Shoals Storytelling Festival

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We are excited to announce the dates for 2018’s festival are May 18 & 19, with pre festival events on Thursday, May 17. Click the link below for this year’s festival.




You’re invited to our Front Porch in Florence, AL!

MAY 19 – 20, 9AM – 5PM

(evening events 7PM-9PM)

Pre festival Events May 18

Join the best story-tellers in the nation for two days of music, history, and BIG stories!



or call Shoals Theater at 256-764-1700



Donald Davis

Donald Davis was born in a Southern Appalachian mountain world rich in stories. While he heard many traditional stories about Jack and other heroic characters, he was most attracted to the stories of his own family and places of origin.  Davis begin retelling the stories he heard and then adding his own new stories to them until he was repeatedly asked to “tell it again, on purpose.”

During his twenty-five year career as a United Methodist Minister, Davis began to use stories more and more.  He was also asked to begin performing at festivals and in other settings until he retired from the church to tell stories full time.

The author of eighteen books and more than forty original recordings, Davis is the recipient of both the Circle of Excellence and the Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Storytelling Network.

“An Evening with Donald Davis” (PRE-festival Event)

 Thursday evening, May 18 from 7pm-8:30, The Shoals Theatre.

Tickets are $10. Click here to purchase.


d3d40c_f48c3c7df2104375bddfa4c5de3ce0ecBil Lepp

Growing up in a family where the truth was fluid, Bil Lepp became adept at spinning tales and exaggerating circumstances at an early age.

A nationally renowned storyteller and five time champion of the West Virginia Liars’ Contest, Bil’s outrageous, humorous tall-tales and witty stories have earned the appreciation of listeners of all ages and from all walks of life.

 Though a champion liar, his stories often contain morsels of truth which shed light on universal themes. Be it a hunting trip, a funeral, or a visit to the dentist, Bil can find the humor in any situation. Lepp explains that while his stories may not be completely true, they are always honest.

 247_dolores_hydock_cr2Dolores Hydock

Dolores Hydock talks with her hands. And her elbows. And her shoulders. When she speaks, she is literally irrepressible.” That’s how one reviewer described Dolores’ vivacious style that fills the stage with wit, energy, and a swirl of characters that populate her stories of family fireworks, food fads, true love, turnip greens, and other peculiarities of everyday life. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama.


200_The_Girl_I_Left_Behind_Me_2A Sweet Strangeness Thrills My Heart:
The World of Sallie Independence Foster, 1861 – 1887 

story by Dolores Hydock; music by Bobby Horton

Sallie Independence Foster was 12 years old and living in Florence, Alabama when the Civil War began. Her journal, begun in June 1861, paints a picture of a child’s innocent world colliding with the reality of war. The journal continues through the war and for another 22 years, as Sallie grows to be a young woman, marries, and begins a family of her own. Her diaries were carefully preserved by Sallie’s family, and are now housed in the Archives at the University of North Alabama. Storyteller Dolores Hydock and nationally known music historian Bobby Horton intertwine Sallie’s writings, letters, historical photographs, and music of the time to create a uniquely personal glimpse at a radically changing world.

Soldiers in Greasepaint: USO Camp Show Entertainers of WWII
story by Dolores Hydock

Dolores Hydock shares stories, pictures, and video excerpts of some of the unknown 7,000 USO Camp Show performers who brought music, laughs, and a touch of the familiar to US servicemen far from home.


Tim Lowry

Tim Lowry has been telling stories of the People, by the People, and for the People for 15 years. Telling a variety of Folk Tales and Stories from American History, Tim has presented thousands of educational programs for schools across the country. At festivals Tim entertains audiences with a mixture of Folk Tales and Personal Narrative. When Tim is not on the road, he makes his home in Summerville, SC, where he often performs stories of southern culture and history from the “Sweet Tea Trail.”



Walt Aldridge

Walt Aldridge has over 33 years experience in the music industry as a songwriter, recording artist, record producer, recording engineer, music publisher and studio owner. During that time he has been a staff writer for Full Moon Circle Music, Sony/ATV Music, EMI Music, and Rick Hall Music. He has been involved in three publishing co-ventures;  Sony/ ATV Music, EMI Music, and Rick Hall Music. His songwriter signings include hit writers Brad Crisler and John Paul White of the Civil Wars.


Kate Campbell

Kate’s endearing, clear-water vocal delivery and her eloquent gift for storytelling have drawn repeated comparisons to such bastions of the Southern literary tradition as Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and William Faulkner. Her easy command of a full range of American musical styles has earned Campbell recognition as a formidable talent by critics.


donwhite-7939-1024x910Don White

There is no one-word description for what Don White does. He has survived and thrived for twenty-five years, bringing his audiences to laughter and tears in his live performances, studio recordings, and on the printed page. He is a storyteller-comedian-author-troubadour-folk singer-songwriter. He is a walking challenge to the phrase “file under.” Best to just sort him under “Don White.”

Don’s approach to music is a weird, unique blend. If he just played folk music, it would be a handy label. But he has invented his own genre with a mix of humor and powerful songwriting. White’s arc as a writer and performer has taken him from his industrial hometown of Lynn, Ma across the country as hitchhiker, through Boston’s comedy clubs and coffeehouses, and onto the stage with greats like Christine Lavin, Arlo Guthrie, Taj Mahal, Ritchie Havens, Patty Larkin, Bill Morrissey, Tom Rush, and Louden Wainright III. At every point, White has been the ultimate observer, infusing his work with his experiences as a husband, a father, a seeker, and a joker.

3Bobby Horton

Bobby Horton is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities of music from the Civil War period. A seasoned performer, Horton is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, and music historian. He has performed with the musical- comedy trio Three On a String, throughout the United States and Canada for 40 plus years. He has also produced and performed music scores for sixteen PBS films by Ken Burns – including “The Civil War”, and “Baseball,” two films for The A&E network, and twenty-one films for The National Park Service. His series of recordings of authentic period music has been acclaimed by historical organization and publications through America and Europe.


Thursday, May 18





Muscle Shoals 

movie documentary screening at

Florence-Lauderdale Public Library

Free, limited seating



Kathryn, the Story of a Teller

documentary screening at

Florence-Lauderdale Public Library

Free, limited seating



9AM & 1PM

Shoals Historical Tour

This tour includes stops at Ivy Green, birthplace of Helen Keller, the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Rosenbaum House, Tom’s Wall (a Native American Memorial noted as one of the top 10 environmental arts in the U.S.), and the newly opened Florence Indian Mound Museum. Join City of Florence historian, Billy  Warren, on this historical tour of the history of the Shoals. Tickets are $25. Boarding is at the Florence-Lauderdale Tourism Center located at McFarland Park, 200 James M Spain Dr, Florence, AL 35630. Click here to purchase.

9AM & 1PM

Shoals Music Tour

From its position alongside the Singing (Tennessee) River, the Shoals area has become an inspiration in the world of music. Take a journey through the hit recording capital as we visit the Father of the Blues, W.C. Handy’s home and museum, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, and landmarks Fame Studios and the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. The tour will be guided by Florence’s own Walt Aldridge, known for writing numerous chart-toppers, including “I Loved Her First.” Walt knows the world of music inside and out and will be able to provide a one-of-a-kind insight into the Shoals music history. Tickets are $25. Boarding is at the Florence-Lauderdale Tourism Center located at McFarland Park, 200 James M Spain Dr, Florence, AL 35630. Click here to purchase.

Featured Prefestival Event:


An Evening with Donald Davis

Shoals Theatre at 7PM – 8:30PM

Tickets are $10. Click here to Purchase.



Singing River Songwriter’s Round

featuring Walt Aldridge, Kate Campbell, Donny Lowery, & Mark Narmore

Friday, May 19 at The Shoals Theatre, 7PM-9PM

Tickets are $10 (or included in the price of the festival pass). Click here to purchase.

Songs and Stories from the Civil War


featuring Bobby Horton

Saturday, May 20 at The Shoals Theatre, 7PM – 9PM

Tickets are $10 (or included in the price of the festival pass). Click here to purchase.



(click thumbnail to enlarge poster)


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