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2023 Ojai Storytelling Festival!

Introducing this year's lineup!

October 26-29, 2023

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OCTOBER

26-29

2023

OJAI, CALIFORNIA

LIBBEY BOWL

OJAI ART CENTER

SOME OF THE BEST TELLERS IN THE COUNTRY

The Tellers

2023

Master of Ceremonies

Master of Ceremonies Tim Lowery Appalachian Storyteller

Tim Lowry

Master of Ceremonies, Storyteller

During a circus performance, Tim was bitten by the show biz bug at six years of age. Waiting for his big break, he filled his childhood with performance opportunities. Cast as Ebenezer Scrooge in a second grade production of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” Tim later played Jed Clampett in “A Beverly Hillbillies Christmas.” Demonstrating that he could raise one eyebrow and thereby look “wicked” Tim’s Sunday school teacher cast him as King Herod in the annual Christmas pageant. As a young teenager Tim produced puppet shows for children’s birthday parties. His fee was $20 per show, but he offered a $5 discount if you could give him a ride because he was not yet old enough to drive. As an award-winning high school drama student Tim toured the East Coast in 1987 with a Broadway style musical. As a theatre major in college he studied Shakespeare and Romantic Opera, but when he took an elective class in storytelling, he found himself. After graduation, Tim taught English Language Arts for five years. Drawing on his love of show business his teaching methods were often considered “unorthodox and disruptive.” In 2000 Tim left the classroom to pursue a career as a professional storyteller. To date he has shared his “unorthodox and disruptive” teaching methods with more than a quarter million children! In 2012 Tim began touring the National Storytelling Circuit performing at over fifty different festivals. Occasionally, Tim provides workshops for corporate clients such as the North Carolina County Commissioners, Dollywood Dream More Resort, Ballad Health, and Daramic LLC.

Tellers

Carmen Agra-Deedy

Storyteller, Author

Carmen Agra Deedy, is an award-winning author of fifteen books for young readers, including The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!, Martina the Beautiful Cockroach, Rita and Ralph’s Rotten Day, and 14 Cows for America, a New York Times Bestseller. Her latest book, Wombat Said Come In, was released in October 2022.

Her personal stories first appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered. Funny, insightful, and frequently irreverent, Deedy’s narratives are culled from her childhood as a Cuban refugee in Decatur, Georgia. She is host of the four-time Emmy-winning children’s program, Love That Book!

Deedy is also an accomplished lecturer, having been a guest speaker for the Library of Congress, Columbia University, both the TED and TEDx Conference, and the Kennedy Center, among other distinguished venues. An editor, and life-long advocate for libraries, she has served on the Advisory Board of Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, and will do so again, as of January 2023. 

Carmen Deedy Cuban Storyteller

2023

Featured Teller

2023

Reverend Robert Jones Musician and storyteller

Featured Teller

Rev. Robert Jones

Storyteller, Pastor, Reverend, Musician

Rev. Robert Jones, Sr. is a native Detroiter and an inspirational storyteller and musician celebrating the history, humor and power of American Roots music. His deep love for traditional African American and American traditional music is shared in live performances that interweave timeless stories with original and traditional songs.

For more than thirty years Robert has entertained and educated audiences of all ages in schools, colleges, libraries, union halls, prisons, churches and civil rights organizations. At the heart of his message is the belief that our cultural diversity tells a story that should celebrate, not just tolerate

Acclaimed photographer James Fraher writes about Robert: “Perhaps the world’s most highly educated blues musician, an ordained minister, a longtime DJ, and a living encyclopedia of blues history, the Reverend Robert Jones is comfortable among juke joint loud talkers, fancy-hatted church ladies, and PhDs alike."   

Rev. Robert Jones makes his home in Detroit while performing throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. An award-winning multi-instrumentalist, he is accomplished at guitar, harmonica, mandolin, banjo and fiddle. He has recorded six albums of original and traditional songs. Robert is the former host of the award-winning radio programs “Blues from the Lowlands” and “Deep River” broadcast on Detroit Public Radio’s WDET-FM Detroit. And he has taught music history courses at Wayne State University in Detroit.As an ordained minister and a Baptist pastor, he has an unwavering faith the cultural importance of sacred and traditional American roots music. In addition to his solo performances, he often collaborates musically with his wife, Sister Bernice Jones, singer-songwriter Matt Watroba and poet-performer M.L. Liebler. 

In 2017 Robert and Matt Watroba co-founded “Common Chords”, 501.c3 educational organization designed to create community, cultural and historical connections through music and the arts.   In 2018 Robert received a Kresge Arts Fellowship for Music Composition and Performance.

Noa Baum

Storyteller, Author, Activist

The Washington Post describes Noa Baum as someone who "spreads cultural truths that eclipse geopolitical boundaries...".  Noa is an internationally acclaimed storyteller, author, and coach. She uses mesmerizing voices, impeccable timing, and warm authenticity to captivate audiences of all ages with stories from diverse cultures and her own rich Jewish heritage. Noa offers a unique combination of performance art and practical workshops that focus on the power of narrative to heal across the divides of identity and promote compassion and peace. 

Born and raised in Jerusalem, Noa Baum trained in theatre at Tel-Aviv University, studied acting with Uta Hagen and received an MA in Educational Theater from NYU. Since 1982, she’s been presenting internationally. Highlights include: The World Bank; Kennedy Center; US Defense Department; AARP; US FDA; The Smithsonian Institute; Mayo Clinic for Humanities in Medicine; The National Storytelling Festival, Fabula Storytelling Festival, Sweden and other festivals, organizations, congregations, and schools.

Noa is the author of a memoir “A Land Twice Promised – an Israeli Woman’s Quest for Peace” - winner of the Anne Izard Storytellers' Choice Award, the LDS Publishing Professionals Association Award, and a Storytelling World Award - and a new picture book “How the Birds Became Friends”, on the power of kindness to bring peace. Her audio recordings won Parents’ Choice and Storytelling World awards. Noa is a member of the National Storytelling Network, she lives in the Washington DC metro area and was voted by The Washington Jewish Week as one of 10 most interesting local Jews.

Noa Baum Israeli storyteller

2023

Featured Teller

Peter Cook ASL Storyteller

2023

Featured Teller

Peter Cook

Storyteller, Mime, Professor

Peter Cook is an Associate Professor, and Chair of  ASL Department, Columbia College Chicago and an internationally known Deaf performing artist whose work incorporates American Sign Language, pantomime, storytelling, acting, and movement.

Cook has an MA in Storytelling from East Tennessee State University (2011) and a BFA in Graphic Design from Rochester Institute of Technology (1986).

Since 1986, Cook has traveled extensively, both nationally and internationally with Kenny Lerner, to promote the Flying Words Project and ASL literature. He appeared in the Alive from Off Center episode “Words in Your Face” and in “The United States of Poetry” (PBS), both of which were produced by Emmy-award winner Bob Holman. He also was featured performer for the ITV’s Signed Stories.

Cook has been featured nationally in numerous festivals, including the National Storytelling Festival, Oklahoma City Winter Tales, Illinois Storytelling Festival, Indiana Hoosier Storytelling Festival, Tales of Gratz, Austria, International Poetry Festival, Rotterdam, Netherland, and the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy, D.C.

In 2003, he was invited to the White House to join the National Book Festival.

Internationally, Cook has worked with Deaf storytellers/poets in Northern Europe, Latvia Brazil, Israel, and Japan.

The Venue

Vijai Nathan

Storyteller, Comedian

Vijai Nathan is one of the leading Indian American female comedians making people laugh across America and internationally too. International comedy phenomenon Russell Peters calls her “One of the top two South Asian comics in the world to watch!”
She has performed in South Africa, England and Canada, and was featured at the Montreal International Comedy Festival (Just for Laughs) and the Smirnoff International Comedy Festival. Washington DC loves her too- she’s performed at the Smithsonian Museum, Kennedy Center, Constitution Hall, Library of Congress and won the award for Artistic Excellence from SpeakeasyDC.
She’s gained attention from critics from her solo-shows “Woman on Top: Tips from Mom, Dad & COSMO” & “Good Girls Don’t, But Indian Girls Do. ” Vijai grew up as a “foreigner” (or at least that's what everyone called her) in the suburbs of Washington D.C. where she was born. Her material comes from her experience as an Indian girl in America - raising two immigrant parents, dating boys with mothers who wished their sons could find a nice blonde girl named "Tiffany," and the universal quest for love, understanding and a good pair of undies.

Vijai Nathan Indian Storyteller and Comedienne

2023

Featured Teller

2023

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Musical Guest

Ted Lennon & the Thyme Bandits

Thursday, Oct 26th after the Story Slam at the Ojai Art Center. Story Slam Starts at 6pm

Lead vocals/Rhythm guitar: Ted Lennon 

Drums:Taylor Fulton

Bass: Wade Ryff

Pedal steel/lead guitar: Eric Sullivan 

Ted Lennon was born in Ojai, to a musical family. His dad, formerly of the 60’s group, The Other Half, opened for The Doors, The Yardbirds, and Van Morrison’s earliest group Them. Growing up in a musical environment of family sing-a-longs including his cousins The Lennon Sisters known for their weekly appearance on the Lawrence Welk show, greatly informed Ted's future creating and performing music. 

Ted’s influences include, his dad (Tom Lennon), Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, Harry Bellafonte, Willie Nelson, Joni Mitchell, Thom Yorke, Nick Drake, Townes Van Zandt, Paul Simon, Merle Haggard & more.

From playing the subway stations & nightclubs of New York City to touring Japan with Jack Johnson, Ted brings a prolific and storied musical past to our already beloved event. We are so stoked to have him join us in his, and our, home town of Ojai, for the very first Ojai Storytelling Festival Story Slam!

The Salty Suites

Chelsea Williams, Chuck Hailes, Mark Cassidy

Friday, October 27th, 6pm at Libbey Bowl

The Salty Suites are a functionally dysfunctional band of hooligans...

Chelsea Williams returns to the festival for a third time, this time with her band, The Salty Suites! Nobody knew it at the time, but The Salty Suites began in early June 2009 when Chelsea, Chuck Hailes, & Scott Gates played together for the first time one magical night at Castoro Cellars in San Luis Obispo, CA. The Salty Suites played their first official show together in a high security prison for the criminally insane. Thirteen years, four independently released albums, & a global pandemic later, they are happy to report that they have managed to remain a close-knit dysfunctional family of misfits. Mark Cassidy joins the band this time while Scott Gates is on tour with AJ Lee and Blue Summit.

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2023

Musical Guest

2023

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Musical Guest

Dan Navarro

Saturday, October 28th at 5pm

Dan Navarro’s eclectic 40-year career as a songwriter, artist, singer and voice actor, include 17 acclaimed albums, thousands of concerts, Oscar-winning films “Coco” and “Happy Feet”, television, video games, commercials, and writing hits like Pat Benatar’s Grammy-nominated “We Belong”.

His acoustic duo, Lowen & Navarro, released twelve albums, enjoyed widespread Triple A radio airplay and performed 1500 gigs before Eric Lowen’s retirement in 2008 and passing from ALS in 2012. Dan set out solo in 2007, and maintains a busy touring and recording schedule. He released a solo album, “Shed My Skin” in 2019 to glowing reviews, and is recording its follow-up now.

Even in COVID lockdown, with over 220 housebound live streams since March. Dan insists that art is food, music is love, and sleep is for babies.

Dan will usher us in to an evening of Twilight Tales on Oct 28th, 2023!

The Venues

Libbey Bowl - 210 S. Signal Street

Ojai Art Center - 113 S. Montgomery Street

Libbey Fountain - Ojai Avenue - Story Shop Boutique

Libbey Gazebo -  Ojai Avenue

Nestled near the rear of a beautiful grove in Libbey Park, Libbey Bowl has been described by artists and audience members alike as being an almost enchanted venue.

The mission of the Ojai Art Center since it opened in 1939, has been to support and advance the interest of the arts within the community. 

Libbey Park Fountain is the home of our Story Shop Boutique.

Youth Outreach Libbey Bowl Ojai Storytelling Festival
Libbey Park Fountain Story Shop Boutique
Ojai Art Center Ojai Storytelling Festival Venue

Get in Touch

(805)272-0072

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MOST BELOVED ANNUAL EVENTS 

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