Chance Chambers

Chuck Beard, Destiny Birdsong, Mike Hicks, 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  114th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 113, I repeat … 113, 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’ 114. Let us begin, again.

Our first featured artist of the evening was someone who was born to be an artist by the sound of her name. She was born in Louisiana, but now calls Nashville home. She is a triple threat with her striking words as a published poet, essayist, and editor. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in African American Review, Indiana Review, Rove, The Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature, The Feminist Wire, and more. She is a recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize, and she earned both her MFA and PhD from Vanderbilt University. Needless to say, we were beyond honored to have her featured with us. After a busy Summer for us both, it was perfect timing to spotlight and showcase the tremendously talented Destiny Birdsong.

Destiny approached the microphone and the audience with a quiet confidence that was both powerful and calming in its silence. She pushed her papers together and started the day’s conversation. She acknowledged that her first poem was a process piece and that her process for this particular piece entailed watching Prime Time television. This instantly put my creative heart at ease because I’ve been binging some older, successful television series (such as The Sopranos, This is Us, and more) to study why so many people loved the writing and what styles compel me to create. Point being, it was a perfect start for everyone to put their guards down and listen to Destiny tell us about life via art. The second piece was another television inspiration, but it went even deeper with visuals of athletics and patriotism and racism as she analyzed what her life meant while reflecting on the Olympics. You can listen to this poem, as well as the others below, but all I can say is that it is brilliant. The lines about  exercising by reaching for ketchup followed by the sadness experiences while trying to choose a favorite between two black girls racing each other made me feel as though Dave Chappelle would be a little jealous that he hadn’t written those very lines first to commentate on the same visuals.

photo credit to Chance Chambers

But Destiny didn’t stop at the Olympic finish line. She dove deeper into politics with an original poem that included the infamous speech that Melania Trump said at the RNC … wait, check that … the same speech that Michelle Obama gave a few years back at the DNC. Either way you heard it, it was fascinating to think about the idea of how different meanings come from two people saying the exact same thing. Then Destiny took us on a trip with her poem that was featured on a poem of the week deal. To say that it was moving and gave chills to the bone while she discussed the Charleston 9 racist/terrorist monstrosity would be the understatement of the year. But Destiny saved a personal tale for her ending. She recalled a poem that was inspired by her great-grandmother, a woman who wrote many touching church sermons on one side and also ended up killing her husband on the other. Again, you really need to listen to the poem in the link below beyond me reviewing the show in my own words. But, that being said, I am forever grateful for Destiny taking the time to start the conversation that was had on September 5, 2017. I could listen to her read every day and continue to be a more thoughtful and better version of myself with every poem.

And then we were gifted with music. Our featured music of the night was someone who I believe is the future of Nashville’s musical soul. I first saw him at a very special show alongside East Side Storytellin’ alumnus Alicia Michilli as they both completely floored me and my wife while they played with Keb’ Mo’ at the Fontanel as part of a residency like none other. He was also part of the Based On anthology we put together just over two years ago, while his song Uruhu was inspired by poetry/story by Rashad thaPoet and Shawn Whitsell. Originally from Warner Robins, Georgia, this artist studied business and marketing at Middle Tennessee State University (Go Blue Raiders) before moving completely to Nashville and making magic happen with his music. He has toured with the likes of Keb’ Mo’ and Jonny Lang, among others, but we were more than happy to share this day with this man as he played his original work that floored everyone in the building and outside the windows passing by. And when I say we were happy to share this day with this guy, this was the only date available for the rest of the year (and I’ve been trying to schedule him for over 2 years so far). I’m talking about one of the busiest and most talented musician I know in show business today … the one, the only, the humble, the man … Mike Hicks.

Mike sat down at his office, behind the self-proclaimed “most expensive shield” he could find to go to battle with his ammo of melodies and love, and tickled the ivories, shook off the dust of the day, and immediately made a near full house light up with smiles from the first note he struck. If you’ve ever seen or heard Mike perform his music, then you already know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I’ll try to explain (before you just listen to the extended show below too). Mike is not only a musical and creative breathe of fresh air, he is also the first breathe of air you get after being submerged in the deep end of the pool by the man while the lifeguards ignore the dire situation laid out right in front of them. His music and message is life itself. Once you taste it, you can’t go back to what you were eating up before and you certainly can’t unhear the stories and lessons interwoven into the emotional songs he sings. Simply put, his music is a force of life and can easily be used to take the conversation and insight that Destiny drops on us to the next level of action in the streets (or social media if you need to start there).

Mike prefaced each song with a little gem of knowledge of where he and the song came from to meet in the middle of writing and performing them. He grew up in the church and combines the good parts of his childhood lessons with the trials and tribulations, adversity and accomplishments, that he faces on a day-to-day schedule in the current popular music scene worldwide and in the front row. He sings about injustice with race, financial systems and institutions, and historical figures that more need to know about and who should never be forgotten, and then he beautiful ties all of that into words that you can relate to if you have a heart and a mind that work and music that will make you tap your feet and shimmy in your seat (if you aren’t already standing up and dancing).

photo credit to Chance Chambers

Mike ended his set with two songs that will not soon be forgotten by anyone in the crowd. Both were set with the background of two separate people who have continuously inspired Mike while on his personal journey. The first was about Miss Josie and the second was about a local man by the name of Mister Bobby. I told Mike I would spread the message (beyond just sharing the recording below), so here it goes. Mister Bobby is an older black man around the age of 70 who you may hear singing at any time of the night if you are walking around the East Nashville street of Shelby Avenue at any given spot from the park to downtown. Mike hasn’t seen him in years, but if you see a man who fits the description, please ask the man if his name is Mister Bobby. And, if it is Mister Bobby, please tell him to call his friend Mike Hicks. Thank you for sharing the good word and paying it forward.

After the music faded, I was blessed with the opportunity to converse with Mike and Destiny. Typically these conversations last around an average of 20 minutes. I knew this was going to be longer because of the depth and heart that these two artists give on a daily basis and the chance for so many white patrons in the crowd and afterwards with the recording to listen to two black artists who articulate the current cultural, political, and social questions and struggles our country and world is dealing with every single second of every single day. Again, I will do their answers and the conversation injustice if I don’t just let the recording do the talking for this recap. I will end my comments here, unless you reach out directly via the website or email. This recap has ended, but the conversation sparked and lit even brighter due to the efforts of Destiny Birdsong and Mike Hicks on this given show will continue to grow like wildfire until we get this thing on the right track for everyone involved. I’ll just leave it at that for now.

So here is the edited version of East Side Storytellin’ 114, the show when Destiny Birdsong and Mike Hicks spoke, sang, preached, taught, and threw light (the opposite of shade) needed in our worlds more than ever. It was recorded at The Post East on Tuesday, September 5, 2017. I am so thankful these two people took time out of their busy lives to share their talents with us. Once again, serendipity struck with the absolute perfect pairing and timing for this series. I am forever grateful.

You can read more of Destiny’s writing here –

http://destinybirdsong.com

You can listen to more of Mike’s music here –

https://www.youtube.com/user/MHicksMusic

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’ 115

Tuesday, September 19th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Aaron Joel Lain

singing- Joe Nolan

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 114 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 to Chance Chambers

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Tom Eizonas, Susan McBride, Chuck Beard, and Mary Bragg

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 113th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 112, I repeat … 112, 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’ 113. Let us begin, again.

Our first featured artist of the night is someone who is an amazing artist but is an even better person. I first met her while we were both working at Oasis Center. Whenever anyone finds out that I worked at Oasis Center, they give me this look that I’m lucky and that that means I’m a special person. The truth is that I’m lucky to have met this friend there and she is truly a special person. She is the child of chronic church attending, God, drug, and alcohol addicted relatives (aren’t we all though), but she embraces a resurrection of sorts through confrontation of lethal theology. She is a recent graduate of Vanderbilt with her Master of Divinity (at the young age of 65, mind you), but her poetry is why she is featured tonight. Her work is a poignant prose styled picture of misery that sometimes gives way to humor. It is a testament to truth and strength found within us all. Without writing for days, let me say that it was an absolute honor to introduce my friend and talented artist, Susan McBride.

Susan went toe to toe with the immense and looming aftereffects of current events in our country that took place in Charlottesville this past weekend the only way she knows how, with honesty, insight, and love. She started her set with two long and family-related pieces that took everyone in the room on a roller coaster of emotions in the best of ways. The first story was about an unfortunate death and someone’s last meal. The second delved more in family characters and locations and was a superb trip via trains and rehab and possibly jail in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. There were mentions of Elvis-like Bear Bryant sitings, and the volcano of emotions and actions blew its lid and overflowed with a young girl declaring to the family everything she knows is true from the bottom, top, and sides of her heart. It was some very powerful stuff! And not only did it have a cool name of Aunt Evelyn (I pronounced it as Evil Lean, which fit her character), Susan also had a main character by the name of Uncle Otis (shout out to my son without being an uncle thing).

Anyways, Susan ended her set with a short piece from God and Family that begged to bring up the thought of someone not asking to be born to these people she has as parents, always confronted with the right answers to the wrong questions … or something like that. It was, as the rest of her writing, heart wrenching and hit you straight to the core. Lucky for you, even if you were in the audience this given night, you can listen to Susan read it all over again and again in the link below. Be strong, and take the trip.

Our featured music of the night is an award-winning singer-songwriter who was born in THE Swainsboro, Georgia, but now calls Nashville home. The youngest of four children and a city full of cousins, she grew up listening by default and became a great observer from the get go. After finding herself and finding her own way of telling her stories via music, you can tell by such titles as SUGAR, TATTOOES & BRUISES, EDGE OF THIS TOWN, and her latest in LUCKY STRIKE, that this artist makes quite the layered stories within stories with her word and her melody skills. This songbird’s music explores the questions and search to discover our truest selves, the ones outside of our families and communities in which we are raised. More than happy to finally get her to become part of the East Side Storytellin’ family, it was perfect timing for everyone for me to introduce Mary Bragg to our stage.

Mary wasted no time in getting up to the microphone and letting everyone know just how special this timing and pairing was to her. She said something to the effect that, and I paraphrase in quotes, “These types of events, it often comes down to timing and availability, I know from experience, and it is truly amazing how all of Susan’s stories reflect and relate to my songs.” To which I yet again said under my breath, “Serendipity!” Yes, serendipity, indeed. Mary completely dropped everyone’s jaws with her voice from the heavens and the content from the depths of her soul. I’ll admit it here and now, my mom was in the crowd and she shed real tears during one of the songs … maybe two. It was that good and moving.

Mary broke out a lot of her “story” songs for the crowd and this set. She sang about wildfires, the 40 year love between her aunt and uncle (not sure if his name was Otis or not at the moment), bayou lullabies, and the title track from Lucky Strike, to name a few. She was in character as the melodic narrator of these epic tales, and you can actually feel the words if you listen carefully in between the notes in the recording below. Before she was to finish her set, Mary changed things up a bit on a lighter note and sang a song she co-wrote with her friend Becky Warren about two of my household’s favorite things (items that could be the perfect reflection of my marriage and love), ice cream and liquor. Mary finished the set with smiles and fun all around. Everyone was feeling better than before the show, and that’s all I could ever ask of anything we do.

After the music and the applause faded, I asked Mary and Susan to join me up front yet again to talk more about their own personal mantras and lessons they’ve learned about their personal stories and creativity in general. They both maintained the same honesty and openness and spunk that they showed while sharing their original art. Let me repeat this again, I couldn’t have asked for a better and more closely pair of strangers to be featured on this given Tuesday when we hosted #113. With so much weight in the world at the moment, it was more than refreshing to share an evening with two artists who live with so much love and care for others on and off the stage, every day they breathe. I don’t think it was just coincidence that this pairing hit the stage one a day that my mom told me before the show that it was a Catholic sacred day for Mary because I really feel like Mary Bragg and Susan McBride were delivering some powerful messages that those of us in attendance needed to be reminded of for that day. It was like we all went to church on a Tuesday … a church filled with more love and teach than judgement and preach.

But who am I to ramble on about everything that happened. I was merely a witness. And, again, lucky for you and those who weren’t there to witness it firsthand, go ahead and click the link below to listen to and share the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 113, a recording of Susan McBride and Mary Bragg doing what they do and did at The Post on Tuesday, August 15, 2017. It was truly an honor. 

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

You can read more of Susan’s writing here – http://approachingperfection-barnone.blogspot.com

You can listen to more of Mary’s music here – www.marybragg.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’ 114

Tuesday, September 5th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Destiny Birdsong

singing- Mike Hicks

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 113 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, 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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John Condit, Chuck Beard, Nikki Barber, Jamie Timm, Casey Renee LeVasseur, and Tom Eizonas (not pictured, missed but not forgotten with The Minks, Jordan Solly Levine).

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 108th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 107, I repeat … 107, 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 the East Side Storytellin’ 108. Let us begin, again.

Our first featured artist of the evening is someone who was born in LA and began her love affair with words studying and memorizing lyrics from her favorite bands. She also grew up watching her father perform his music in nightclubs and bars so this whole combining literature with music for a night is not her first rodeo here tonight. In fact, she often goes a step further and adds film into the mix. Her passion for writing and film led her to a degree in Cinema Arts from California State University. She is featured tonight because her debut novel, Silence & Noise: one girl’s journey into insanity, is a coming of age story about a girl’s struggle with mental illness that has been an important part of East Side Story since our beginnings. please join me in giving a big round of applause for my friend, the multi-talented muse, put your hands together for the one and only Casey Renee Le’Vasseur.

Before I really start this thing, I need to give some noteworthy behind the scene short stories from before the show, in no particular rank or order. First, Tom had accidentally erased the recorded intro in the sound system (if you aren’t there in person, odds are you don’t really know that Dave Eastman isn’t actually there in person most of the time as the main intro MC). So, I did what any respected host would do, I grabbed the iPhone of my near and dear friend James Martin (a man who can and does just about everything cool that you’d ever imagine = you can see one of his latest creations here- www.facebook.com/edonthebus) and he pulled up the SounCloud link of our intro from another show and blasted it as well as I could over the microphone. The crowd appreciated it mucho. And secondly, Casey asked a few of us in the circle of trust which order we would suggest her reading her three short stories that were described as 1) Love Story, 2) Story of Loss, and 3) somewhere in the middle with intrigue. We told her to go with her gut and that we’d be happy with whatever she decides to do because that’s how the show rolls.

photo by Colin Lewis

So, Casey jumped on the microphone like the pro she is and started off the show with LOVE. It was a take on romance and new beginnings that moved everyone to the edge of their seats. I’ll let you listen to the reading below instead of trying to recap details or put words into the story. Once LOVE was established, she dove head and heart first tint the LOSS. Set in the snow, the audience had a chance to sit back in their seats and feel the coldness of memories and people lost in our worlds. Then, the bring everything together and set up the perfect moment of letting everyone leave with the impression that its up to us to grab the wheel and drive wherever our impulses call, Casey told a tremendous tale called Mississippi River. With a tone of pleasure and pain meshed together as perfectly as Wednesday Addams would do on a Tuesday, Casey reminded us that she is brilliant with words and unafraid at sharing every bit of vulnerability of every character she creates to reach the truest potential of each story she shares. It was something special.

And then, speaking of something very special, we decided to invite what was sure to quickly become the loudest band we would feature to date. And we were so ready for it. Our featured music of the night is led by someone I was first introduced by way of two East Side Storytellin’ trusted connections in Erin Rae McKaskle and Kristen Reilly – both who continue to amaze us. The band itself is a bluesy psychedelic explosion, made from a revolving cast of talented members from the local scene. It originally formed just 2 years ago right here in Music City. Inspired by the old days of Warhol’s factory, Townsend’s windmills, and Dylan’s poetry, this band tries to blend into the silver lining of our remarkable history into our unbelievable current world. They’ve been called the southern Velvet Underground, but this night I was honored to introduce them and call them by the name I know them best. Individually, you may call them Jordan, John, Jamie, and Nikki, but together, like The Wyld Stallyns, they are called The Minks!

Look. There are a lot of bands around town and outside of town that write bio’s about themselves and try to hype their music beyond who and what they are. The Minks are not that kind of band. They are the real deal. They are everything they say they are and more. I had to say that right off the bat because from the very first notes and moments they amped up the show, we all were blown away with their awesomeness. The combine elements of your favorite Southern Rock n’ Roll greats such as The Allman Brothers and Creedance Clearwater Revival (not even sure if Creedance were true Southerners , but I had to give a quick shout out to our recently passed Nashvillian gone too soon in Gregg Allman) and then sprinkle all of that with what I like to call some 70’s Southern punk too. Point being, they bring the real.

Again, I’d rather you listen to the actual recording of the show to hear what I’m talking about instead of having me ramble for a few minutes over the line. I’ve gotta add another behind the scenes story that was not the band’s fault – it might have been something in the air in general – but our recording devices ended up crashing mid-way through the set and Tom lost a song and a half (“Sweet Talk” and half of “Moving On” if you’re counting) before getting everything back in line for the rest of the set and show. Some people in the audience may have heard a few hiccups, but Tom was a master at keeping the train on the tracks. Point being, I’m not certain it wasn’t the band’s sound that didn’t knock it the system out of sorts because their sound was so big and epic that I am certain they could have filled LP Stadium with that set. I’m just saying, this group is amazing and big time. It won’t be long before they do start playing those arenas. Take a listen below and get to know them better than you do now.

photo by Chance Chambers

I didn’t want to single out the band like No Doubt and Gwen back in the day, but I only had Nikki join the post music conversation alongside Casey because I already know I’ll have John and Jamie and Jordan on again with their other bands eventually (if they say yes and Jordan doesn’t have another dinner date or secondary evening gig to attend). But that said, I was able to further ask both Casey and Nikki about their creative passions, in and out of music and writing and everything else cool that they are making happen. These two are anything but slackers, giving everything they have to so many worthy causes and collaborating with some of the best quality people in any business right now. Seriously, take a listen to the following recording, go online to buy everything they are selling, and make it a point to go see these two golden individuals do what they do in person the next chance you can. You’ll thank me later.

So, here it is, the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 108 that featured Casey Renee LeVasseur and The Minks at The Post East on Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Feel free to listen to it and share with everyone you know over and over. This recording will never get old. It’s an instant classic. Enjoy, and thank you for your time.

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

You can read more of Casey’s writing here – crlwrites.com

You can listen to more of The Minks’ music here – www.facebook.com/theminksss

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.

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

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’ 109

Tuesday, June 20th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Jenna Dorian (jcdorian.com)

singing- Alicia Michilli (aliciamichilli.com)

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 108 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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Sam Torode, Tom Eizonas, Russell Thompson, 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 107th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 106, I repeat … 106, 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’ 107. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night is someone who is actually related on his father’s side of the tree to Henry David Thoreau. On his mother’s side, the ancestors include Texas farmers, preachers, outlaws, banjo players, and Cherokee Native Americans. Like many of our featured artists, he doesn’t limit himself to one medium. You can Google him later and find his album of jazz standards titled Someone to Watch Over Me. Some of his favorite storytellers are Mark Twain, Flannery O’Connor, and Ray Bradbury. Some of his favorite thinkers are Ralph Waldo Emerson, Joseph Campbell, and Marcus Aurelius. Combining everything from the storytellers, thinkers, and jazz greats, this artist is the featured author tonight because of the release of his novel The Dirty Parts of the Bible. He’ll cover more about his work other than it being one of the catchiest and most intriguing titles at East Side Story later in the show, but it was an honor to welcome our featured reader to the stage. I’m talking about the one, the only, Sam Torode!

Sam had admittedly taken some time to build up confidence while battling insecurities every artist fights before he decided to bring some of his books into East Side Story recently. And before this show, he told me he had rarely taken time to schedule any planned readings to share his work, because he was unsure of the reception. There wasn’t any worry on my behalf for the show’s reception for Sam and his work because there were plenty of family and friends in the mix to listen. You wouldn’t have been able to tell that Sam had any butterflies either from the outside. Sam always gives off the impression that he is calm, cool, and collected. I knew the time was right and that his amazing book would speak for itself.

Sam had broken down his reading into several excerpts that not only laid out the perfect setting for characters and theme and title of his book, but it also was the perfect teaser for people to get pulled into his work and want to know more. Within the sections he shared, Sam told us about different stages of development about the main character named Tobias. This young man was raised by a strict preacher in the town of Remus, North Michigan. Sam started the story from Tobias’ birth. Then, he shared the direct piece of the story that influenced the title of the book where Tobias found out about the racier sections of The Bible that talked about a woman’s chest area of flesh. It’s true, it’s all there for the reading. Sam said it a lot better than I just did, but like everything else Sam shared, it just made perfect sense. I felt like we were all being entertained and educated at the same time.

Sam finished his performance by sharing two final sections that were cool and striking, to say the least. First, he described quite the adventure on a train with Tobias and his older friend Craw. Craw taught him some enlightening, non-traditional remedies that may or may not work (I’d love to ask Sam if he researched some of those or totally made them up = you’ll hear them in the recording or read them for yourself. It’s worth your time, either way). There was also a wonderful scene of Craw teaching Tobias how to properly jump from a moving train (don’t try this at home, kids). And then Sam closed his set with a trip to another character’s house by the name of Sarah (the character, not the house’s name). Like I said before, Sam did a wonderful job of setting up the book with a pinpoint layout of interesting scenes and characters that made everyone in the room want to read and hear more. And for someone who doesn’t do this very often, I’d say Sam is well on his way to making this more of a frequent happening. At least I hope so. He is a brilliant reader and an even better writer. But like Lamar, don’t take my word for it. Listen to the recording below and get the book when you have a chance soon.

Our featured music of the night is someone who I met the very first time I met our featured author. I kid you not, both of these scholars came into the store the very same day and we spent about an hour talking about literature, pop culture, religion (thanks to Sam’s book title and this guy’s past in the church), and everything in between. Back to our featured musician, he is mutual friend and frequent stage-sharer with fellow East Side Storytellin’ alumni greats in Megan Palmer and Sergio Webb. Born to a Navy man, he crossed the country 3 times over by the age of 10. He’s lived in and played towns and cities and farms and deserts and mountains, forests, canyons, and rivers all over. He is 64 years young and has lived in 62 different places. We are very lucky to have this guy here tonight. He’s been a mechanic, a painter, a carpenter, a salesman, a cook, a husband, a father, a minister, and combined all of that into being a stellar songwriter and musician for the past decade. Releasing his full-length recording soon, entitled Sometimes I Dream, I couldn’t have been more excited to introduce the likes of Russell Thompson.

If you’ve ever met Russell then you already know that he has never met a stranger. He took a seat beside the microphone, in front of a room of people he just met the hour before sitting down, and jumped right into talking about his move to Nashville and what pulled him out of religion and into searching for more soul outside of San Diego awhile back. It was one of the most intriguing introductions to an East Side Storytellin’ musical sets that I’ve ever witnessed. It reminded me of the great RL Burnside (you need to know who that is, if you don’t already). Before we knew what hit us, Russell was sipping his water and ready to sing the first song he wrote after leaving his ministry and before landing in Nashville. He had played it during sound check and blew Sam and I away, but then he took it to another level for everyone in the room. It was truly amazing.

In keeping with the featured book and content of the night, Russell carried on with the conversation of love and sex right into his song about a sweet and sacred bed. You can take the jelly roll line as that much or as a donut reference if you’re hungry and into that. Either way, Russell was on fire. His songs were as multi-layered in references and metaphors and flat-out philosophies that were much needed to be heard in today’s chaos. He made note of where he was and what struck him to write each one of his songs. He shared that the song about sunglasses was inspired from seeing Bob Dylan at an award ceremony, that a song about ding dong and the bells ringing was like a call to action from Woodie Guthrie himself, that a dream about a boy named Johnny and his pal got Russell thinking and rambling about people he had never met but was connected with, and also how the idea of Mother’s Day flashed a song thought that resembled an old Guy Clark favorite of his. I can’t say this enough, Russell’s songs and spirit are so brilliant.

Again, as soon as we were just hitting our groove of a show, it was time to get both of the artists on stage and for me to attempt to connect the dots via personal questions. Like the first day I met Russell and Sam in the bookstore, it was more about letting them do their thing and share the moment and me just trying to stay out of the way than anything else. It may sound in the recording as though I was a little more jittery than usual, and you may be right, but I admitted to them that I wish I could’ve just let them talk for several hours about their personal stories and professions and inspirations for why they do what they do without restraint. These two guys, like so many of the pairings we have on the show serendipitously, have so much to share with the world to help make everything make sense and strive for a better tomorrow. They have a deep sense of what changes should be made with focus and action in this country right now, in regards to religion and politics and life in general, and I for one was happy to share a small moment and spotlight with them as they continue on their personal journeys moving forward.

Again, I highly suggest you get a copy of Sam’s book and look out for the release of Russell’s newest album when it comes out and that you make plans to check out each of these guys whenever they are sharing their art in public again. I promise that you will be a better version of yourself after you experience what they’re creating and sharing.

And speaking of something these two are creating and sharing, please take a moment to listen to and share the edited version of East Side Storytellin’ 107 that featured Sam Torode and Russell Thompson at The Post East on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017. It was a brilliant show that can live on forever, thanks to the good ol’ internets. Do yourself a favor, and take a gander. You can thank me in an hour.

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

You can read more of Sam’s writing here –  www.amazon.com/author/samtorode

You can listen to more of Russell’s music by searching on Youtube.com and Facebook.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 design by Clay Brunton, inspired by The Dirty Parts of The Bible

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’ 108

Tuesday, June 6th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Casey Renee Le’Vasseur

singing-The Minks

That said, that’s all for the recap and recording of East Side Storytellin’ 107 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

1 for the road

2 for the road

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East Side Storytellin’ 100: When John J. Thompson & Phil Madeira made Jesus, Bread, Chocolate, and God on the Rocks make sense when we needed it most

February 14, 2017

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. And thanks to Dave Eastman for saying such nice things about the show, about me, and about several insightful meanings behind the significance of the number 100. We were sorry to miss you at this show, Dave, but we wish nothing but the best for health and happiness in […]

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East Side Storytellin’ 96 – the night Leanne W. Smith and The Arcadian Wild combined Lipscomb University and Beyonce and made the world right again

December 10, 2016

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 96th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 95, I repeat … 95, previous shows East Side Story […]

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East Side Storytellin’ 95- the night Patricia Alice Albrecht and Molly Parden took us to church on the Tuesday after Black Tuesday

November 21, 2016

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 95th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 94, I repeat … 94, previous shows East Side Story […]

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East Side Storytellin’ 93: When Leeah was free to fly and Dustin paid homage to his creative heroes

October 21, 2016

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 93rd epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 92, I repeat … 92, previous shows East Side Story […]

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East Side Storytellin’ 92: When Blu and Andrew paid creative tributes to their dads

October 10, 2016

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 92nd epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 91, I repeat … 91, previous shows East Side Story […]

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