Bringing 'Down Under' out west

Australian storyteller, musician to present four-day program

 

Photo courtesy Saratoga Friends of the Library

Paul Taylor performs at a previous event. Paul Taylor performs at a previous event.

Australian storyteller, didjeridoo player and traveler Paul "Walking Stick" Taylor will be doing a residency Monday through Thursday next week with Saratoga Elementary students in kindergarten through sixth grade, according to announcement made this week by the Saratoga Friends of the Library (FOL).

A FOL news release notes, "Taylor brings the art, music and way of life of the Australian aboriginals to students, presenting it in a fun and creative way at their level. Paul's performances highlight unique historical parallels of America's West with Australia's Outback."

Each class will participate in workshops with Paul, from aboriginal music and instruments, to art and dance. Saratoga elementary PE teacher Shayley Love, music teacher Cody Sheldon, and retired art teacher Linda Fisher-Perue will assist with the workshops, as well as parent volunteers and Saratoga Friends of the Library members. The original organizer of the event is recently retired Saratoga Elementary teacher Annette Mason.


The Saratoga community and parents are invited to attend Taylor's opening presentation presented from 9 to 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 8 at the SES gym followed by a "Bush University" presentation from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Tuesday morning and concluding between 2 to 3:15 p.m. Thursday afternoon when all students will perform their final presentation of dance, music and art for the general public.

The residency is funded largely by Saratoga Friends of the Library, with assistance from Bridge Street Bargains, Valley Service Organization, Saratoga Elementary PTO, and the Riviera Motel.

Taylor comes to the United States from Adelaide, South Australia on the invitation of Bobby Bridger and the Adelaide-Austin, Texas, sister city program. Bridger is a descendent of the legendary western pioneer, Jim Bridger, whose influence was greatly felt in the Upper North Platte River Valley where Bridger was a scout and mountain man. Bridger Peak in the Sierra Madres and Bridger Pass on the Overland Trail west of Saratoga bear his name.

In 1986, Taylor acted as guide for Bobby Bridger on an extensive tour of South Australia. Bridger performed his acclaimed one-man show "Ballad of the West" on a tour of the Outback and to the Pitjantatjara Aboriginal community in the red heart of the country. Becoming close friends, Bridger invited Paul to Texas and then traveled with him to Wyoming to act as a "mountain man" in his company version of "Ballad of the West" performing at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody.

Attending the Jackson Hole Centennial Rendezvous in 1990, Taylor was initiated into the world of the mountain men and given the name "Walking Stick." Taylor loved his initial visit to the U.S. so much that he decided to return in 1992 and commence an extensive walkabout of the U.S. He is currently based in Laramie-the heart of America's outback.

He graduated from the University of South Australia with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work in 1980. His interest in the Aboriginal culture of his own country is born from time spent as a social worker among the Aboriginal people in outback Australia's Northern Territory in the early eighties. It was at this time he was introduced to the wonderful tradition of storytelling and the music of the didjeridoo, possibly one of the world's oldest musical traditions.

Taylor is mentored by Yidumduma Bill Harney, custodian of the Wardaman culture in Australia's Northern Territory. Taylor returns to Australia on sabbatical each year to spend time with family and Harney. He has been honored with a Wardaman name; "Jalala." In the mid-eighties Paul trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He worked professionally as an actor and clown, joined a circus show and performed throughout England, Scotland and Wales. He returned to his homeland and worked for the Adelaide Festival of Arts and in regional theaters throughout Australia.

In America, Paul has been endorsed by New York, South Carolina, United Arts NC, Texas, Wyoming, Utah, North Dakota, and South Dakota Art Councils as an outstanding artist. He has been honored for his work with Arts in Education by being awarded an Adjunct Professor in the College of Education at the University of Wyoming. He is Director of Wardaman Dreaming Project, committed to document and preserve the Wardaman Aboriginal culture.

Taylor has produced four recordings "Cooee," "Walkabout," "Matilda" and the "Dreamtime & Doo Bee Doo." "Cooee" has won six National awards including NAPPA Gold Award, Parent's Choice Gold Award and Storytelling World. Paul's credits include: New Orleans Jazz Festival, Kerrville Folk Festival, Clearwater Revival Folk Festival, National Geographic Festivale Internationale de Louisiane, Wyoming Symphony Orchestra, Exchange Place-National Storytelling Festival and Disney Music Center L.A.

 

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