Saturday, December 30, 2017

Getting Fit with Eric Dowling

Eric Dowling, founder and coach,
Grand Personal Training
As one year comes to an end, we reflect and look ahead to the next. For many, New Year's resolutions or intentions include living a more fit and healthy life.

This week (31 December 2017), host Michael Williams speaks with personal fitness coach Eric Dowling. Eric is a young entrepreneur who has transformed his passion for healthy living into a successful business. Grand Personal Training ( is a fitness studio based in Caledonia, Ontario, serving a growing clientele who receive personalised training and support to build a "high performance body" and positive lifestyle.

As Eric points out, it's all about your attitude and the story you tell yourself about fitness that makes the difference. In turn, Michael listens to Eric share his story and learns more about how it has transformed him and his business.

The programme begins on Sunday 31 December at 7am ET (Canada/US), 12 noon (UK/Ire), and 9pm (Australia). Repeated on Thursday 4 January. Go to to listen and discover the station that champions the independent artist.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Remembering storyteller Andy Hunter

Storyteller Andy Hunter
This week host Michael Williams remembers storyteller Andy Hunter, who passed away in 2015.

November should have seen Andy Hunter's 63rd birthday; sadly, Andy passed away in early 2015 while out riding his bicycle in Herefordshire. Ironically, although Andy was fit and in good condition, his death was was sudden, due to an undiagnosed heart condition.

Andy was not only a keen bicyclist, he was also a superb and much-loved storyteller. In fact, he had combined his two loves into a business he called "StoryBikes" which saw him take folk out on bike rides and stopping here and there for a story, usually related to the place he was in.

This week's programme was  first broadcast in 2015 and features a couple of Andy's favourite stories, followed by a tribute from a fellow storyteller. The programme begins on Sunday 5 November 2017 at 7am ET (Canada/US), 12 noon (UK/Ireland) and 9pm (Australia). The show is repeated on Thursday 9 November at 5:30pm (Can/US), 10:30pm (UK) and on Friday 10 November at 7:30am in Australia.

Only on Blues and Roots Radio (  

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Teller and the Tale features storyteller Jane Ellen Combelic

Storyteller Jane Ellen Combelic
This week, I return to an earlier interview I did with storyteller Jane Ellen Combelic. Jane lives near the famed eco-spiritual community of Findhorn in norther Scotland on the Moray coast. She's an active participant and mindfulness practitioner as well as an author, storyteller, and editor.

Listen as Michael learns more about Jane's life and passion for the art of storytelling. Begins Sunday 10 September 2017 on Blues and Roots Radio at 7am ET (Canada/US), 12 noon (UK/Ireland) and 9pm (Australia). Repeated on Thursday September 14th at 5:30pm ET, 10:30 (UK time), and on Friday 15th September at 7:30am in Australia.

To listen, simply go to at the relevant time. And after you've listened stay tuned to Blues and Roots Radio for the best in independent blues, roots, folk and Celtic music. And, there are not two channels to listen to -- Blues and Roots Essential and Blues and Roots Discover.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Introducing Scottish storyteller and award-winning author Janis Mackay

This week I return to an earlier interview I did with Scottish storyteller and award-winning children's author Janis Mackay.

The programme begins Sunday 3 September at 7am ET (Canada/US), 12noon (UK/Ireland) and 9pm (Australia). Check to listen.

If you miss Sunday's broadcast, listen again on Thursday at 5:30 ET (Can/US), 10:30pm (UK/Ireland) and on Friday at 7:30 am in Australia.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Meet Scottish storyteller David Campbell

Storyteller David Campbell
This week I "rewind" to my 2014 interview with one of Scotland's best-loved storytellers, David Campbell.

Listen as David opens up about his life and his love of storytelling. Raised in the north-east of Scotland, he was immersed in the rich multi-lingual cultural that included the Scots language, English, and the Doric tongue. He first acquired his love of story and song from the men and women of the Traveller tradition and would later befriend the great Traveller storyteller Duncan Williamson, of whom David has written a two-volume account.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing David in session, will appreciate that they are in the presence of a master storyteller, a word-weaver equally adept with Shakespeare or Dylan Thomas, as he is with the Scots poets like Hugh Macdiarmid, Norman McCaig, and Hamish Henderson. In fact, David had the privilege of learning from them. But perhaps his greatest teacher (and sidekick) was the aforementioned Duncan Williamson. When once asked why storytelling was so important, Williamson remarked, "Stories are oor education." David has not only been one of Duncan's greatest students, but a wonderful teacher in his own right who has shared stories and his vast experience with many other storytellers (yours truly included).

Don't miss this interview. It begins Sunday 6 August at 7am ET (Canada/US), 12noon (UK/Ireland) and at 9pm (Australia) only on the Blues and Roots Radio network. Go to on your computer or mobile device and listen.

Also, why not "like" us on our Facebook site at and sign up for our free newsletter.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Meet Ed Stivender, the "Robin Williams" of storytelling

Storyteller Ed Stivender

He's been called the "Robin Williams of storytelling" and has earned many accolades. He calls himself a Shakespearean actor, a juggler, a mummer, a banjo player & raconteur. He's none other than Ed Stivender and if you've never heard of him, you're in for a treat. Let Ed tickle your funny bone with three stories.

Starts Sunday 9 July at 12noon GMT (UK/Ireland), 7am EDT (Canada/US) and 9pm EDT (Australia). Repeated on Thursday 13 July at 5:30pm ET (Canada/US), 10:30pm (UK/Ireland) and on Friday 14 July at 7:30am.

Only on Blues and Roots Radio ( home of the independent artist.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Teller and the Tale features Scots-French storyteller Fiona Macleod

This week, host Michael Williams features a "rewind" edition of an interview he did in 2015 featuring Scots-French storyteller Fiona Macleod.

Speaking from her home in Brittany, Fiona reminisces about her life in Scotland, Ireland, and France as well as share a wonderful story. Begins Sunday 1st February at 12noon GMT (UK/Ireland) and 7am EST (Canada/US). Repeated on Tues/Wed and Thursday. Blues and Roots Radio ( was born in Perthshire and raised there and in northern Ireland before following her grandmother's footsteps and heading off to France. 

It was in Paris, 25 years ago, that Fiona first heard a storyteller. That experience hooked her and she's never looked back. Now living in the traditional village of Locronan, Fiona has made herself at home within storytelling circles, performing and giving workshops to children, young people, and adults. 

Fiona is as passionate about the environment and our fellow creatures as she is about storytelling. She recently 'adopted' a donkey from a nearby sanctuary and often contributes her storytelling talents to raise awareness of environmental issues, including holding an annual week-long storytelling in nature workshop. 

You can read more about Fiona's interests and storytelling on her Facebook site 

Fiona is an energetic traveller having taken her talents to North America, performing in Montreal, Canada among other places. Back in France, she's even followed in the footsteps (or donkey steps) of Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, retracing much of his 19th-century journey around France. 

Don't miss this talented and effervescent storyteller with a joie de vivre. 

"French is my adopted language. My grandmother spoke and loved this language at the beginning of the 20th Century. I am her continuation. As we say in stories, 'Walk today, walk tomorrow, if you just keep on walking, you will find the path.' "

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Could I Be A Storyteller?

Michael Williams, host of The Teller and the Tale
As the host and producer of the Teller and the Tale, my weekly, half-hour storytelling radio programme on Blues and Roots Radio (, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know a lot of storytellers. In fact, over the past four years I’ve interviewed nearly seventy tellers from Scotland, Canada, the United States, Denmark, India and other places. And if you’re a listener to the show, you’ll know that I’m fascinated by a storyteller’s upbringing and, in particular, whether or not they had a “special start” in life. Did they grow up in a “storytelling” family where parents and grandparents told lots of stories? Were they encouraged to read at an early age or given special help to become articulate? Did their parents encourage them to perform in front of others? I ask these questions because many people I meet believe that these are the pre-conditions to becoming a professional or even a non-professional storyteller.

What I’ve discovered through my interviews, however, is that there are no particular “pre-conditions” to becoming a storyteller. The majority of storytellers I’ve interviewed report that they didn’t have “storytelling” parents or grandparents, although many remember at least one parent or grandparent who enjoyed sharing day-to-day experiences of work and family. Most storytellers don’t recall being encouraged to read or write or speak out any more or less than other children. In fact, many older tellers remind me that they grew up in an era when children “were better seen and not heard.”
What about school? Again, most storytellers don’t recall a particular momentous occasion that hurled them toward a storyteller’s life, but they often do praise a particular teacher—usually an English teacher—who told stories, encouraged creativity, and regularly praised a student’s imagination and creative efforts.

What I find interesting, though, is how many storytellers reveal that they were shy as adolescents and not particularly outspoken at all. They did not identify themselves as natural extroverts or performers. Yet, they do report having a very active inner life. Many have told me that journaling or keeping a diary or writing poetry was a way of expressing themselves as adolescents. Very often, it’s not until they are in their 20s or 30s that they acknowledge that they had an unique voice that longs to speak and be heard.

And if there is one particular event that unites these voices, it is the experience of hearing a storyteller for the first time. Expressions such as “I want to do that” or “I could do that” are typical responses upon hearing a storyteller for the first time.

Many storytellers take the first step by enrolling on a half-day or full-day workshop. I was well into my 40s when I began what amounted to a seven-year “apprenticeship” through workshops and courses at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. My initial reasons were to augment my professional development as a teacher so I could offer storytelling to a wide range of pupils, but soon I was beginning to see other possibilities. Similarly, many storytellers tell me that they too undertook storytelling as a complement to their work as teachers, therapists, social workers, mental health and community workers, librarians, actors, and, of course, as parents and grandparents. And while the art of storytelling is a useful addition to these roles, once bitten by the storytelling bug, as I was, many go on to explore the world of professional or public storytelling.

Of course, I have to qualify the word “professional”. By it, I mean those tellers who tell in situations for which they are paid. Like any professional artist, storytelling can be developed as a sophisticated and entertaining art form. Some tellers develop their art to work in therapeutic or even business settings. But earning an income from storytelling does not define a storyteller.

In a larger sense, we are all storytellers. To be human is to have a story, or more accurately, stories to tell. And there are many different ways of telling or sharing our stories. We can tell to our children, our partners, our communities, to strangers and friends. We can write our stories, we can dance them, sing them, draw, paint, and photograph them. There is no one way to tell our stories and no one way to become a storyteller. Every voice, like every life journey, is unique. And yet, the stories we tell, though differing in the details, link us together through the experience of our common humanity.

Over the past four years as a radio host, I’ve discovered dozens of wonderful storytellers and had the privilege of hearing their stories. And I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter where they come from, storytellers are like you and me, no more special, no better, no worse. They are just like us – people with a story to tell. And if there’s one message they all pass on is that everyone should have a chance to share their story.

So, could you be a storyteller? Of course you could. Today, storytelling is enjoying a renaissance. Storytelling workshops and courses abound both online and in venues everywhere. Most towns and cities have storytelling clubs or guilds which welcome newcomers. They’re a great way to making new friends and feeling part of a vibrant community. Start by doing an online search for “storytelling groups” or check your “What’s On” section of your local paper. Why not make this year the year you started sharing your stories and learning new ones. After all, if you don’t tell your story, who will?

© Michael Williams 2017

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Ghostly Tales with Michael Williams

The "Ghostly Tales for the Telling" competition took place over the summer of 2016. It was sponsored by the National Library of Scotland the and Scottish International Storytelling Festival. The competition was held to honour the 200th anniversary of the writing of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein", arguably one of the most frightening and poignant tales ever written.

More than 300 entries were received and the task of selecting the finalists was a difficult (although I'm sure an enjoyable one). Ten stories were selected to be read and performed to an audience at the National Library by a stellar group of storytellers including Claire Druett, Daniel Allison, Tim Porteus, Ian Stephen, Fiona Herbert, and Michael Williams.

In this week's programme, two of those tales are featured - "The Tapestry House" written by Ewan Irvine and "The Winter Visitor" written by Joel Pierce.

"I have a soft spot for ghost tales," says Michael, "although I'm not a fan of the overly ghoulish kind where people get ripped apart. I loved the subtle nature of these two tales. They raised the hairs on the back of my neck. I felt they were a fitting tribute to the gothic genre."

Rather than read the tales, Michael chose to tell the stories, requiring him to adapt the text for an oral telling. "It was not an easy choice," explains Michael, "I wanted to honour the authors' texts but I also wanted to honour my profession as a storyteller. This event was, after all, part of a storytelling festival. So, I chose to learn the stories and prepare them as I would for an oral telling. To do that, I had to create a context for them and my telling. I'm pleased to say that both authors approved of my telling of their tales." 

The recordings here are courtesy of the Scottish Storytelling Centre and can be found--along with other performances from the night--on their YouTube channel at 

The Teller and the Tale plans to feature other stories from the evening on future programmes.

The Teller and the Tale begins at 7am ET (Can/US), 12noon (UK/Ire), and 9pm (Australia) on Blues and Roots Radio (  Go to their website and click on the "Listen Now" button.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Celebrating Robert Burns

January 25th is Robert Burns Night, a time when folk gather to celebrate the life and work of the Scottish bard Robert Burns.

This week, the Teller and the Tale joins in those celebrations with some stories, poetry, and song . . . all related to the poet himself. Gordon Kennedy gives us a short biography of Burns' life, while storyteller David Campbell tells a story of two old friends and the meaning of a good malt. We hear from musicians Tim Thorne and Dougie Maclean before sitting back to enjoy Karen Dunbar's rollicking "Tam O'Shanter" before finishing with a rousing rendition of a "A Man's A Man For A' That".

Wherever you are, I hope there's a Burns supper near you. If you've never been to one, why not make this the year you learn more about the work of Burns and enjoy a cracking good time too.

All the best,