By 8:20 on Saturday morning, we were on our way to Artscape Wychwood Barn, 601 Chrsitie Street. It was a little chilly but at least it was dry. From time to time the sun reinforced its brilliance and warmth. It had been a tough week and I was hoping that I would have the right energy to perform for our audience.
Wychwood Barn was bustlng with the Saturday Farmer's market; food grilling and sizzling, families walking, talking and pushing strollers, and the occassional wheel chair. There was our stand in the middle, nicely decorated with vibrant fabric, for a back drop, rows of chairs and a microphone on a boom. Then I saw my favorite elder urban storyteller, Dan Yashinsky with a coffee cup in hand and a big grin of welcome. We hugged, I hadn't seen him in probably two years when I did a special storytelling night for the Toronto Storytelling Festival with Brad Woods and Great Wooden Trio at the Artscape Wychwood Barns performance theatre. Dan was looking good. I met Gurpeet Chana who was soon going to amaze us with his virtuoso percussive talent. He was very striking in black, from turban to trousers, a handsome man with sensitive hands who could call out percussive sound and emotion from the Tabla and the Hang. Celia Lotteridge Barker came in then, whom I hadn't seen since 2006 when we were guest authors at the Stratford Children's Literary Festival.
At ten o'clock we began. First Gurpeet, next yours truly and the Celia and then Dan. In the audience I recognized, Regina from Brazil, with whom I had performed in 20o6(?) at the auspicious Saturday Concert of the Toronto Storytelling Festival, alongside the amazing Jan Blake. We went with site specific stories, involving food, eating, hunting and cooking. Hodja or Mulla Nasruddin appeared twice, Ananse once and other stories. I also told a snappy story of the 3 Fast men.
We settled into part two with more from Gurpeet, this time on the Tabla. Two young brothers were next, carriers of the torch of the oral tradition in Toronto-wow! Then came spoken word artist, Dahlia Eagle Ellis, the rhythms of whose poetry inspired me. What a precious way to end with more of Gurpeet Chana on the Hang. It is clear that the market, on a Saturday, is a great place to tell stories. Way to go Dan....Dan is storyteller in residence at Artscape Wychwood Barns, keeping an open stall at the Saturday market.