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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. 

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 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 for more info about this terrific festival. (PC Leah Kershisnik). 

Alpine Home

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. 

Lighten Up!

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.

Law Stories

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. 

Diversity Stories

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. 

Storytelling Fellow

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! 

So Long to Good Friends

December 22, 2017

It's always hard to say good-bye to friends, but we were thrilled to reminisce over great Mexican food with Abbie Vance and Makena Bauss,  two of the members of the team that brings you The Apple Seed and Highway 89 each day on BYU Radio. We wish them well, and they'll always be part of our family. Listen to both shows daily at  

To Entertain a Solitary Winter's Night

December 16, 2017

The wonderful organization Story Crossroads hosts a house concert each month in a different location. Sam was thrilled to be asked to perform an evening of songs and stories as the featured performer in their December show. It was a lovely concert to a roomful of friends, on the evening of the first real snow of the season. Click on the link below to find out more about Story Crossroads. House concerts are Sam's very favorite way of sharing stories and songs, and he does it all over the country. If you'd like to know more about throwing a house concert yourself featuring Sam as a performer, click on the "booking" tab in the navigation bar. 

December Stories 2017

December 13, 2017

Every couple of months, BYU Radio's The Apple Seed produces a show filled with readers theater performances of some of the world's greatest written stories. The performers include members of The Acting Company. This year, those performers were Suzanne Christensen, Noah and Leah Kershisnik, Stacy Wilk, and Sam, with special musical guest Kurt Reeder, professor of jazz piano at BYU. The stories included "The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf," by Hans Christian Andersen, "The Rich Woman and the Poor Woman" from Christmas Tales of Flanders, and the delightful fable "Christmas Every Day," by William Dean Howells. Click on the link to hear the episode!

That's Uncalled For

December 11, 2017

Each year for more than a decade, Andy Offutt Irwin, Bil Lepp, and Kim Weitkamp -- under the name "The Uncalled For Trio" have toured a Christmas show filled with stories and songs both tender and gut-bustingly funny. During this year's show, Sam joined Kim onstage (along with the terrific fiddler "Grace Dayton) to perform Kim's new Christmas song "All That Glitters." The show played to a big, warm audience at the wonderful Thanksgiving Point Show Barn. A merry night indeed. 

Christmas Cheer

December 08, 2017

Each year for more than a decade, the piano/violin duo of Todd McCabe and April Moriarty throw a terrific concert, often at Todd's house in Alpine, and invite some of their favorite artists. Sam has been involved in many of these shows, and this year's artists included his old friends Dan and Rebecca -- wonderful, wonderful singers, both. What a joyful reunion it was!

Dr. Seuss and the United Way

December 04, 2017

How to celebrate a successful United Way project to provide books to Title 1 schools in Utah? How about a party for the donors who made it possible, featuring dignified readings of Dr. Seuss classics from Sam Payne. As guests listened, they loaded gift bags with stacks and stacks of books bound for Utah's elementary school students. It was a holiday party for efforts worth celebrating!

A November Tempest

November 17, 2017

The Acting Company opened its terrific production of Shakespeare's The Tempest in the beautiful home of Steve and Laura Ricks. The Acting Company, under the direction of Sam's storytelling partner, Suzanne Christensen, has been producing Shakespeare's plays with young actors for more then two decades, and The Tempest played to standing room only audiences during it's delightful four-day run.

18th annual Lehi Family Week

November 19, 2017

Each year, Lehi City sponsors a week's worth of events dedicated to strengthening families. It's an event they've been hosting for the last 18 years, and they kick off each year's activities with a gala event in the auditorium of the local high school. It was Sam's pleasure to give the keynote address at the kickoff event this year. Joining him onstage was a terrific choir made up of young people from all over town. 

Sam at Oasis

November 19, 2017

Each week, Salt Lake Oasis invites a guest speaker to address its terrific audience. Sam was honored to join an impressive lineup of past presenters for an hour of stories and songs about family, reconciliation, redemption, and church dances. It was a lovely experience, supported by the warmth of a friendly, loving community. 

Becoming and Honorary Crone

November 11, 2017

Sam had the pleasure of producing a recording of Lori Prescott Hansen's one-woman show "Becoming an Honorary Crone." The recording was made live before an audience in the lovely home of Rod and Cassie Ashton on an autumn night. Watch for the recording to be released on CD early in 2018. Wanna know more about the show? Click on the link for a review of an earlier production.

Stories are Good Food, but Sometimes You Just Need Food!

November 10, 2017

Some months ago, Tammy Bailie contacted a few of her music-making, storytelling friends to organize a benefit concert for the Utah Food Bank. The concert happened tonight, in the lovely upstairs auditorium at the Sandra N. Lloyd Center in Riverton. It was a great night, featuring Sam, traditional musicians Craig and Tamilisa Miner, and songwriters Nancy Hanson and Tammy Bailie. A can of food got you in the door, and by the end of the night, there was quite a haul for the Food Bank. 

Great Stories Come From Great Discussions

November 04, 2017

Sometimes one gets to kick back with one's own storytelling family right in one's own neighborhood. Sam and Suzanne were asked to keynote the annual gathering of the Utah Storytellers Guild in the beautiful home of storyteller Wendy Gourley. The keynote was a conversation about the value of collaboration on creative projects, The presentation covered a lot of ground; everything from Sesame Street to Sting's The Last Ship to Project Runway was invoked. Good, good times with good, good folks. 

Mile-High Music

November 03, 2017

A quick trip to Denver with Ian Camp, Steve Keen, and Dave Bowen saw Sam Payne and Savoy rocking a VIP event at Bigsby's Folly. There was just time for the trip down, the music, and the trip back, though the gang did find a terrific little Ramen place between load-in and downbeat, and took in some street bagpipe music while they dined.

October Stories 2017

October 25, 2017

October Stories, performed by Sam and Suzanne, with Noah and Leah Kershisnik, has been a tradition on BYU Radio for the last three years. This year's show included gothic tales from John Aikin, John Palmer, and Emily Bronte, with portions of an essay by Letitia Aikin on why we like scary stories in the first place. Add live performances of a few tunes from Tom Waits' remarkable "Alice" album (covered by Noah Kershisnik and Alex Vincent), a couple of remarks from the world's biggest Tom Waits fan (our very own audio engineer Mark Wait), and a lovely studio audience, and the whole thing made for a heck of an October evening.

A Festival in the Land of Enchantment

October 14, 2017

Karen McPheeters, Jenny Lee Ryan, and the folks at the Farmington Public Library in New Mexico have been running the Four Corners Storytelling Festival for seventeen years. This year, Sam was honored to be freatured at the festival, along with Kim Weitkamp, Lyn Ford, Michael Reno Harrell, and Doug Elliott. Daytimes were spend along the Animas River telling stories and singing songs to hundreds and hundreds of school children (the kids told too, and MC'ed in every tent!), and the evenings were spent at the very cool Totah Theater downtown. 

Stories and Songs for Veterans

September 27, 2017

Sam was invited to share stories and songs along with two fantastic musicians -- Ian Camp and Anthony Phan -- at the Payson Veterans Home. In the photo, see Anthony Phan playing keys and trumpet AT THE SAME TIME. It was that kinda gig. In one of the residents of the home, Sam may have found someone who marched through the French countryside as a prisoner of war near the very end of World War II. 

Something Wicked This Way Comes

September 24, 2017

Both Sam and Suzanne (along with Noah and Leah, Suzanne's son and daughter) played roles in the Rennaissance Now production of Mac...The Scottish Play at the Castle Theater in Provo. Sam played Macduff, Suzanne played Witch 1, Noah played Malcolm, and Leah played Donalbain (and a whole bunch of other stuff). The Castle is a beautiful old WPA project amphitheater built in 1936. It was a great place to be, and audiences went home well shaken (and possibly stirred). In the photo see Archelaus Crisanto as Mackers, taking hard news from Suzanne (far right) and her coven (including Leah, on the floor, left).

Tales at Timp

September 10, 2017

Sam was honored to be among the featured tellers at this year's Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, one of the biggest storytelling events in the country. This was a special year for the festival -- now in its 28th year -- and featured a venue change; the festival moved from the beautiful Timpanogos Park at the mouth of Provo Canyon to the remarkable Ashton Gardens: 55 acres of the most beautiful gardens you can imagine. It was storytelling and incredible garden beauty for a whole, wonderful weekend. 

Far Western

September 05, 2019

Sam performed in St. George, Utah with Ryan Tilby and Drew Williams as a kickoff to a special DOCUtah 2017 screening of the film "Far Western," a documentary about the Country music scene in Japan. Part of the evening featured duets by Sam and Yoshie Sakamoto, the terrific Japanese Country and Western artist featured in the film. Yoshie traveled by plane and car 26 hours just to sing a couple of numbers at the event, and then turned right back around again and headed home.  


August 21, 2017

Spent a terrific weekend with Kim Weitkamp, Bil Lepp, Omar and Lori Hansen, Clive Romney, Wendy Gourley, Rachel Hedman, Janine Nishiguchi, and Dan and Annie Eastmond, at the invitation of Robert Burns, Jackie Rawlins, and Tisha Flora at the first annual Teton Storytelling Festival. It meant a front row seat to the great American Eclipse, which absolutely blew our minds. 

House Concerts: No Better Way to Share

July 29, 2017

Robyn Openshaw hosted Sam in a lovely summer evening house concert for a few dozen of her friends. After a terrific backyard meal and a spectacular sunset, everyone nestled in for a fire in the fireplace, crickets in the background, and an hour-and-a-half of songs and stories. It was a beautiful evening surrounded by good friends and good laughs, with Robyn as the evening's gracious host. Sam has been doing house concerts for more than ten years, and it's one of his favorite ways to share -- in a backyard or living room, where tellers and listeners can look right into each other's eyes. House concerts make unforgettable memories, and they're usually free to host! If you'd like to plan a house concert with Sam, click the button below to contact us. It's usually as simple as a quick email conversation to get going! photo cred: Kristin Matthews

Just Us and a Few Thousand of our Closest Friends

July 24, 2017

The 24th of July is a state holiday in Utah. On that day in 1847, Mormon leader Brigham Young rode into the Salt Lake valley, marking what most people in Utah look to as founders day in the Beehive State. Merrill and Justin Osmond (yup, those Osmonds) commissioned Sam and Suzanne to write and produce sections of an enormous stage celebration of Utah's pioneers to be held in the Dixie State University football stadium. The show featured more than 150 young performers in spoken word performances, singing, dancing, and more, and there were fireworks too! The show played to a packed house of thousands of spectators in the stadium seats and on the lawn. Read more about it in the link below!

Stories and Songs at Brigham Young Historic Park

July 18, 2017

A performance at Brigham Young Historic Park as part of the Temple Square Summer Concert Series is a tradition worth keeping. Sam was back this year with fans and friends, sharing the stage with musicians Kurt Reeder, Ian Camp, and Keith Sorensen. It was a memorable evening of stories and lively renditions of great jazz tunes. A terrific audience made a warm night even warmer. 

A Summer night in Sandy

July 15, 2017

Sam was joined by Kurt Reeder on keys for a great night of stories and songs at one of Sam's very favorite places to play: the Sandy Amphitheater. A terrific audience had Sam and Kurt back for two encores on a beautiful summer night. Sandy Amphitheater is host every year to a terrific season full of fantastic entertainers. A show at the Amphitheater is worth putting on your calendar every year!

Stories and More Stories at Weber State University

June 22, 2017

Weber State University has been dedicated to the good that storytelling can do since the establishment of the Weber Storytelling Festival, more than 20 years ago. Sam and Suzanne spent a great couple of days teaching their workshop "Nothing to Fear: Using Stories to Find Your Way in the Dark" to a terrific group at this year's Weber Story Symposium. Lots of laughs, lots of tugs at heartstrings, lots of ammo for telling stories at the kitchen table, on the stage, and in the classroom. 

Clogging to the Beat of America's Stories

June 29, 2017

Every year, the talented young folks at Clog America take a trip overseas to share American folk music and dance with friends around the globe. And every year, to kick off their overseas touring season, they perform a benefit concert for the VFW in Utah County. It's a grand old tradition, and this year they asked Sam to MC the show and serve as guest artist. It was a musical, high-steppin' tribute to America through the decades. These guys have been doing this for 26 years now, and it just keeps getting better. 

Dogwood Fine Arts Festival

May 16, 2017

Sam spent a terrific couple of days at the Dogwood Fine Arts Festival in Dowagiac, Michigan. The festival has been running for nearly two decades, featuring a visual artist, a musician, an author, and a storyteller each year. Past guests of the festival have included Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, Amy Tan, Arlo Guthrie, Kim Weitkamp, Jim May, Michael Reno Harrell, Bill Harley, Donald Davis, Angela Lloyd, and a host of others. It was an honor to be part of this wonderful community for a few days. 


May 13, 2017

Every year from May to October, The International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee features a storyteller each week in a terrific series called "Storytelling Live!" It's a great chance to hear storytellers in the intimate setting of the Krispy Kreme Storytelling Hall in the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Center in the most picturesque historic downtown there ever was. Sam is this week's teller, sharing stories and songs with folks from all over town, and all over the country. Some of the most beloved storytellers in America (and beyond) have graced this stage, and it's a real honor to be here. 

St. Louis Stories

May 05, 2017

Sam has been in St. Louis, taking in the 38th Annual St. Louis Storytelling Festival. It's shaping up to be a fantastic four days, with Donna Washington, Tim Lowry, Dovie Thomason, Angela Lloyd, Leeny Del Seamonds, and Brian "Fox" Ellis, not to mention the wonderful Lisa Overholser and her staff. In the photo, Sam and Angela Lloyd are getting their kicks on Route 66, with the help of Angela's amazing washboard.  Long live a terrific festival in a terrific city. 

Quick! Jump! It's a Skunk!

April 25, 2017

Some months ago, Sam was honored to be asked to be part of an Eagle Scout project for Liam Vest, giving a concert of stories and songs as a fundraiser for Wild Wonders, a local animal rescue and education facility. Liam's Eagle Court of Honor itself was characterized by some human and animal friends showing up to say hello. Long story short, Sam is petting a skunk. 

Stories and Songs at the Madeleine

April 30, 2017

The Madeleine Festival has been a Salt Lake City tradition for nearly three decades, featuring performances by some of Utah's best. Sam was invited this year to be part of the festival, telling stories and singing songs in the beautiful Cathedral of the Madeleine, a faith and cultural events hub since it was completed in 1909. Joining Sam was Kurt Reeder, professor of Jazz piano at Brigham Young University, for inimitable renditions of great songs from the American Songbook. 

BYU tellers in the Apple Seed Studio

April 10, 2017

We're always excited to bring groups of BYU students into the studio to tell personal stories. We've heard great tales of first dates, car trips, explosions, camp adventures, international incidents, and more. It was our pleasure this month to host Dr. Eric Eliason's folklore class, and Teresa Love's storytelling class for hours of great storytelling for the Apple Seed archive. 

An Intimate Evening of Stories and Music

April 04, 2017

In addition to throwing a big festival in the Spring, Story Crossroads is dedicated to producing intimate, house-concert-sized shows for an intimate experience with stories and tellers. House concerts are one of Sam's favorite ways to share stuff like this, and was invited to share an evening of stories and music with colleague Kurt Reeder (professor of jazz piano at Brigham Young University). It was a great night, thanks to a great audience and great hosts -- the Lunds, of Orem, Utah. Find out more about Story Crossroads events by clicking on the button below. 


March 25, 2017

Sam was the MC and guest performer at an enormous family history conference for kids age 14-18 in the Burns Arena on the campus of Dixie State University. 3,500 kids attended, and A 170-voice choir performed "One of a Million Stars," a song about the power of family stories, that Sam wrote for the event. There was a reverent spirit there as teenagers pondered on the stories that make them who they are. Winners of the conference's family-history-themed video contest won scholarships to DSU. It was an incredible event, with an appropriate subtitle: "Youth, changing the world, one story at a time."

Stories in Dinosaur Country

December 11, 2019

For those lucky enough to live in Vernal and the surrounding areas, March has been storytime for more than a dozen years now. It was Sam's pleasure to be invited back for a second year in a row to this darlin' festival, featuring two days of stories for elementary school students and middle schoolers, public concerts in the beautiful Vernal Middle School auditorium, and a story symposium where specially selected high schoolers hear tales and attend workshops on the way to creating tales of their own. It's a lovely festival, run so well for the last little while by Aaryn Birchell and her terrific team. This year, Sam was featured along with the wonderful Tim Lowry. Click on the photo to find out m ore about Tim and his work. 

A Visit to Greenwood

March 01, 2017

The last day of February brought a visit to the terrific students and faculty at Greenwood, a fabulous K-6 charter school in Harrisville (and home to the classroom of Karl Behling, storytelling elementary school teacher and past president of the Utah Storytelling Guild). One spectator to the happy madness quipped "they enjoyed the stories so much, their heads kind of exploded." This day was great fun, and is just one illustrator of the rich storytelling culture alive and well in Utah schools.  

Time for the Weber Storytelling Festival

February 24, 2017

Click on the photo or the button to read the Ogden Standard Examiner article about this year's Weber Storytelling Festival. Tellers include Antonio Sacre, Kim Weitkamp, Bil Lepp, Omar and Lori Hansen, and Sam Payne -- not to mention Clive Romney, Karl Behling, Stephani Raff (pictured in the photo, telling at the 2015 festival), and more! From the article: "This is the first time we’ve had a Utah story-teller who is also a national one," (Vincent) Bates said. "That's kind of exciting." Thanks, Vince! We're excited too! The Weber festival is a great one, and Sam began his storytelling career there two decades ago, opening for Ed Stivender. Looking forward to a great couple of days. 

Letters, Letters, and More Letters

February 22, 2017

The Acting Company visited The Apple Seed: Tellers and Stories for a special evening of classic stories about the writing of good old paper letters, recorded live before a studio audience.  The audience enjoyed excerpts from Bram Stoker's Dracula, Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona, Jane Austen's Lady Susan, and The Young Visiters (sic) by nine-year-old Daisy Ashford. The recordings aired on The Apple Seed: Tellers and Stories on Friday, February 24. You can find the recordings, along with hundreds of Apple Seed episodes, at the link.