I can’t believe that I just wrote and said that number above. Twenty-one shows that we have put together for East Side Storytellin’. Over the course of ten months, we have had three friendly locations, and over forty-two groups of Nashville artists that have shared amazing talent to those willing to give us a chance and listen. East Side Storytellin’ 21, the one we just had on Tuesday, September 3rd, at our new location of Mad donna’s, was certainly one for the books.
Although we’ve had twenty-one shows so far and counting, this one was the first for several reasons. First, it was the first time we have ever featured poetry and spoken word for the author of the night. It was the perfect time to shake things up a bit and do so. This was the first show that we have had at Mad donna’s (further from the bookstore than Rumours East, but closer than Fat Bottom Brewing Co. and right down the street from where we house the books. Above all that, I was really excited to get the chance to put a spotlight on the work and performances of Jamie Zoe Givens.
I had been fortunate enough, through the bookstore and mutual friends, to see Jamie perform a number of times this past year. She is transcendent. In my opinion, she is the premiere performance poet anywhere around. She has been a regular on the Nashville poetry scene and local coffeehouse stages since the mid-90’s, and her style and delivery has been a benchmark for anyone with a notion to do spoken word for miles and cities around. She is also the treasured author of the collection titled “Never Offer A Chair To A Dancing Girl” – sold at East Side Story on the regular, so come get your copy after you hear some of this (www.eastsidestorytn.com for details).
Jamie took the stage and totally rocked it like the star that she is. Also perfect timing for this poetry featured moment was the fact that Jamie recently started chemo treatment for a big battle against cancer. She got the news shortly before I asked her to perform this, a month or so ago, and she was such a trooper. We had our trademark Christmas lights for a background deal, but Jamie was a bright light that out-shined all of the decor we could muster.
Jamie did something really extraordinary. You won’t hear all of it on the recording below, but she set up quite the performance. First, she read from vintage newspaper clips and journals about her great-grandmother and the stories that she lived and shared to inspire Jamie. Then, Jamie played a recording of her great-grandmother re-telling some of these stories and characters and moments. Finally, she put the books down and did some heartfelt spoken word right from the heart. It was more than words and simply fascinating to witness from the crowd.
After Jamie took her just applause, I was fortunate to introduce another first of the evening. This show was the first time that I’d ever had a second-time musician on East Side Storytellin’. You see, I had featured Bill DeMain with his group Crackerboots as the last show in December 2012- see here http://eastsidestorytn.com/east-side-storytellin-4-jt-crackerboots-121812/), and now he was back with his all-time favorite band of Swan Dive with the partner of Molly Felder. These two, like Jamie on the poetry scene, have been making music together since the early 90’s around Nashville.
Over the past twenty years, Bill and Molly have constantly renewed their approach to music-making, adding fresh instrumental flavors and collaborators into the mix (such as with fellow East Side Storytellin’ alum David Mead- see here http://eastsidestorytn.com/3-is-definitely-a-magic-number-for-east-side-storytellin/), these two talented musicians always exude a heart full of hope with feelings of uplift and optimism, tempered with an undertow of melancholy.
Bill and Molly took to the stage like the pros they are and they also lit up the scene. At one point of the set, I attempted an experiment. I tried not to smile, and I found it impossible to do that while enjoying every song and note they played. Their stories , homage to Buddy Holly, and they way they mix creativity with their own realities and personal journeys were really something to experience firsthand. Every song made everyone in the crowd smile and tap their feet from their seats. It was such a good time.
And speaking of such a good time, I believe I’ve found my East Side Storytellin’ muse in that of Bill DeMain. With two musical guest appearances on the show, I’m pretty sure he’s going to be the equivalent of Steve Martin and/or Paul Simon as a multi-talented featured guest as soon as I can have him appear as his world-renowned pen name of Sterling Huck. During this show, Bill took a moment to read from his latest book that you can now only purchase online (hopefully we can get some in print at East Side Story soon enough) by the title of “The Return Of The Sterling Huck Letters.” You can listen to the recording below and get a taste of the brilliance and hilarity.
That said, after the music ended, before the lights when out and the drag bingo show began upstairs (never a dull moment at Mad donna’s on Tuesdays from here on out if I do say so myself), I took a second to talk with Bill, Molly, and Jamie altogether. We only spent a few minutes talking collectively, but overall it was a fun time to chat with a couple of people with such little ego and such immense talent. One thing you can always expect from an East Side Storytellin’ show, besides amazing music and prose, is that pretty much all of the guests that donate their time and talents are people that you’d want to hang out with and get to know more on a personal level. These are some of the most authentic and profound Nashvillians out there, trust me.
Before I give you the link for the recording, I’d love to share a round of THANK YOU’s to several people that helped make this event happen.
First, to my wife, Emily Frances Harper Beard (www.efharper.com), I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without your heart, help, and support … I can’t say that or that I loves you enough.
Two, to Tom Eizonas, for recording these shows and helping make everyone, especially me, sound great to everyone who comes to the shows and listens to the links afterwards. You always put a lot of heart and soul into the shows too.
To the people of Mad donna’s, thank you for giving us the perfect setting for the growth of this show. I foresee great things and events happening in the near future due to this new relationship.
To Jamie Zoe Givens, you are an inspiration (have I said that yet?). Your spoken word is always brilliant, your family story is one to admire, and you are always spot on. I can’t think of a better person to feature with poetry on this show and anywhere and any time in general. I’m so glad to call you friend. Stay strong and know you are never alone.
To Bill DeMain and Molly Felder (www.swandive.org), the honor was all mine. I know that sooner than later, that you will have just as much success in the US as you have overseas. Whether it is with your music, your writing, or just the awesome people that you are all the time, Nashville and me and everyone you work with is better for having been around your smiles, work ethic, talent, and optimism on life. THANK YOU for taking the time to make our lives happier.
Now before I go for now and prepare for the next East Side Storytellin’ show …
here is the hour long edited version of East Side Storytellin’ 21 that we recorded from this monumental evening. Enjoy, listen to it over and over as much as you like, and please be sure to share all of this and this link to any and everyone you know who appreciates Nashville and all of the creative talents that make this city so great right now. Thanks!
The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be …
Date- Tuesday, September 17th, 2013
Time- 7 pm sharp (Central)
Location- Mad donna’s (1313 Woodland Street)- http://maddonnas.com
Need information or details about Mad donna’s, call 615-226-1617. Otherwise it is first come, first available seats.
Who will be featured- Ben Burr (author of The Nashville Poems) and music by Tim Easton (www.timeaston.com).