East Side Storytellin’ 102 – The night Larry and Rayvon helped change our perspectives of others’ struggles

Larry Kenneth Alexander, Anna Harris, Rayvon Pettis, Javi Jones, Tom Eizonas, and Chuck Beard

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the 102nd epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 101, I repeat … 101, previous shows East Side Story has put together, we all decided to take a break from our busy schedules all over town in order to sit back and relax and get everyone cultured up just right in the form of a Nashville writer reading from original prose, followed by an amazing local musician performing and talking about their original music, and then a round-up creative conversation with all featured guests of this event to talk about their individual journeys and personal ties to Nashville. Without further ado, fulfilling the entertainment portion of your day, this is East Side Storytellin’ 102. Let us begin, again.

Our first featured artist of the evening is here tonight because he is the author of a very important book everyone should read called Smoke, Mirrors, and Chains: America’s First Continuing Criminal Enterprise. You can buy a copy online, and I highly suggest you do. This author received a BA in History from Macalester College in Minnesota and later studied law at The University of Iowa. He is a cultural theorist who has long-since been dedicated to fighting cultural amnesia and anti-intellectual elitism that has infused into America’s political and social fabric. Ladies and gentlemen, an author who was reading from a book that is probably the most relevant book in our country at this time for perspective of history with actual fact checking, I’m talking about the one and only Larry Kenneth Alexander.

photo by Chance Chambers

Larry made his way to the podium with book and notes in tow. He opened up both of them and went to town. He had carefully written out his words because, as you could imagine with how everyone in politics and modern historians change facts and distort our realities and perceptions, this author wanted the facts and his research to speak for itself. And man did it speak volumes. Larry dissected the truth behind the constitutional law from Great Britain on colonial rule and rules about the illegal acts of slavery on their citizens, regardless of race. Mind you, this was years before the Emancipation Proclamation and whatever that did for us in general. I was not alone in my fascination of hearing someone who had done all of the leg work of research and clarification of the actual law to teach others what actually happened and was supposed to be followed by all. Larry also told of a narrative about the trial and slavery experience of James Somerset. With the gut-wrenching tale about life on a slave ship, the combination of the constitutional history lesson and personal account of an actual slave and the conditions surrounding everything they went through on a daily basis was really heavy stuff, heavy but much needed for our souls at this point in time. When James was finished with his excerpts and time, he was visibly ready to sit down. The audience, myself included, took a deep breath and exhale and was ready for some music to get our energy balanced again.

Our featured music of the night is originally from Fort Payne Alabama (War Eagle!). That is where he ran track, watched a lot of cartoons and the Evil Dead movies before serving in the US military in Afghanistan for a year with the Army before returning home and moving to Birmingham (War Eagle!) to start making music of his own. Now he calls Nashville home. In 2015, he released his debut album, and word on the internet streets is that he is close to putting out new music pronto. He has performed with bands Liddy Rose and Red Mountain, but tonight he is playing under his name, a name you won’t forget. Alongside his talented friends in Anna Harris and Javi Jones, the entire room erupted into a warm welcome for the awesome Rayvon Pettis.

Rayvon was as humble and as American as apple pie. He gave a heartfelt compliment to the aforementioned history lesson by Larry and then mentioned that he hoped he wouldn’t suck on his set to ruin the night. We all knew he wouldn’t, and we were not disappointed one bit. Rayvon and the gang jumped right into some original tunes that made you want to get up and dance like we were at a shindig. The melodies were festive and the lyrics were poetry in motion. Rayvon has a unique talent of blending powerful and emotional experiences from war and rural America into works of art that anyone can relate to in their own lives. One such song, my favorite of the night, was a fictional ballad told from the perspective of a couple trying to make a family and find love in the midst of a war in Afghanistan that the US is heavily involved with and causing most of the trauma in this innocent love story. I don’t usually give out compliments of the highest regard, but I immediately thought that it would be something John Prine would be proud to hear and cover. No other acoustic song about war experiences has ever touched me as much as Rayvon’s song except Prine’s Sam Stone. Seriously, you have to hear this ballad in the set and recording below (and buy his album when it comes out soon too).

But Rayvon is more than just Rayvon. He changed instruments and credits several times within his set and even shared the mic with Anna a time or two too. All in all, it was a beautiful and giving set that followed a beautiful and educational (and extremely insightful) reading.

I was afforded the chance to speak with Larry and Rayvon alone after the music ended, and it was once again a wonderful experience I will not soon forget. They both spoke about how politics and art had changed over the years with more experiences with other artists and times of personal adversity. They both have so much substance to go along with everything bright they portray on the surface. Oh, and did I forget to mention that Larry even represented the legendary artist formerly known as Prince while living in Minnesota? I probably should have mentioned that early. But this was that kind of night. After a long, rainy day for most people in the audience, this show was something that fell from the sky and cleansed our perspective of our history, our country, our creative community, and our worlds outside of ourselves. I am so thankful to have been a small part of this extraordinary evening. The best is truly yet to come for these guys.

photo by Chance Chambers

So, with that said, here is the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 102 that featured Larry Kenneth Alexander and Rayvon Pettis (with Anna Harris & Javi Jones) at The Post on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Feel free to enjoy and share it with everyone you know, over and over again. It is so worth your time and energy. It will change your life. You’re welcome.

Before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for Larry and Rayvon for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

You can read more of Larry’s writing here –  www.smokemirrorandchains.com

You can listen to more of Rayvon’s music here – www.rayvonpettis.com

You can listen to this show, edited, soon, alongside the previous shows too, on our website,www.eastsidestorytn.com, at our In Our Own WordsTab – see here – www.eastsidestorytn.com/in-our-own-words

I’ll keep the gratitude going for Tom Eizonas, my lovely wife and most talented artist in Emily Harper Beard (efharper), and everyone that came out live to support the show … and to everyone who has helped continue to spread the word and support the show online afterwards.

I’d also like to show much love to Clay Brunton for the beautiful artwork online to promote the show.

art by Clay Brunton

Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to give one last shout out to Tonya and Chris for making The Post so welcoming and positively life-changing for the East Nashville community at large.

Our next show will be

East Side Storytellin’ 103

Tuesday, March 21st

At The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

Reading- Odie Lindsey (http://oalindsey.com)

Singing- Sam Lewis (http://samlewistunes.com)

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 102 and another fabulous event at The Post with East Side Story at the helm. Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word and giving some love to all of these great Nashville artists and our creative ideas. Please remember to be nice to one another out there. I repeat, please remember to be nice to one another.

Much love,

mE

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