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Unchained Tour encourages residents to support community
Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst sing during the Unchained Tour stop at the Northeast Georgia History Center Tuesday evening. - photo by Tom Reed

The outdoor amphitheater at the Northeast Georgia History Center provided just the intimate setting that the performers with the Unchained Tour were looking for.

The merry band of storytellers and musicians descended upon Gainesville to encourage residents to get out in the community and support local, bookstores.

"The whole idea (of the tour) is, what if we could get people out from behind their computer screens and make them realize that being on Facebook and Twitter doesn't count as hanging out with friends," said Dan Kennedy, an author and the host for the evening.

"We want to encourage folks to get out into the community and break the chains of the Internet - and the chains of (non-independent) bookstores."

The tour was created by author George Dawes Green as a way to encourage more readers to purchase their books from independent retailers instead of chain stores - hence being called the "Unchained" Tour.

While the Internet and big-box retailers have their place, tour participants say technology like electronic book readers are having an adverse affect on the reading community.

"We're losing our connection with physical books and the printed word," Kennedy said.

The tour has criss-crossed the state and made stops in places such as St. Simons Island, Macon and Newnan.

Future dates include performances in Athens, Atlanta and Savannah.

During Tuesday's stop in Gainesville, authors and storytellers Tina McElroy Ansa, Chad Faries and Juliet Hope Wayne all shared tales from their own lives, while musicians Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent offered their own musical stories.

The benefit of having the performances in more intimate settings is that the audience gets the opportunity to interact more with the performers and each other.

"More than anything, we want to mobilize folks. We want to plant the seed for folks to come from behind their computers and their (cell phones) and get out and mingle with their community," Kennedy said.

"The idea is that when we're gone, the place to do that is out their community bookstore."


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