PICKENS — Hagood Mill is welcoming a local legend on Oct. 21 with the inclusion of Abby “the Spoon Lady” Roach into the lineup of artists scheduled to take part in the upcoming Storytelling Festival and Liars Competition.
Abby fell into street performance and spoon playing when she was backpacking around the country, she said. During that time she became “obsessed with folk rhythm and culture and the stories surrounding.”
“I lugged around notebooks of handwritten stories and random digital cameras. I hitchhiked and rode freight trains around all 48 of the main states, figuring it out as I went,” she said. “Playing spoons seemed like the best way to fund myself around the country.”
A fellow traveler taught her how to hold the spoons and run them down her fingers, but the rest, she picked up on her own over the years, she said.
Born in Wichita, Kan., in 1981, Abby eventually found herself in Asheville, N.C.
“Asheville has always been a mecca for arts and culture,” she said. “Street performing in Asheville is a special thing — and the street performance scene is massively rich here.”
Abby is also the acting president of the Asheville Buskers Collective, an organization formed in 2014 to help promote and keep street performing legal in the Asheville area.
“My name is Abby and I’m a spoon player,” she said. “I’m not fancy, I’ve just learned to puff my chest out a bit.”
Currently, Abby performs with Chris Rodrigues, a one-man band and street performer who also resides in Asheville.
“We both enjoy playing in various venues, but mostly enjoy street performing. It grounds you, reminds you why you are playing music,” she said. “Playing music on the street creates opportunities for folks to experience things that they perhaps otherwise wouldn’t, such as a professional spoon player, a one-man band, a human statue, or other performances and genres of music outside of the everyday realm of the everyday person.”
Working as a street performer teaches you to become a sharp people watcher, she said.
“The reactions we receive are varied and entertaining,”she said. “Children dancing, people of all ages and walks of life, artists and art lovers all gather around — creating a moment of community — on the sidewalk.”
Abby says when the crowds on the street are full, it can feel very similar to being “wrapped in energy, protected in your own little world.”
“I use the bells at my feet to ‘talk’ to the crowd and I love to make funny faces,” she said. “I have the best job ever.”
Hagood Mill’s Storytelling Festival and Liars Competition is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 21.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.