The Madison County Arts Council presents The Book of Mamaw, a one-man show written and performed by Eugene Wolf, on Saturday, February 15, at 7:30 p.m. at The Madison County Arts Center in Marshall. The show includes stories, songs and sketches about Wolf’s experience growing up with Bernice Rader, who recognized her grandson’s love of performing from the time he was very young and guided him on his way.
“She’d take me along when she sold Avon and make me get up and sing Loretta Lynn songs,” says Wolf. “I was an eight-year-old boy singing about my lying, cheating, drinking husband, but Mamaw had sanctioned it, so it was all right.”
The Book of Mamaw is an unorthodox story of a Christian woman who once tried to capture Patty Hearst and who dispensed advice to her grandson that included, “If you’re going to make it in show business, you’d better get a dress and wear it!” From a small church in Greeneville, TN, to the Sahara Desert, the musical tale takes audiences on a surprising path of kindness and compassion.
“I’ve never seen a more true narrative of what it means to grow up in the Appalachian region and just what that upbringing teaches us about life, love and the world,” says Empty Bottle String Band member Tyler Hughes.
Wolf has been a member of Barter Theatre’s acting company for 22 years and was a member of Johnson City’s professional theater, The Road Company, for 16 years. Along with Ed Snodderly, he is a singer with the country music duo, the Brother Boys. He created the role of A. P. Carter in Barter Theatre’s Keep On The Sunny Side and appeared as Carter in the BBC documentary Lost Highway and Will The Circle Be Unbroken, an American Experience feature on PBS. Wolf has appeared on recordings alongside Dolly Parton and Alison Krauss and is currently a featured vocalist on the Grammy-nominated Royal Traveler, a new CD by bluegrass bassist Missy Raines.
“In the early ‘60s, I loved Loretta Lynn and Connie Francis,” says Wolf. “The Beatles came along and quickly changed the landscape, but I stuck with my women. Mamaw was a devout Christian woman, and these songs reflect the values that she gave to me.”
The Book of Mamaw recently won the United Solo & Backstage Magazine Audience Award at the United Solo Festival in New York. It was chosen from more than 120 one-person theatre pieces.
The Madison County Arts Center is located at 90 South Main Street, in Marshall. Tickets are $15, or $20 day of show. Learn more at MadisonCountyArts.com.