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Folksinger and storyteller Adam Miller returns
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Photo by Sonia Lovewell Adam Miller

HAYS — Legendary folksinger, storyteller and autoharp virtuoso Adam Miller presents Way Out West in Kansas, a free program of traditional folksongs of Missouri and Kansas, at 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 18, at the Hays Public Library, 1205 Main Street.
An artist whose kind has dwindled to an endangered species, Miller is a renowned old-school American troubadour and natural-born teller of tales. A master of the art of storytelling, he skillfully interweaves folksongs and the legends behind them with the elegance of a documentary filmmaker. One of the premier autoharpists in the world, Miller is an authentic traditional bard; he is that rare performer who appeals to audiences of all ages. And he never fails to get his audience singing along. An itinerant minstrel, philosopher and raconteur, he accompanies his rich, resonant baritone voice with lively finger-picking acoustic guitar and stunningly beautiful autoharp melodies. He has distinguished himself as one of the greatest interpreters of American folksongs and as a storyteller par excellence.
“His storytelling is so riveting and engaging – it rivals Garrison Keillor’s,” says Frank Hamilton, co-founder of Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music and former member of The Weavers. George Winston calls Miller “one of the great autoharpists and folksingers of our times.” Pete Seeger admired his “wonderful storytelling!” The Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield described his performance as, “An outstanding slice of American folksongs performed with his perfectly suited voice and tasty autoharp accompaniment.”
A commentator who caught his set at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield wrote, “Adam Miller holds his audience spellbound without a lot of trappings. It’s just him, his autoharp and guitar, and his signature Panama hat.”
Miller began his lifelong pursuit of collecting old songs while still in grade school. Armed with an audio-graphic memory and an uncommonly good ear for melody, his childhood ambition was to learn every song he heard. An accomplished folklorist, historian, song-collecto, and musicologist, he has now amassed a remarkable repertoire of over 5,000 songs.
Traveling 70,000 miles a year, this 21st-century troubadour performs over 200 concerts annually, from the Everglades to the Arctic Circle. Over 1.5 million American K-12 students have attended his Singing Through History school assembly programs.
Miller’s repertoire evokes a bygone time when music was homemade. In a contemporary musical landscape peopled with singer-songwriters and their often short-lived offerings, his iconoclastic, time-honored traditional ballads are a breath of fresh air. A performer who enlightens as well as entertains, he points out fascinating connections between events in history and the songs that survived them. And like radio’s Paul Harvey, he manages to give you “the rest of the story” — providing the often surprising provenance of seemingly innocuous folksongs.
Immersed in the oral tradition, Miller is mostly self-taught, and learns just about everything by ear. He has recorded eight CDs that receive airplay across North America and Europe.
Throughout his long career, Miller has documented and kept alive the thousands of songs and stories he has collected in his travels. Some of these forgotten songs, like “California Joe” and “The Frog Song,” are so obscure that no one else sings them anymore.