NEWBERRY SC (CR News) — Folk artist and storyteller Rom Webster announced yesterday that he and the Red Barn Studio team began an exciting, new project this month. They’re calling it “short and tall tales.”
We met with Rom near the campus of Newberry College for an impromptu interview. Our plan was to uncover what’s behind “short and tall tales” and, maybe, even get the backstory on the project.
“It’s storytelling,” Rom told us. “Plain and simple. It’s the same thing we’ve always done — except a little different.”
“Ya know,” the revered country artist told us, “It doesn’t matter if we’re sitting on a farmer’s porch on a hot, summer evening somewhere out in the country or in the Red Barn writing, laughing, and drawing. It’s just pure storytelling!”
The old artist paused a moment and added, “What makes it not quite the same as sitting on a porch is that it includes caricatures. That’s what makes this project so different and so fun for us!”
“We take real people, like my friends Mo and Kate,” Rom shared. “We do funny, little caricatures of them. And then we put those caricatures into a story. It’s their story. Or sometimes, it’s the story they wish they had for their life. It doesn’t really matter to us so long as the story is fun and interesting!”
We noted that this sounded a lot like flash fiction with caricatures, and he agreed. Rom told us that he’s a big fan and practitioner of flash fiction, a relatively new literary genre that removes most classical elements of story, leaving you with just the bare bones. He said that he and the Red Barn team had been toying with flash fiction and caricatures for awhile.
“That’s where we actually get short from,” he explained.
“Tall comes from a different place. A ‘tall tale’ is a story that’s not exactly true. It’s not a lie — storytellers don’t lie. But sometimes we might exaggerate or embellish a little. And occassionally, we’ve even been known to do a little fabrication too.”
Rom chuckled at that last remark. And then he got serious.
“Among traditional storytellers out in the country, especially in the swampland,, the big sin is not making up a story. It’s being boring.”
“You can get away with almost anything if you’re interesting. And if you happen to be funny too? Well, you’re home free!”
We wrapped up the interview and headed back down to Soda City to turn our story in for publication. Rom said he had an appointment on a porch in the Bull Swamp along the North Edisto River. The folks there were expecting to hear the bull frogs laughing that night. They probably were not disappointed.
That’s our story and we’re sticking to it. It’s cool to be Catholic. COOL2B!