Beyond being that it was the 22nd East Side Storytellin’ show, the second show at Mad Donna’s, and the second show that featured a local poet, I knew ahead of time that it was going to be something special. Pretty much every show has some kind of coincidental connection that happens the night of the show that makes it truly something spontaneous and unplanned and amazing. This time it happened before the day of the show. You see, I book these shows with just the talent and nature of the featured guests in mind. Most times they don’t even know each other or have ever read or listened to any of the other’s stuff before the event. I have had one or two know each other, that being said. But, this was extra special in that regard because both of these guests were the first people from Ohio that either one had met after they moved to East Nashville! I didn’t plan that at all ahead of time. After finding that fact out, and seeing the smiles on both of the featured guests’ faces when finding out about the other sharing the stage and the evening in public, I had no doubt this show would be perfect (as perfect as perfect can be).
Also before the show began, before I made it to the venue, I found out that a legend had passed away. Mr. Bill Barry, founder of WAMB radio and countless other radio stations, passed away from natural causes. After being a beacon for WAMB, big band music, and so many people in the music business, I had a moment of silence and respect for such an innovative, brilliant, generous, and respected man by so many in Music City. Bill Barry was one of a kind, will be missed, and I feel fortunate to have gotten the chance to meet him and help bring a quality program to his most influential radio station for a time being.
I was really REALLY excited to once again have the chance to introduce one of my absolute favorite poets in town and anywhere around. As mentioned, he hailed from Ohio. What you may not know is that he is one of the hardest working people at one of the finest Mexican hot spots in town in that of Mas Tacos. By night, he is one half of the most excellent creative couple that perform as Panama Reds Arts (mixing dance and prose most often, among other things), and he also spends a lot of time piecing together some of the most prolific poetry this side of the Mississippi. He is the author of 3 books, so far, all sold at East Side Story, called The Nashville Poems, feeling nuthin but stoned, and the latest being jesus christ for now maybe satan later. His name, if you didn’t already Google it by now or see him live, is Ben Burr.
I love introducing Ben as a person who has a stage presence like Barry White and words and thoughts that are simple and profound like Hemingway because that is just how I see him when performing. I was never one big into poetry for the longest time. I was raised on “Roses are red” kind of bull, but it honestly wasn’t until I heard Ben’s work and especially the one called “rural america” when I finally started to really click with poetry and what it’s truly about. I’ll take this time to thank Ben. Thank you, Ben.
Ben is a gregarious performer. He mixes a deep voice with humor and honesty to a point that it entrances everyone in the crowd to listen and think hard about every word he says. It all sounds great, and it all went as good as ever once Ben got up in front of everyone and started at his own pace. For about 15 minutes, Ben went through several poems from a variety of his books, and didn’t stop until the last page he had marked. Side note, because this was for radio and there were a few kids in the crowd, Ben didn’t read some of his more lyrical poems on this evening. Even without those different adjectives and catch phrases, it was all brilliant.
As soon as Ben sat down, I stood up and got to say a few things about the music of the night. A mutual friend and fan of Ben Burr, this guy has made quite a name for himself with his own words and music. I loved that this show was going on the same week as the Americana Music Week here in town because this guy fits that bill to a T. He had been in bands before, like Kosher Spears, The Haynes Boys, and Easton, Stagger, Phillips, but he was sort of solo alongside his talented friend and collaborator Megan Palmer on the violin for this show. Fresh off his most recent release of his album called “Not Cool,” this guy and his music are anything but not cool. Yes sir, I’m talking about the music of the evening in that of Tim Easton.
Tim got up and said some nice things about the crowd, the evening in general, and the absolute admiration and inspiration that Ben Burr has given him in his own creative journey because of the way Ben spits out so much quality without fear or fuss. Truth be told, the same is probably said from Ben towards Tim as well. Again, it was just that kind of magical match and night.
The weather held off just right and Tim kicked it off with one word that we had to edit with an organ sound before he hit his stride. Actually, he hit his stride right from the first note, but you understand what I mean. Tim and Megan were, for a lack of better words, perfect. I sat back, relaxed, and took it all in. The stories were heartfelt, the music was as easy to listen to and appreciate as the cool fall breeze that blew in the patio area, and the combination of everything that Megan and Tim brought to the stage was simply impeccable. From start to finish, these two were on the same page and sharing a tremendous story our way. Several of the people that came from across the river and from out of town said it was one of the best shows they had seen in quite some time. I think that pretty much says it all.
After the music, I talked with the guests for a minute or two. Ben brought the comedy while Tim and Megan followed suit. It was a delightful conversation about their similar journeys from Ohio to Nashville, and yet they both had their individual paths they had to take to get to where they are today. Everyone, just like everyone who came to this show, was better now for it. While shutting down and loading up the stage after the fact, I couldn’t help but smile and feel very satisfied from all of the positivity surrounding this particular night and group of people that came together. It was, for a lack of better words if there are any, perfect.
Before I get to the recording of the show to share your way, I’d like to give a quick set of THANK YOU’s to a few people who helped make East Side Storytellin’ happen.
-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.
-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.
-Alex Smith, for creating a one-of-a-kind print of artwork to represent such a one-of-a-kind show, idea, and platform for such amazing local artists.
-Ben Burr, for sharing your words, thoughts, and mad-poet skills. Your work always forces me, pleasantly, to view my world from a different angle than before, and I appreciate that very much. You are just getting started, are already so talented and inspiring to others, and I look forward to watching your poems and prose grow beyond Nashville and Ohio.
- Tim Easton (and Megan Palmer), for taking time out of your busy tour and regular lives to give our show the time of day (and night). Your songs hit everyone to the core, had people tapping their feet in their seats, and made everyone feel better about themselves via your art. Can it get any better than that? Oh, and thank you for putting to melody that feeling everyone in East Nashville has dealt with in terms of the Gallatin Pike Blues. As always, well played, good people!
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.
Here is the edited (one-hour) recording of East Side Storytellin’ 22, featuring Ben Burr and Tim Easton (& Megan Palmer too). Feel free to enjoy and share with everyone and your mom too!
The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be …
Date- Tuesday, October 1st, 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- painter Jonathan Richter and poet DKM (authors of Subjects with Objects – www.rabbitroom.com/2013/070rr-interview-subjects-with-objects-co-author-dkm/) and music by Bulb (www.reverbnation.com/bulbthemusic).