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Spaceman/One of a Million Stars live in Jonesborough - Sam Payne
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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. 

Peabody Nominee!

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!

Grace Notes

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.

LawStories 2020

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. 

Weber 2019

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!

Tiny Tales

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 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.

Lovely Loveland

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. 

Miss Inspiration

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. 

Weber, 2019

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.