NEMCC / Booneville Host ‘The Unchained Tour’ Stops

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As many of the old Southern porch stories start out, Northeast Mississippi Community College will host one of the few daytime stops of The Unchained Tour during its latest trek through the southeastern United States.

The Unchained Tour is scheduled to stop at Northeast on Tuesday, January 15 for a raconteur workshop and stay in the City of Hospitality for its evening show at the old Booneville Hardware store for a night of story-telling.

The Unchained Tour prides itself on raconteuring during its shows – the art of telling unscripted, personal, porch-like stories that many Southerners grew up with.

It is that style that has brought the tour to Mississippi because a Booneville native served as the inspiration for The Moth – a series of story-telling events held in New York City.

From the humble beginnings of a porch-style story, the storytelling events have taken root in towns across the country and The Moth series has regular meetings in Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta and Boston and has even been picked up by National Public Radio (NPR) in it’s “Moth on the Radio” program that broadcasts to over 200 radio stations.

However, The Moth storytellers wanted to go toward the light and take their stories on the road. George Dawes Green, who founded The Moth, also founded The Unchained Tour as a way to get those stories out to the masses – all while traveling on a 1972 Bluebird school bus that has been decorated by various artists throughout the country including a team of artisans from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

While unaffiliated with each other, The Moth regulars are hired to be storytellers on The Unchained Tour.

Green’s inspiration for The Moth and ultimately The Unchained Tour came from his love of the porch-style stories that he heard from Booneville native Wanda Bullard at her home in St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, and it is in Bullard’s memory that The Unchained Tour makes its stops in northeast Mississippi on Tuesday, January 15.

Bullard passed away in 2011 at the age of 63 but the former special education teacher’s inspiration lives on through The Unchained Tour and The Moth – which the nights of storytelling on her porch helped to found in 1997.

The Unchained Tour brings to life not only the art of raconteur but puts a modern twist on the Southern porch-style stories as presenters draw from their own personal experiences and provide stories that are funny, captivate the attention, apply real-life scenarios and provoke thoughtful contemplation.

Storytellers for the Booneville events are Annie Duke, Tim Manley, Michaela Blei, Peter Aguero and Christopher Paul Stelling.

Duke is a poker champion and has made appearances on “The World Series of Poker” and is the author of “Annie Duke: How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed and Won Millions at the World Series of Poker,” and has authored other books as well. Duke holds a double major in English and psychology from Columbia University and studied cognitive psychology as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania.

Manley is a mentor with the PEN American’s Writers in Prison Program and is a writer of fiction stories and also draws comics. Blei, when not storytelling, is a Ph.D. candidate, a writer, an educator and coaches storytelling in the New York City area.

Aguero, a multi-talented artist, currently hosts The Moth and is a member of The BTK Band – one of New York City’s leading improvised storytelling rock bands.

Stelling will serve as the musician for the evening. A songwriter, Stelling, has released “Songs of Praise and Scorn” and is set to release “False Cities” in the fall.

The Unchained Tour helps local economies as well. With a focus toward the independent bookstore market, The Unchained Tour focuses its stops on independent bookstores as a way of bringing storytelling to the communities and aid those bookstores find new customers.

Tickets for the night event at the old Booneville Hardware store in downtown Booneville can be purchased online at or from Kuttin UP Salon – which is owned by Wanda Bullard’s sister Saundra — at 303 S. Second Street.