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ASL to Host Performance of Eugene Wolf’s ‘Book of Mamaw’ One-Man Show Has Been Performed from Southwest Virginia to New York City

Eugene Wolf

ASL to Host Performance of Eugene Wolf’s ‘Book of Mamaw’

GRUNDY, VA (JANUARY 20, 2020) — Eugene Wolf’s one-man show of stories, songs and sketches will be portrayed Monday, February 3 as he presents “The Book of Mamaw” at the Appalachian School of Law on 1169 Edgewater Drive in Grundy, Va.

The 7 p.m. performance is open to the public. Admission is free. Wolf, a 22-year member of Barter Theatre’s acting company, will perform the one-man musical comedy show in the ASL Appellate Courtroom. Seating is limited and is first come, first serve.

“The Book For Mamaw” recently played the United Solo Festival in New York, the world’s largest solo theatre festival and brought home the United Solo and Backstage Magazine Audience Award. It was chosen from among more than 120 one-person theatre pieces.

The show chronicles the experiences Wolf had growing up with his Church of Christ grandmother, Bernice Rader, who recognized her two-year-old grandson’s love of performing at an early age and guided him on his way.

Wolf performed in his first talent contest at the age of two. His Mamaw had noticed how excited he got when a marching band of pigs came on TV and sang about Valleydale bacon, sausage and wieners, he said.

“Mamaw said I was hypnotized by the music,” Wolf recalled.

She taught him to sing the song, “My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You,” a popular song of the day by Ray Price and entered him in a talent contest at the Capitol Theatre in Greeneville, Tenn. He won that talent contest.

Through story, song and sketches, the play is an autobiographical musical journey.

“In the early ‘60s, I loved Loretta Lynn and Connie Francis,” Wolf said. “Then the Beatles came along and quickly changed the landscape. But I stuck with my women: Petula Clark, Barbra Streisand and Joni Mitchell.”

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Eugene Wolf’s ‘Book of Mamaw’

He continued, “Mamaw was a devout Christian woman. And these songs reflect the values that she gave to me.

“Mamaw was funny in spite of herself. She’d take me along when she sold Avon and make me get up and sing Loretta Lynn songs,” Wolf said. “I was an eight-year-old boy singing about my lying, cheating, drinking husband. But I didn’t care. Mamaw had sanctioned it, so it was alright.”

Carter Family songs and hymns balance the pop side of the music.

“Mamaw loved the Carter Family and her humming and singing of their songs provided the soundtrack to my childhood,” Wolf said. “I want to feed the spirit. The Church of Christ was a huge part of my upbringing and the most important thing in Mamaw’s life. I honor that. I want the audience to take something home that can live with them and linger and remind them of their own spirit and what helped shape it.”

The show began as a benefit for Barter Theatre in 2008. Wolf had double bypass heart surgery and Barter kept him on salary until he could heal and return to work. Later that year, he decided to return the favor. He performed a benefit of a loosely outlined set of stories and songs and made a recording of it called, “Clear.”

People responded favorably and he kept adding stories to the show. He performed this version in community centers, theaters and even in peoples’ living rooms, he said.

In the fall of 2017, he decided to put it all in script form and to fill it out as a performance piece. He began to play the characters he had only told stories about. He asked Susanne Boulle to direct and commissioned Brian Tibbs, the executive director of the historic Lincoln Theatre in Marion, Va., to create a video book. It premiered at that theatre in October of 2017. In January 2018, he returned to his hometown to play the show as a benefit for the Greeneville Theatre Guild at the Capitol Theatre, where he made his stage debut at the age of two. In June of 2018, he performed it during a three-week run at Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va.

Prior to becoming a part of Barter Theatre’s acting company, Wolf was a 16-year member of Johnson City’s professional theater, The Road Company. Along with Ed Snodderly, he is also a singer with the country music singing duo, the Brother Boys, featured vocalists on “Pearlie Mae,” included on the Jerry Douglas CD, “Slide Rule.” He created the role of A. P. Carter in Barter Theatre’s “Keep On The Sunny Side” and appeared as A. P. in the BBC documentary, “Lost Highway” and “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” an American Experience feature on PBS. He has also 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.

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Media Contact: Cathy St. Clair – 276.202.0383 or cstclair@asl.edu