Bill Crosby

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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Pat McInerny, Kimberly Dana, Bill Crosby, Chuck Beard, Tom Eizonas, Mark North, and Mark Brown

Whether this is your first visit to our website or you are familiar with everything that East Side Story, Nashville’s only all-local bookstore, has to offer, we want to take a second to welcome you to East Side Storytellin’ for a very special occasion. We were beyond honored and thrilled to be asked by the fine people over at Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum and Art for the second year in a row to put together a Children-themed show that would be featured within their Cheekwood in Bloom series. So like previous East Side Storytellin’ shows we at East Side Story have curated thus far (105 and counting), 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. Unlike the previous East Side Storytellin’ shows, with the exception of last year’s Cheekwood show (see here- http://eastsidestorytn.com/east-side-storytellin-cheekwood-in-bloom-edition/), we added another something special the event that had never been donw before. So, without further ado, this is the recap and recording of a very special 2nd annual Cheekwood edition of East Side Storytellin’. Let us begin, again.

On Saturday, April 8th, 2017, I was one of the first guys on the scene to help set up for the show. Cheekwood reserved the perfect location for everything we wanted to make happen come together. The weather was perfect, yet again, and we had more sunshine than you could shake your leg at in any direction. Point being, the natural stage was already set for success. All of the signs pointed to a proper show like none other on a Spring Saturday in Music City.

The featured guests arrived early to set up their props, followed by my sound man Tom Eizonas and the ultimate man on the radio in Dave Eastman, and the Frist Learning Center & Contemporary Art Galleries setting and staff couldn’t have been more helpful for all involved.

But even before the East Side Storytellin’ show was set to go down, our Cheekwood guide, Meagan Rust, invited me and two other local children’s book authors to take part in instant classic readings along the enchanting trail she had set up for story time. She handed each of us a few books and gave the big group of kids with their parents the right direction to follow the path on the grounds to end up at three different locations for some quality reading sessions. I was honored to have the opportunity to share the local literary spotlight on Kimberly Dana (author of Pretty Dolls and a few more) and Mark North (author of The Day Anthony Counted to a Googol and counting) to join me at said spots. Each of us had the attention of the groups for about 15 minutes. We read through our own books and other classics Meagan had on stock that related to the nature found at Cheekwood. Whether the toy trains were humming by us or if the pollen added a few more sneezes into the mix, the overall lap around the path for story time with the kids and parents was a perfect appetizer for the East Side Storytellin’ stage.

The theme of the show was Cheekwood in Bloom: Drop Everything and Read! So we did just that. I’ll go ahead and introduce the featured guests before I reveal how the show transpired.

The first of the featured artists became a father in 2012, naming his son Noble. In my humble opinion, there are very few people in Nashville, or who I’ve been blessed to meet, who are half as noble as this artist. He is a good person and friend who constantly exercises, practices, and teaches his son and everyone around him about mindfulness, gratitude, compassion, acceptance, and other values that generate a peaceful, happy life. Together with his wife, Amy, he created the book from which he would share at Cheekwood. It is a book titled Zen Pig. It is a book and character that spreads the word about good morals and values for everyone, speaking wisdom and serving his town and neighbors. But Zen Pig is not just a book to read to kids. This author gives money back from each book sold to help an established non-profit organization in Africa fight poverty and provide clean water. You can find out more information about his efforts and his creativity at his website listed below, but it was truly an honor for me to introduce and bring to the Cheekwood platform my wonderful friend who embodies the word altruism with every breath he takes … I’m talking about the one and only Mark Brown.

Mark stepped up to the microphone and immediately had the smiling attention of every kid of every age in the crowd. He is like the original Pied Piper with a just and noble cause that follows his shadow. But seriously, Mark used the time and stage he was given to share the lessons of gratitude and compassion for the kids. He began the performance by saying a little prayer in the form of hitting a Buddhist singing bowl. It instantly reminded me of one of our beloved authors from the show we hosted at Cheekwood a year ago with Kaaren Engel. Kaaren passed away this past year due to complications with Cancer, but she was a practicing healer of this tradition and religion mixed with the arts. God, rest Kaaren’s soul.

Bringing us full circle again, I knew, with all my heart and soul, that this was going to be an epic show after Mark rang out the singing bowl prayer. I could literally feel it.

When the singing bowl had sung, Mark asked the audience to relay things they were grateful for on this given day. There were several great responses, because you know kids have all of the fun ideas and answers. I saw two parents tear up a little bit when their child stood up to be called on and share to the world that she was grateful for her parents’ love. This is the kind of vibe and setting when Mark and Zen Pig are at their best.

And from this new circle of trust and love, Mark jumped into his book and shared the story of Zen. Every kid, from my 15 month old who just loves to turn pages to the end of books and carry them back to where they came from to the oldest adult in the crowd holding the bags for her daughter and baby in stroller, were mesmerized by Marks words and presence. You don’t have to take my word for it. Look at the pictures above and below for yourself.

Mark literally could have stayed up on stage for hours and had everyone smiling the entire time. He’s just that kind of artist and person. But, as soon as he hit the final page, he threw out a Namaste and got a collective one thrown right back at him from the crowd. It had been a mutually enjoyed reading trip. And the party kept going, as many of those same people got up while the music was setting up shop so they could purchase one of Mark’s (as well as the other Mark and Kimberly’s) books at the merch table to take home with them after the overall experience.

Alan Young, Bill Crosby, Pat McInerny, Merissa Marx, and Don Kierce.

And speaking of music, the second featured artist of the show set up the stage and was ready to rock before I could sneeze three times fast. You may have seen and heard of this talented musician while he played at The Family Wash or even Cheekwood during his residency not too long ago. He is originally from New York, where he grew up fighting with his brothers and trying to make milk come out of his sister’s nows while telling jokes at the dinner table. He loved to ride bikes, watch tv, and listen to rock n’ roll. When his older brother bought a guitar, this guy played it more than his brother did and got really good at it. Fast forward to present day Nashville, and this guy was joined on stage by a crew of his talented friends to bring some music to life for our audience. It was my job and honor (I say that word a lot here and there because it is true) to introduce, alongside his bandmates (Alan Young, Pat McInerny, Merissa Marx, and Don Kierce) the very talented and the very nice man named Bill Crosby.

Bill, like Matt, jumped right into his set. He played rock n’ roll music for kids of all ages. His band played tight and they played steady. Every song had a fun, upbeat messages with quirks for smiles and laughs while the melodies felt like classic rock shows from the 70’s and 80’s at their finest. I did you not, these guys are probably the best I’ve ever heard at taking children themes and playing rhythms that would make any professional rock musician move their feet. It’s like the musical equivalent of the humor found in any and all Pixar movies from the past twenty years. Basically, the kids and the older kids who brought the kids all had an absolute blast.

Did I mention that the sun was shining down on all of us and everyone was out on the dance floor? Well, let me tell you that the sun was shining down on all of us and everyone was out on the dance floor. If you don’t believe me, again, take a look at the pictures above and below. You can listen to the actual recording of this Cheekwood dance party in the link below. Take note to enjoy, share, and mark your calendars and stay tuned for when we bring the Bloom edition party back to Cheekwood next Spring too. We feel blessed to be included and we take this gig very seriously, in the most heartfelt and fun way possible.

After the music faded with one last killer hook, the babies were ready for their naps and the adults were ready to relax at home as well. We broke down the stage and the merch table in record time, and we cleaned up our party so well there wasn’t even a trace – like nothing extraordinary had just taken place in that courtyard. But it had, and you could still feel the love and joy in the air, if not the echoes of the music cast over the rest of the grounds around us. Don’t believe me? Come again next year and test me. In the “nice” time, check out the recording of our show below. That’s the least we can do for those who came and missed out too.

Here is the edited recording of our very special 2nd Annual Cheekwood in Bloom edition of East Side Storytellin’ that took place on Saturday, April 8th, 2017 and featured Mark Brown alongside Bill Crosby and his band of friends.

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

Before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for Mark North, Kimberly Dana, Mark Brown, and Bill Crosby and his band of friends (Alan Young, Pat McInerny, Merissa Marx, and Don Kierce) for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

You can read more about Mark North’s book here-

https://www.facebook.com/Mark-North-The-Day-Anthony-Counted-to-a-Googol-139747204266/

You can read more about Kimberly Dana’s books here-

http://kimberlydana.com

You can read more about Mark Brown’s Zen Pig series here-

www.zenpigbook.com

You can listen to more of Bill Crosby’s music here-

www.billcrosbymusic.com

You can check out everything else you need to know about Cheekwood here- www.cheekwood.org

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 and all of the kids, young and old, who came out here to support the show in person and online.

Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to give one last shout out to everyone, especially Meagan Rust, at Cheekwood Botannical Garden for their hospitality and everything the do for this community all year round.

That said- that’s all for the 2nd Annual Cheekwood in Bloom edition of East Side Storytellin’. Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word and giving some love to all of these great Nashville artists and our creative ideas. Don’t forget to drop by East Side Story, located in the heart of 5 Points in East Nashville, and also the other various events and programs that we put together all year round. Also, please remember to be nice to one another out there.

much love,

Chuck Beard

www.eastsidestorytn.com

**Here are a few pictures of my number one assistant, trying to get the best seat (or standing view) possible:

 

The East Side Storytellin’ breakdown crew (no baby labor laws in TN)

 

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