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!
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.
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.
Learn more: www.storylaurie.com