From his Appalachian Mountain accent to his incredible talents on pretty much all the instruments, Josh Goforth is one of those storytellers you really need to hear in order to believe. With stories filled with the most original characters alive (he swears they all exist) and songs that will have you clapping and singing along, you can’t help be enchanted and transported to his boyhood upbringing in the Appalachian Mountains.
1. What is the first story you remember hearing and/or the first story you remember telling?
I remember the ghost stories my grandmother told. Her accent was slow and haunting and as a kid, it scared me to death. But I’m thankful now to have heard those stories. The suspense she created taught me quite a bit about pacing. It’s hard to pick a first one, people in my community were constantly telling stories.
2. How was the seed of storytelling planted in your life?
Storytelling was a way of life where I grew up. I remember sitting for hours in the evening and hearing family stories from my grandparents. There were so many interesting characters in the community that the stories seemed endless.
3. Where does storytelling grow from here? How do you want see storytelling influencing society?
Storytelling has much to teach all of us. In a world of quick media and instant entertainment, our stories show us the beauty of a slow unfolding and help us reach a deeper understanding of our emotions and our shared humanity.
4.If you needed to start a dance party, what song would you lead with?
Tough call, the song in my head right now is signed sealed delivered…Stevie Wonder. I know, you thought it was gonna be some fiddle tune. Haha
Don’t miss Josh during the festival. Find his schedule and information about the festival at https://timpfest.org/events/28th-annual-timpanogos-storytelling-festival/
It was such a wonderful year for the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and so it is no wonder that we are having a hard time officially saying goodbye. But, alas, all things must come to an end—and besides we have some fun things coming up in the next couple of months. As we make our final goodbye, we offer this look back in pictures at the 24th annual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival:
All photos were taken by two of our fantastic volunteers: Laren Helms and Tom Thurston.
There is an old saying that goes something like “Never judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes.” Wise words, indeed. Why is that true? Is there a story behind where those shoes have been? Does knowing that story make a difference? Perhaps more importantly, where will those shoes go next?
On a lighter note, you can learn a lot about a person by the shoes they wear.
When I was in high school, I had a crush on my senior year English teacher, Mr. Curtis. He didn’t stand up front and lecture to us. Instead, he would sit on one of those plastic, bright-colored classroom chairs – you know, with the mini table attached to it. He sat all hour in a circle with the rest of us. He used to lead us in fascinating discussions about literature and the world from whence those words came. He taught me many things. He was kind, fun, and creative. He wore black Converse shoes to school. Every. Day.
Also, when I was in high school, I had a crush on my senior year boyfriend, Ben. (Much more appropriate, don’t you think?) We used to go to our favorite place, St. Edwards State Park. We would hike down to the lake and find a spot to sit beneath the great evergreen trees and listen to the water lap against the shore. We sat together and read stories and poetry to each other. We would dream about our lives after graduation and the adventures that were waiting for us. We talked about many things. Most of all, he was kind, fun, and creative. He also wore black Converse shoes. Every. Day.
Fast forward 15 years or so, and guess who I still think of when I see black Converse shoes? Mr. Curtis and Ben, of course, two of the most kind, fun, and creative people I have known.
Last week, when I first saw Josh Goforth play his fiddle at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, it didn’t take long for me to notice his shoes, as he sat up on the stage, stompin’ his feet to the rhythm. You guessed it – he was wearing black Converse shoes. Through words and music he led us on some adventures back to his home in North Carolina and inside his heart. I had a chance to speak with him a few times, and I realized he too is kind, fun, and creative.
It all sort of comes together, doesn’t it? It’s no wonder I get a good, warm feeling when I see Converse shoes.
What do you think of when you see Converse shoes? What about your shoes? Is there a story behind where those shoes have been?
MINI QUIZ: Who else came to the Festival wearing black Converse shoes? Do you know? Can you guess?
Every year a few of us from Timpanogos Storytelling travel to Tennessee for the National Storytelling Festival. We do this for two reasons: first, we like to do a little scouting for new tellers; second, it’s nice to listen to stories during a storytelling festival—something that not all of us get to do during our Festival. While at the festival, we make a special point of attending Exchange Place (an event for new tellers who have been invited to tell a single story). Since we first saw many of our favorite tellers at this event—think Bil Lepp and Antonio Sacre—we are always on the look out for our next Festival favorite. Last year we were introduced to Josh Goforth and his fiddle.
Josh was raised in what some might call the hillbilly area of the southern Appalachian Mountains; however, we will be polite and just call it Sodom (no, really, that is the name of the community he comes from!). In describing his own youth, Josh says that he grew up 50 years behind the times. Rather than playing video games, he fished at the local fishing hole and trailed behind his granddads while they plowed their fields using horses.
Raised in a family of storytellers and musicians, one might suppose that Josh has simply followed in the family tradition. That is true, but it is also only half the story. You see, Josh is something of a musical boy wonder. He began his musical journey by playing the piano in church at the ripe old age of 4. As a young teenager, Josh was given his first guitar, then came the fiddle, and then, oh, about 10 or so other instruments that he sort of just picked up. But don’t be fooled, Josh doesn’t just piddle around on all these instruments. He is admired for his skill on several of them, with the fiddle generally regarded as his best. In fact, he collects honors and acclaim for his fiddle playing just about everywhere he goes; but, you know, just minor stuff like Grammy Award nominations and the like.
When we first saw Josh walk on stage, though, he did so without his fiddle. Stepping to the mic, he began to tell us about his granddad, his granddad’s big wad of ‘baccer (tobacco for those of us not from Sodom), and one of his granddad’s latest projects all while switching back and forth between his own charming southern Appalachian accent (fingers crossed that he drops a “golly” or two at our Festival) and his granddad’s nearly incomprehensible ‘baccer–filled twang. Afterward, Josh picked up his fiddle and played a song dedicated to his granddad. We were sold!
Below you will find a short clip where Josh shows off his skill on the guitar with fellow musician Laura Boosinger. (You’ll have to catch him at our Festival to see just how good he is on the fiddle).
Oh, and don’t miss Josh’s FREE concert at the Riverwoods Gazebo Wednesday, August 28, at 7:00 p.m