Today we take for granted books and literacy, internet and social media, the demise of the pencil and the silence of the storyteller. It was not so long ago in the history of mankind that stories and histories were passed from person to person and generation to generation via the spoken word of bards, troubadours, and the older generations of grandparents and heroes.
Though the sound of the storyteller’s voice may seem relegated to a romanticized past, the tradition of storytelling is still vibrantly alive. Much as we saw the African griot pass the baton to American bluesmen as transmitters of folktales and themes, our methods of sharing folk culture continue to evolve today.
To say the storytelling tradition of the past is alive and well in today’s culture of mass production and consumerism may seem to be a stretch, though today we have, as never before, tools that allow us to share our unique stories and art with others. The storytellers of the past, such as Homer and Mississippi John Hurt, did not have any reason to believe that the reach of their art would span the globe.
Today, we have access to the modern and global troubadour. Anybody with an inkling to tell a tale can do so using media such as Instagram or a personal blog. Today we see spirited souls taking to the road and telling the same stories via the internet that Ramblin Jack Elliot and Robert Johnson gave us in song. We see artists of all media sharing their creations with like-minded people worldwide, in a true democratizing of art.
Folk culture is no longer limited to those within a certain radius of the storyteller. We have, as never before, the ability to choose our folk and culture, regardless of location.
I find it very inspiring to witness the ways in which artists and other creative individuals contribute to the stories of their respective communities. It is my hope that this blog will contribute to this valuable cultural palimpsest by sharing the stories of these brave, creative folk…
Those who march to the beat of a Different Drum.