East Side Storytellin’ 28: Where Mark Sloniker and The Mary Nails made magic and Christmas miracles happen!

Marc Stowe, Scott Douglass, Dawn Freeman, Kat Martin Ray, Chuck Beard, Mark Sloniker, Tom Eizonas photo credit: John Brassil

Marc Stowe, Scott Douglass, Dawn Freeman, Kat Martin Ray, Chuck Beard, Mark Sloniker, Tom Eizonas
photo credit: John Brassil

Hello, good morning, afternoon, and/or evening, and WELCOME to the 28th edition of East Side Storytellin’ – or what I’d like to refer to as my first ever REAL Christmas miracle experience that I knew I would be blessed to witness before it actually happened before my eyes.  Right NOW, like 27 before, you will hear a Nashville author reading from original prose, a local musical act that will enlighten your day with original songs, and then an entertaining, casual, creative conversation to close the show just right with everyone featured this round.

First on my Christmas list, I thought it would be appropriate to shine a light and give proper attention to an author, visual artist, and person like none other you’ve ever met.  He often spends the  majority of his time and talents during the day building puppets and managing fantastical projects for major theme parks and ideas all over the world.  When he clocks out of Animax Designs, he tends to build stories and manages dream-like projects for books, gifts, and just for fun to make Kyle and others happier because he can.  Born in rural Wisconsin, this artist is one of the most kind-hearted, giving, and talented people I know.  You can read more about his work in every medium imaginative at www.godlovesmenaked.com.  Author and creator of countless original works to date, notably the two sold at East Side Story called “At Home in Your Heart” and the recently published “Search for the Sugar Puff Hollow,”  I’m talking about the one and only Mark Sloniker!

Mark, very nervous before taking the stage for his first big public reading of his work, took to the spotlight like a moth to a fire.  He dove right in, and the nervousness wasn’t noticed by anyone.  Even when we experienced some technical difficulties due to running more than one sound board and a few other glitches unforeseen, Mark handled the awkward silences, the waiting for the sound to reappear, and the packed house in the crowd before him as if he was relaxed and sitting in his living room with a glass of good wine.  When the sound turned back on, so did Mark.  He read from one of his other-worldly stories, and everyone in the crowd was giving him all of his attention.  Come to think of it, I took a look around at the others in the crowd and it felt like everyone was leaning on the edge of their seats to catch every word that Mark was sharing.  The story, like Mark, was awesome.  Before most even finished their first drinks, the reading was finished.  Lucky for everyone present, the night was was beginning.

After Mark left the stage, the musicians of the night took to their planned positions.  You see, this band was not like any others before either.  I couldn’t just introduce them with them standing behind me.  These professionals had intro music.  Wait, let me tell you a little more about the special guests playing music on this show (in case you didn’t already know).

You must understand, for starters, that pretty much everyone at Mad Donna’s on Tuesday, December 17th, had been waiting all day, all week, hell … we had all been waiting years for this musical act to bring the sounds, energy, and love back to East Nashville.  I remember it like it was yesterday, just up over the Woodland Street hill, directly beside Art & Invention Gallery, what would later become the future site of East Side Story in fact, it was Saturday, August 14th, 2010.  Since that day and final show for this group until this magical night in December, I think I’m not the only person living in East Nashville that can honestly say that they’ve never been quite the same.  Sparing more rambling words here, and giving all the time to the band of the night, the week, the century … Some have said that this group is the main reason for the hit show Nashville on ABC.  Still others have said that they are the reason why the TN Titans have lost the will to win because they don’t want to live and play in a world without these people making music.  I say, and I’m not alone, that these people reuniting for this show … simply put, it was a Christmas miracle.  I’m pretty sure I saw some happy tears in the crowd when introducing everyone’s favorite East Nashville band … ever.  You wanted the best … you got the best.  We all got The Mary Nails!

It was like a dream come true.  The Mary Nails jumped up on stage, and aside from another minor technical glitch that was solved before anything major happened, and it was just like old times.  You never forget how happy The Mary Nails make me and others smile and feel, but this show just reminded me of how fortunate we are to be blessed with so many good-hearted, talented, and fun-loving people such as Kat, Marc, Scott, and Dawn.  They are so musically gifted and they use their talents to make others laugh, dance, and be happy.  In the end, what more is there?

photo credit: John Brassil

photo credit: John Brassil

The Mary Nails jammed through a set for the ages, back to back to back songs from start to finish.  Again, I looked around the crowd and loved everything I saw.  One of my friends who had never seen The Mary Nails was singing along and laughing at the same time.  My lovely wife, one of a handful of the biggest fans in the room, couldn’t breathe because she was laughing and loving the set so hard.  Words really can’t express the joy that was exchanged from and to the stage this night.  There’s something to be said about art that is so pure, so fun, so honest, and so right that you can’t honestly find the words to explain it.  You just had to be there.

I’m not sure if The Mary Nails will make a comeback or have more shows with back to back to back songs like the setlist for East Side Storytellin’ 28, but we can all pray they will.  After The Mary Nails finished their music, I had Mark and the gang back up on stage to talk about how they all came to Nashville and do all of the wonderful things all of these featured artists do, on and off the stages they take.  It was a great time to talk about the people behind the art, and you can enjoy the conversation, along with all of the music and the reading too, in the link below.  In fact, you can listen to the edited, 1-hour version of East Side Storytellin’ 28 over and over again and share it with others you think would love to hear about it too.

Here is the link for East Side Storytellin’ 28:


As I mentioned at the end of the creative conversation in the recording above, this show was dedicated to Kat Martin Ray’s brother, Mac Martin.  Mac had passed away 2 years to the day of this amazing reunion, Christmas miracle show, and although I never had the chance to meet him in person, I can’t help but think he was a major reason for all of the fun and love that came together to make this very special Christmas East Side Storytellin’ 28 even come to reality.  Thanks, Mac!

I’d also like to thank a few others one more time for making this Christmas miracle a reality.  Please give another round of applause (at your computer and in your hearts) for Mark Sloniker and The Mary Nails (Dawn Freeman, Kat Martin Ray, Marc Stowe, and Scottie Douglas).  Also, I’d love to thank Tom Eizonas for doing the recording and edits for this show, like all the others you can hear on our eastsidestorytn.com and www.facebook.com/eastsidestorytn.  A big shout out to artist Clay Brunton, who made this epic art poster for this evening, to my lovely bride (Emily Frances Harper Beard) for always having my side on both sides, and for everyone who came out to make tonight extra special.

art by Clay Brunton

art by Clay Brunton

That is the end of this show, this year of East Side Storytellin’, and happy holidays to one and all.  Until we do this again, be nice to one another and thank you for being a part of our journey.  Thank you and good night.

This is the last show of 2013, but it is just the beginning, as always.

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be …

Date- Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

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- words by author Carson Mortonwww.carsonmorton.com and music for the besets holiday party this side of the universe by Allie Farriswww.alliefarris.com

And here is another link with more specific information about East Side Storytellin’ 29 to share with friends, one and all!  Thanks!


**Special note- East Side Storytellin’ 29 will be the ONLY East Side Storytellin’ show in January of 2014.  We will resume the East Side Storytellin’ shows, as usual, on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of February and every month there after.  Thanks for your continued support into 2014 and beyond!

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