Mountain Music, Folk Art, & Crankie Show

What do you get when you throw, old-time music, visual arts, imagination, some paint, paper and scraps of fabric into the air? A crankie show is what. “A what,” you may ask. Multi-instrumental artists, Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth Laprelle will put on a show very different from your standard fiddle and banjo at The Wild Bean.

The term “crankie” refers to the way that you crank an illustrated sheet through a viewer box to add a visual element to these stories. And for both Roberts-Gevalt and Laprelle the performance is all about illustrating the story contained in each of the rich ballads they perform. “We are not trying to convert everyone to love folk music,” Roberts-Gevalt said. “But we do want them to love the stories that are here.”

According to Robert-Gevalt, crankie, a rather unknown art, is not a common denominator in an authentic old-time music show.

“The term ‘crankie’ is vaguely associated with the Bread and Puppet Theatre in Vermont,” she said. “However, it has lots of other names in other parts of the world.” In fact, Roberts-Gevalt said that in some places the crankie was dubbed the scrolling panorama.

Roberts-Gevalt and Laprelle assert that the puppetry adds a new dimension to the music, it gives it a visual element that draws the listener in. “We It is something that you can get wrapped up in. It was the best way we could think of to effectively perform these subtle stories,” Roberts-Gevalt said noting that this particular crankie show is based on a travel theme.

“We are really just excited to spread around these stories,” Laprelle said. “Stories that are near to you. They don’t have to be epic stories to be exciting.” She goes on to explain that through using music and art, the crankie turns everyday things that we all experience into something valid and important. “It can be as simple as an older woman remembering the first time she smelled a particular flower,” Laprelle said.

This show is family friendly. “We love to play for kids,” Laprelle explained. “And of course kids love crankies.”

Neither Laprelle or Roberts-Gevalt have ever had any experience with art or design in the traditional sense. However, their love of music and creativity guided the crankie creation. “We were inspired to tell these stories in a visual way,” Roberts-Gevalt explained. “And we let that be our guide. What we didn’t know we just had to learn.”

In addition to the Crankie Show the Nov 3 performance will include an opening performance from the Hell For Certain String Band with, Izak Howell, Mike Costello, Dennis Ott and Corey Bonasso. The show will be $6 in advance or $8 at the door. Children 12 and under are free.

– Leah Deitz

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