Cave Wall

Lisa Dordal, Chuck Beard, Alayna Renae, Ashton Kimbrough, and Tom Eizonas.

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 123rd epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 122, I repeat … 122, 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’ 123. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night is a consummate student, teacher, writer, poet, and all-around great person. She spent a good portion of her youth studying at the College of Wooster, Vanderbilt University Divinity School, and creative writing and poetry at Vanderbilt University before deciding to pay it all back by becoming a well-respected lecturer in English at Vanderbilt University today. When not helping everyone else becoming better thinkers and writers, she does find time to do her own excellent work. That is why she is here tonight. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Robert Watson Poetry Prize. Her poetry has appeared in various journals such as Best New Poets 2015, Cave Wall, CALYX, Ninth Letter, Rove Poetry, The Greensboro Review, Vinyl Poetry, Nimrod, storySouth, Connotation Press, Public Pool, and The Feminist Wire. I first met her when she let me promote and sell her first published paperback by the name of Commemoration, and she’s here tonight to share some work from her latest work, her 1st full-length collection of poetry titled Mosaic of the Dark. It was truly an honor to help pre-release the first full-length collection and give a proper spotlight on the one and only Lisa Dordal!

Lisa is another one of those artists who is small in stature and gives off the impression of being reserved, but she transforms herself into a formidable force of nature once she opens her mouth and starts sharing her powerful and poetic prose. And when I say that she turns into a force of nature, wouldn’t you know that she had a background echo of thunder at just the right moments of her reading from the storms outside. It really couldn’t have been better timing for Lisa to share her words at East Side Storytellin’.

Lisa opened her set with a dual-themed, deeply personal poem called Commemoration. It was one part a feminist response to the Virgin Mary’s conception and birth of Jesus and the other part a reaction to comments made by a visiting poet to the feminist response. The creative mathematical formula between the two was something more insightful and loud as a Sunday sermon for the ages. It got everyone perked up to full attention and ready for more. Lisa wasted no time from there to jump onto the mom poems. And when I say mom poems, I’m talking about work from Lisa that is inspired by her own mother. It is a figure in Lisa’s life that comes up regularly in what might originally seem the most irregular places, but, like the rest of Lisa’s work, it just fits and feels right.

One of my favorite prefaces to her poems was the title of the Last Poem about my Mother … for 3 Weeks. But the reading was more than just deep thoughts and worldly views from a daughter’s perspective. Lisa dove into themes of hauntings via house flies and ice men, winning wars despite having generals who drank too much, and other points inspired by transitions with drinking, sexuality, and traumatic life experiences. One such poem was inspired by seeing the news of a woman in New Delhi who was tortured, raped, and murdered on a bus after she had watched the movie Life of Pi with her boyfriend. The depths of horror revealed in such tales, while juxtaposed with Lisa’s honest, direct, not holding anything back, and empathetic energy within her punctuation, original insight, and delivery, all combine into something that allows the reader and listening audience to calmly walk up to the fine line of where sanity and death meet and reflect on life in a way that few artists and art can, in my humble opinion. Maybe it was the rain and the thunder and the lighting and everything else combined above that put me in such a trance, but I’m guessing that the talent and wonder of Lisa Dordal that can’t be defined in words has something to do with it.

Our featured music of the night is a mutual friend of one of our most enthusiastic East Side Storytellin’ alumnus in Ally Brown. This girl, our guest and not Ally, hails from sunny Orlando, Florida. A neo-soulite with a contemporary sound that follows the ever-changing fusion of Jazz and Neo-Soul, she often captures the attention of any audience with her versatile and original style. Since moving to Music City, she has released 3 singles via Firebreath Records and has held a residency at a local venue where she hosted a weekly jazz jam. Currently, she is working on her first album to be released any minute. Alongside her talented friend Ashton Kimbrough, the stage and crowd was set in the exact way it needed to be in order to properly digest the musical stylings of the amazing Alayna Renae!

I could actually hear Ashton continually playing soft keys in the background as I made my way to the mic to introduce the musical crew. I would later tell the crowd that I wanted to create a Kickstarter to raise enough money to pay Ashton to put wheels on his seat and keyboard and give him a salary to follow me around every single moment and everywhere while playing melodies to the tone of the day and moment. Everyone laughed, but I was serious … at least with wanting Ashton to follow me around and play his music. He is that good, y’all. The thing is, if that proposition were to  happen, Ashton would raise the bar for the moment every day that I would have to up my life game to make it look like a good pair. I say this because not everyone would be able to mesh and match with Ashton on the vocal side of music. Alayna Renae not only matches Ashton like two identical images in an old school game of memory, she totally surpasses any expectation of any vocal pairing I’ve come to East Side Storytellin’ with before this night. Again, she is that good, y’all.

With the busy fingers and musical canvas Ashton painted on the fly, Alayna pulled out all of the stops with her lyrics, stories, and emotions laid out for all to hear. It was as if she opened her private journal and poured out every emotion, life lesson, and any note that helped her to become the human she is today out on the floor for all to see. Whether it was talking about living life day by day or telling it how it is with your friends and loved ones, Alayna took a second to step back and then run  forwards with all of her might. Man, it was such a night. I’m not going to say anything else about the music because I want you to just listen to the recording and the talks below so you can get a glimpse of where I am coming from after experiencing everything I did on this special evening.

After the music faded, I again hosted a conversation with the featured artists. With two mics at the appropriate level, I kinda felt like all I had to do was drop the question like a tennis ball on the stage and let Lisa and Alayna knock it back and forth. The answers and smiles and honesty were as chill and amazing as a Championship match at Wimbledon on a Sunday afternoon. Again, you really just need to listen to the recording and hear for yourself. You will learn a lot about these artists and even more about yourself. Trust me. I know I am a better person already after being around these three.

So here it is, after writing and talking about it throughout the text above, this is the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 123, the night when Lisa Dordal, Alyana Renae, and Ashton Kimbrough brought the calm and the storm. This was recorded at The Post East on Tuesday, February 6, 2018. Feel free to listen to this link and share it with everyone you know, over and over again. You’re welcome.

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

You can read more about Lisa’s work here-
You can listen to more of Alayna’s music here –

You can listen to this show, edited, soon, alongside the previous shows too, on our website,, at our In Our Own Words Tab – see here –

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’ 124
Tuesday, February 20th
at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm
reading- K. H. A. O. S. (KHAOS NOBULLSHIT)
singing- Bentley Caldwell

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 123 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,