FOCUS: Charleston Tells evolves into a quarterly storytelling series

Young and older enjoy stories at Charleston Tells. Photo by Michael Kaynard.

By Cynthia Bledsoe, special to Charleston Currents  |  I’ve been a storytelling lover now for more than 40 years. What is it about stories, anyway?


As a child I loved listening to family stories:  stories about how my parents met, what my father was like when he was a child, and what my brothers and sisters did before I was born. That love of stories quickly moved into a love of reading, though my love of listening never died. When I found out that there are actual storytelling festivals where professional tellers spin yarns and stories that make you tear up and laugh until your sides hurt, I was hooked and discovered I’m not alone.

Stories are how we all share our dreams, our hopes, our history and our love of people and place. Listening to well-told stories with a group of adults is a unique experience, one that removes us from day-to-day clutter and noise in order to connect our common emotions and experiences. In a world increasingly filled with high-tech gadgets and worries about too much screen time, stories allow us to put that world on pause and connect with tellers and fellow audience members to ignite our imaginations and celebrate a shared bond.

During the last four years, the Charleston Tells Storytelling Festival, produced by Charleston County Public Library, has provided an opportunity for folks to sit back and relish the inspiration and delight of stories for a weekend. In an effort to expand this powerful listening space throughout the year, Charleston Tells is now a quarterly series of concerts. Each concert offers listeners an intimate evening with a nationally known storyteller.


The first 2017 Charleston Tells Concert Series event features Robert Jones on March 17 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Main Library, located at 68 Calhoun Street downtown.

Jones celebrates the history, humor and power of American Roots music. He entertains audiences throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe with a repertoire that blends timeless stories with original and traditional songs. An award-winning multi-instrumentalist, Jones is accomplished at guitar, harmonica, mandolin, banjo and fiddle. A winner of the Blues Foundation’s prestigious “Keeping the Blues Alive” award, one delighted listener in Alabama said he is “the best show we have had…ever……ever……ever!” 

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $10 at or at the door for $12. Beer and wine will be available for sale to benefit the Charleston Friends of the Library.

“As much as I love this music for the way it sounds, I love even more what this music can do,” says Robert Jones.

Cynthia Bledsoe is deputy director of the Charleston County Public Library.