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Storyteller explains how ‘Growing Up is a Full-Time Job’

By Staff | Nov 22, 2019

Storyteller Bob Harley opens his second Speak Story Series performance with an original song, "That's Where You Come From," in Reynolds Hall on Nov. 12. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Storyteller Bob Harley’s return Speak Story Series performance drew a crowd, who filled Reynolds Hall on Nov. 12 to hear his stories of how “Growing Up is a Full-Time Job.”

The performance was also the final one of the 2018-2019 season, according to Speak Story Series founder Adam Booth.

“Welcome to the last concert of the season! But don’t worry, because we’re going to have another season,” Booth said, as the audience cheered in response.

“We will be premiering two new works at the concert tonight,” Booth said, mentioning Harley’s first performance was during season five. “Sometimes Bill is wild and zany, but other times, he has the deepest wisdom you could ever find.”

Harley began the program with singing, “That’s Where You Come From” — one of four original songs that he sang between his comedic retellings of childhood events. Similar to his first song, “Dangerous” and “Cowboys and Sailors” reflected Harley’s sometimes humorous, sometimes wistful childhood memories.

Harley performed “The Emperor’s New Clothes Talking Blues” as his final piece of the night, after receiving a standing ovation from the audience.

“He was just fabulous tonight — even better than the first time I saw him! The humor is what I love most about his storytelling style,” said Dottie McDonald, of Inwood, as Harley signed her copy of his children’s book,” Dirty Joe the Pirate.”

McDonald is a Read Aloud West Virginia volunteer, and bought the book at Harley’s first Speak Story Series performance, but never got it signed. After seeing both her grandson’s and her students’ positive reactions to the book, McDonald knew she wanted to bring her copy back to get it signed.

“My grandson just loves this book, and I also read it to my Read Aloud students,” McDonald said. “They absolutely love it! I just wanted to make sure he knew how much fun these kids get to of this book. They think it’s crazy that a pirate goes around and steals dirty socks.”

According to Harley, having a 40-year storytelling career is physically exhausting, but emotionally rewarding.

“I’m a little tired of the traveling, but it’s just amazing to me — you just use words and take people places,” Harley said. “There for a time, we’re all in another place, but also aware of each other. I’m just fascinated by that.”

Harley also presented a performance the next day for Morgan Academy’s students, as part of the series’ outreach initiative.

Season tickets for the upcoming eighth season are $100 for nine performances, and can be purchased online at www.speakstoryseries.com/tickets/. The annual Speak Story Series fundraiser will be held on Jan. 12, during which audience members will be able to bid on winning a house concert from two storytellers. For more information, visit www.speakstoryseries.com.