Meet the Hudson Valley Storytellers

Laurie McIntosh

One of the Hudson Valley’s coolest storytellers


Though she’s known for her spirited renditions of classic folk tales and stories about her own family, Laurie McIntosh — a.k.a. “Story Laurie” — is also a performer who writes songs about gardening, nature, and American history just for kids. Guitar in hand, she visits schools, children’s museums, libraries, and family-oriented festivals, where she has been known to kick off her gigs by popping out of a tent — even if she’s indoors!

Age: 45

Hometown: Islip, Long Island

Currently lives: Andes

College degree: French literature, University of Chicago

Mentor: Grandma Avis, a legendary local storyteller. I felt a little weird at first coming to her toddler story hour.

Childhood obsession: I would race home from school to watch Little House On The Prairie. I loved anything by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

laurie mcintosh

First Catskills home: I moved from Chicago to Paris to Manhattan to a little, one-room cabin in Shandaken where sometimes the water froze. I loved the chop-wood, carry-water routines.

Current home base: My family and I live on the grounds of the defunct Bobcat Ski Center, so we have an entire ski mountain as our backyard.

Lifestyle choice: We don’t own a TV. Our kids listen to cassette tapes.

First (volunteer) gig: I read “The Giraffe Who Saw to the End of the World” at the Woodstock Library. It was like an out-of-body experience where I could see myself telling the story — that’s never happened again.

First (paid) gig: Fiddler’s Green Bookstore in Hyde Park

Most unique gig: Leading 3,000 people in the “Hokey Pokey” on The Walkway Over the Hudson to break the Guinness World Record.

Most fun story: “Tale of the Split Dog,” adapted from an Adirondack storyteller.

Go-to personal story: “Journey to Ellis Island,” about my grandmother coming to New York from Italy.

Reaction to her work: It cracks me up how many people ask, “Still telling tales?” every time I run into them, and how they often seem fairly amazed that, yes, I am.

On being the black sheep: I come from a family of doctors, but by now they’re used to my ways.

On the craft: You have to internalize a story, don’t memorize it; let it seep into your bones. You must love the story or it won’t work and you’ll feel like a fraud.

Favorite way to travel: When I have a lot of gigs, I drive all over New York State with my guitar, tent, cooler, seeds and worms [for garden demos] loaded into my car.

On singing: I had been telling stories for a few years and found I would start to sing refrains in a story. They have such an amazing impact on the listener, so I learned to play guitar to accompany myself.

What’s ahead? I’m in the process of recording 10 tracks written by students with my amazing Grammy-winning producer. It will be available for free on a web-based platform.

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