Join us for Woodstock Wednesdays! Woodstock Folk Festival is excited to bring high quality storytelling and music to our community and to enjoy and support these artists who have worked with us over the years, including Jim May. You can show your support by visiting https://jimmaystoryteller.com/ and purchasing his books or booking him for your next educational program or workshop.
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October 28. It will remain in our Gallery after the show if you would like to see it again or share it with others. You can enjoy watching our past performers’ shows by clicking on our Video Gallery.
Featured Author & Storyteller : Jim May
Jim was born in Spring Grove, Illinois where his ancestors first settled in the 1840’s. Raised in this small German-Catholic farming community, his stories resonate with the rural voices of the Illinois prairie. His relatives spent time “visiting” and telling stories as an integral part of daily life–a means of weaving the social fabric of the community.
As an Emmy award-winning storyteller and author, Jim seeks to reestablish live storytelling as an art form, ideal not only for entertainment and education, but also for the grounding and healing that is needed in complex, modern times.
“For centuries telling and listening to stories has been a way for people to enjoy and cherish one another’s company. When I tell a story I try to entertain and delight, but also to capture, for a few moments, the kind of direct, soul to soul communication that we have all experienced at some time in our lives under the ‘spell’ of a story, either in the listening or the telling.”
Jim May’s stories have taken him across the United States and Europe. He has told stories at schools, corporations, professional groups, and festivals across the land. Chicagoans know him from his appearances on WGN’s Roy Leonard Show and from the Studs Terkel radio show on WFMT-FM. He received a 1989 Chicago Emmy award for a WTTW-Channel 11 production of his original story, “A Bell For Shorty.”
Jim performed at the first Festival in 1986, again in 1998, and then hosted Festival performer Joe Crookston at his storytelling event on Festival Eve in 2019.
The artist and the storyteller
Jim May and his wife, Nan Seidler, live less than a mile from the highest glaciated point in Illinois, which is 1,189 feet above sea level. Located east of Harvard in Alden Township, this area is unique in McHenry County, largely due to the rolling topography left by the glaciers. Some of the locals began referring to the area as High Point many years ago, realizing that they had something special. There are over 70 vernal pools, relic oak/hickory woodlands, seeps, springs and headwater streams all within a three mile radius. Jim and Nan thought about preserving their land for many years and placed a conservation easement on 24 of their 25 acres in August, 2017.
“Storytelling perpetuates a folk art tradition that has gone on for ages and ages. It presents many genres of literature: myths, fables, epics, sagas, hero tales, legends, folk tales, fiction and poetry. It provides entertainment and motivation, builds a bridge to literature, provides a means for personal, social and intellectual growth, and develops a feeling of sensitivity to life and people of the past and present. Without moralizing, it embodies positive ethical, moral and spiritual values.” ~ author Spencer Shaw
His newest book a “Trail Guide for a Crooked Heart” received much acclaim.
“A brilliant mixture of story, philosophy, humor and wisdom, this book reminds us that—if we are open to story, dreams, imagination, and myth—we can open doors within our soul.” ~ Jay O’Callahan, author, storyteller, and NPR commentator
A lifetime collection of stories, wise words, assembled musings and quotations about overcoming hurdles, elusive enlightenment, personal evolution, persistence in the face of discouragement, this pastiche is designed to encourage the downhearted, lift up the strivers and add wings to the heels of spiritual seekers.
Attention parents, families, and educators! Here are some of the programs that Jim offers for school aged children and adults.
Assemblies for Students – Students will hear traditional folk tales and fairy tales from cultures throughout the world as well as humorous stories about growing up on a farm in Northern Illinois. Stories include participation in English, Spanish and American Sign Language (ASL).
Writing workshops for Students – Students will learn how plot, character, setting and elements of ancient folk tales, myths, and legends can become the building blocks for their own original, and sometimes autobiographical stories.
In-service training/workshops for Teachers – Research shows that children who hear and tell stories develop increased imaginative capacity, creative flexibility, and language mastery. This is true across the curriculum. Participants will learn to employ storytelling in an educational setting and will learn at least one story to tell in a classroom, family or administrative setting.
Keynote presentation – Storytelling: The Thinking Teacher’s RX For The Technology Blues or How I Got My Students To Listen To Me And Learned To Love My Job Again.
Non-Profit Organizations are eligible for partial sponsorship through Illinois Arts Tour.
“Jim May brought his storytelling wizardry to the 2017 Promising Youth Conference (2017 in Snowbird, Utah) and taught us the power of simple stories to unpack complex human problems in an atmosphere of humor and joy. We traveled our crooked pathways, embracing both the “fire” of our burning desires and “water” of our tearful defeats. At the end of each session, we hoped for another session quickly to begin so we could live again under the spell of Jim’s stories, poems, wise sayings, jokes and life-reframing, soul-renewing questions – questions that magically opened answers hidden just below the surface of the everyday in our memories and imaginings. Bravo! Jim is a master teller and healer!”
Supporting the Performers Who Support Us
We know you will enjoy Jim May’s Ghost Story for Halloween!
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Views expressed by performers and others who appear at Woodstock Folk Festival events or on the website are solely the views of these individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Festival or its Board members.