Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Arts in the Garden: Timmy Abell
Asheville songwriter/storyteller Timmy Abell will kick off our spring Arts in the Garden series April 3, with an outdoor performance in the Angle Amphitheater outside the Doris Duke Center (it’ll move inside if it rains).
Timmy has won national acclaim for his concerts, original music and CDs, including a National Parenting Publications Award and honors from the American Library Association and the N.C. Arts Council. N.C. Public Television featured his songs in its Celebration Series, and he starred in a public television special, "Timmy and Friends."
Timmy spoke with Duke Gardens work-study student Nnenna Ene about his performances with his wife Susana. Here are some highlights from that interview:
On connecting with children:
“When we’re performing, we try to connect with children by treating them as if they are very intelligent beings. And we’re very careful not to try to talk down to them. We have found that with so much of the media these days and types of children’s music and so forth that they just sort of treat children like they are less than human. So we really try to connect with them by just having fun, by doing things that are participatory and easy for them to do but also respect their intelligence.”
On older audiences:
“Most of what we present is family oriented, not just kid oriented. … Some people sort of accuse me of writing children’s songs for adults. There’s a lot in the songs that I write, and many of them that adults can easily relate to just as well as kids. … It’s really family entertainment, not children’s entertainment.
On audience participation:
“We have a wonderful thing in the middle of our concert which is called the sit-down square dance. Basically, one of the kids is up playing a percussion instrument. It’s an old-fashioned type of wooden toy that has this little dancing man and he keeps the beat. And I play the banjo and I call a square dance, which would be a typical square dance calling except that all the kids are doing that in their seats, all the different dance calls. Another thing that they do which is participatory, we do lots of hand motions, like with particular songs that we sing. They sing along with us. There’s lots of singing.”
On puppets and morals:
“Susana has this wonderful puppet show called "The Gardener." It’s a little 10-minute European-style puppet show. It’s not necessarily geared for kids like the puppetry in the United States is considered for young kids; in Europe and Asia and other countries, it’s just as much or more for adults. This is the European-style puppet show, and it’s got a little story of good and evil, and it has a moral, and we’re always trying to engage the kids, and figuring out what is the lesson from the story -- that sort of thing.”
“Susana has this one other puppet, which is a sloth from South America named Quick, and he only speaks Spanish. And we go into lots of schools where there is a population of Spanish-speaking students. So it’s very uplifting for those kids, and it’s also good for the English-speaking kids, to see one of the bilingual kids come on stage and translate for Quick so that we can understand what he said.”
Tickets are $10 and available at the Duke University Box Office online or at 919-684-4444.