On and off for the past decade, local singer-songwriter and acoustic storyteller Travis Puntarelli has been living a minstrel’s life, wandering across the United States and Europe, communing and playing music with fellow vagabonds.

This April, Puntarelli is bringing his music to the Buskirk-Chumley Theater for a special performance. A Show of Hats: An Evening of Music & Storytelling was organized by local musician Marc Haggerty and also features Bloomington folk music legend Dillon Bustin, who now lives in the Boston, Massachusetts, area.

Puntarelli’s set will consist of two stories: one set in a fantasy landscape populated by fairies and trolls and another set in the modern, everyday world. And while Puntarelli hopes people like his music, he is equally focused on delivering social commentary on how he wants to change society and culture.

“I value human connection and appreciate people spending time together in real life instead of through devices,” Puntarelli says. “When I was in Italy, people in the towns I visited spent their evenings outside on the stoops in front of their houses, talking. That’s what I’m after.”

In his travels, he says, “I’ve been given rides by people who smoke meth who were very kind, met very poor people who gave me anything they had, and even spent time with rich people who had no qualms about hanging around the vagrants and musicians.”

In California, Puntarelli got involved with Camp Grounded, a “Summer Camp For Adults,” where people leave behind their cellphones, computers, and all worldly, job-related concerns to spend a weekend living in tents or cabins in the redwood forest. “That’s an environment I’m really interested in,” Puntarelli says. “My goal is to make myself feel free enough to be able to shout and dance and sing without inhibition in any situation.”

Dillon Bustin is famous locally for helping to launch Wednesday contra dancing in 1970 that still continues 45 years later and for discovering the Orange County singer-songwriter Lotus Dickey, the namesake of Bloomington’s Lotus World Music & Arts Festival. Bustin is a folklorist, singer-songwriter, filmmaker, and playwright who currently is executive director of the Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts, home of the Concord Poetry Center.

A Show of Hats begins at 7:30 p.m. on April 29. Tickets are $12 and are available now and at the door.


Video playlist of Travis Puntarelli