The Liars Bench
Stories of the Southern Appalachians
“A Live, Authentic Traditional Southern Appalachian Storytelling, Music, Poetry, Drama, and Folk Arts Presentation”
Sylva February 21, 2012—Gary Carden of The Liars Bench, a two-year old program featuring authentic traditional Southern Appalachian storytelling, music, poetry, and drama, announced an encore show Thursday February 23 at 7:00 pm at WCUs Mountain Heritage Center to follow the successful February 16 Liars Bench performance of “Coy”. There will be an admission charge of $10.00 per person to cover the costs of show production.
“We have done over twenty, free performances in Sylva and Cullowhee, and in addition, we have traveled to other locations such as Andrews, Franklin, and Waynesville,” said Carden, the founder and Artistic Director of The Liars Bench. “The show has become quite popular and part of the program's appeal is due to the fact that admission at all of the City Lights and Mountain Heritage Center performances have been free. Customarily, we 'pass the hat' at each performance in order to give a token payment to the performers. However, in order to stabilize our finances we have decided to charge admission for this special “Coy” program.
Carden readily admits that The Liars Bench programs took an unexpected turn, both in terms of purpose and popularity. “At first, I simply wanted an opportunity to tell stories. However, when local musicians and poets agreed to perform, I realized that perhaps The Liars Bench was an opportunity to do more than merely entertain the audience. Gradually, the show has become a means of showcasing Appalachian culture and presenting it with integrity and authenticity. With the assistance of the Mountain Heritage Center, we are in the process of developing a series of programs called “The Balsam Chronicles” which are based on the history and folklore of the region.”
Recently, The Liars Bench, in conjunction with the Mountain Heritage Center, developed a grant proposal that was funded by the Jackson County Arts Council. “This grant will give us the resources to develop programs that deal with topics such as Dr. John R. Brinkley, the hanging of Jack Lambert, and the historical basis for the belief that Abraham Lincoln was born here. We plan to do this with storytelling, music, poetry and drama.”
During the past year, Carden has designed and directed a series of shows that dealt with Cherokee history and culture; religious music, Jack Tales, and myths and legends. After a show from last October was recently featured on the regional television program Life in the Carolinas, both the performers and the staff of the Liars Bench became convinced that the show should move toward becoming a significant voice in defining and preserving the region's culture.
In addition to Liars Bench regulars, such as Lloyd Arneach, the Cherokee storyteller; Paul Iarussi, claw-hammer guitar specialist; William Ritter, vocalist and musician; Karen Barnes, musician and Eric Young (mandolin and guitar); the February 23 performance will feature a play, “Coy,” written by Gary Carden and performed by Tom Dewees. Advance tickets are $10.00 and are currently on sale at City Lights Bookstore (828.586.9499). Encore performance starts at 7:00 pm. For additional information, call the Mountain Heritage Center at 828.227.7129.
The Mountain Heritage Center at WCU: 828.227.7129
Coming in March, the first of "The Balsam Chronicles", a series of culturally and historically significant shows about Jackson and the surrounding counties of Western North Carolina. Whether its the short, blue-eyed men who were here when the Cherokee came to the Southern Appalachians, a Jackson County medical doctor who invigorated elderly men decades before Viagra, or the near-impossible rescue of a man who fell off Whiteside Mountain and came within a hair of plunging two thousand feet to his death by a true Jackson County hero who was married to "Kidder Cole", you will be amazed at all the interesting things that have gone on in your back yard!