Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Conversation with Eve Watters

Musician, Vocalist, Traditional Storyteller
Interview by Susan Blankenship 

Performing artist Eve Watters.
Multi-talented artist Eve Watters will be performing at Gunston Hall on Sunday, July 14, 2013 from 6 – 8 p.m.  Her repertoire includes Celtic harp, dulcimer, banjo, vocals and “tales for your heart’s delight”.  While focusing primarily on early Virginia, she promises to also share a few international stories and songs that encourage audience participation and teach a few simple lessons about life. Bring a picnic and enjoy a family friendly evening of fun.

Who is Eve Watters?  Currently residing in Charlottesville, Virginia, she is a well-travelled, free-spirited renaissance woman who creates a timeless journey through tales and tunes from long ago.  How did she come to this place?  Read on –

S.B. – What piqued your interest in performing traditional stories and songs? 
E.W. – The fact that beautifully basic songs and stories have been handed down and changed with each generation. Great grandma shares a story, and tellers memorize the basic storyline. However, the details of the story are free-flowing; I personally find that audience interaction, children in particular, influence the way I tell a story at each performance.
S.B. – You mention children, but adult audiences also enjoy your concerts – do you sense why?

E.W. – Polar ends: simply put, adults need to be a little silly every once in a while! They may enter expecting mild amusement, but soon find that mystical connection with the past. Oral tradition has a way of relaxing and engaging all ages and walks of life.

All storytellers, Gunston Hall’s included, are fighting the good fight to keep traditional tales and music in motion; it doesn’t do it by itself.  Museums in particular are rethinking how programs are presented and offering more of this special kind of learning. In the age of new technology, sometimes the world doesn’t realize it needs an occasional step back.

S.B. – Which early Virginian has most influenced your music and stories?

E.W. – Jefferson, definitely. I have spent several years researching federal era amusements and culture. Three boxes of Jefferson music are housed at U.VA and I have found some not listed in the published index. Just fascinating. Letters describing Martha Jefferson Randolph’s sharing stories with her children, teaching the wisdom of how to save your life through simple solutions (rabbit tricks the fox from the briar patch – sound familiar?) and evidence of oral culture passing between residents and visitors at Monticello, including the enslaved.

S.B. – How and at what age did you become interested in the performing arts?

E.W. – I didn’t really fit in at school. I was more interested in the arts - design, color, sound forms - than formally structured learning.  I was “forced” to take clarinet in my pre-teens, and at 13 convinced my father to purchase a guitar.  Folk music was quite popular at the time. I taught myself to play that guitar, and discovered that I could learn under my own terms. This was when the world opened and I found my place.

S.B. – So obviously the working world of 9 to 5 is not appealing –

E.W. – Ha! Sometimes I am my own worst boss. Even without traditional office walls, I am always striving to be better. There is a lack of income and difficulties with being a freelancer, but I have probably had far more fun than any office worker. Every time I am sharing music I find a pure-hearted place.

Come join us at Gunston Hall on Sunday, July 14, 6-8 p.m. for an unplugged evening outdoors featuring artist extraordinaire Eve Watters.

Active Military Personnel and Families and Friends of Gunston Hall are FREE; $25 Family Admission; $10 Adults; $8 Seniors; $5 Students 6-18; 5 and Under Free.
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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