The Telling Takes Us Home

A Celebration of American Family Stories

The most celebrated and beloved public television documentaries was the Civil War by Ken Burns. The theme music for the series, “Ashokan Farewell,” was written and performed by fiddler Jay Ungar. I spent time with Jay and his wife Molly at the Ashokan Environmental Education Center in upstate New York in 2015 and recorded an interview for my Rosin the Bow podcast series. Here is the story Jay told me about writing “Ashokan Farewell” and how the waltz played a significant role in keeping the Ashokan Center alive. And I will end with this: We find ourselves as Americans this Independence Day struggling to overcome our political, racial, economic, religious, and cultural differences so that we might not only limit the spread of the Covid 10 virus but also remember and strengthen the ideals from which spring this unique experiment in self-government. I pray that we come to our senses and, if music can play even a small part in that, I say let us be thankful.

101  Bruce "Utah" Phillips - Thoughts on Storytelling

Since we’ve just past our 100th story I thought I would feature folksinger and songwriter Bruce “Utah” Phillips talking about the importance of storytelling in our lives. His comments are followed by a song Utah wrote titled “The Telling Takes Me Home.” With Bruce’s permission and encouragement, I made a slight change to the title for my radio series celebrating family stories, The Telling Takes Us Home. Bruce is gone now but he lives in my heart and in the imagination and hearts of so many people. How I wish I could talk to him now about what is going on. I’m sure he would have something worthwhile to say.

102  Alan Jabbour - Lost Horses

Some years ago I interviewed a fiddler named Alan Jabbour for his family stories in Washington DC. He served as the director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Here he tells a story about an ancestor’s grand plan for coming to America that failed to pan out, as the saying goes.

103  Oleta Singleton - An Old-time Church Meeting

Our friends Scott and Jeanie in Port Townsend are members of a church but they are prevented from worshipping in person because of the pandemic. So I thought this story by 93-year-old Oleta Singleton from central West Virginia about a very different kind of church meeting might bring both them and you a smile.

104  Charles Lane - Tuskegee Airman

Back in the early2000s, I spent several months in Omaha, NE, working with young people under the supervision of the juvenile drug court. My project was to teach them how to conduct quality interviews with some of the elders of their community. This included Holocaust survivors, WWII military pilots, three generations of firefighters, a noted jazz musician, a 93-year-old former Pullman porter, a former organizer for the meat packing union, and others. After the interviews were recorded, I worked with the young people to create a series of radio programs that aired on Nebraska Public Radio and a station in California. Well, given all that is happening related to race relations in the United States I thought I would feature part of an interview from that project with retired fighter pilot Colonel Charles Lane who during WWII flew with the all-black 332nd Fighter Group and were known as the Tuskegee Airmen

More Stories

105  John Deaderick - Madame Butterfly

Our friend John Deaderick told me this story when we lived in Nevada City. My mother loved opera and so the story had special meaning for me.

106  Beverly Marks - Jesse James

Beverly Marks who now lives in northern California shares her memories of stories that reach back to her family’s roots in Nebraska.

107  John Wheeler - The Earring

Here’s a story about courtship in earlier times told by John Wheeler from Charlottesville, Virginia. Love it appears can come to anyone at any age.

108  Martin Simpson - The Gift of Music

Martin Simpson is a celebrated guitarist and banjo player from England who I met and recorded at the Strawberry Music Festival some years ago. The festival was held each spring and fall at Camp Mather on the rim of the Yosemite Valley in California, a magical place full of music and good cheer. Martin plays the music that follows the story.

109  Jay Ungar - Ashokan Farewell