Allie Farris

Eric Reed, Ariel Lawhon, Shannon Marie Smith, Lucas Leigh, Korby Lenker, Jennifer Anderson, Tom Eizonas, and Chuck Beard

Eric Reed, Ariel Lawhon, Shannon Marie Smith, Lucas Leigh, Korby Lenker, Jennifer Anderson, Tom Eizonas, and Chuck Beard

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU and hello again! Welcome to another recap and recording of quite the monumental event at Riverwood Mansion that went down on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015. With Unbound Arts at the helm of another beautifully planned evening, let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly remind you that we celebrated the 54th spectacular edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 53 previous shows East Side Story has put together, we all arrived at Riverwood Mansion to 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, this is East Side Storytellin’ 54. Let us begin, again.

Wait, before I talk about how the event started, I should remind you that the guests knew what their pre-ordered tickets got them on top of another killer East Side Storytellin’ show. Everyone arrived with smiles beaming and knowing they had the chance to meander around the mansion and experience a wonderful, historical trip through a house like few others near or far. Riverwood Mansion, if you haven’t seen it in person, is a treat to enjoy.

And speaking of treats, one of the coolest things we did for this epic series of events on Welcome Lane (so appropriately titled) was to involve a Riverwood Mansion chef, Eric Reed, to create something very special for the night. He had contacted the featured guests before the show and planned a 4-course meal to add to the mix. Eric greeted the packed and seated crowd with pleasantries. Then, without skipping a beat, he described the food and its inspiration in the order that it would be served.

1.
Andouille
Crustini
Creole Aioli
Carter Creek Greens Micro Carrot
2.
Field Greens
Cuban Bean Purée
Sugar Cane Vinaigrette
3.
Smoked Pork Loin
Pommes Pavé
Caramelized Red Onion
Avocado Crema
4.
Profiterole
Chocolate Ganache

(You’re mouth may be watering as you read right now. If not, listen to it from the chef’s mouth again here- https://soundcloud.com/eastsidestorytn/east-side-storytellin-54-7)

Our photographer, who usually takes a picture of all of the courses, ate the rest before taking said picture this time. It was THAT good!

Our photographer, who usually takes a picture of all of the courses, ate the rest before taking said picture this time. It was THAT good!

When the plates hit the table, East Side Storytellin’ 54 began. Here it is, for you to remember and plan ahead for the next.

The first featured guest of the evening was a woman who lives and breathes stories every day of her life. She is the co-founder of the wildly popular online book club called She Reads (http://www.shereads.org). She is a successful novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside of Nashville with her loving husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her debut novel was published by Doubleday and is called The Wife The Maid And The Mistress. She believes that a good story is the shortest distance to the human heart. The excited crowd gave this featured artist a huge heartfelt and much deserved round of applause. Her name? Well, since I was honored to introduce her for this event, I’ll do it again … it is the one and only Ariel Lawhon!

Ariel took to the stage with book and water in tow (actually, I served up the water while pulling off more than the average host, gladly) and she was right at home in the lovely mansion with attentive and gracious people looking back at her. Before she jumped into a quality excerpt of her book, she first wowed the audience with the backstory of how the book came to be. It was the crossroads of yet another story where fact met fiction and a talented writer heard a story worth working on in her own head and creating for other interested parties to imagine what happened in a true-life mystery for the ages. As always, I’ll let the recording below with the reading and talks serve its purpose and clear the air of any further mystery I would inevitably dilute Ariel’s masterpiece with, but she built up the origin of her book and the mystery behind the original story and how it all unfolded off the page in a way that would make every crime show writer on television be a wee bit jealous. I should know. My wife watches a ton of those shows.

That said, Ariel finished off her talks with a reading of the beginning of her book. It was a perfect teaser for everyone in attendance to get excited about purchasing the book at East Side Story after the fact. Ariel was a tremendous reader, and her passion for stories in general was glowing from the stage through her words and delivery. It was quite the start of the show.

And, before you knew what hit you, it was time for the musical portion of the show. The featured musician of the night was also a talented author, but this night we were all about his musical talents. He has opened for the likes of Willie Nelson, Nickel Creek, Keith Urban, and Tristan Prettyman to name a few. He is a past winner of the Merlefest folk songwriting contest as well as the Kerrville Folk Festival’s elite New Folk songwriting competition. Lucky for anyone wanting to contest him this particular evening, I was happy to say that he had no competition in sight. Author of the book titled Medium Hero And Other Stories (which you can purchase at East Side Story as well), joined by his amazingly talented and dear friend Lucas Leigh, the festive crowd gave a big round of applause and appropriate Nashville homecoming fresh off of Korby Lenker’s Winter 2015 Pacific Northwest Mostly Tour for the man himself, Sir Korby Lenker.

Korby and Lucas were like peanut butter and jelly. Seriously, they combined melodies into a funk, folk, history meets the future of stories and sounds while everyone in the room was completely present. I couldn’t hear a fork or knife drop one. From the get-go, with the Ah-Oh song, to the deep and breezy April May tune a few songs later, it was as mesmerizing as the mansion itself. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, Korby told a story about one of the books that really rocked his world about Sitting Bull and followed that up with not only a history lesson worthy of a cool college professor but also with a song that cut to the core of the meaning of our society and life in general for every being in the house and beyond. Saying it was amazing does it no justice, but it was amazing!

After the music was finished, finishing with a happy song of sorts, I was able to get Ariel and Korby on stage alone to share some further thoughts and ideas about their creative paths and why they do what they love to do. You can catch that lovely moment, including the serendipitous non-Nashville moment of when Korby first met Lucas and more about how Ariel grew up inside and left a real-life hippie commune, on the recording as well. Anyways, I’ll let the recording speak for itself to give these great artists the credit they deserve. It was so pleasant and priceless.

So, as promised, here is the edited version of Unbound Arts presents: East Side Storytellin’ 54 with Ariel Lawhon and Korby Lenker (featuring Lucas Leigh). Enjoy it over and over and share it with a friend or two:

  • Before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for Ariel Lawhon and Korby Lenker (and Lucas Leigh) for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

You can read more about Ariel Lawhon- http://www.ariellawhon.com

You can listen to more from Korby Lenkerhttp://www.korbylenker.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 for the prints made by Kevin Anthuis at 5 Points Digital Imaging (http://5pdi.com) to celebrate the show.

art by Clay Brunton, printed by Kevin Anthuis at 5 Points Digital Imaging

art by Clay Brunton, printed by Kevin Anthuis at 5 Points Digital Imaging

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 the crew at Riverwood Mansion: the special event’s chef- Eric Reed, also Shannon Marie Smith and Jennifer Anderson, for allowing us to celebrate East Side Storytellin’ in such a fun place and way.

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event presented by Unbound Arts will be …

Tuesday, February 17th

East Side Storytellin’ 55

Riverwood Mansion (1833 Welcome Lane)

7pm

reading- Matthew Leavitt Brown (www.riversonnet.org

singing- Lilly Hiatt (www.lillyhiatt.com)

For more information: Email chuck@eastsidestorytn.com or unboundartsnashville@gmail.com to see about purchasing tickets.

OR

Purchase your tickets and share with friends here (you can note that the next shows at Riverwood Mansion will be 2-tiered and lower prices for even more people to join the fun-

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/unbound-arts-presents-east-side-storytellin-tickets-15643772946?aff=erellivorg

Read more information about the location and all involved in this limited run of shows here-

www.eastsidestorytn.com

www.facebook.com/unboundarts

www.riverwoodmansion.com

That’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 54 and another fabulous event here at Riverwood Mansion with Unbound Arts. 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,

mE

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John Paul Roney (Boom Forest), Chuck Beard, Oni Woods, and Tom Eizonas

John Paul Roney (Boom Forest), Chuck Beard, Oni Woods, and Tom Eizonas

Hello, hello, hello. First of all, before writing anything about the big show, I want to just write a sincere THANKS to everyone who showed up in person to help us celebrate a most deserving and all-around amazing night together with family, friends new and old, and … yeah, THANK YOU!

I’ll also begin by saying thank you to Dave Eastman and Tom Eizonas for the wonderful words and introduction to such a monumental occasion we celebrated together. They got together and recorded a brand new, soulful funk, introduction before Dave took the stage and rang in the new year of shows like only his majestic voice and personality could. I was grateful to meet them via WAMB back in the day, and I’m still a better person today because of working side by side with them through the past 2 years and counting (side note- Beth Lane, the heart of WAMB while it was going, was in the crowd showing continued love and support for this project).

Dave Eastman, the man and legend ... the voice.

Dave Eastman, the man and legend … the voice.

Now, welcome to another great round of East Side Storytellin’. Like the 47 previous shows we’ve put together from East Side Story, we’ve all arrived at this spot, here and now, to get y’all cultured up just right in the form of a local 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, this is East Side Storytellin’ 48, the 2nd anniversary show.  Let us begin, again.

The first featured guest of the night described herself as a multi-potentialite. An artist without just one single passion, she has many. She has studied and worked in disciplines ranging from finance to theatre, psychology to biology, education to philosophy and everything in between. She is the founder of Living Art, NFP an arts and education organization that has started the journey to opening its first art-infused wholistic education un-school. But her first voice and love was and is still her wordsmithing … her poetry. An outdoor enthusiast that loves camping, kayaking, canoeing, rappelling, and hiking, her poetry always seems to follow her wherever she is and whatever she is doing. Recently returning to Nashville from a 16 year long residency in Chicago, she was ready to read from her first book of free-verse poetry called Speed Limit 55 (which you can purchase at East Side Story) and some other fresh stuff too. I was very excited to give a very warm welcome to the stage for the homecoming of Oni Woods.

I had arrived to Mad Donna’s super early, to meet with Tom and be ready for any changes of the weather and location of the show on the premises, so I was able to see Oni practice some of her performance before the crowds arrived. It made my heart smile, not only to see someone so talented practicing as if it was her first public speaking engagement, but also because it was just nice to see someone want to get everything just right. Anyways, I have to ramble on for a second to set the scene beyond just the artists of the night. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for the show at the beginning of November. It was honestly about 15 degrees warmer than the previous show in October and one of the most comfortable set ups we’ve had outdoors in quite some time.

Oni Woods

Oni Woods

Back to Oni, she totally rocked it. Every single one of the seats was jam-packed in the patio, and everyone one, sitting and standing and crammed together because they wanted to be present, was ever-so present and mesmerized to every powerful word that Oni delivered. She was better than awesome. Each poem had its own backstory and left everyone amazed and thinking about life below the surface. She was introspective of her own personal journey, but yet she took us to another place altogether. As usual, I can’t give her quite the justice that her or the musician’s work deserves (see the recording below to listen for yourself).

Oni did a few long poems and a few short poems but all of them were spot on.

Before I knew it, more than 50 plus people were surrounding us and cheering for Oni’s performance and the musician’s performance to come.

The featured music of the night was from a man that helms a band that I first saw at the Lockeland Springsteen’s Holiday Party last December at The 5 Spot. Marissa and Emily invited me to sell local books that had musical ties to them, and I was able to sit back and take all of the festivities in with new friends galore. All of the bands were great, but this guy’s was transcendent. Missing each other with schedules other events ongoing for close to a year now, this particular night I was both excited and honored to finally have him join the East Side Storytellin’ family. He was recently featured as local artist of the week by Lightning 100, on top of being part of the epic Blocktober Fest 2014 at Marathon Music Works line-up. Originally hailing from Wisconsin, this young man takes everything that he’s found to be mostly true about himself and how he’s been raised and transforms that into something beautiful that rings softly for others to catch onto and discover more truth about themselves. Like Oni, he is an artist without boundaries, always searching for truth and beauty and sharing every aspect of his journey creatively along the way. It has been said that Boom Forest is the spiritual wailings of John Paul Roney from the automated woods of Tomorrow. Again, 50 plus people joined me in giving a big round of applause for the one and only John Paul Roney of Boom Forest!

John Paul grabbed his guitar and the microphone and was immediately in his zone. He made everyone laugh with his storytellings in between songs and he swept us all away down the river of his melodies and vocals time after time. I had the same sense of wonder from his music as I had at The 5 Spot the year before, but I was even happier this round to have some family and friends in the crowd to witness and experience the music that makes up Boom Forest at the same time (mostly for them to experience first hand instead of hearing me rant about it over and over again later).

John Paul Roney (Boom Forest)

John Paul Roney (Boom Forest)

John Paul put his heart and soul and foot stomping into the performance and everyone appreciated all that he gave. I was able to share the stage with him and Oni after the music stopped so that I could ask them some questions about their creative worlds. They were just as awesome talking as they were performing. I loved how the themes from their art, whether it was Oni talking about the “gentrification” poem or how segregation affected her art and life in general in Chicago and the kids she worked with in Louder than a Bomb OR if it was John Paul talking about going into a self-imposed reclusion from technology back to the life of what the world was like in 1968 (a golden age for his musical hero Paul McCartney) and seeing how that affected his current year and art-making world around him (side note, LOVED the new hashtag of #Wisconsin:GettingWeirdInTheBasement). These two, like the fact that we were celebrating 2 years of shows, were simply fascinating.

After I mentioned that I’d like to see what John Paul would come up with if he went back to 1980 for his next concept creative retreat (the year I was born and Sir Paul was rockin’ the mullet with Wings), and after I asked about his creative process behind the “Baby Teeth” music video (one of my favorites) and he said he would have played it if he had known that it was one of my favorites, I managed to get the crowd to clap loud enough to help request that John Paul play the aforementioned “Baby Teeth”= a memorable change from the normal script/template of the show. He agreed to the special encore of sorts on the spot. This was no normal show.

words on words on smiles

words on words on smiles

When the music finally stopped for the night, everyone stuck around to show thanks for the artists and let the show sink into their souls. I don’t think I saw anyone leave without a smile. For me, that more than made my night. This show was yet another sign that what we are doing with this idea is very important and more than just about East Side Story’s mission to help others tell their best story here and now.

I promise not to ramble too long here. I’ll just let you experience the show in its edited form here. So, listen to this link, over and over and as many times as your heart and soul can take it, and then listen to it again. Share it with others and they will thank you for it. You will be better for it. Without further ado, here is East Side Storytellin’ 48 with Oni Woods and Boom Forest’s John Paul Roney.

https://soundcloud.com/eastsidestorytn/sets/east-side-storytellin-48-oni

art by Alex Smith and Clay Brunton, printed by Kevin Anthuis at 5 Points Digital Imaging

art by Alex Smith and Clay Brunton, printed by Kevin Anthuis at 5 Points Digital Imaging

Before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for Oni Woods and Boom Forest’s John Paul Roney for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

You can read more from Oni Woods here – http://www.ounstoppablepoetry.com

You can listen to more from Boom Forest here – http://www.boomforest.com.

I’d also like to show much love to Alex Smith and Clay Brunton for the beautiful artwork for the prints made by Kevin Anthuis at 5 Points Digital Imaging (http://5pdi.com) to celebrate tonight’s show.

I’ll keep the gratitude going for Tom Eizonas, Otis James for my wicked cool hat, 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.

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 –http://eastsidestorytn.com/in-our-own-words/

 

But we are not finished.

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ 49 event will be …

EAST SIDE STORYTELLIN’ 49

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18TH, 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- author Alecia Whitaker (www.aleciawhitaker.com) and music by Alissa Moreno (www.alissamoreno.com).

That’s all for the East Side Storytellin’ 48 show, two years of epic shows in the bag.  Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word.  Remember to be nice to one another out there.  Thanks and good day your way.

Much love,

mE

PS- Tom Eizonas & Dave Eastman, as another surprise gift to mE (Chuck Beard), put together this very special compilation of one song from each show from the 2nd year of East Side Storytellin’. Now I give it to you to enjoy and share and spread the word about every show in the past and future.

 

Mom, Dad, Alan, Emily, mE, and the one and only Judge Matthew J. Baker, Esquire

Mom, Dad, Alan Minyard, Emily, mE, and the one and only Judge Matthew J. Baker, Esquire

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Allie Farris, "GG" Betty Jo Beard, Carson Morton, Chuck Beard, and Tom Eizonas

Hello, good evening, morning, lunch, or siesta, and WELCOME to the 29th edition of East Side Storytellin’ – the recap, recording, and aftermath.  Right now, comfortable in your chair & computer of choice, sit back, relax, and relish in the talents of two amazing artists in their own rights here again to showcase one of many things they are great at and known for around town.  First, you will hear a reading from a Nashville author, followed by a Nashville musician on the rise, and then a creative conversation between them both about their creative processes and journeys to Nashville.  Before I start rambling about how excited I am for the New Year and all of the things about East Side Story and East Side Storytellin’ we have lined up and not even planned yet, I’ll just let YOU begin the show.

Our first featured guest of this particular show hailed from England originally as a wee child.  In between the time that he was born then and now living in and calling Nashville home, he has worked extremely hard to become a published screenwriter, playwright, songwriter, musician, and author.  A slacker he is not, this author was more than ready to read from and talk about his first published novel called “Stealing Mona Lisa.”  The book itself, since first being published in 2011, has been chosen for Kirkus Reviews’ Best of Fiction 2011 List and The Library Journal’s Best Mysteries of 201 List, and it is a an ongoing work of art that grows in popularity by the day.  Recently, this past year, a featured guest on John Seigenthaler’s famed program “A Word On Words.” He was one of two authors in the entire span of that famed program to ever sing an original song on the show as well (the other being Marshall Chapman).  It was an honor and joy to introduce the modern-day Nashville Renaissance man and artist in that of Carson Morton.

Carson took to the stage and crowd, a superb crowd who weathered the cold weather and made it a point to fill the upstairs of Mad Donna’s with a happiness and warmth that was quite contagious and made everyone feel great, and Carson was the consummate professional.  Carson dove right into telling the crowd about how this epic story came about and into writing.  Then he immediately started reading a passage or few to entice the people to want to know more.  After that, he picked up a ukulele, plugged it into the sound system, and played an original song that planted the seeds for the writing of the novel at hand years before he wrote it.  It was the first time on East Side Storytellin’ where the featured author sang an original song.  It was quite a pleasure to witness.

And talk about a pleased crowd, I then was super excited (even more so after I heard the short pre-show sound check) to introduce our featured musician of the evening.  She, simply put, is a breath of fresh air for Music City.  Spending her formative years in the state of Texas, she, much like the slacker of our featured author- facetiously speaking , wasted no time at all once she knew she wanted to become a musician at a young age.  She formed her first band at 15, recorded several albums while performing venues around the Dallas area around that time.  She then went on to college at University of North Texas’s College of Music, where she won several awards at highly competitive songwriting contest.  She later expanded her audience in the world of songwriting and solo performing and flew to Boston to study at the Berklee College of Music.  Realizing that her dream of becoming a full-time songwriter and performer was better suited in Nashville, she flew here in 2011 and has been busy ever since (not like she wasn’t busy before).  She’s made her music and presence stand out in a city of standouts, made an album in 2012 called “You Make Me Smile,” made countless friends with fellow musicians you already know by heart in town, and is working on several projects RIGHT NOW that we’ll talk about later tonight.  All that said, I first got to know her and her music because my Grandmother and aunt met her on a plane ride and she made them smile.  They made each other smile.  So please put all distractions to your side and give your full attention to the recording and songs in the edited link below for the talented songbird on the rise in that of Allie Farris.

Allie, as seen in the pictures above and below, on top of the recording, gives off a positivity that is completely stripped down to honesty and pure talent.  It’s not hard, after just a measure or two of listening, to see and agree that she has made a perfectly wise decision to become a unique singer-songwriter.  To me, and I wasn’t/am not alone, she is a great mix of everything great about Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Carol King, and Diana Krall … but something even more fresh and current for today’s world.  Like I said, take some time to click the show link below, and then make plans to see her live whenever you get the chance.  This girl is definitely going places AND calls Nashville home!

After the music concluded, I managed to get Carson and Allie back up on stage for a short round of candid questions.  They were a great duo of positive energy that, as I said before, made the wonderful crowd of the night enjoy their own decision to come out and celebrate another round of East Side Storytellin’ much much more than had they not.  Take a listen for yourself below.

Here is the link for the edited show of East Side Storyellin’ 29 (for you to “like,” enjoy, and share with all of your friends and your little dogs too):

 https://soundcloud.com/eastsidestorytn/sets/east-side-storytellin-29

Before I give you the details of the next show, East Side Storytellin’ 30, I want to take a second to properly thank Allie Farris and Carson Morton.  They took time out of their busy schedules and creative sessions in general to donate their talents and treasures with that of a crowd that night and with YOU here now (over and over again).

You can read more about Allie Farris‘ work here- www.alliefarris.com

You can keep up to date on book 2 & 3 and more from Carson Morton here- www.carsonmorton.com

I’d also like to thank a few others one more time for making this show a reality. 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 the wonderful art poster for this evening, to my lovely bride for always having my side, and for everyone who came out to make tonight extra special- especially Grandmother for showing up after introducing Allie to our East Side Story world.

That is the end of this show, and our only show for January.  We will be back on track for East Side Storytellin’ 30 … I repeat, East Side Storytellin’ 30 on Tuesday, February 4th, at Mad Donna’s, at 7pm, with the poet Stephanie Pruitt Gaines and music by our friends Jimmy and Nate of Colour of London.  I hope to see you all and more here then.  But 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, morning, brunch, or post-siesta/pre-nap time.

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be …

Date- Tuesday, February 4th, 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 Stephanie Pruitt Gaines (www.stephaniepruitt.com) and music by the talented band of brothers called Colour of London (www.colouroflondon.com)

Oh, before we go, we might as well, because we have them, leave you this round of East Side Storytellin’ with 2 for the road … 2 pictures of Allie Farris smiling, of course!

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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:

https://soundcloud.com/eastsidestorytn/sets/east-side-storytellin-28-mark

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!

http://www.nowplayingnashville.com/event/detail/441813116

**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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