Ally Brown

Joshua Dent, Kira Hooks, Christina Stoddard, Chuck Beard, Tom Eizonas, and Ally Brown (Abby Flowers pictured in spirit … again)

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 112th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 111, I repeat … 111, 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 East Side Storytellin’ 112. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night is the author of HIVE … a work which won the 2015 Brittingham Prize in Poetry at the University of Wisconsin Press and was a finalist for the 2016 Washington State Book Award. More importantly, it had one of the coolest book covers we ever showcased at East Side Story. This artist grew up in Washington and has worked in both the Czech Republic and Japan teaching English as a foreign language and has said that they all speak better English than anyone down on Broadway any day that ends in day … I’m kidding about the last part, but the rest is true. Another truth, she earned her MFA from UNC at Greensboro, where she was the Fred Chappell Fellow. I’m not sure what that is but I know it’s important. Her poems have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, storySouth, Tupelo Quarterly, and Spoon River Poetry Review, to name a few. She is super smart, an excellent writer, a supporter for everyone and everything literary everywhere she goes, and we were darn lucky to have her to save the day. You already know who I’m talking about, but I’m talking about the legend herself, Christina Stoddard!

Christina took a stand beside the tilted podium and jarred our minds right off the bat with some historical facts about serial killers from her hometown. A few names that inspired a few of her poems in HIVE, I won’t give them more credit than what they already have received but I will say that the combination of Christina’s background stories mixed with her prolific skills as a wordsmith pretty much slay anything most of the people present had heard in a hot minute. Christina’s poetry is pure fire.

Christina introduced us all to a yearbook signing of one said serial killer before he was known as a serial killer, the suicide of a veteran sibling post Gulf War drama, her immense hatred for wearing rings in general, and specific haircuts to get her going in the right place. And speaking of getting things and people going, there were two poems that were more declarative and poignant, again, than anything I’ve heard in awhile. First, she did a brilliant original remix of the Lord’s Prayer that was slanted in honor of a true feminist pledge. Then she gave an opus of seizing the day and charging action in her homage of Ides during the month of July. You really have to listen to the reading below and buy a copy of HIVE as soon as you can to understand the truth I’m talking about (some of those poems will be on her next book as well). But, before I end my love fest for Christina’s poetry, I must single out the poem about her thinking about salmon. It was the major connection between the featured guests of the night and a theme of making a family, and Christina nails it. The imagery of fishing salmon as a child and learning one of her catches was pregnant after the fact and then the linear relationship of her life years later is both heartbreaking and beautiful all in the same light. Point being, Christina tells it how it is, tells it so eloquently, and doesn’t hold any punches. You feel her words in your gut, heart, face, and tears. She’s powerful … and wonderful.

Our featured music of the night is a Nashville based musician who was born in Houston, shout out Texas, but raised overseas in The Netherlands, Nigeria, Scotland, and China. This young artist is always in search of what brings us together and what feels like honest work. A gentle, but powerful, woman and a scholar, she graduated from the Los Angeles College of Music in 2013 and has since gone on to release one album, 3 EP’s, and four singles. She’s an active member of Concerts In Your Home and spends a lot of days performing on the road. Maybe most importantly, she is very close friends with several of our East Side Storytellin’ favorites. This girl is close friends with Joshua Dent, Abby Flowers, and Ally Brown. Alongside these talented local musicians, it was an honor to set up the stage and share the spotlight on the tremendous star on the rise in Kira Hooks!

Kira took a seat on a stool, hooked up her guitar, crossed her legs, acknowledged her side harmony in Ally Brown, and started her set like a needle to a vinyl on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Her voice was like a vintage jazz star from another day and time, her melodies instantly put everyone at ease, and then she set sail for awesome in the middle of her ocean of dreamlike material. In a town that refers itself to music in its nickname namesake and has a million and one singers living inside the city limits, I’ve never heard a voice as unique and fitting her her material as Kira. It’s almost as if Sade and Diana Krall mixed together with the absolute best of every R&B soul singer of the 90’s and churned out this majestic muse and conductor of awesome on a stool for all of us to enjoy for years to come.

Kira gave mad props to every person she brought up to the stage and constantly referenced new respect and love for the art that Christina had shared with the same crowd. Kira was equally as open and honest via her backstories and dreams of someday moving to New York (she will conquer it when she is ready and leaves … hopefully years from now for Nashville’s sake though) and her song about creating a family in Labor of Love. She admitted to being a bit sappy and lovey-dovey while trying to Waltz with an Angel and When I Ran Into You, but I was not alone in thinking that we all could use a lot more lovey-dovey if that’s the case. The classical sounds that Joshua Dent adds to any songs, mixed with the modern take of doo-wop and Motown-ish licks from Ally and Abby having a blast alongside an alternative folk Beyonce, was simply perfect for the occasion and week in general. It all made me think of that phrase, “If the Love doesn’t feel like a 90’s R&B song, then I don’t want it.”

This was actually one of the only shows where I was sad to be the host for a second. When Kira asked us how much more time she had left, and I could see in her eyes that she would have played a few more and was thinking about choosing the next one, I succumbed to the moment and told her we only needed one more. Truth be told, the crowd and I would’ve stayed there in our seats for another week for sure. I guess it’s better to keep the staff at The Post on our side too. It all works out for the best.

Speaking about working out for the best, this pairing was simply phenomenal. Nobody would have known that we had to change a thing or two a mere 24 hours before showtime, and my buddy Steve would call me out for saying serendipity again if I said it another 50 times during the show in the making. It honestly blows my mind how well everything comes together just as it is supposed to when you are doing something that needs to be done.

After Kira’s final track titled If You Got A Dream, a song that to me resembled Christina’s charge the moment poem, I was yet again fortunate to have both of the artists back on stage to talk about their lives beyond their art. I’m always amazed by the honesty and forthright of the guests who take my questions and answer them in ways that if you already call them friends you learn something new and if you didn’t know these people then you feel like you’ve known them forever. Both Christina and Kira were/are so gracious with their personal responses and so professional in everything they delivered from the stage all night long. It was an honor to host the show that paired so much talent and love for words and positive personal growth. I was humbled to be in the crowd.

Again, because I could ramble on about how great these people are and how much fun the show was in person, I’ll just cut to the part where I share with you the edited version of East Side Storytellin’ 112. You know, the show we recorded at The Post East on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017, that featured Christina Stoddard and Kira Hooks (alongside Ally Brown, Abigail Flowers, and Joshua Dent). Here it is, enjoy and share it 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 Christina and Kira, Ally, Joshua, and and Abby for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

You can read more of Christina’s writing here – www.christinastoddard.com

You can listen to more of Kira’s music here – www.kirahooks.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’ 113

Tuesday, August 15th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Susan McBride

singing- Mary Bragg

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 112 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. I repeat, please remember to be nice to one another out there.

Much love,

mE

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Tom Eizonas, Nick Rossi, Zach Ryan, 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 111th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 110, I repeat … 110, 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 East Side Storytellin’ 111. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night is not just an amazing writer and human being, he is also a publisher of beautiful weirdos. It’s true, this guy, alongside Eric Benick, started the oober-awesome Ursus Americanus Press. With several hit projects in the bag and more on the horizon, this guy barely has time to do anything else … but alas, he persisted. When this guy isn’t eating too much sugar, spending too much time on his phone, or staying up too late for no reason, he endlessly churns out original stories on the page, over the interwebs, on countless white t-shirts, and more. His diligent work ethic is only matched by his positive attitude and energy for everyone around him. To say that he has a lot of friends and literary peers would be the understatement of the year. He has a busy year ahead with a move and work appearing in MESMER, Souvenir Lit, MAYDAY magazine, Chicago Literati, Vanilla Sex Magazine, and a few bathrooms around Nashville. He also writes and plays in a band called Choovanski. Point being, this guy rocks. It was truly an honor to introduce the man, the legend, Nick Rossi!

Nick took to the microphone like a caged animal who had been drinking caffeine all day while trying to decide if he needed to make brand new prose and poetry ready for a reading or if he should just rely on his old and trusted friends. I believe he ended up drinking a few pony high life’s and doing a little bit of both. All in all, Nick was in his zone. He apologized for his Chicago voice, gave a multitude of personal shout outs throughout the reading and night, and set the mood of the event perfectly with his tales of life on the road and not so light material that felt right at home for this day and age.

photo by Chance Chambers

I though Nick did a beautiful job of tying together the three stages of his Nashville experience. He shared a poem that explained why he decided to first come to Nashville (he apologized for the lack of edits for parts he claimed that sucked but everyone else in the room agreed that his words and reading did everything but suck). He spoke about the places he had come from and where he is going soon. Somewhere in the middle, he shed light and a deep perspective of privilege that he and so many of us other white males live with on the daily in this country, all the while sharing vivid examples and imagery of references with the abuse towards African Americans in this world. Like Nick’s shirts, his words and thoughts are extremely powerful. The sooner you get in the groove of how to digest the manner in which he races through his words, thoughts, and pages, the better you are to understand the pure heart and passion for literature and life and connecting with other people that Nick exudes on the daily. It’s all right there in his work. You can hear it as plain as day right there in the recording below.

Our featured music of the night is someone who has been playing music regularly since the age of 11. He’s chased his dream under a multitude of names and across several genres, but he’s still truckin’ and searching for his truth. After spending years doing the solo artist thing, his current project is The Wanderers (not to be confused the That Thing You Do’s The Oneders). Drawing inspiration from sounds and folks like Tom Waits, David Lynch, Chet Baker, and Dick Dale, The Wanderers just finished a record due to be released in late September. Lucky for us, we didn’t have to wait until September to here this guy play his great music. Via a wonderful connection and introduction with our mutual friend Shane Tutmarc, I was thrilled to finally be able to shed a spotlight on the one and only Zach Ryan!

I recently watched a segment of CBS Sunday Morning that featured John Mellencamp. They were talking about how Mellencamp had originally moved to New York City on a visual art scholarship but then got a record deal as soon as he got there. When he first played an original song for the suits at the label, he didn’t believe they heard any of his words and could just tell from the first five seconds of his playing that he had that special something. Mellencamp later mentioned in the interview that he really believes you can tell when a person has that special something of talent in any creative medium in the first few moments. Fast forward to hearing and seeing Zach Ryan play the guitar at The Post and I was not alone to be completely blown away by his virtuoso skill and sounds and musicianship that struck us all like lightning in the first few chords he played and sang. Again, you can hear what I’m talking about it the recording below.

Zach’s music is guitar driven and guitar led, and surrounded with the air of cinema. Some of the people in the crowd mentioned that he looked like the great actor Robert Mitchum, and I said I’d love to hear Zach play his melodies to old Robert Mitchum movies that are filmed out West and have the uncertainty of death and dark subject matter … almost like a not-so-funny but still as brilliant version of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I’m sure there are a million great references that came out of this specific show from the music and story themes, but nobody could deny that Zach was on the top of his game, even without the extra players in his band. Zach, like Nick, came correct to the show with some stories and melodies that took our breath away and blew our minds at the same time.

During the conversation portion of the show, we learned that both Nick and Zach had roommates by the name of Carl (with a C, not a K, because that’s much cooler) … shout out to Carl Carbonell. What was not planned before the show and with the pairing but was acknowledged by Zach very early into his set was that the darker subject matter shared by each unprompted or pre-curated artist reflected like a perfectly symmetric swampy sunset that made you appreciate the glow of the sun descending but at the same time scared you to death about what was hiding in the dark to come. Not to make you jittery while reading this, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom. There was plenty to smile about, during the talking and the reading and singing. In fact, one of Zach’s happy songs was about a man finding joy in moving away and getting away with murder. You really need to take a listen to it below to get where I’m coming from about loving these guys so much.

photo by Chance Chambers

It was my pleasure and an honor to share the stage and shed the spotlight on this unique pair of troubadours. I do want to add a little note here for the sake of big transitions and moves for Nick Rossi. He told me when I booked him for the show that this would be fitting  for him since East Side Storytellin’ was one of the first literary events he attended when he moved to town and it would be one of his final public readings (outside of a fun Life is Boring reading event the Friday before he moved later that week). In between those two shows, Nick has become a beacon for the literary community at large and we were lucky enough to promote and share his books and journals while we ran the retail portion of the first chapter of East Side Story. We are gonna miss him, but we are thankful he will continue being awesome in Chicago and connecting our Nashville family with people and ideas beyond the city limits for years to come. Plus he is going to come back and visit often. Plus plus he is going to hire me when he gets his white t-shirt company off the ground and going. This will happen.

That said, before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for Nick and Zach for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us. These are two of the good ones doing great things and both are just getting started. The best is yet to come.

So here it is, the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 111, a show when we were lucky to feature the likes of Nick Rossi and Zach Ryan at The Post on Tuesday, July 18, 2017. Feel free to listen to this one and share it with everyone you know, over and over again. You’ll thank me afterwards.

You can read more of Nick’s writing here – www.ursusamericanuslit.com

You can listen to more of Zack’s music here – zachryansongs.bandcamp.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’ 112

Tuesday, August 1st

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Eric Benick

singing- Kira Hooks

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 111 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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Tom Eizonas, Robyn Leigh Lear, Kateri Farrell, Ally Brown, 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 105th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 104, I repeat … 104, 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’ 105. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night is someone I like to refer to as the resident dreamer. She is also the Creative Director behind the majestic, the awesome, and the infinitely coolest publishing company in the world that goes by the name of April Gloaming Publishing. This lady was born to the world but claims no country. Lucky for us, she claims Nashville as her current home base. Also lucky for us, is the creative dreamer behind Authors and Artists: The Regenerates, a writing and art collective that is majestic, awesome, and infinitely cooler than anything I have dreamed up so far. Point being, this lady is a creative force to be reckoned with and to fully embrace in a hug if she grants you permission. She doesn’t just dream or publish other authors’ and poets’ work though. She was featured tonight because she is a writer as well, a brilliant writer and reader. I’m talking about the wild dreamer in the heart to Lance Umenhofer’s world, the one and the only Robyn Leigh Lear.

Robyn sashayed her fabulous wardrobe and positive attitude to the microphone to battle the dreary rain outside and the slight fear of reading her work in public. She told me and the crowd that she tends to cuss to make herself feel better, and it didn’t take long for her to start feeling better. Some of us who know her better knew that her moments of silence between stanzas were due to nerves, but the overall dramatic pauses that they lent themselves to for everyone else simply heightened the amazing original poetry that she was sharing with us. Without trying to do so, she was effortlessly giving a brilliant performance of her work, mixing laughs with stormy motifs that were deeply personal and instantly connecting with everyone in the room.

Throughout the reading, Robyn tackled emotional themes such as pain and trauma and being unafraid in the midst of soft milk in a violent storm (listen to the recording to catch the drift), but one of my favorite moments was when everyone’s cell phones blurted out an emergency alert for the impending weather surrounding our city. Robyn, caught in the middle of the alerts and two of her poems, used and spun that alert into a perfect transition for everyone to pay attention to the storm of words she was about to throw out and make us weather. We were safe at The Post and safe in Robyn’s majestic leadership. I also want to make a special note that Robyn shared some new material that was so fresh she had recently written it and never shared with anyone. That’s the kind of fearlessness I love and respect from her and other guests who do the same. You can hear the recording, but I advise you to listen to the final poem at least two times, a poem about seeing a dead body and pulling it apart to find the heart and understanding of life and your own purpose. And, like Keyser Soze, before we knew it, Robyn was finished and gone from the stage. She practically dropped the mic on the stand with an eruption of applause and inspiration in her wake. It was quite epic.

Our featured music of the night is someone, like our featured writer, who creates and performs art that will hook you, lift you, and as she would quote/unquote “make you think and probably feel stuff.” She is our first featured musician who labels herself as Indie/Folk/Uke-rock, with a hint of jazz and a dash of soul. Her vocals give life to vivid imagery, catchy melodies, and profound themes of creative dynamic shows that are light-hearted, fun, sincere, and thought provoking. Born in Hollywood, she was destined to be a star. So, from Florida to her now Nashville home, alongside her good friends Abigail Flowers and Kateri Farrell, it was an honor for me to formally introduce the very talented Ally Brown.

Ally immediately thanked Robyn for sharing her work that inspired Ally and the gang right off the bat. Ally then jumped right into setting the mood for her set, asking us to be prepared for her to take us into outer space and then bring us back into another world again later. She said it with a smile, but I knew she meant it. Packed with two of her best friends, she took us on quite the musical and lyrical trip.

Ally’s music was in line with the themes that Robyn left us with. She sang about the haziness of life’s uncertainty, dealing with not knowing where you are and what you’re doing, but then coming back around to assure us that everything is okay. One of my favorite songs and stories behind the music came from Ally watching an episode of “Cosmos” where Neil Degrasse Tyson taught her the concept of moving faster than the speed of light and the result being that all of time around that person or thing would stand still. Ally took that concept a step further and wrote a song about being in a relationship where you were moving faster than the speed of light and how then you could sing and dance and be with that person forever. The song, like the idea, was beyond beautiful. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that have the most profound effects.

Ally went on to make us laugh and feel great while she sang about a fictional (maybe) wolf while her crew howled at the moon, and then she told stories that resembled fairy tale characters where she lost things in her hair. Overall, the comedic banter between the songs matched the brilliance of the wonderful harmonies that rained down over all of us inside The Post as Mother Nature cleansed the rest of the city outside. I had the thought, not that I was sad or depressed before the show, that nobody could NOT be in a better mood after listening to both Robyn and Ally’s creativity in person. These girls were all about that shine.

Then, when I was able to get them both on stage after the music ended, it was fairly obvious that the synchronicity of East Side Storytellin’ 105 would be that Robyn and Ally were meant to be new besties. They will most certainly do some creative collaborating and events together in the upcoming year and our city and world will be better for it. I’m kinda throwing out the manifestation that Robyn writes a cool story to read before or during a Spookulele show in October, my favorite time of the year. Again, just listen to the recording of the masterful experience we all shared together because of these great people and great artists on the rise on a random Tuesday night when everything in my world made sense, even for just a moment and a flash.

So, with all that said about another very special show that was/is near and dear to my heart, here is the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 105 that featured Robyn Leigh Lear & Ally Brown (with Abigail Flowers & Kateri Farrell) at The Post on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Feel free to enjoy and share it with everyone you know, over and over again. It is well worth your time and energy. You’re welcome.

https://soundcloud.com/eastsidestorytn/sets/east-side-storytellin-105-1 

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

You can read more of Robyn’s writing here –  www.aprilgloaming.com and www.theregenerates.org

You can listen to more of Ally’s music here – www.allybrownmusic.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.

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

art by Clay Brunton

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’ 106

Tuesday, May 2nd

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Tim Shaw

singing- Joshua Black Wilkins

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 105 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

photo credit – Steve Simpson (aka The Ice Cream Gypsy)

 

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Tom Eizonas, Gregory Delzer, Alexis Stevens, 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 104th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 103, I repeat … 103, 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’ 104. Let us begin, again.

Our first featured artist of the evening is a stunningly handsome young chap. He is also not only a writer of unusual stories, he actually specializes in unusual books. A brother in the bond, he is one of the few, the proud, and crazy bookstore owners and sellers I am honored to know. Despite what some may have said about him, like me, he is NOT interested in encyclopedia sets, Reader’s Digest condensed books, old textbooks, or any books in poor condition or that he can’t sell. And this guy, like any great fiction writer, can sell pretty much anything. He is the co-founder and owner of Defunct Books. Like most of his inventory, he is of a rare breed, the few, the proud, the owner of a store that encourages people to read and think and slow down in this fast paced world. Truth be told, this guy only gets out when the Cubs or Gonzaga win, so you know this night was important, and this past year really, has been a very special occasion. But we aren’t weren’t there for his bookstore, we came together because of his writing. He’s been published in Acoustic: Literature, Owen Wister Review, Piece x Piece, and has done numerous poetry readings in various stops around the country as he’s moved to and fro from Washington to Iowa to Nashville, TN. A man who needs no introduction, in my book, although I just gave him one. Ladies and Gentleman, someone who smartly moved from Iowa City to Nashville at just the right time, my good friend, the one and only Gregory Delzer.

Gregory mentioned right off the bat that although he had read various poetry spots in the past, this was one of the first times he would decide to share his original prose. And it was something relatively new and outside the box. The story was a story told in five parts, called five deer for obvious reasons at the beginning and the rest of it was anything but obvious. It was a Twin Peaks-like trip, filled with some trippy and gritty moments involving reoccurring hitch-hikers who may or may not have slept with the narrator. In every twist of the tale, which wasn’t in any particular order or specific sequence (as told by Gregory in the preface), people sat on the edge of their seats to see where Gregory and the narrator would drive us to next. It was quite fascinating, actually.

I personally loved how real it was. And when I say the word real, I’m talking about the language and honest descriptions that Gregory used to set the scene and draw the pictures of what was going on in the narrative. I also loved how Gregory took great pleasure in using his peripheral vision to notice and smile at the fact that Tom would grab the pen from me taking my show notes every instant he cussed during the reading. He cussed a lot. You won’t hear the specific words in the recording because of the editing, but that’s why you and everyone you know should be at the actual live shows. The real sounds of the stories, and the look of childish fun that Gregory showed every time he cussed, were priceless in person.

Our featured music of the night is someone who also hails from the land our forefathers called Iowa. This lady is a friend of our author tonight, and is now officially a Nashville-based songwriter after living and playing in various places our forefathers called Eugene and Portland, Oregon (or West East Nashville) and Los Angeles. She went back home in 2008 to independently make and release her debut album titled Flood or Drought. She wrote her self-titled album four years after the flood (or drought), and she self-describes her writing as one-part needle work and one-part aerial photography, heartbreaking human experiences patch-worked onto beautiful Midwestern scenes to form landscape portraits of love and loss. She has played with or warmed the stage for the likes of some folks you may have heard in Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, and many more, but this night she was all ours. Once again, I was honored to introduce someone as talented as Alexis Stevens.

I have to tell you here and now that before East Side Storytellin’ 104, I visited friends in Montana with my family for about a week. It was Big Sky country, completely surrounded by weather of the four seasons, snow-capped mountains as high as the eye could see, and a deep sense of openness and space that is unheard of in a cityscape environment. Point being, I was fresh off quite the meditative and deep thought trip alongside good friends and good places. Fast forward to my experience of sitting front row with Alexis Stevens playing her original work that perfectly painted the pictures of her intense cross-country trips as a traveling musician constantly on the road, and what you had was the perfect soundtrack for my Montana voyage. I’m telling you something you already know if you know Alexis’ music, this girl is, for a lack of a better word, amazing.

Alexis sang songs that were deeply personal, in direct regards to her ten year college reunion and time passing from a domestic life to the opposite as an artist to relative creative interpretations of Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dream to the rough transition of moving to Nashville and getting robbed (literally and figuratively with her photographs and memories before coming here) to talking about lost loves to something epic that came to her after spending a solid four months out on the road playing solo shows and realizing that is a VERY long time to play solo shows on a single run. Special note, the final song in the recording is Alexis’ favorite original song she has written to date. A lot of musicians and artists won’t choose between their works because it’s like saying which of you children you love more, but she went there on this one and I totally respect and dig that. Again, this Alexis girl is for really, y’all!

After the music, I had the chance to talk with Gregory and Alexis about their travels and how they got to where they are today. It was very refreshing to hear that both of them listened to that inner voice that told them when and where to move and invest their time and energy into next along their way. They aren’t crazy, listening to those inner voices. They are true artists, in every sense, fragile, insecure, not scared to jump off the cliffs to search for happy, and unabashed for their actions of jumping off cliffs when they are standing in the fog and not sure of what’s coming next. Again, point being, these two people are my kind of friends, and I’m especially thankful for them sharing their stories, time, and thoughts on what their journeys have meant to them individually and how it helps others like me relate on my own way. Plus, these two make me belly laugh a lot too. Because that’s important.

So, with all that said about another very special show that was/is near and dear to my heart, here is the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 104 that featured Gregory Delzer & Alexis Stevens at The Post on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. Feel free to enjoy and share it with everyone you know, over and over again. It is well worth your time and energy. You’re welcome.

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

You can read more of Greg’s writing here – www.defunctbooks.com

You can listen to more of Alexis’ music here – www.alexisstevens.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’ 105

Tuesday, April 18th

At The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

Reading- Robyn Leigh Lear (www.aprilgloaming.com and www.theregenerates.org)

Singing- Ally Brown (www.allybrownmusic.com)

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 104 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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