By Natalie Walsh
Originally published in
The Daily Gazette, January 27, 2007
“This is what I want to be doing,” Carol Connolly remembers
thinking in 1989 during her first meeting of the Story Circle of the Capital
District, an organization of storytellers who get to tell their tales before a
live audience, to hear stories told and to encourage beginning storytellers.
In a sense, Connolly was already a storyteller to her
classes of students in the Wynantskill School District. Over the course of 28
years in her kindergarten, second- and fifth-grade classrooms, she would tell
stories in an animated fashion and create character voices to captivate her
Once she retired in 1995, she started as a full-time solo
storyteller. When her husband, Don Darmer, a musician, took early retirement
from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, their musical
children’s storytelling business, Tales ‘n Tunes, was created.
Connolly said the couple’s professional relationship evolved
slowly. Darmer first only played music in the background or to open the
performances, she said. His role became more active and now the creative duo
collaborate: Connolly writes the words and Darmer the tunes. He also now enjoys
both telling tandem tales with Connolly and having audiences sing along with
Together, Connolly and Darmer have traveled and collected
stories from such diverse places as Brazil, France, Greece and Austria.
They perform stories, primarily from the folk tradition,
with original songs creatively integrated to allow for audience participation.
Connolly, who is an active member of the Story Circle, said
she enjoys the group because it provides community.
“So much of what we do is solitary work. We do all the
research on our own. We develop the story on our own.” Having the community
provides a chance to ‘try out stories on listeners who will, if you want, give
you feedback. We have a critical response process. A teller receives as much
or as little feedback as they want from listeners. It is a very supportive
community,” she said.
New Compact Disc
In October, Connolly and Darmer released their second CD of
kid-friendly original songs and traditional tales for children ages 3 and up.
The CD includes new songs “Bunches of Beasts” and “Dipsy Doodle Zoo Parade”
along with tales such as “Little Red Bossy Hen” and The Lion’s at the Door.”
Their version of a Louisiana folk tale, “Poule and Roach
Celebrate,” features lively fiddle playing, along with banjo, guitar and bass.
The couple’s first CD, “Travelin’ Down the Road,” is also
available. It won a NAPPA Honors Award and an iParenting Award in 2004. The
CD is available for $15. on their web site,
at the Open Door Book Store on Jay Street and at Borders on Wolf Road in
If you are interested in storytelling, Story Circle members
meet alternately on the third Tuesday of odd-numbered months at the Colonie
Town Library and the third Wednesday of even-numbered months at the Guilderland