The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

April 7, 2013

Back Porch Stories coming April 20

CNHI News Service

Saturday, April 6, 2013 — Back Porch Stories is back. Introduced last year at the Carolinas Writers Conference, the story-telling event proved so popular that the sponsors are repeating it this year.

Michael Reno Harrell, Martha Reed Johnson, and Tyris Jones will appear on stage at the Ansonia Theatre in Wadesboro, N.C., at 7 p.m. on April 20. Randy Rayfield will moderate the program of tall tales, adventure and wit. Cost is $5, $2 for students, and free to children 10 and under.

Harrell, the featured storyteller, is an award-winning songwriter, storyteller and published author. His songs have been described as “Appalachian grit and wit”, but his self-penned material resonates far beyond his Southern roots. Harrell’s songs have earned both gold and platinum awards and his recordings have topped the Americana charts. He has been a featured performer at the National Storytelling Festival, MerleFest, the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival, and the Walnut Valley Festival. His combination of music and storytelling is based on experience, sometimes downright funny, sometimes just plain scary, maybe even with a message worth taking away, but always mesmerizing and entertaining. Don’t miss the chance to experience what those faithful fans keep returning again and again to enjoy.

According to her parents, Johnson has been telling tales from the time she could talk. She is one of five children raised in New England and now residing in South Carolina. She shares with heart and humor stories of growing up in a family of crazy adventurers. Martha has firsthand experience of life in a tall tale. From Massachusetts to California, Florida to Nova Scotia, across three continents, on horseback, foot, a flying bus, and a bike, Martha's travels will leave you laughing and wanting more. Martha is a master at finding, creating and telling amazing stories from ordinary moments.

Jones’ career ranges from working in theater to touring with hip-hop artist Common. Returning to Laurinburg, he acted in local plays and begun his foray into storytelling. He has performed at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tenn. Whether telling about a talking mule, his neighbor Sweet Miss Clara, or portraying a slave who finds freedom via the Underground Railroad, Jones brings his audience into the stories.

Self-described as a storyteller, writer and catfish cook, Rayfield brings a distinctive view of this exciting journey we call life. Rayfield describes his style as back of the pickup – just talking between people with no format, no rules and no boundaries.

“My style is a little Jerry Clower, a helping of Lewis Grizzard, some Will Rogers, all mixed together with a pinch of Jay Leno thrown in. It’s a little more decorative than a pound cake but not quite as fancy as a red velvet cake.”

Rayfield is a member of the Union County Writers’ Club and co-chairman of the Carolinas Writers Conference oversight committee.

Back Porch Stories is sponsored by the Anson County Writers’ Club, the Union County Writers’ Club, The Anson County Arts Council, South Piedmont Community College, and the Anson County Tourism Development Authority, with support from Anson Bank & Trust, The Elizabeth Burns Yost Trust, the Effie Allen Little Foundation, and the William A. Smith Trust.

Tickets are available at the arts council office, or call 704.694.7022; e-mail; or visit