Ali Sperry

Kristin Weber, Carter F. Smith, Tom Eizonas, Ali Sperry, and Chuck Beard

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the recap and recording of the 117th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 116, I repeat … 116, previous shows East Side Story has put together, we all decided to take a break from our busy schedules all over town in order to sit back and relax and get everyone 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 the recap and recording of East Side Storytellin’ 117. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night is someone who teaches criminal justice at MTSU (Go Blue Raiders!). He was in the US Army CID for over 22 years, serving 15 of those at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he and a loosely-organized group of investigators identified the growing gang problem in the early 1990’s. After the Army, he got a law degree and PhD. so you know we’re dealing with another slacker artist again, to be clear. He is a founding and still serving board member of the TN Gang Investigators Association and is a 3-time recipient of an award named for sociologists Frederic Milton Thrasher awarded by the National Gang Crime Research Center. You may recognize him from his appearances in the History Channel’s Gangland series, and you may be seeing him for the first time. Either way, it will be a pleasure. I’m talking about the extremely smart, kind, and talented Dr. Carter F. Smith.

Carter came prepared. He had a special event where he did a talk about his book a few days before East Side Storytellin’ and another one the day after. He had his notes, book, and photos to share with everyone present. Like I said, Carter was ready.

b/w photo of Monk Eastman

Carter jumped into his talk by giving the audience facts and proper context behind his research of gangs in the US military. He couldn’t have gone straight into the excerpts from his book, but he wanted us to get a clear picture of what is going on and how serious the matter is to our civilization as a whole going forward. That said, the historical context and figures he decided to talk more in depth about were truly fascinating to hear about. I knew a few of the figures, but the more unknown the characters were for me, the more impact they had had with the history of our country. I know there is at least two more book projects, whether Carter knows now or not, that he could squeeze out of these lemons.

After Carter set the scene of his book, he dove right in. He shared a few highlighted interviews he did while putting the book concept together and also while going down the wormhole of our criminal justice system and dangerous gangs located throughout our country. I instantly heard the back and forth dialogue as an old time radio show, and told this idea to Carter later for further tread on this book’s tire. Point being, I feel like Carter is only on the tip of the iceberg of this story and, although he’s done a fantastic job with absolutely everything he’s produced and shared so far, I’m hooked to hear more. You can take a listen to Carter on the recording below to hear just how on point he is with his research, writing, and delivery on this important topic.

Then, it was time for our featured music of the night. Our headlining musical guest is a Nashville-based indie artist whose songs are undeniably rooted in folk music, simple and true. Originally from Iowa and two musician parents who encouraged her to sing and create music from the time she could speak, her musical education was taught by Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon, among others. She moved through Syracuse University and around Chicago before being pulled to Nashville via an all-girl band called Sweetwater Rose. I know we’ll speak more about that and everything else musical and life related later, but let’s not waste any more time than we have and get this girl to sing these amazing original songs while we have her here to ourselves. Fresh off of her 2017 release of “Crooked Feelings,” her third record so far, and joined on stage by her tremendously talented friend on the fiddle, Kristin Weber, I was super excited to finally introduce the one, the only, Ali Sperry.

Ali jumped right into her song “Crooked Feelings” off the newest album. I was instantly pulled in by the lyrics “treason if you won’t fight the war” and “I quit for love!” and “I’m gonna be alright.” I thought it was the perfect transition from the dark side of life and current events explained by Carter’s work into a much more comforting and hopeful future prompted by Ali’s words, melodies, and style. I said it a few times to Tom during the performance, but Ali reminded me of a folkish version of Julie Andrew’s Mary Poppins. She was serving up the spoonfuls of sugar and it was helping us digest the real life medicine that already went down with Carter. I was feeling alive and okay.

Ali and Kristin were side by side on every note and harmony they dished to us. From the way they told the crowd to “Look at Me” with the lyric of “nobody loves you half as much as me” and “Pay attention.”, they had the entire room spellbound and in the palms of their hands. We even had two toddlers in the crowd who were recording the performance for future notes. It was very inspiring, to say the least.

Ali and Kristin ran through a solid handful of originals, from the inspiring song on hills about journeys going forward, to fictional tales and characters who Ali hopes is really real and happening somewhere in the world today, and finally wrapping up with some sad tunes and tributes to fallen friends and muses. One of the coolest moments of then night, for me, was when Ali and Kristin finished the set by covering Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ song Breakdown. You can hear it in the recording below, along with the rest of the set, but I will say that I thought it was perfect, timing and performance.

After the Tom Petty tribute ended, I was gifted with the chance to talk more about creative journeys and life passions with Ali and Carter. Both were as energetic and honest and positive as I’ve seen any duo of guests in all my time, and that says a lot since pretty much everyone I’ve had the chance to speak with is energetic, honest, and positive. You’ll hear it all in the recoding below, so I’ll save you from reading too much of my rambling post-show.

So here it is, the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 117, the night we featured the likes of Carter F. Smith, Ali Sperry, and Kristin Weber at The Post East on Tuesday, October 17th, 2017 at 1701 Fatherland. I’m no Yoko Ono, but I was not disappointed with a magical experience with all of these people and numbers aligning with the stars. Feel free to listen to this link and share it with all of your friends over and over again. Thank you.

Before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for Carter & Ali (and Kristin) for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

You can read more of Carter’s writing here – www.gangsandthemilitary.com

You can listen to more of Ali’s music here – alisperry.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’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.

Our next show will be

East Side Storytellin’ 118, the 5th anniversary show

Tuesday, November 7th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Dana Malone

singing- Solar Twin

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 117 and another fabulous event 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.

Much love,

mE

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RJ Bracchitta, Abigail Flowers, Tom Eizonas, James Collins, and Chuck Beard

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the recap and recording 116th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 115, I repeat … 115, previous shows East Side Story has put together, we all decided to take a break from our busy schedules all over town in order to sit back and relax and get everyone 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 the recap and recording of East Side Storytellin’ 116. Let us begin, again.

Our first featured artist of the evening is a published poet who has earned a wide variety of writing credits that include plays, musicals, book adaptations for theater, national advertising copy and articles for the St. Petersburg Times and other publications. He has also written non-violent curriculum for schools. He taught creative writing for 6 years for 2 Art Councils in Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida. Since moving to Nashville, he has written and published 5 books for children, as well as 3 books of poetry…such a slacker. On this given night, we were honored to have him share some new, fresh off the kitchen counter, original work with us. I’m talking about the always refreshing and talented James Collins.

James kicked off his set by announcing to the crowd that he is weird, his words are weird, and this reading was going to be weird, all while shuffling through his prepared work that he had continuously edited and prepared up until the last second. Some of the poems had lines through the title, and those lines were put there mere minutes before the show started. That’s how fresh this material was. I told James during the pre-show that sharing creative work that nobody has ever heard or seen before typically gets an astute audience even further on the edge of their seats. This is exactly what happened as James began to deliver his “weird” poetry.

But the thing about it was that none of the poetry or reading was weird at all. James knew exactly where he was going and how he wanted to take us with him, as we walked hand in hand with his poetic walk in the park. And this walk took us places such as trying to find love, natural love, hidden treasures while making journeys through men’s work from the head to the heart, and then several poems about the art of aging. Despite the comedic, self-defecating comments about James aging more than most in the crowd (obviously, like the laws of gravity, we are all aging at the same rate in this room), I think the aging content and ideas behind our various processes of accepting our everyday age increase were spot on and absolutely brilliant. Then, after nearly dropping the mic with a poem about the recent eclipse experience, James ended with a cure and a remedy speech as his official/unofficial encore (as demanded by the crowd). There are so many great lines that I took note of during James’ set, but the overall adventure between birth and death was at the heart of it all … it always is.

Our featured music of the night was provided by someone who was making the third time a featured charm since she had already shared the East Side Storytellin’ stage as a friend to Ally Brown and Kira Hooks. She is a versatile vocalist with a passion for great melodies. Since picking up her first ukulele in 2011, she has been busy combining her smooth vocal tone with the instrument’s simple sound to produce an intimate and emotional musical experience you will soon behold. But on this particular event, she left the trusted ukulele at home and instead brought her trusted and talented friend RJ Bracchitta on the guitar. But back to the featured musician. She is a vocalist and songwriter with specialties in jazz, Latin, and singer-songwriter styles. And she has a heart and voice of gold. I’m talking about the bright star on the meteoric rise named Abigail Flowers.

Abigail, who came straight to the show from a church choir practice, immediately brought us good karma, good stories, and a great lead song called “Bobby.” She told a short story behind the song. It was about a homeless man/friend she met while doing social work for a year in the Houston area. It was a journey of questions about life, heaven, and everything in between. It was clear that her time in Houston had been a profound experience because she went into another original song about other long-distance friendships from that time right after Bobby.

From Houston to family inspired songs, Abigail opened her heart and her vocals by sharing the sweetest 60th anniversary gift any granddaughter has ever made and given to their grandparents. As is the case in most of these recaps, I can’t fully give the story or song justice more than you taking time to check it out yourself in the recording below, but know that there were quite a few eyes in the crowd that needed tissues = happy tears, of course. But then, switching from family to relationships with boys who love Hanson, Abigail and RJ revved up the rhythm and soon began playing harmonies off of each other like a dance. They ended the set with a song called “Enough.” It was a beautiful reminder that there’s nothing out there when you’re searching for the wrong things, but there’s more than enough in the world when you are searching for the good stuff. And she sang that we get more things by giving it all away. I couldn’t have said or sang it better on this given day.

From the music ending, I let RJ jump back into the audience while asking James to return to the stage. Then Abigail and James took me on a quite the conversation about their creative upbringings, adversities, support and lack there of, and honestly articulating what makes them tick each time they go to write new material. They have a few years and different insights between them, but there was a similar passion for finding and sharing the truths they find to be self-evident in their stories. It was an absolute pleasure to share some quality time together while talking with these two humble and great artists.

So here it is, the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 116, the show where we featured James Collins and Abigail Flowers (with RJ Bracchitta) at The Post East on Tuesday, October 3, 2017. Feel free to enjoy and share it with everyone you know, over and over again.

Before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for James & Abigail for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

You can listen to more of Abigail’s music here – www.abigailflowersmusic.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 WordsTab – see here – www.eastsidestorytn.com/in-our-own-words

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.

Our next show will be

East Side Storytellin’ 117

Tuesday, October 17th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Carter F. Smith

singing- Ali Sperry

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 116 and another fabulous event 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.

Much love,

mE

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