It was one year ago, on Tuesday, November 6th, on a cold, rainy election night when we started making this cool idea into a reality. It seemed like and continues to seem like an obvious, perfect combination of inviting local authors to read from and describe their printed work, showcasing local musicians that perform and tell the stories behind their original songs, and then having them talk together about their adventures via Nashville. On that first fateful night last year, the author, Ann Shayne, was caught in traffic and running late. The music, The Smoking Flowers, did a take or two extra on one of their songs. Tom and I worked together on the fly for the first time, setting up the make-shift stage the best way we knew how. And I sat in a shorter chair than the guests while looking up to everyone, talking about their creative journeys up to that point. Everyone that was present loved the format, the energy, and the night. In the beginning, it was a beautiful mess.
Starting over at Rumours East, then moving to Fat Bottom Brewing Co a few months later, and now calling our home Mad Donna’s for the time being, the core format for the show has pretty much stayed the same. That said: we have had the extreme honor and pleasure to spend time with and promote some of the finest writers and musicians that call Nashville home. It has truly been an extraordinary ride and I know everyone says it, but I honestly can’t believe it’s already been a year in the making. I’d like for anyone reading this here to give a collective round of applause at your computer for the artists that have made 24 previous shows possible. With your continued support and passion for keeping this idea alive, I foresee a lot more East Side Storytellin’ shows in the future.
Keeping in our beautiful mess, learning as we go and grow approach, and featuring the best of what’s around, it was an extra special something in the air at Mad Donna’s on Tuesday, November 5th, 2013, when we helped East Side Storytellin’ turn 25. Our show that evening was definitely going to be one for the history books from the get go. That night, again emphasizing the pinnacle of local origins, I decided to go with another unique theme. In my opinion, whether it’s from the inside out or the outside looking in, nothing says Nashville over the long haul quite like Vanderbilt University. Vanderbilt was in full effect because the author was published via Vanderbilt University Press and the music was provided by two alumni. But, as always, I let the talent of the evening and their art reveal their authentic connections beyond labels.
The 1st anniversary featured author brought a powerful and poignant work to the show that was serendipitous with its election night topic. A most-talented scribe who campaigned for Lamar Alexander in 1978, later worked as Alexander’s speechwriter, and who was a political operative and a former reporter for The Tennessean, he is well versed in the topic he chose to write about. He is also president and founder of The Strategy Group- a public affairs consulting business established in Nashville in 1993. He has consulted with the likes of The Ingram Group, BellSouth, Vanderbilt University, and The Frist Foundation. Basically, he knows and has worked with some pretty influential people in this city to say the least. The bio credentials could go on for days, but I’ll let the recording below of our featured author speak for himself. Ladies and gentlemen, I was not the only one in the room super excited to listen to the author of Coup and much, much more … Mr. Keel Hunt!
Keel took to the stage like the pro he is when speaking in front of people. I couldn’t help but reminisce about one of our alumnus authors in that of Bill Friskics-Warren and his reading from his book I’ll Take You There back in East Side Storytellin’ 3 when I first heard Keel begin his lecture. It’s fairly obvious to me that when both Bill and Keel are speaking about their books, they are instantly smarter than I’ll ever be. In fact, they aren’t just smarter, I feel like I’m getting smarter by simply listening to them speak so passionately and eloquently. Suddenly, I feel like I’m back in college, sitting in a classroom, with a professor that I was very lucky to get into their classroom at all because everyone wants to take their class. It’s true. What ended up being about a twenty minute talk by Keel could have easily have turned into an hour or two more and I don’t think anyone in the room (besides Tom recording and thinking about editing afterwards and possibly the drag queen bingo peeps waiting in the wings after the show) would have minded at all. It was a beautiful lesson of local politics and history, and I for one can’t wait to read the book he mentions below.
Then, after Keel was finished with a few personal anecdotes, it was time for the music. This night’s featured music was a very special returning guest with a guest. As a complimentary musician with really cool shoes and even cooler sounds, he played guitar alongside James Haggarty (Haggs) to support his friend and the amazingly talented musician Tommy Keenum over at Fat Bottom Brewing Co. for the highly successful East Side Storytellin’ #19 on August 6th, this past year. And speaking of lending his creative craft to help showcase other names you may already know, this guy has played with the likes of Emerson Hart of Tonic, Bo Bice of American Idol fame, Jo Dee Mesina, and also another East Side Storytellin’ alum that is better than all the names I just listed by a mile in that of David Mead (ironically, the featured musician alongside aforementioned Bill Friskics-Warren, full circle right on). From time to time, this guy also plays with a band called Modern West- a band led by the famous actor Kevin Costner. Back at home, he is one-half of the extraordinary musically-inclined married couple beside his better half of Sara Beck (who was present on stage with him this evening), and he was more than ready to share what was currently on his heart and mind for everyone present. I was over the moon excited to have the opportunity to introduce and sit front row and listen to the talented Sir Park Chisolm!!
Park and Sara took to the stage like the pros they are because that’s what they do too. They write original songs and play them like it’s nobody’s business. Gosh, we were lucky to hear them play. Park, normally letting other people sing his songs, took a personal trip right in front of us to revisit some old songs and finally play out some that he hadn’t done in public in quite some time. Although Park was a little hesitant at first about telling stories before the show because he never really had done that, he opened up in between songs telling the most fascinating background details of personal stories, collaborations with other major artists, and explaining his processes for each song he performed. It was truly something special. And with a song or two being a contribution to the tv series about the Hatfields and the McCoys that aired not too long ago, it was great for me and a few others in the crowd who had watched the series to witness the personal twist and talent that Park and Sara had put forth to make a great project even better because it had them in it. Bottom line, hearing and seeing both of these two perform together was a wonderful treat for all fortunate to be there in person. I highly suggest you get out and catch them when they perform again.
After the crowd applauded the music and Sara left the stage, it gave me the opportunity to ask Park about how he met his bride back in the day and decided to call Nashville home. I served he and Keel questions on the spot about their personal ties to Nashville and why they continue to make amazing art in and for their creative community, and they both knocked out their answers out of the ball park with ease. In fact, one of the questions, and I’ll let you listen below, even impressed Keel (yep, I had a moment and felt smart for a second too). That said, it was an absolute honor to share the stage with these artists that helped make the 1 year anniversary celebration for this ongoing idea called East Side Storytellin’ so spectacularly special and near and dear to my heart (and I think others too).
You can listen to the edited version of East Side Storytellin’ 25 right here (and share it with others all over too if you so choose):
Also, before I say many thanks to a few people, I’d like to give you another amazing gift for visiting this page. Tom Eizonas & Dave Eastman, as a surprise gift to mE (Chuck Beard), put together this very special compilation of one song from pretty much each show from the first year of East Side Storytellin’. Now I give this compilation (cd’s 1 & 2 combined) to you to enjoy and share and spread the word about every show in the past and future.
Now, for my special 1 year anniversary THANKS!!!
I can’t say enough words of thanks for all the people and guests that have made East Side Storytellin’ possible for a year and going, but here are a few names that come to mind. Adam Binder, Ali Foley & the Rumours East family, Chris Haston and the Fat Bottom Brewing Co., Everyone that worked at and made WAMB Radio so special. Dave Eastman for introducing me to WAMB and Tom Eizonas. My good friends Alex Smith and Clay Brunton for making artwork for pretty much every show we’ve had so far. Tom Eizonas, for rolling with the punches, always being solid and dependable, and for making me and the show sound professional. You’re the best sound man/recording-editing guy around, and a killer guitar player too! To my wife, Emily Frances Harper Beard (efharper.com) for always supporting me with the good ideas and telling me when the others are bad. I loves you more than words. And thanks to everyone who came to any of the shows, once or more than 20 times. Last but not least, thanks so much for all of the musicians and authors that have taken time out of their busy schedules to donate their art to this idea. There would be no show with y’all. And with that I’d like to have you give (at your computer, mind you) another round of applause for anniversary guests in Keel Hunt and Park Chisolm (and Sara Beck).
With one birthday under our belt, I’d like to invite you to the next East Side Storytellin’, #26, at Mad Donna’s (1313 Woodland Street) on Tuesday, November 19th, at 7pm, with the Black Bird Can Write poet Nicole Branigan- www.blackbirdcanwrite.com– and musician Kim Logan- www.kimlogan.net. Until then, have a great life and be nice to one another. Thanks again for helping make this and every show we do possible. Good night and be nice to one another in YOUR beautiful mess.