Chris Kastle

About the Artist

As a professional musician and storyteller, songsmith, author, artist and educator for half a lifetime, Chris Kastle has toured throughout the United States and in Canada, Europe and New Zealand. She currently lives in St. Augustine, Florida.

In 2020, Chris became a published poet as part of the "Contact Tracing" program of Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf, Woodrow Hall Editions and also  made several new postings of her original works on YouTube. In 2019, she was invited to present at the Sharing the Fire Storytelling Conference in New England. She also co-authored and received a Dr. Joann Crisp-Ellert Fund Visual Arts Grant from the Northeast Community Foundation on behalf of the Tale Tellers of St. Augustine  to present "The Picture in the Story" workshops in St. Augustine elementary  schools.

As a recording artist, she has released three solo CDs of music and spoken word and, as part of a duo,  12 critically acclaimed CDs and a DVD.  Chris received the Annette J. Bruce Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Storytelling Association.  Her song, El Faro, in memory of the crew,  has been well-viewed on YouTube. 

As an educator, she worked as the Director of Education at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, an instructor for the Inland Seas Education Association, a Visiting Professor at Governors State University, Community Educator for Friends of A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway and has done a myriad of educational residencies and masters classes throughout the United States. She is  currently on the faculty at the Old Town School of Folk Music, and is a Teaching Artist for Arts4All and Ace Arts.

As an author, she has penned articles for maritime publications and been a contributing author in a maritime history anthology published by Claremont Press. She has many original short stories and poems to her credit and, most recently, was the author/illustrator of a new children’s book, Dolly the Decorator Crab, inspired by her work as a teaching artist for Arts4All as well as, From the Icy Fingers of the Deep, a critically acclaimed book of short, scary, sea stories .

As a visual artist, Chris has helped students of many ages and abilities to create individual and collaborative artwork in watercolor, sculpture, collage, set design,  puppets and more. Her individual work has been displayed alongside that of her students at the Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens and by the Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts.

As an arts administrator, advocate and producer, she was the Executive Director of Common Times, the folk-arts organization that presented the "Chicago Maritime Festival" and the "Chinquapin Folk Music and Storytelling Festival".  Chris has served on the boards of the Florida Storytelling Association (Past President) and the Tale Tellers of St. Augustine (Treasurer, Past President and Secretary ).

She is a one-time Tall Ship sailor from Chicago who has found a  home in St. Augustine, the nation's oldest port city, and is enjoying the best of the old world and the new!

About the presentations

The songs and stories of Chris Kastle have been described as "exquisite" and possessing "powerful imagery". Her performances at concerts, festivals, libraries, schools and camps are a rich blend of original works and those drawn from folk tradition. They captivate, entertain and transport people of all ages. She presents traditional and original songs using guitar, fiddle, penny whistle, mandolin and various percussion instruments; her spoken word repertoire includes original, personal and traditional tales. On occasion, Chris also creates whimsical and endearing puppets for use with younger audiences. 

Her school residencies and professional development workshops cover a host of topics including music, songwriting, creative writing, storytelling, performance, production and puppets. Chris is experienced in working with, and performing for, a wide range of audiences, such as at-risk students, special needs populations and senior citizens.

Her Artist-in-Residence programs are exemplary, not only because they augment and fulfill a host of educational standards, but also because they give students the chance to work with a professional, practicing artist who can give insight into pursuing the arts as a viable career Her teacher in-services have proven to be immediately useful in the classroom. 


Historical Overview 

▪ Annette J. Bruce Lifetime Achievement Award, Florida Storytelling Association

▪ Teaching Artist for Arts4All and ACE Arts

▪ Community Educator, A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway

▪ Director of Education, St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

▪ Full-time performer and educator throughout the United States, Europe, and New Zealand as a solo artist and as a duo

▪ Instructor, Inland Seas Education Association

▪ Community Professor, College of Environmental and Applied Sciences, Governors State University

▪ Faculty, Old Town School of Folk Music

▪ Executive Director, Common Times

▪ Co-recipient of the Lantern Bearer Award, Folk Alliance Region Midwest

▪ Co-Publisher, Common Times Magazine 


M.A.S. Human Ecology, Governor's State University; B.A. Geography/Political Science; minor in Education, University of Illinois; Graduate coursework in Professional Education with a Cognate in Literacy, University of North Florida

Current Professional and Board Affiliations

Florida Storytelling Association, Past President; Tale Tellers of St. Augustine, Treasurer, Past President and Secretary; North Florida Folk Network; St. Augustine Songwriters Association; Ancient City Poets; North Florida Poetry Hub; Florida State Poets Associan.

Selected Performances

Story Central Concert Series • Florida Storytelling Festival Outreach • Florida Folk Festival • Mohegan Storytelling and Music Festival • Gamble Rogers Music Festival • Jacksonville Public Library Summer Reading Series • Chicago Public Library Summer Reading Series • Will McLean Festival •The Environmental Education Faire • Chicago Maritime Festival • Theater of the Mind • Spoken Word Café • John G. Shedd Aquarium • Illinois Storytelling Festival (Illinois Showcase) • Storybook Festival • Wild Onion Storytelling Festival • Field Museum of Natural History • National Maritime Museum (New Zealand) • Chicago Historical Society • Uncommon Ground Storyteller Series • Passim's • Shanties Festival (Poland) • Museum of Science & Industry • Fox Valley Folk Festival • Folklore Society of Greater Washington • Workum Shanty Festival (Netherlands) • Philadelphia Folksong Society • Mystic Seaport (Sea Music Festival; Concert Series)

Selected Radio and Television Appearances

"The Story Cafe" • "Studs Terkel Show" WBEZ • "The Midnight Special" WFMT • "Folk Festival" WDCB • "848" WBEZ • "Rick Kogan Show" WGN Radio . "Insight" WTMX • "River City Folk" • "The Michael Stock Show" WLRN • "Bound For Glory" • "Gene Shay Show" WHYY •  "Absolute Artistry" • "Outdoor Wisconsin" • "Prairie Harvest" • "Wild Chicago" • "Chicago Stories" • "Artbeat Chicago" • "Stage 9" • WBBM News Chicago • WMNF

Selected Honors, Grants, and Juried Rosters

Crisp-Ellert Fund Grants, Northeast Community Foundation:: 2017, 2019 • Annette J. Bruce Lifetime Achievement, Florida Storytelling Association, 2015 . Award Lantern Bearer Award, Folk Alliance Midwest Region, 2007 • Founders' Award, Shanties '93, Krakow, Poland • Arts-in-Education Rosters in Missouri, Illinois, Delaware, Indiana •  ArtsTour, Illinois • Michigan Humanities Council • Chicago Office of Fine Arts-Community Arts Assistance and Neighborhood Arts Programs • Illinois Arts Council-Special Assistance Grant, 1995, 1999, 2005 • Arts International-Festival Travel Grant, 1993 •  Arts4 All Florida Teaching Artist

Selected Conference Presentations, Seminars, and Arts Planning

"Using an Economy of Words: Writing Stories in Verse" 2019, Sharing the Fire Storytelling Conference"; “Tell Your Own Florida Story: Workshop Series for Seniors", 2016-17 (Grant Rotary Club of Northeast Florida) ; “Music Across the Spectrum” (co-presenter, Hellen Snow), 2016, Duval County Board of Education; “Cross-disciplinary Teaching Through the Arts", VSAFlorida, 2015; "Principles of Performance", Tale Tellers of St. Augustine Workshop Series, 2013; "StoryLines Game Pilot", 2013 and "Perk It Up With Puppets", 2013, Florida StoryCamp;  Environmental Education Faire/Kid's Ocean Day, Friends of A1A Planning Committee, 2011-14; Festival of Muses, Planning Committee, 2012; Chicago Maritime Festival, 2002-16 (Co-Director and Founder); Chinquapin Folk Music and Storytelling Festival, 1995-2009 (Co-Artistic Director and Founder) ; "Instruments and Their Stories", Northern Michigan Early Care and Education Conference; "Building Self Esteem and Cultural Awareness Through Creative Writing and the Folk Process", Michigan Reading Association; "Independent Record Production" and "Presenter - Performer: Both Sides of the Coin" Folk Alliance Conference, 2005

List of publications and discography available upon request. 


El Faro

Gone Away

Daughter of the Wind

Way Out West