LaGrange First United Methodist Church held their monthly Thursday Lunch Club on March 1st. The tables were packed in anticipation of a special guest performance scheduled for that afternoon. As they do every month, the Thursday Lunch Club celebrated this month’s birthdays with cupcakes. The floral arrangements on each table were also notable at this TLC meeting because they were donated from a First United Methodist Church member’s wedding that took place over the past weekend. Jake Behr announced the winners of the door prizes for March as well. This month’s door prizes got everyone excited for the coming weekend’s Azalea Storytelling Festival. Four lucky winners received full passes to the Festival, courtesy of the board members for Azalea Storytelling Festival.
As everyone in attendance finished up their delicious lunches, Michael Reno Harrell, renowned storyteller and musician from Tennessee took the stage. The Azalea Storytelling Festival has brought Harrell to LaGrange several times. Harrell enjoys visiting LaGrange. “It’s one of the nicest southern towns I’ve had the privilege to be in, and I’ve been in a lot of them,” joked Harrell. Harrell began by strumming his guitar and singing a song that cracked up the crowd. He sang about “being downsized” as his wife was making him give up some “junk” he’d been holding onto.
Harrell went on to talk about his life growing up in the Tennessee mountains. His grandfather moved his dad’s family down to Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1925. In Spartanburg, Harrell’s grandfather was promised a job at a cotton mill. In addition, this job offer guaranteed train tickets for his whole family, and the family dairy cow of course. Harrell’s father later moved to Tennessee as a textile engineer. Harrell told the tale of the adventures he had as a twelve year old in the Tennessee mountains. His best friend at age twelve, Billy Ray, had a yard full of half assembled cars on cinderblocks. Harrell spun stories of growing up in that yard and in and out of those old cars. He then sang a song about being “twelve years old and living in the country” and how even now after he has visited all around the world, nothing is quite like Tennessee.
Harrell finished with a hilarious song about getting older, and the funny, quirky changes that come along with age. The song implored the audience to “remind me why I came into this room”.
Michael Reno Harrell is one of several storytellers that will perform at the Azalea Storytelling Festival March 2nd – 4th. For more information or to buy tickets, visit the Lafayette Society for Performing Arts website at www.lsparts.org.
The author of this article can be reached via email at rhenderson@ troupcountynews. net.