East Side Storytellin’ 60: When Matthew Leavitt Brown and Dewveall took us to the river

60 group

Matthew Leavitt Brown, Dave Eastman, Chuck Beard, Jonathon Dewveall, and Tom Eizonas

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to the recap and recording for another epic collaboration with East Side Story and The Post that took place on Tuesday, May 19th, 2015. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the 60th spectacular edition of East Side Storytellin’! That’s right. I did not stutter. By my calculations, we are just a few shows shy of social security and growing and rolling like moss down a hill! Like the 59 previous shows East Side Story has put together, we’ve all decided to take a break from our busy schedules all over town in order to sit back and relax and get y’all cultured up just right in the form of a Nashville writer reading from original prose, followed by an amazing local musician performing and talking about their original music, and then a round-up creative conversation with all featured guests of this event to talk about their individual journeys and personal ties to Nashville. Without further ado, fulfilling the entertainment portion of your day, this is East Side Storytellin’ 60. Let us begin, again.

The first featured guest of this particular evening is a writer, activist, editor and educator. His work has been published by literary presses and journals across the United States. He has been a featured lecturer and performs readings in community arts forums and at academic conferences throughout North America and Europe. He currently teaches writing and literature at Middle Tennessee State University (go Blue Raiders!) and resides in Nashville, Tennessee. One half of the artists’ list behind the images, sounds, words, and action of the project called The River Sonnet, I was honored to be able to introduce some new friends to the art of Matthew Leavitt Brown.

Matthew made his way to the stage, walking past the table of extremely inspiring  photographs taken during The River Sonnet experience, and found his comfort level in front of a listening crowd on the edge of their seats and willing to take another literary trip with him. Before he got started on his actual work, he prefaced his words with a little background tale about the project and also about the history of the sonnet. Once again, like I do so many times during these East Side Storytellin’ shows, I felt enlightened by the newfound knowledge and experiences bestowed upon me and the rest of the crowd from the featured guests. Matthew talked about what called him to begin The River Sonnet with his brother-in-law, Justin Orlowski, and then he figuratively jumped right into that river again.

Matthew mentioned that a sonnet typically has 14 lines and that for his project he got greedy and ended up making 14 sections for his work. During the first part he shared, I was completely spellbound by the imagery of the fridge floating in the water and live along the banks. Matthew has a tone with his voice and the tempo of his writing that flows as naturally as the river he’s reporting on. It was very easy to sit back and float along the sections he shared. In between several sections, Matthew took a moment to set up the scenes and explain the why’s and where’s for everything. I particularly loved the moment when he explained the topic of “ruin porn” and trying  to record the accents and dialects of the people he and Justin interviewed and met but without making fun or coming across as trying to define the interviewees’ lives and worlds through the filters of the ones doing all of the questioning and recording. He made a cool notation about other people doing that to Nashville from time to time more frequently these days and how unfortunate that is for everyone involved. That said, Matthew finished off his set with a powerful poem and reflection on Da Da and shared a moment or two on the river he and the audience won’t soon forget.

The featured musician of the night is one of the best persons you’ll meet in Nashville = fact. I don’t typically like to see or talk to anyone before 6am, but one part of tonight’s band always seems to get me laughing and feeling better about life before sunrise when I see him at the Margaret Maddox East YMCA on the regular. Getting back to the music side of his life, the core members of his band are Houston, Texas natives. Like the Oilers, they moved here for a better life doing what they love. They are a unique blend of rock-n-roll and comfort blues, pouring out excellent lyrics and heartfelt melodies that will ring you to your core. Honestly, the only thing that is difficult about anything regarding this family band is learning how to spell their name when trying to find them on Facebook after you’ve seen them perform live for the first time. It’s pronounced like the actor, Robert Duvall, but spelled totally different. You can have them spell it out for you after you see them again in concert and you ask for their autographs. Again, I was completely honored to finally have the chance to introduce and welcome this guy and his one-night one-man band (with his counterpart babysitting their young child) to the East Side Storytellin’ family, I’m talking about being excited to have the chance to share a spotlight on the band Dewveall.

Jonathon began his set after making a side comment to me with slight hesitation saying, “How do I follow that up?” He recognized the powerful essence of Matthew’s poems and delivery, but I knew he needn’t worry too much because of the soul he was definitely going to bring and ring throughout The Post and beyond. Dewveall had already cleared out a small group of people who had not come to the show for anything other than a cup of Joe during sound check so he was ready to go whether he knew it fully or not. Standing solo, he belted out his first song, the title track from his record titled Word, and all ears and hearts were just as focused as they were when listening to the poems before the music began. Word was a perfect reflection of the transitions currently going on in all of East Nashville. You can hear a taste of it in the recording below, but trust me when I say that hearing Jonathon’s voice in person is transcendent like his song writing.

Fitting to the bill of the night, it was perfect that Jonathan shared a song with metaphors of a river and floating home in the middle of the set. I don’t plan these things, but life tends to make coincidences happen to remind us that everything is happening for a good reason. After the music ended, Jonathon told Matthew and me that he had another song that strongly related to the featured poems of the night, but hadn’t planned on including it so he forgot on the fly. What he didn’t forget was finishing with two epic Texas inspired rock opera-like songs that told fantastical stories of an imaginary world in The Wild Wild West. The latter of the two was described as a lullaby version of a tale for his two-year old daughter that involved vigilantes, love, death, and a whole lotta livin’. Take it from me, listen to the recordings below and take the trip for yourself before you jump to conclusions. My conclusion = it totally rocked!

Before I let these two guys leave The Post, I gathered them together one more time for them to share some personal stories about how they got to Nashville and began doing what they love to do. Despite coming from very different political territories, both of these artists shared a mutual passion for life, wanderlust, and appreciation for good people and great creativity. Both are leaders in their respected jobs and communities, wherever they call home. Basically, these are two fine young gentlemen who you are stellar fathers, good-hearted connectors between valiant causes, talented artists in their own rights, and both seem to have a bright future wherever the grand river of life leads them.

Special note, I did not get a picture of how red my face was nor did I pay Matthew one dollar to say the extremely nice things he mentioned at the beginning of the interview about East Side Story and all of the creative ventures we are trying to make happen in the Nashville creative community. I was blown away by the kindness on the spot, and I’m pretty sure my wife shed a tear or two from the back although I didn’t look out into the crowd to check. It was yet another very special evening in my life and I know that I wasn’t alone. It was truly an honor to share some time with these two featured artists of East Side Storytellin’ 60.


Now, whether you were in the crowd for the diamond show or not, here is your chance to listen to East Side Storytellin’ 60 that featured the poetry of Matthew Leavitt Brown and the songs by Dewveall. Please feel free to listen and share it with all you know who love the arts over and over again:


Before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for Matthew Leavitt Brown and Dewveall for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

You can read and watch the movie for more information on The River Sonnet and Matthew Leavitt Brown here- riversonnet.org

You can listen to more from Dewveall here- dewveall.com

You can listen to this show, edited, soon, alongside the previous shows too, on our website,www.eastsidestorytn.com, at our In Our Own Words Tab – see here – www.eastsidestorytn.com/in-our-own-words

I’d also like to show much love to Clay Brunton for the beautiful artwork online to promote the show tonight.

art by Clay Brunton

art by Clay Brunton

I’ll keep the gratitude going for Tom Eizonas, my lovely wife and most talented artist in Emily Harper Beard (efharper), and everyone that came out live to support the show … and to everyone who has helped continue to spread the word and support the show online afterwards.

Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to give one last shout out to Tonya and Chris for making The Post so welcoming and positively life-changing for the East Nashville community at large.

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be …

East Side Storytellin’ 61

Tuesday, June 2nd

7pm at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street)

reading- Buchanan Moncure (http://www.lostandfoundfiction.net)

singing-  Lance Whalen (www.lancewhalen.com)

That’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 60 and another fabulous event here at The Post with East Side Story at the helm. Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word and giving some love to all of these great Nashville artists and our creative ideas. Please remember to be nice to one another out there. Thanks and good day your way.

much love,


one more group shot before the road … or the river as it is

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