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Many in the area know Teague Alexy as a musician who has performed around solo or with his brother with the group The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank. Alexy’s music has often carried a sense of Americana but now he has taken Americana one step further with his new short folk tale “How Lefty Stepanovich Turned Water Into Wine.”
The story is filled with rhymes and is set in the fictitious setting of the town, Mealdathyme. It brings out colorful chartacters such as the ill tempered Mr. Borkinszankersneer and of course the mild mannered Lefty Stepanovich who rises to the occasion to make water into wine despite the skeptical townsfolk. The book is illustrated by Alexy’s aunt, Sally Flanagan, who lives in New Jersey.
The book came out three weeks ago and Alexy will be doing a number of readings this week to promote it. The book was initially published by Ivy Arts & Print in Minneapolis but was picked up by North Star Press out of St. Cloud. There is an audio version of the book which stars voice talent from several actors including Alexy as the narrator. There is also music and sound effects that accompany the audio version but Alexy plans on holding off on it’s release until fall of 2015 when he will add more folk tales to accompany this one and share a full experience of his work. We had a chance to talk with Alexy about his first published effort at folk tales.
Reader: There’s a religious connotation here with Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine.
Alexy: For this this story, it’s not a religious story. It’s placing the context of the story. It’s taking a common theme of making water into wine and just thinking how you could actually make that happen. Like a lot of things in the bible like when Moses parted the Red Sea, well how did he do that? Is it metaphorical? Partially metaphorical? We don’t know. Any kind of biblical thing is more like setting the story.
Reader: In your head what would be the time era and area for the setting of this story?
Alexy: That’s the thing about folk tales, time and place are kind of taken out of the equation and even the boundaries of reality or what we perceive as reality. These things are movable in a folk tale.
Reader: It could a hundred years ago, it could be a few days ago.
Alexy: Anytime before cellphones the story could have taken place. When you remove those things the story can focus more on human nature and things like people’s hearts and their feelings, emotions. For me that’s what folk tales are all about, being removed from time and place with a little bit of a suspension of disbelief happening.
Reader: Have you done any prior written works before this one?
Alexy: Yeah, I made an album called, “New Folk Lore,” in 2006. During that time I was writing all kinds of folk tales and was just experimenting with the idea of writing folk tales as opposed to songs. About half of them ended up on the album. I have another five or six that I’ve never rounded into shape. I’m going back now and tightening them up.
Reader: So you’re planning on having more releases from here?
Alexy: Yeah, the book that is coming out in September is going to be this and other folk tales in one book. It will be a 48 page book with a spine, this one is only 20. I already have them. They were written around that time (2006).
Reader: What is your audience? Who do you think your readers will be with this book?
Alexy: I’d like to say it’s for all ages. I think kids will like it, I think adults will like it, I don’t think cynical people will like it. To me there’s more depth to it. It takes sitting down and concentrating for five minutes. It’s for those people who can sit down and let themselves go into that world and enjoy the critical thinking involved. It’s not like these stories are be all, end all, moral tales or anything like that. But, that’s the idea to something that’s more involved. I love writing songs and trying to write the perfect three and a half minute Americana/roots singer-songwriter song. I love that stuff, but to me this is totally different. It’s a lot more of a challenge to write a folk tale than a song and have morals, hints and foreshadowing and all sorts of things that are involved in good prose writing.
Alexy will be making several appearances this week while sharing his new short folk tale. He will be featured at Beaner’s Central on Thursday at 7 p.m. for a reading and open mic, his official release and wine party will be held at Red Herring Lounge on Saturday at 7 p.m. and he will also have a reading and acoustic performance at Jefferson People’s House on Sunday at 11 a.m.