked to perform those songs again. I’ve always believed that the things you create have a way of coming back to you later on, to sustain you in new ways, often at uncannily appropriate times. I still believe it, and going back to these Gardner Village tunes has held some sweet surprises.
A Little String Love
August 25, 2018
What fun to make music with these fine folks tonight. Super cool string arrangements of everything from "Bridge Over Troubled Water" to "La Vie En Rose." Our “Hey Jude” would have knocked your socks off. #onlyonenotholdingastringedinstrument #hemustbethesinger photo by Luke Orton.
A Beautiful August in Rexburg
August 17, 2018
A beautiful evening at the Rexburg Tabernacle. Jackie Rawlins, Robert Burns, Tisha Flora, and their terrific team threw quite a party this weekend. Such an honor and a pleasure to be among the tellers featured at the Teton Storytelling Festival. It's like family around here. The gang included Kim Weitkamp, Bil Lepp, Andy Offutt Irwin, Josh Goforth, Michael Reno Harrell, Clive Romney, and Robert Burns. Visit www.tetonstorytelling.org for more info about this terrific festival. (PC Leah Kershisnik).
August 06, 2018
The Alpine Days Story Sing has grown from a few dozen folks sitting under a pavilion in a municipal park to hundreds and hundreds of onlookers for an evening of entertainment that includes dance, song, stories, and more. This year, the acts on stage included the terrific Celtic band Pennyland, and a Polynesian dance troupe that featured stuff on fire! Sam told stories and sang songs to a lovely crowd enjoying a perfect summer night.
A Hot Time in St. George
July 24, 2018
Sam was asked to perform for a big Pioneer Day celebration in St. George, Utah. It was an evening that included choral performances, singing and dancing from a hundred-kid cast, fireworks like crazy, and stories and songs from Sam. The evening was produced by Merrill Osmond (yup. THAT Merrill Osmond) and his son, Justin, who have been celebrating Utah's pioneers in just this way for decades. The whole thing went down in Trailblazer Stadium at Dixie State University, the only place in town big enough to hold all the happy southern Utahns inclined to join the celebration. 103-degree temps during the daytime soundcheck had everyone wilting, but the evening show was met with grey skies and cooling rain.
Tempest in a Treehouse
July 20, 2018
Every year, the remarkable Elizabeth Stewart Treehouse Museum in Ogden, Utah, hosts workshops that allow children to learn from dramatists, authors, illustrators, storytellers, and more. Sam and Suzanne were delighted to be asked to follow up last year's youth storytelling workshop with a week-long Shakespeare workshop this year. It was a wonderful week preparing and presenting an abbreviated version of The Tempest, while learning about the Bard and his work. It was a magical week in a magical place, with a group of terrific kids.
Stories in the Dairy Barn
July 14, 2018
The city of Draper, Utah holds a mighty fine town celebration every year, and for the last several years it's been Sam's pleasure to tell stories to great audiences in a venue that once upon a time was the most prominent dairy barn in town. Sam did a couple of sets, and filled the city's venerable celebration with tales and tunes to delight the ear and touch the heart. The festival emcee called Sam "The Dean of Utah Storytelling," and the program notes said of Sam's work, "Every performance is like a master class in storytelling." Aw, shucks, guys! (PC Tamara Mangum Bailie)
A Storytelling Stage in the Woods
June 29, 2018
After a long drive on a winding dirt road in the mountains, Sam wondered what sort of setup today's gig would have. Somehow, an intrepid team of dedicated dudes had lugged a genuine stage to this secluded mountain clearing! And to top it all off, the mosquitoes must have taken the day off. It was a great day, performing for young people in a beautiful, beautiful place.
Storytelling in the Woods
June 15, 2018
Every once in awhile, Sam gets to perform for folks in his home town. That's always a pleasure, because many of the stories are about growing up among those people. Tonight, Sam told stories about church dances, high school plays, and more, surrounded by people from Alpine, Utah, who had lived some of those experiences with him. It's exhilarating partly because those audience members can live right down in those memories along with Sam, and partly because they can spot the lies!
Summer's Here! Time for Summerfest
June 04, 2018
Sam shared a bill with former Philadelphia Eagle (and author of the book "Surround Yourself with Greatness") Chad Lewis in the annual kickoff to Orem Summerfest, an annual citywide party designed to ring in the summer in style. In spite of the 96 degree heat (summer came suddenly, and it wasn't kidding around!), story enthusiasts flocked to the Orchards at University Place for an evening of laughs and cheers. The event was sponsored by DoTerra, University Place, and Timpanogos Storytelling. Leah Kershisnik snapped the photo.
Alice, Ringing up the Valley
May 31, 2018
For years, Sam has taken songwriting commissions from Utah Pioneer Heritage Arts — rendering stories from Utah history in songs recorded by the venerable Clive Romney. This afternoon’s adventure included a song about Alice Syrett, a teenager who stayed at the phone switchboard during the bursting of the Hatchtown dam in 1914, warning folks downriver until the lines finally washed out. She saved every life in the valley. This stuff is always worth doing.
Summer Begins at The Homestead
May 26, 2018
Almost two decades ago, Ed Stevens began bringing terrific acoustic shows to the beautiful Homestead resort in Midway, Utah. Ed is no longer with us, but his wife Anne carries the torch forward, for an audience that grows and grows with each passing year. Sam has been asked to play the series often, and this year he shared a beautiful night with the bluegrass band Silver City Pink and a super audience. It's just not summer without a visit to the Homestead.
Hamlet at the Boxcar
May 11, 2018
The Acting Company, in collaboration with Little Man Theater Company, created a terrific production of Shakespeare's Hamlet (directed by Suzanne). The show was performed in one of Provo's most exciting and unusual spaces: the incredibly atmospheric Boxcar Studios. As the run progressed, the terrific audiences came to overwhelm the space's modest seating. It was a great problem to have, and even with a crowd, the show retained all the qualities that made one reviewer call it "captivating, intimate, and unnerving." In the photo, Suzanne, Sam, and Noah Kershisnik's Hamlet attend to Sarah Butler's Gertrude as she dies. Dang poison.
Underground at the Underground
May 18, 2018
When Sam was in high school, this venue in downtown Provo was an underground restaurant fashioned in the style of a speakeasy. Patrons ordered food from booths in the shape of old gangster cars, and danced the night away to live bands. The ghosts of that old restaurant were thick around tonight's Savoy gig, as Sam, along with Ian Camp, Dave Bowen, and Kurt Reeder brought to life an evening's worth of Jazz for a terrific party in the old place (for old Savoy pals Kevin and Christie Wilson). Great, great fun.
April 21, 2018
Sam was invited to share songs and stories at the Lighten Up! conference in Lehi, Utah. The organizers were terrific, the audience was terrific, and Sam got to work with ASL interpreters Laura Blum and Jim Macedone, who were likewise terrific.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
April 14, 2018
Spring brought a lovely production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" from The Acting Company, directed by Suzanne Christensen. This is a company with which Sam and Suzanne have worked for years; it was established by Suzanne more than two decades ago to produce Shakespeare plays with very young actors. It's a very, very wonderful thing.
Stories and Songs in the Holy Land
April 02, 2018
Sam was invited to spend twelve days in Israel sharing stories and songs from the Bible and beyond. This photo was taken fresh off the plane, on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It was twelve days filled with meaningful communion with old friends and new in a place to which so many in the world feel such strong connections.
In Search of Utah's Biggest Liar
March 26, 2018
For a decade now, the Timpanogos Storytelling Institute has held a tall tales contest each spring. Tall tale competitors take steely-eyed aim at the prize: a golden shovel. 2018 marks the tenth annual Utah's Biggest Liar competition, and Sam was happy to be invited to sit at the judges table, along with Bil Lepp, YouTuber John Roberts, and Author Janci Patterson. It was an evening of unbelievable tales before a very warm crowd, and yielded a sixth win for long-time contest participant George McEwan.
The Outlaw Trail
March 24, 2018
In Fillmore, Utah, Sam got to perform songs and stories about Butch Cassidy in front of an audience made up partly of Butch's family members. In addition to Sam's "Robert Leroy Parker," the audience enjoyed songs sung by Clive Romney, cowboy poetry about horse rustling, and a display of vintage firearms of the sort the Wild Bunch used in their exploits. Everyone made it out alive.
Home of the Rabbits
March 23, 2018
Sam was one of a handful of tellers invited to be part of the inaugural Old Capitol Storytelling Festival. Audiences enjoyed presentations from professional storytellers, musicians, historians, and others. Millard County, Utah, was host to the event, which featured celebrated TV producer and documentarian Ken Verdoia, Ute/Pueblo storyteller, flute player, and dancer Nino Reyos, Songwriting duo Cherie Call and Lyndy Butler, past Daughters of Utah Pioneers president Maurine Smith, and Sam. Because of its unique geographical positioning (just a few miles in one direction from the Territorial Statehouse, and just a few miles in another from the Topaz Japanese American internment camp), the festival provided lots of opportunity for light and shadow.
March 21, 2018
Sam was invited to teach principles of storytelling in a lecture to BYU Law students as part of their "LawStories" project. The project invites law students from BYU and elsewhere to prepare and present true-life stories about the law, in order to improve the communication skills of potential young attorneys and to humanize the processes of litigation. The initiative is led by Marie Kulbeth and Rebecca Clark, and founded on the idea that storytelling is a core skill of effective lawyering,
March 17, 2018
Pianist Todd McCabe and his musical partner (violinist April Moriarty) have an annual tradition of holding a house concert around Easter time. They invite a handful of their own musical friends to join them on stage. This year's lineup featured John Lennon Songwriting Competition winner Cherie Call, April Messervy (whose lovely, sad rendition of "With or Without You" accompanied gold-medal skating performances at the 2018 Olympics), and me. A very lovely evening, as it always is.
March 03, 2018
Sam was asked to host the first annual Diversity Stories open mic event at Weber State University, an event co-sponsored by the Weber Storytelling Festival and the Weber State University Student Association Diversity Council. Terrific tellers shared sometimes difficult, sometimes entertaining, but always inspiring stories. Thanks to university president Chuck Wight for snapping the photo, and here's to a long, rich life for diversity storytelling at Weber State!
Drifting along with the 7th annual Tumbleweeds Film Festival!
March 02, 2018
Tonight, stories in the Rose Wagner black box at the 7th annual Tumbleweeds Film Festival, a film festival just for kids and their families, brought to Salt Lake City each year by the Utah Film Center. On screen after Sam's set was the Utah premier of Micah Barber's film "Into the Who Knows," one of fifteen films screening at the festival this year.
Weber State, Weber State, Great, Great, Great!
February 28, 2018
Home from the terrific Weber Storytelling Festival, now in its 22nd year of bringing great stories to the stage from national, regional, and youth tellers. Biggest surprise of the festival? Who knew that the soft pretzels late at night at Iggy's were so hard, or that Andy Offutt Irwin, Bil Lepp, and Charlotte Blake Alston could quote so many Steven Wright jokes? This year's event featured Bill Lepp, Charlotte Blake Alston, Carolina Quiroga Stultz, Andy Offutt Irwin, lots of terrific regional and youth tellers, and Sam -- the Festival Fellow. DeeDee Mower and her wonderful staff did another incredible job organizing the event. Long live the Weber festival.
Digital Storytelling at the University of Utah
February 22, 2018
At the University of Utah's department of Language and Communications, Sam was invited to present a lecture about his work in radio storytelling. Students who heard Sam's presentation will go on to produce radio essays themselves. It was a terrific hour with a fantastic, engaged group of students. Sam dissected audio from a number of different stories, looking at editing techniques, music choices, interview strategies, and and other aspects of creating compelling audio pieces. Thanks to Dr. Natalie Stillman-Webb for arranging the visit.
January 24, 2018
Sam has been asked to serve as the first Weber State University Storytelling Festival Fellow. Sam's first storytelling performance was at the first annual Weber Storytelling Festival 22 years ago. It's an honor for Sam to establish an even more significant relationship with this terrific event. This year, enjoy three days of fantastic storytelling from February 26-28. Click the link below to find out more!