Spinnin’ yarn: SKCTC brings professional storytellers to upcoming festival

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, October 4, 2023

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News Release

The 2023 Kingdom Come Swappin’ Meetin’, scheduled for Oct. 6-7, on the Southeast Cumberland Campus, will host two professional storytellers: Tim Lowry and Josh Goforth. Both artists will perform Oct. 6, hold a workshop for students that afternoon, and perform again the following day.

A Harlan County native, Tim Lowry is a graduate of James A. Cawood High School. As a teenager, he produced puppet shows for children’s birthday parties, and as a theatre major at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, he studied Shakespeare and Romantic Opera. However, when he took an elective course in storytelling, Lowry found his true calling.

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After graduation, Lowry taught English language arts for five years. Drawing on his love of show business, his teaching methods were often considered “unorthodox and disruptive.” In 2000 Lowry left the classroom to pursue a career as a professional storyteller, allowing him to share his “unorthodox and disruptive” teaching methods with more than a quarter million children to date.

In 2012, Lowry began touring the National Storytelling Circuit, performing at more than 50 festivals. Occasionally, he provides workshops for corporate clients such as the North Carolina County Commissioners, Dollywood Dream More Resort, Ballad Health and Daramic LLC.

Of storytelling, Lowry most enjoys “the direct connection to the audience.”

“We are so excited to have Tim perform and teach for us this year,” said Carlton Hughes, professor of communications and Swappin’ Meetin’ organizer. “This will be a homecoming for him since he got his start performing puppet shows at our festival.”

Goforth is an accomplished storyteller and acoustic musician, playing close to 20 different instruments. He is a protege of well-known musician/storyteller David Holt and lives in the Asheville, North Carolina.

Goforth began playing piano in church at the age of four—but a performance at his middle school by Sheila Kay Adams piqued his interest in the musical heritage and stories of his native Madison County, North Carolina.  He was able to listen and learn from local masters like Gordon and Arvil Freeman and Jerry Adams.  Goforth is a highly accomplished storyteller and acoustic musician who plays close to 20 different instruments.

After high school, Goforth studied music education with a Euphonium concentration at East Tennessee State University. There he joined ETSU’s famous Bluegrass and Country Music Program. In 2000, he played fiddle for the movie Songcatcher, both onscreen and on the soundtrack. He has toured extensively with a variety of ensembles, including the ETSU Bluegrass band,  David Holt, Laura Boosinger, and with several bluegrass bands like Appalachian Trail, the Josh Goforth Trio, the Steep Canyon Rangers and Open Road.

He has performed in all 50 US states, all over Europe, Asia, and Australia. In 2000, 2003 and 2005, he was named Fiddler of the Festival at Fiddler’s Grove and, after winning the third title, was designated “Master Fiddler” and retired from that competition. He has performed at the Grand Ole Opry, the Lincoln Center, as well as Carnegie Hall.  In 2009 he was nominated for a Grammy for his album with David Holt entitled “Cutting Loose.”

“I have heard Josh perform at other festivals, and I am excited for him to be at Swappin’ Meetin,” said Hughes. “His unique combination of storytelling and musicianship is irresistible, and I think our people will enjoy him.”