Tuesday, April 16th was one for the ages for myself and I know I wasn’t alone. In fact, I would dare to say that it being the first ever East Side Storytellin’ outdoors – coupled with the fact that it was the ultimate combination of wordsmiths, local historians, and music players & appreciators – it was destined to be one of the most excellent East Side adventures yet. It marked the 12th show since beginning in November of last year, and it was hard for me to take a second and realize that we’ve been doing this for 6 complete months already! I know that we are just getting started with this remarkable idea & project, and the 12th edition’s line-up reaffirmed to me that the sky is truly the limit with this thing. We live in a wonderful, unique city that is experiencing a modern-day renaissance all around us. Sometimes the best thing you can do is make the effort to show up, turn on the lights, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
Tuesday, April 16th, I showed up, turned on the lights, sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the show. First up for the first show outdoors (I know I’m repeating myself, but it was that special and worth repeating whether you made it out in person or not) was New York Times Bestselling author Robert Hicks. As you can see in this here picture,
Robert took to the make-shift corner stage and commanded everyone’s attention immediately. He didn’t do it by reading any of his bestselling books. He jumped on the microphone, metaphorically, and recounted an infamous family-related tale related to the journey he took after publishing A Guitar and a Pen. For about 15 minutes, Robert told the crowd about the time and reaction from he and other family members after EATING one of his great uncles; a family man that he never really liked very much anyway. I won’t repeat what I just wrote because I might get sick, and I don’t know if you’ve eaten yet while you read this. I’ll just let Robert tell you for himself on the recording below. If you know about Robert Hicks’ award-winning careers within the music industry over 30 years in the business or the historical research he has done for the state of TN in a variety of ways before making a leap into becoming a bestselling author right out of the gate, then the off-the-wall story about his uncle probably isn’t exactly what you might think at first thought … but I could be wrong. Either way, Robert was and is very entertaining in the way he choreographs his words and story to paint you a perfect picture of the points he is trying to communicate. Regardless of what you feel about friendly cannibalism or honest storytelling or family matters without filters in a dog eat dog world, I’m glad that Robert Hicks took the time to share something so personal, so entertaining, and yet such a page turner if he ever ends up putting it on paper at some point in the future.
After everyone had finished their meals, Robert left the stage and took his seat. I jumped up and was amazed that I was able to introduce the dynamic duo set to rock the show for the evening. What continues to fascinate me about living in Nashville right here and now is the amount of, for a lack of a better phrase and repeating myself again, renaissance men (and women) that choose to call Nashville home and dive head and heart first into everything they creatively do to make life here so much better than had they not stayed. Peter Cooper, arguably the finest music journalist out there anywhere right now, has played music for many years now in this city alongside the likes of Bobby Bare, Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Todd Snider (who just so happened to be in the crowd for this particular show … sorry you missed it if you missed it- shame on you!), and other greats. Eric Brace, also an astounding music journalist that left his post at The Washington Post because of several respected friends and musicians’ advice to get his hind end over to Nashville a few years back, did more than simply arrive in town. Eric decided to found his own indie label, titled Red Beet Records, make some of the most cutting edge projects out there (He’s soon to release an actual 20-song folk opera about the California gold rush). Oh, did I mention that he also co-produced the Grammy-nominated “I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow” all the while being the front man of a band called Last Train Home when not paired up with Peter? I just did. I think the point that I’m trying to make is that with two of the most humbled, professional, and established champions of the rich and productive East Nashville music scene out there, I’m surprised I was able to hold in my excitement and get my words out at all amongst such talent on stage and in the crowd.
Peter and Eric sang a handful of originals, gave props to the crowd and the songwriting family that they live around on a daily basis, and made me forget about the pollen count and my eyes itching for more than a few minutes (some would say that is a miracle … you have no idea, especially if you weren’t there to see for yourself). I know I joked about wanting to introduce these two together with something as epic as Bill & Ted and being Wyld Stallyns, but when you’re this good … you’re this good. Eric and Peter are this good.
Truth be told, it’s an honor to be involved in any project with the likes of these word curators and artists the like. All three of the featured artists on East Side Storytellin’ 12 with Robert Hicks, Peter Cooper, and Eric Brace have had so much success in everything they put their minds and efforts towards in the past and don’t seem to be slowing down with anything they are jumping into today or tomorrow into the near and far future. Talking with all three in one spot, as I was fortunate to do and be a small part of after the music faded, it was easy to listen and learn from these guys. Nothing happens over night. Nothing comes easy. It takes time, effort, opportunity, chance, connections, good intentions, collaborations, and an open mind and heart to helping yourself by helping promote others and the stories everyone around you are making. I can’t emphasize the fact that Nashville is a unique time and place right now enough. This spotlight from the outside looking in won’t last forever, and people and projects are sure to come and go in the long run, but I think it’s worth sharing repeatedly how special we all have it right now altogether. When there comes a chance to be a part of something special, whether it’s by helping with an idea, contributing your own art in something bigger than yourself, or simply showing up to the show, do yourself a big favor and find a way to make it happen.
Now, I’ll get off my Nashville soapbox. I can’t thank everyone enough for this idea and show growth, but the least I can do is start by thanking the people that helped make this evening extraordinary.
-I want to thank, first and foremost, my wife Emily Frances Harper Beard (www.efharper.com). Without her advice, support, and love in everything I do, this would probably still be an idea instead of a reality on the rise.
-I want to thank artist Alex Smith for his continued creativity with the limited edition prints for each original East Side Storytellin’. I give him the links, and he creates another world.
-I want to thank Tom Eizonas (T-Dawg) for his technical skills with recording and making everyone sound even better than ever while at the same time arriving first and most often working later than all the others out there. YOU ROCK!
-I want to thank WAMB Radio for allowing me to be a part of their family, history, and small part of making a new history for them.
-I want to thank the family of Fat Bottom Brewing Co. for allowing us to have a home for the show for the time being and helping us grow altogether in the right directions as we make our dreams happen.
-I want to thank Robert Hicks for his exquisite storytelling, his energy, and his wanting even to be a part of this show from the first time I reached out to him a few months prior. He helped connect the dots to Eric and Peter behind the scenes, and they way you jump into and out of each creative endeavor and do all of them so successfully is very inspiring to more people than you know. You can read more about Robert’s projects at – www.robert-hicks.com
-I want to thank Peter Cooper and Eric Brace for being the prolific musicians, writers, and all-around great human beings they are to everyone they meet. They take good words and thoughts and make them into even better songs and stories like only they know how to do. They are both exceptional artists in every sense of the word and I look forward to keeping tabs on every project you both create, individually and together, from this day going forward. Nothing but the best! You can see more about both collectively at- http://redbeetrecords.com/eric-brace-peter-cooper-master-sessions
-Side note, I want to thank everyone who has showed up and enjoyed East Side Storytellin’ 12 and every single one of the shows before. Each have had their own set of growing pains, learning experiences, and small tidbits of adversity that make me confident in stating that the best is yet to come and I hope to see you at each one going onward and upward, beginning May 7th!
Now, without further ado, here is the edited version of East Side Storytellin’ 12 for you to enjoy as many times as you wish and want to share with others. It originally aired on WAMB Radio (1200 am/ 99.3 fm) on Saturday, April 20th, 2013 at 2pm.
The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be …
Date- Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
Time- 7 pm sharp (Central)
Location- Fat Bottom Brewing Co. (900 Main Street)- www.fatbottombrewing.com
Need information or details about Fat Bottom Brewing Co., call 615-678-5895. Otherwise it is first come, first available seats.
Who will be featured- Craig Havighurst (Co-Host of Music City Roots and author of Air Castle of the South: WSM and the Making of Music City – www.stringtheorymedia.com) and the musical stylings of Don Gallardo & How Far West (www.dongallardo.com)