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3 Guys, 4 Stories, 5 Songs

By Betsy Mikel in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 11, 2011 10:05PM

Beginning Monday and continuing through April 4, Shannon Cason, Matt Miller and Sad Brad Smith will be performing 3 Guys, 4 Stories, 5 Songs.
3 Guys 4 Stories 5 Songs is exactly what it sounds like. Two storytellers — Chicago director Matt Miller and Chicago Moth GrandSLAM winner Shannon Cason — and one musician — Sad Brad Smith — are coming together weekly for a night of storytelling and song. The show runs for one month at Messner's, starting this Monday.

Cason actually won the first Moth StorySLAM he attended, which is much like an open mic night for storytellers (each SLAM has a theme, and contestants get five minutes in front of the mic to tell their stories from memory). “I had never done the storytelling with no notes before,” Cason said about that first StorySLAM. “That was my first time doing it. In that kind of setting, you don’t want to memorize too much. You want to go with the crowd, what they’re feeling, your own personality and demeanor with it and everything else. You enjoy it when you go in there.”

There are a lot of reading series around Chicago. There’s one practically every night. But storytelling events, like the Moth and 3 Guys, 4 Stories, 5 Songs, are a bit different because the performers don’t have paper, notes or a book to read off of. Storytellers have to memorize their stories, but they also have to be prepared to change things on-the-fly depending on how the audience is reacting.

We saw Cason at another Moth StorySLAM last year with his “Busted!” story. Although he didn’t win that one, it’s clear that Cason has a knack for storytelling. As far as what story he’ll be sharing at 3 Guys, 4 Stories, 5 Songs, he says it’s more of a sad story. “But at the same time, I feel this one more. It’s closer in age and closer to the things going on in my life right now.”

He said he’s always liked writing, but storytelling has given him a way to open up. “Stories that work are stories where they are vulnerable. I’m a private person. But that’s what works — when you lay it all out on the table. It’s been able to open me up more. I’ve been able to talk about things I wouldn’t normally share.”

3 Guys, 4 Stories, 5 Songs, Mondays March 14 - April 4, Messner's, 3553 N. Southport Ave., 8 p.m., $10 at the door