CHESTERVILLE — Friday night, May 10 a performance by Tim Sample raised funds to repair the bell tower of the Chesterville Center Union Meeting House.

In a telephone interview Thursday, May 9 Sample said he draws from everyday life for material, weaves a tapestry from that.

“If I can get a wide demographic of people together, get them all laughing at the same thing at the same time, I consider I’m successful,” he said.

Sample gets involved with building projects because in his career as a storyteller he has performed in grange halls, community halls and performing arts venues.

“A lot of them are struggling. Honoring, recognizing where we came from is an important part of where we want to go,” he said.

Sample said he was looking forward to the Chesterville show. He chose to give his support because of the enthusiasm of those involved and the modest amount needed to be raised.

“Places like Merrill Auditorium with 2,000 to 2,500 seats aren’t the best venue for one person comedy. It’s just plain fun to do a smaller venue. I’m looking forward to that,” he said.

Rob Rogers shares information about the Chesterville Center Union Meeting House prior to the Tim Sample performance May 10. (Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden)

Friday night Rob Rogers said local folks were working to convert the Meeting House to an all-purpose facility.

“After 150 years of deferred maintenance on the bell tower, we’re trying to catch up. The cost to restore the bell tower is $39,650. Thanks to two grants, a concert by the Franklin County Fiddlers and Tim Sample we’ve raised $33,430. We’re $6,220 away from our goal,” Rogers said.

90% of those attending the program had never been in the building. Five had attended services when it was a house of worship.

Rogers explained how to find the restrooms.

“We have a high-class privy out there. It still has new privy smell, which is better than old privy smell,” he said.

Rogers then shared details of Sample’s career.

“Tim Sample is Maine’s premiere Downeast storyteller… In 2015, Tim’s narration of Stephen King’s Drunken Fireworks was the number one iTunes download worldwide,” he said before Sample took the stage.

Sample said he loves the State of Maine.

“I’m not making things up. I’m just the transcriber,” he said. “Maine is a little bit weird and it takes a few minutes to figure out how weird it is. This is what makes Maine humor.”

Tim Sample performs Friday, May 10 at the Chesterville Center Union Meeting House. (Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden)

Sample said, “We have a rich culture and oral tradition of storytelling that is a powerful thing. It is arguably the oldest form of communication. Stories are told over decades, centuries. Those stories that still resonate are the oldest form of publishing.

“Stories need an author, an editor, a publisher, a means of distributing it. We are all at different times authors, editors, publicists all rolled into one.

“A story that resonates with people is passed along, edited along the way. When it still resonates after numerous edits, that’s like a message in a bottle from our ancestors.”

Sample said traditional Maine humor is rarely mean-spirited or nasty.

“It’s a celebration of all things Maine. How we live, work. It’s human nature. You see yourself in the stories. There are philosophical underpinnings.

“Humor is a very powerful thing. When you’re really laughing, you can’t stop. People underestimate it,” he said.

Rather than using humor as a means of escaping from reality, Sample said to use it as a lubricant to go right through life’s difficulties.

“Working in the woods and on the water is the source of some of the most enduring stories,” he said. “They come from the most dangerous, challenging jobs in life.”

Sample said the gold standard for Maine humor were Bert and I creators Marshall Dodge and Bob Bryan.

“They fell in love with Maine’s dialect. They had an unfeigned affection for Maine storytelling. It took someone ‘from away’ to recognize its importance. Those stories are told all over, resonate everywhere,” he said. “Maine has the highest CPSI (characters per square inch) of any state in the union.”

Tim Sample talks with Greg Soule of Chesterville after Sample’s fundraising performance May 10 at the Chesterville Center Union Meeting House. (Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden) Picasa

Sample told of releasing his first vinyl LP comedy album (which he likened to a CD with a hole in it) 40 years ago. In 1993, Charles Kuralt interviewed him for a book he was writing, then hired him. Over the next 11 years, Sample produced over 100 “Postcards from Maine” for CBS News Sunday Morning.

“I told Kuralt I wasn’t going to do just the parts of Maine people already know about. Maine is such a complicated, nuanced universe. I wanted to show that. I interviewed tourists about Mainers and Mainers about tourists,” he said.

Many of the stories Sample shared Friday came from his previous work. He opened with the song State O Maine which included several short vignettes about Maine. He told about the time in his musical career when he tried performing for the ski crowd in Eustis. He never found the ski crowd. Instead, there was the skidder crowd.

“Every trailer comes with a skidder starter kit,” he said before expanding on his experiences.

Sample said behind every successful man is a surprised mother-in-law. He then told a story he has told many times. It was about a fisherman and the fishing trip he took with his mother-in-law that had everyone laughing.

“They’re still funny!,” Ann Alison of New Sharon said.

After the show, Sample talked with folks while autographing items.

The Chesterville Center Union Meeting House has several functions planned. 7 p.m. May 31 the a Capella group Northfield will perform. 7 p.m. Sept. 10, John Mosher from Maine Historic Preservation will talk about the archaeological research being done on the Farmington Falls Bridge.

Information about the Meeting House can be found by visiting chestervillemeetinghouse.org.

 

 

 

 


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