--2 Joe Hayes: the Voice of Southwest Folklore
Aug. 23, 2017
joe hayes

Joe Hayes: the Voice of Southwest Folklore

August 3, 2010, 12:00 am
By Erik Johnson
Every time I chew cinnamon gum, I am transported back to a time of stories among tepees and piñon trees. I'm not talking about pre-colonial America but, rather, the 1990s and Joe Hayes' performances. My cherished childhood memory of his storytelling plays out as an ongoing event this summer, as Hayes and his fables celebrate 28 years at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian.

Ever wonder how the cycle of night and day came to be? According to storyteller Joe Hayes, it had to do with a bear, a frog and a little persistence.

Hayes’ tall tales and voice can be found each Saturday and Sunday evening during the summer at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, where Hayes sets up a microphone and two speakers at the dance ground. Families of all shapes and sizes show up with lawn chairs and blankets to hunker down and listen to Hayes’ imaginative spin on folklore and fables from around the world.

Joe Hayes has a slow, drawn-out way of speaking. His subtle Spanish accent lends authenticity to the local setting of his stories. His timing is perfect and keeps the audience hanging on his every word. In addition, Hayes dresses up his moral teachings in funny facial expressions and talented acting.

Hayes’ hair may be white but he's a child at heart. With the young ones in mind, he involves his audience in the story. Toward the end of the tale, he asks the children if they can sound like a frog asking for rain. Indeed they can.

Boys and girls participate excitedly, not aware that they are being taught life lessons. After the hour-long performance, kids skip back to their parents' cars, their minds dancing with images of animals in a high-desert landscape. They leave entertained and, in the back of their head,  carry the idea that even a little frog can defeat a bear if it just keeps trying.     

The morals of his stories have a way of sticking with kids into adulthood. A certain Santa Fe Reporter intern can speak from experience. As always, he will be in the open air, in front of he foothills and illuminated by the sunset. This is a fantastic evening for families interested in frogs, ethics or otherwise.

7 pm
every Saturday and Sunday
through Aug. 15
Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian
704 Camino Lejo


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