Chicago

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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Chuck Beard, Peter McKeown, Barry Jones, and Tom Eizonas

Chuck Beard, Peter McKeown, Barry Jones, 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 88th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 87, I repeat … 87, 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’ 88. Let us begin, again.

Oh, and before I get started, I should mention that this show’s serendipitous  connection between the two featured artists is sports. Specifically, the sport of soccer found its way into this pairing. Again, I’ll mention that there is no formula for choosing which Nashville author is matched with the Nashville musician/band. As you’ll read and listen below, these two guys were meant to featured together. They were not only great soccer players, one of them playing professionally, but they also somehow coached the same player (albeit separated by time and location).

Our first featured artist of the evening is a retired scientist who immigrated to the United States after graduating from the University of Wales with a Ph. D in Chemistry. After retiring from a successful career in science, he became a soccer coach for several traveling teams and the TN State Soccer Association and became an inductee in the TN State Soccer Hall of Fame. You know, the classic Nashville fiction writer story. He became a writer and storyteller when he had enough of coaching and probably witnessed enough personal stories to fill an encyclopedia set. He is the author of several books, including Words Upon a Tombstone, More Words Upon a Tombstone, The Search for Kindronium 379, Rusted Rails, and The Garbage Sifter. You can purchase almost all of his works at East Side Story. Ladies and gentleman, I’m talking about the one and only Barry Jones!

photo by Chance Chambers

photo by Chance Chambers

Barry brought his lovely bride, friends, excerpts from several pieces of writing, bravado, and his killer accent to the reading. Packed and ready with all of the above, he didn’t waste any time on stage. And, like so many of the featured musicians who try new material for our show, Barry’s first story was a short story from the soon to be published More Words Upon a Tombstone. Titled Seeking Inspiration, it was a wonderful tale about a writer and finding personal and financial success and pitfalls in modern publishing. There were elements of religion, philosophy, media, culture, the process of writing, the process of publishing, and everything in between. It was a great tease for the new book and collection of short stories, and it was a perfect way to get everyone in the mood for this particular show.

He followed up Seeking Inspiration with an excerpt from his best-selling book The Garbage Sifter. To preface the reading, Barry gave a detailed synopsis of the book and what it entails. The set up was very relevant for the current Presidential primaries and general election, with a hint of Argentina. To preface this scheduled show, one of dearest supporters and readers at East Side Story, a person who has read a majority of the books we have, has told me that The Garbage Sifter is one of the top 2 books we have in our collection. Again, you can purchase it at East Side Story when you pay us a visit. As for the reading of The Garbage Sifter, Barry was top notch at presenting his research, process, material, and another tease to intrigue you to follow up on a purchase. Barry is a dynamic reader and writer, for sure.

Our featured musician of the night is a very special solo project of Nashville based-Minnesota raised singer/songwriter Peter John McKeown. On this particular night, the band included Peter, his lovely and talented girlfriend, singer/songwriter Andrea Lee Davidson, and a guitar (deciding to leave his somewhat usual loop pedal and other friends). Born in musically rich Twin Cities, Minnesota, he went to college in Chicago to play soccer and because Chicago was a city where busking was allowed. He did a lot of both. In fact, he had a stint with the professional soccer MN United FC! He broke his ankle, thankfully not his wrist, and jumped head and heart first into playing his music again. Peter writes philosophically minded indie-americana songs layered with beat-boxing, whistling, and various harmonies. Peter is someone who has attended and supported a number of East Side Storytellin’ shows in the past so it’s appropriate and about time we welcome him to the show’s family. I believe I first met Peter right here at The Post via Tonya awhile back so this evening came a little full circle for us. Anyways, point being, alongside Morningstar Arts, there was a packed room, filled with family and friends and new fans to support Peter and his wonderful project by the name of Woodferd.

Peter didn’t skip a beat or even say anything. He went right to his guitar and his song. The first one, took the show where Barry had left it and then Peter elevated it that much more. A song about feeling lost, but revealing that nobody is truly lost, I thought it was the perfect anthem for my dear friend Natasha (who was in the crowd, witnessing her final East Side Storytellin’ show before hitting the globe to New Zealand with her friend). I’m not saying Natasha is or feeling lost, but the melody of the first and then the second song, combined with the messages of not feeling lost and believing in life and letting go, it all just made sense and struck a deep chord with everyone in the room. The room was silent while Peter was anything but. It was really something magical to experience. At times, it reminded me of a show at The Ryman where I saw Damien Rice perform nearly a decade ago. It was this good.

Peter invited Andrea to the stage, and they shared a beautiful love song they had co-written together. What was even more touching than the song was how they recounted their first official date. They had met at The Post, enjoyed getting to know one another, and then they kissed. What happened after that, Peter feeling the need to throw up because of discovering he was allergic to something in the smoothie, was where the story became as unique and unforgettable as the song they shared. You can see the love in the picture below and also the recording at the bottom. Again, it was this good.

Andrea Lee Davidson and Peter McKeown. Photo by Chance Chambers

Andrea Lee Davidson and Peter McKeown.
Photo by Chance Chambers

Peter ended the show with a few other stellar songs, one about Jesus that really combined his depth, insight, wit, and wordsmithing behind what makes Peter so great. But one of my favorite parts of the night was when he was eloquently sharing the backstory about his recently born, BRILLIANT, nephew, who inspired the final baby song of the night. You can hear it for yourself below. I think you’ll enjoy it.

But before I let these two guys go for the night, I once again had them on stage together to share their personal stories and inspiration for doing what they do. They were both in their element, going back and forth with tales of what makes them tick creatively and what have been some of their turning point moments in creating and performing the works they’ve made up to this point. There were several laughs, many smiles, and an overall heck of a night shared between everyone who was a part of East Side Storytellin’ (as you can see in this picture, and all of the pictures really).

Photo by Chance Chambers

Photo by Chance Chambers

So, here it is, the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 88, featuring Barry Jones and Woodferd (Peter McKeown & Andrea Lee Davidson) at The Post on Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016. Enjoy and share over and over again, as you wish:

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

You can read more about Barry’s writing here- www.barryjonesstories.com

You can listen to more of Woodferd’s music here – woodferdmusic.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.

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

art by Clay Brunton

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’ 89

Tuesday, August 16th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Erica Wright (ericawright.typepad.com)

singing-  Luke Amelang (www.lukeamelang.com)

That said- that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 88 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

one more for the road

one more for the road

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Evidence that we finished the race together from the start of this post so you and my mom won't worry any longer :)

Evidence that we finished the race together from the start of this post so you and my mom won’t worry any longer 🙂

On the morning of Saturday, November 28th, 2015, when most people in their right minds were spending the Saturday after Thanksgiving with family and loved ones, surrounding themselves with extra servings of turkey leftovers and football games as far as their hungry eyes could see, my good friend Derrick Pierce and I ran a marathon in my hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Before you get this post twisted, this is not a shaming post to inspire you to get off the couch or to discourage the act of appreciating the remnants of Thanksgiving as long as you can. I love both of those ideas much more than I do training and running a marathon, especially a 2-person marathon without an official time or road closures or medals or bib numbers or photo finishes. This is a post of remembering our loved ones.

Like stretching our muscles before the big run, this race has a brief story before the story that clarifies the situation and sets the mood. On August 29th, I received the following email from the husband of another close friend, Adriana Melnyk Brandt:

Adriana’s father Rusty has been in hospice at home for a little over a week.  He passed away this afternoon.

In his final days he was comforted by Joy, Adriana, and other friends and family members and was able to listen to a playlist of the final Grateful Dead shows from earlier this month, which brought him comfort. Rusty was a lifelong Deadhead amongst his many amazing skills and sense of humor.  I will personally miss him dearly and am forever indebted to him for his life advice, and letting me marry his daughter.

They also played the following concert, which Rusty saw when he was in college in upstate NY. We all listened to it together as a family on our back porch last summer, before we moved to Utah.  He may or may not have, in his own words, “dropped acid and eaten a fist-full of reds and blues” while at this show. The show is a great one (unaided) and we ask that you keep Rusty, Joy, and Adriana in your thoughts while you listen to it.

The show ends with a jam of Saint Stephen (Rusty’s favorite song) / Not Fade Way / Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad / Not Fade Away / Turn on Your Lovelight.  Even if you don’t know the music, the titles alone are fitting. The jam is even preceded by Big Railroad Blues (Rusty worked for the railroad for many years before retiring in 2012).

Rusty Melnyk displaying his old school, dreamy, pensive looks which Adriana said was very much him his entire life.

Rusty Melnyk displaying his old school, dreamy, pensive looks which Adriana said was very much him his entire life.

Rusty Melnyk snoozing after another successful family Thanksgiving in 2013 (I told you this isn't a post about shaming people on couches on Thanksgiving!)

Rusty Melnyk snoozing after another successful family Thanksgiving in 2013 (I told you this isn’t a post about shaming people on couches on Thanksgiving!)

Upon receiving the email, I was heartbroken for Adriana. I cannot fathom losing my father so I immediately reached out to her to talk and catch up but that didn’t happen. Understandably, she was in a place where she needed time to let it all sink in. I respected her space and told her to let me know when she was able to talk. I felt even worse about things because I hadn’t talked with Adriana in a very long time. She had moved out to Utah in the past year, received her doctorate, and had also taken up a love of ultra marathon running due to her love of finishing everything she starts and a deep appreciation for the outdoors and wondrous landscapes of the West.

Later that same day of receiving the email about Adriana’s dad, I was in a text message with several other mutual friends of Adriana and Derrick when it dawned on me that I had not seen Derrick since he and I ran the Music City Marathon in Nashville back in 2009. Soon after that race, Derrick moved to Arkansas to start up his own successful optometry practice and has been busy ever since in his own world. Hearing the news that Derrick had gone through a divorce not too long ago without me knowing about it, I was feeling two-for-two of being a real shitty friend in time of need for two people I deeply care about and love very much.

To preface this preface = Adriana and Derrick and I first became the closest of friends when we all lived and studied abroad together in the spring of 2001 in Merida, Mexico through a program offered by Centre College. There are too many stories to tell about those adventures and the ones that followed so I’ll leave that for another post altogether.

Centre in Mexico 2kuno = Semana Santa Easter Festival in Antigua, Guatemala 2001. Adriana and Derrick and me in the middle with other amigos

Centre in Mexico 2kuno = Semana Santa Easter Festival in Antigua, Guatemala 2001. (Pictured from left to right: Julia Muchard, Prescott Hoffman (God rest his soul), TJ Brown, Lucas Joyner, Adriana, mE in the back, Derrick, and Sam Beiting.

Another shot from Spring Break 2001 on the weeklong adventure in Mexico and Guatemala. This is me, Derrick, Adriana, Sam, Julia, Lucas, TJ (tejota), and Prescott (God rest his soul, gone too early in a tragic accident soon after graduation).

Another shot from Spring Break 2001 in a forest in Palenque, Chiapas during our weeklong adventure in Mexico and Guatemala. This is mE on the tree, Derrick, Adriana, Sam Beiting, Julia Muchard, Lucas Joyner, TJ Brown (tejota), and Prescott Hoffman (God rest his soul, gone too early in a tragic accident soon after graduation).

I texted Derrick to see if he’d like to catch up via a phone call that very evening and he promptly answered my call. He assured me that all was well in his world, professionally and personally, and then I brought up the news and idea I had to honor Adriana and her family. Here is the brief phone conversation:

Me: Hey, do you still run a lot?

Derrick: Well, I have run a few marathons this year already but I’m definitely taking a break until the fall.

Me: Derrick, you do realize that it’s August and you said you’ve ran a few marathons this year and it’s almost fall, right? You could have just said yes.

Derrick: True. What do you have in mind, chizzucles?

Me: Well, are you coming back to Kentucky for the holidays at all?

Derrick: I’ll definitely be in for Thanksgiving.

Me: Okay. Let me talk to Adriana and then get back to you.

Derrick: Deal. I’m down for whatever.

I emailed Adriana right back after chewing the fat with Derrick and she said that she would only be back East for Christmas. I had to tell her that that would not be good timing for the idea to happen on my end and we’d have to stick to Thanksgiving without her physically being present because I couldn’t train for my idea and then not follow through with the race if my wife went into labor and had our first child around Christmas (talk about an announcement on the fly within close circles – we are due on December 30th but it looks like it will come early – we don’t know what we are having but we know it’s – shim’s – a giant). Adriana totally understood and was happy just to be in the loop.

So, here was the initial idea before the run:

I would map out a race route around Bowling Green, Kentucky that would start and end at my parents’ home on Garvin Lane. It would feature spots along the route that not only highlighted past memories and current homes of family and friends where they could set up mini-cheer/aid stations for us, but it would also let Derrick get a good view of everything Bowling Green has to appreciate = check.

I enlisted my good friend Alex Smith, a great artist and screen printer who just opened a new business in downtown BG called The A-Frame, to make special t-shirts to commemorate the race and all involved = check.

Derrick sent me two training schedules. He sent the second one saying this one is a bit more difficult than the first if you aren’t skeered … knowing full well that I would do the second one after that message. Derrick can run a marathon in 3.5 hours so it would be the perfect set-up for me to finally run one in under 4 (even if 3:59:59). After all, we weren’t running to qualify for any other races in the near future.

With the training and race in the books, and a few family members and friends lined up to make an appearance along the route to help us on the day of the run, all was set for another epic adventure to be had together. Then tragedy struck again.

Two weeks on the dot from the race day, a guy I once knew in high school, Justin Griffin, fell to his death on the other side of the world. Justin was a Kentucky state champion runner and classmate at Bowling Green Senior High School and someone who always drove others to smile more, run faster, and be nicer to one another. He was a driven soul who inspired others to expect more out of themselves as well. Since our time together in high school, Justin went on to become an award-winning professional designer & builder and world-renowned climber and father of his first and only baby this past year. He was at the tail end of a few weeks of volunteering on a special project in Nepal and also marking a new historic climbing route when he slipped. You can read all about his final adventure here – www.climbing.com/news/tragedy-follows-first-ascent-in-nepal/.

Justin Griffin- picture and words to read on this link by his friend Conrad Anker- https://www.instagram.com/p/-jTucnMFpG/

Justin Griffin- picture and words to read on this link by his friend Conrad Anker- https://www.instagram.com/p/-jTucnMFpG/

The news of Justin’s passing hit me extremely hard. The fact that he was doing something he loved dearly instead of a traditional career path and also that he was a fairly new father put some major life things in perspective for me just when I needed them. Also, my heart went out to his younger sister, Lane, who I was closer to than Justin but hadn’t talked to in a handful of years beyond checking in with her on Facebook here and there. Regardless, she is someone I still care deeply about and have since we first became friends way back when. Side note, Lane ended up attending Centre College as well as Bowling Green Senior High School with me. She’s way smarter than me though. Side side note, I found out that in this time of family adversity, Lane was expecting the birth of her second child at any minute too (I’m very happy to report that Juniper Justin Valiante was born four days post-BG race and everyone is happy and healthy!).

I called Alex and asked if he could make a name addition to the t-shirt design he was creating secretively in his art studio. I had emailed Alex the original email from Adriana highlighted above about her father and his love of the Grateful Dead and asked that he come up with something original for the race as he might for his custom concert t-shirts. I told him that the race name was going to be “Grateful 4 the Dead Run” and he loved it. I asked that he include the name of Adriana’s dad under the artwork and also Justin’s as well.

Alex did me one better. The day before the run, he added “1st annual” and I said that that was a brilliant idea so that we could do something every year from now on going forward to honor our friends and friends of friends who pass away in the year in between (sort of like the memorandum at the Oscars). It wouldn’t have to be something huge, like a marathon, or to raise tons of money, but it would be something very near and dear to all those who wish to participate.

"Grateful 4 the Dead run" t-shirt designed and made by Alex Smith

“The 1st Annual Grateful 4 the Dead Run” t-shirt designed and printed by Alex Smith. If you want one, email Alex at jas1239@gmail.com or visit The A-Frame at 1229 Center Street in Bowling Green today!

Fast-forward to the morning of Saturday, November 28th, and I’m fully dressed and ready to run and waiting for Derrick to show up at my parent’s house. I heard the dogs barking and I walked outside to see Derrick pretty much matching me from head to toe without planning our running gear. I instantly thought of my good friend Michael Brechner and almost was overcome with emotions on top of the laughing Derrick and I were doing when seeing each other for the first time in 5 years. Michael is one of the coolest and nicest people I have ever met. He works with my wife at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and is currently battling cancer via chemo treatment for the second time in just over a year. Prayers his way are welcome, but the thing that distinctly made me think of Michael in terms of our running attire was that he always takes pictures of co-workers or friends who dress alike on accident and posts them online and in his office. He calls them twinkies, I believe.

I think I needed Michael’s positivity and spirit and Derrick’s enthusiasm to get going that specific morning because it was raining something steady. Derrick had packed for all sorts of weather and even planned on possibly canceling the run outdoors if it rained a flood. I told him there was no way I could do 26.2 miles on a treadmill and we took off into the mist without further questions.

We seemed to have all of life’s answers with the wind at our backs. By the end of the first mile at the turn off of Garvin Lane, we had run an amazing 8-minute mile (we only needed to maintain around a 9-minute pace for time goal) and I probably talked for the entire 8 minutes, trying to fit in 5 years of updates to get on the same page with Derrick. Both of those things would come back to haunt me.

The rain wasn’t too much to handle and it wasn’t too cold either. I believe the slow, consistent drizzle helped us both slow down into a more natural pace to weather the route and the budding storm looming ahead. Our first turns around old neighborhoods took us right by my childhood education of St. Joseph Catholic School. I could almost hear Coach Gorman telling me to sprint up the steps faster or making some joke that also served as inspiration. And speaking of Coach Gorman, we ran past his offices, turning at the Bowling Green Hot Rods minor league baseball park and headed towards our first aid station, The A-Frame.

My mom was waiting for us at The A-Frame, holding some water and Powerade and her camera phone, as my dad and Alex were holding court. Alex told us that he had the shirts printed and ready and I told him I’d take a look at them when we returned on the 2nd pass at around 22 miles. Derrick and I slowed but not to a stop (at least I didn’t stop while Derrick found our first of several outdoor restrooms). We kept moving along.

Derrick scoping out our next bathroom location and me getting love from Alex Smith at The A-Frame

We circled Western Kentucky University’s campus off of Kentucky Avenue, past the big football stadium where family past and present have played (Go Tops!), and then took a right, appropriately, on Nashville Road to the next station. Out in front of my cousin’s childhood home was my cousin Leslie and her growing family with tons of signs and water and Powerade and smiles in the pouring rain. Anyone who has run at all knows just how much each and every ounce of positivity goes a long way. Derrick and I were feeling good about our run at this point, but it all helped.

Chase and Jamie Gaddie showing us some original signage

Dad with the much needed Powerade

Dad with the much needed Powerade

We took a left and a left and then ran by Uncle Mike’s humble abode. At Mike’s house, my mom was the solo cheerleader. She had said she was game for keeping up with us along the way (probably 51% or more out of concern and 49% or less out of cheering for us, but she’s a mom and that’s what they do, right?) but we didn’t fully know until she was alone that she was down to be our traveling support team throughout. Again, it meant the world to both of us.

Through our first major traffic light, we crossed into the hood of Bent Tree right after passing by Grandmother Beard’s house. Grandmother (because if you know Betty Jo at all then you already know her name is Grandmother) was accompanied by my mom and dad and brother Austin and Taylor and my aunt Page. That was the first time I had to use nature’s restroom before the crowd (hence, the solo pictures below).

Derrick keeping the pace while I stepped to the side for a sec

Derrick keeping the pace while I stepped to the side for a sec

a little lighter and back on track

a little lighter and back on track

the cheering squad on Euclid

the cheering squad at Grandmother’s

We weaved in and around several blocks in Bent Tree and spit out near my brother Drew’s house a few hoods over. We somehow missed my mom and Taylor and nobody was at Drew’s yard when we went by. I was hoping that Ben Bruni would have been outside of his house to cheer or run a bit with us, but I think he was busy running his household as good as a man with a wife and three daughters (two teenagers) can.

After another major stoplight, we crossed over to Uncle Doug’s territory. Uncle Doug was not out in the rain but that didn’t stop honorary Uncle David Sears and his family to be outside and cheer alongside my mom and dad. They took the following picture which we were more than happy to photobomb as Sears yelled that our pace was amazing.

Uncle Dave and the gang

Uncle Dave and the gang, ya mon!

This, very close to our 13.1 mile marker, is where we probably should have turned around and retraced the route. Derrick and I have always said that Nashville’s marathon is one of the best first half marathons ever and yet the worst second half the way no crowds or support are there for the runners around Metro Center, and wouldn’t you know that by trying to design a race that would take us by our mutual friend’s house and community which he built that we pretty much put ourselves on a long stretch in the middle of nowhere with nobody around (Johnston Boyd was nowhere to be seen. Again, like Bruni, he was busy running a happy household of toddlers and his own business at the same time. I only call him out here because we thought about him as we ran beside his Traditions).

It was also at this point when my chest started to do something funky. Being an avid jogger, one of the best things about it for me is the ability of learning to listen to your body and what it’s trying to tell you what it needs when it needs it. That said, being able to hear what you body is saying doesn’t mean you always understand it. I know Spanish, but it was speaking something like German. After another traffic light stop, I needed to stop for a brief second to recalculate the situation. I used that time to stop Derrick and suggest that we stop for a minute’s worth of a moment of silence to think about the people we were running for that day, on and off the shirt. I’m not saying the rain let up for that minute, but there was a nice sense of peace that we took in.

As we trudged up Lover’s Lane, the airport on the right and the graveyard on the left put us in an interesting intersection of life and death and moving along. My mom was parked at one of the business parking lots on top of the hill and she noticed that I was not looking too good. I was probably feeling just as bad as I looked. She said my color was off and she actually called my dad after we left that station and said she wasn’t sure what to say or do (this, again, was a mom talking but she wasn’t too far off).

running in the middle of nowhere, Lover's Lane

running in the middle of nowhere, Lover’s Lane

I had had no problems whatsoever during the training of running good pace for 13 plus miles, but I knew at the time and know from running experience that every day is different. Some days 2 miles feel like 30 and others 20 miles feel like 2. This was gonna be one of those really long days all around and I knew it. We could either stop or keep going. I made the call to do both.

It was at this point when my stomach forced me to run into the Chic-Fil-A to use their bathroom (luckily we weren’t running on Sunday since that’s the only day I ever want to go there and it’s closed). It was rush hour lunch service and I was in and out of the bano quickly but not before someone who I went to high school saw me looking like she saw a ghost. She said, “At least one person in here is being active today.” I replied something to the effect that “I’m just trying not to stop.” I must have looked pretty bad, but the short break helped me get my spirits back up a little after hitting that first big wall.

But just because I got over that first big wall didn’t necessarily mean that all was okay. My body was still shouting at me in German or Russian or something I couldn’t understand every time Derrick and I got our pace back to normal for a few hundred yards. I knew I wasn’t going to make our goal of under 4 hours, but at that moment, weather-willing, we decided to enjoy the run and catch up at our own pace.

Chase, Mom, Jamie Gaddie, Leslie, me, and Derrick on the home stretch

Chase, Mom, Jamie Gaddie, Leslie, me, and Derrick on the home stretch

Before we knew it, we were back at Leslie’s house on Nashville Road. We took the time to soak in the picture moments together and headed on 31-W to meet up with our lone runner to join the company in that of Jared Carpenter. As you can tell from the picture below, Jared is solid as a rock (inside and out). He played football with my brother Austin at BGHS and then went on to play grown men football and become a standout defensive back at Northwestern University. He recently moved back to BG from Chicago to begin a career in athletics at WKU and has started his own tradition of running at least a 5k every weekend. He joined us at mile 20 and ended up running the most he had run at any one time in his life.

We were steady walking and jogging our way up 31-W, rain still coming down like a mist machine on low, and we darted through an empty downtown and back over to The A-Frame. This time around my mom and Alex were joined by Alex’s mom and new bride, Shkala. It was at this moment when they saw something I’m sure they’ve never seen (but something that is common for most runners of great length) … it was bloody nipple-gate. Yes, despite the fact that I attempted to prevent said issue from happening, it happened. Worse than any cramps or chest pains or skin burns from chaffing (as most runner friends of yours can attest to) is the post-race shower with nipple issues (trust me when I say it feels like a 1,000 paper cuts). Now that you have that image engrained in your thoughts, let me finish.

I remember someone saying, “You guys are doing great. Keep on moving.” I replied, “If we don’t, we won’t!” And our feet kept moving still.

My mom stopped one more time for us with Powerade and encouragement outside of the Lifeguard Press offices (formerly where Camping World first started and also where I formatted and designed my first book Adventures Inside A Bright-Eyed Sky). Jared, a lifesaver of energy and conversation during his time with us, decided to run faster all the way home from there and Derrick and I took our time (Derrick could’ve easily finished with Jared – just to note).

run Jared run!

run, Jared run!

We finished strong and the 26.2 mile marker was actually in front of my brother’s house instead of my parents’. We gave each other a high-five and then realized that we had to run to and through the second finish line because there were nephews and cousins and family waiting for us with signs and smiles.

the welcoming crew at the 2nd finish line

Drew and DP together again

Drew and DP together again

Dad by my side

Dad by my side

I can’t say that we finished under 4 hours. Our unofficial time was an awesome countdown showing 4:32:01 and I thought that was very appropriate for counting down that our real race and appreciation for life and all of those around us started after we finished running.

To pay one last homage to Adriana and our Merida connection, Derrick and I took a picture with the best cerveza in Mexico that we three amigos shared countless times with our amigos south of the border, Sol!

Salud! Two Sol(s) for Adriana's sake

Salud! Two Sol(s) for Adriana’s sake

we need limes for good luck!

we need limes for good luck!

As I write and post this, I’m still feeling an immense sense of being blessed with so many friends and family still living and not physically here today. Things are never as good or as bad as you think they are and I truly admire so many people I know constantly inspiring me to enjoy the moments and lessons and short time we have together while we have them together.

I’m already looking forward to putting another benefit together next year. Not as much for money or charity but with the goal of meeting up with loved ones to remember loved ones. Oddly enough, not one week after we completed our race, another high school friend who was from Bowling Green unexpectedly passed away at 35 years young. Heath Morris, someone I played baseball with in my youth and who always had a big smile on his face, mysteriously passed away of a widowmaker heart attack while taking a nap and slipping into the next life. I’m certain his name will be on next year’s shirt, but if you’d like to help give some love to his family in this time of need, please feel free to check out this link and share the good word – https://www.gofundme.com/9cdhcsfq.

Heath Morris standing tall

Heath Morris standing tall

Heath and Justin and Rusty will be missed but never forgotten.

Before I leave you for now, don’t worry about training majorly for next year’s event. I don’t know what we will do, but I know it won’t be another marathon. It will involve running at some point, but just know that we’ll have fun doing something extraordinary together.

Thank you for reading the above and thanks to all involved in making this very special day and event happen for Rusty and Justin and the gang. Enjoy your day today and remember to be nice to one another.

I love you!

chUck

www.eastsidestorytn.com

PS- YOU can purchase the shirts that Alex created over at The A-Frame starting now! Funds will go towards local charitable causes AND spill over into next year’s event as it comes together. You can find more information about The A-Frame by visiting it at 1229 Center Street, Bowling Green, KY or emailing its owner, Alex, at the following – jas1239@gmail.com.

 

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Joseph Powell, NIck Flora, Chuck Beard, and Tom Eizonas

Joseph Powell, NIck Flora, Chuck Beard, 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 71st epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 70 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’ 71. Let us begin, again.

Special side note- Gotta love the first appearance for the annual new introduction to our East Side Storytellin’ series. You may catch a small CHUCKle with this show’s intro in the recording below because I was totally taken back by the sitar solo. Anyone who comes regularly to the show knows about the ongoing conversation between Tom Eizonas and Chance Chambers and their mutual love for the sitar (and George Harrison). That said, on with the show!

The first featured guest of the night is a poet and writer and the author of 3 collections of poetry: Joby, Uninterrupted: Bittersweet Symphonies and Bohemian Rhapsodies (1989-2009), Poetry Man, and The Writing’s On The Wall (of which you can buy your copy of each at East Side Story later). He is the creator and author of the blog, The Joby Chronicle. Originally from sweet home Chicago, he relocated to Nashville last year via Burbank, California. He holds a BA in Communications from Greenville College in Illinois and boy does this
guy know how to communicate his art and words with the best of them. He has performed at a number of venues around the country including the Austin International Poetry Festival, The Tuscon Festival of Books, and locally at Ciona Rouse’s wonderful Lyrical Brew and Poetry in the Brew among others. Featured in the PBS/National Geographic documentary called “Skin” in 2002, I was honored to have him featured on our show at last. Ladies and gentleman, I’m talking about the likes of Mr. Joseph Powell!

Joseph was the first author that requested to put the podium to the side of the stage. He sat his set list of poems on the stool to his left and jumped right into his spoken word. Beginning with the title Riding the Coltraine, Joseph’s voice and tone was entrancing. It took everyone in the place on a journey, a powerful ride, through his personal experiences twisted with a deep sense of cultural creativity from time long past bridged to the current. Joseph did a tremendous job of articulating repetitive phrases at just the right moment to get everyone in tune with where he was guiding us and it was quite the mental trip.

Joseph followed up the powerful intro with one that knocked me off my feet in Blood on the Grass. It also combined an extreme awareness and creative twist on several current events involving race and society in general. So where do you go after delivering back-to-back powerhouse poems? Joseph went back to his original inspirations, first with a poem dedicated to Maya Angelou and then to his fiancé (his “SUN”) and then to his favorite singer of all-time in Donny Hathoway. All three of those poems were the perfect rising crescendo to his finale titled Because. Joseph explained that it is the ultimate ode to why he writes. He then went on to repeat the words I write because … and every sing reason he shared had a direct impact on me and everyone else that heard it from the crowd. The emotion even spilled out a little bit from the stage as Joseph got personal for a second and it was much appreciated from all. It was truly an amazing performance and experience. Thank you, Joseph!

photo by Chance Chambers

leaving it all out on the stage – photo by Chance Chambers

And then it was time for the music.

The featured musician of the night is someone who is part of the few and proud who actually hails from Nashville, TN. Partially true in that statement, this guest came from the small city of Arkadelphia, Arkansas (being 1 of about 10,000 to claim that label) and then literally “hailed” his way into town during a great hail storm about 8 years ago. That said, writing and recording his specific brand of alterna-pop for the better part of a decade, he is known for weaving quick wit with elemental truths in song that speak to the core of the human condition, like a great poet. Aside from performing live and recording great songs, this cat has cultivated quite the online community of fans that have come to expect the unexpected. He started the podcast called WHO WRITES THIS STUFF in late April 2011 to showcase some of the great talent that he’s constantly surrounded by living in Nashville, including artists in all mediums. Hosting several mutual friends of this show, the talented Erin Rae to name one of our favorites, I believe he has already hit our dream mark with over 100 episodes for you to peruse online after you digest this show. Back to this show though, this guy was more than ready to showcase some of his favorites from his recent release titled Futureboy and more – boasting a bold step forward with a sound that’s fresh and familiar. Everyone, please take note of this man and iconic artist in the one and only Nick Flora!

Nick, not accustomed to sitting down in a chair or being without his guitar strap to hold up his instrument of choice, was like a cat on a leash … he couldn’t sit still. That said, he managed to funnel all of his energy and spunk into his witty commentary and music. I honestly believe, and it was confirmed by my wife after the show, that Nick had the most perfect musical storytellin’ set we have witnessed to this point. Combining his insightful songs with his equally brilliant back stories to set them up in the first place, Nick would have taken us anywhere in the world and everyone would have gladly followed.

Nick and I briefly talked about some of our mutual friends who had played East Side Storytellin’ and who they resembled both vocally and appearance-wise, and it was such a treat to take in Nick’s performance and think of other musicians I admire who he showed glimpses of during the show. At times, his style and delivery reminded me of a young Randy Newman paired with one of my all-time favorites in Colin Hay (came to find out Colin has appeared on Nick’s podcast!) Seriously, Nick Flora is that great, y’all.

photo by Chance Chambers

photo by Chance Chambers

Whether he was singing a song about conventional relationship break-up terms being twisted into a tale of a 1920’s bank robbery pair going down or singing about another close friend who gives up music every now and then when he realizes he’s not going to be the biggest thing since sliced bread or talking about a song written in the perspective of a person who nobody likes and how they deal with that going forward, Nick was AWEsome! And as great as the first few songs were, it kept on getting better. Nobody gets out clean spoke volumes and Futureboy pretty much sealed our pop culture (movie, time travel, and battles with nostalgic memories at all times) friendship moving forward. I was not the only one who was profoundly present and in the moment when Nick decided to disregard an old song, come out for his encore as the crowd requested, and play a new holiday song called Evergreen that set the mood for the upcoming best time of the year for my household. Like Joseph’s wonderful delivery, Nick finished the night repeating the soothing phrase of repeat the sound in joy and it was definitely felt close to heart by all. Again, THANK YOU, Nick!

After the music stopped, I had Joseph and Nick back on stage and it, like the entire show in general, was so smooth and fun for all. We matched wits and laughs and even got a little bit deep without ever taking ourselves too seriously. And isn’t that what art and life is about during these chaotic times more than others? Yes. The answer is yes. I know you are going to listen to the recording below, but please take note of the middle part of the talks when each took the torch the other was passing and blended a beautiful conversation about the process of creating from the three levels of the self to the greater world at large to the other people we are fortunate to be close to in our lives who are practicing artists. Trust me. It will make more sense when you hear the below recording, but I’ll just say that once again I felt even better about the day, my life, and our world after experiencing East Side Storytellin’ with the likes of two more featured guests like this pair offered together. There is no formula for these pairings, but it feels so good when it always works out just right.

So with that, I hope you enjoy the following recording of East Side Storytellin’ 71. It all took place on Tuesday, November 17th, 2015 at 7pm at The Post with featured guests Joseph Powell and Nick Flora. It was quite the pair and quite the evening. Enjoy this recording and share with others over and over. Thank YOU!

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

You can read more about Joseph Powell‘s writing here- http://jobychronicle.blogspot.com

You can listen to more of Nick Flora‘s music here- www.nickflora.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.

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

art by Clay Brunton

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.

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be …


East Side Storytellin’ 72

Tuesday, December 1st

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Melissa Gordon

singing- Glen Martin (http://glenmartinmusic.com)

That said- that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 71 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 by Chance Chambers

one more for the road – photo by Chance Chambers

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

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

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

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

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

Dave Eastman, the man and legend … the voice.

Now, welcome to another great round of East Side Storytellin’. Like the 47 previous shows we’ve put together from East Side Story, we’ve all arrived at this spot, here and now, to get y’all cultured up just right in the form of a local Nashville writer reading from original prose, followed by an amazing local musician performing and talking about their original music, and then a round-up creative conversation with all featured guests of this event to talk about their individual journeys and personal ties to Nashville. Without further ado, this is East Side Storytellin’ 48, the 2nd anniversary show.  Let us begin, again.

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

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

Oni Woods

Oni Woods

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

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

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

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

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

John Paul Roney (Boom Forest)

John Paul Roney (Boom Forest)

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

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

words on words on smiles

words on words on smiles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll keep the gratitude going for Tom Eizonas, Otis James for my wicked cool hat, my lovely wife and most talented artist in Emily Harper Beard (efharper), and everyone that came out live to support the show … and to everyone who has helped continue to spread the word and support the show online afterwards.

You can listen to this show, edited, soon, alongside the previous shows too, on our website, www.eastsidestorytn.com, at our In Our Own Words Tab – see here –http://eastsidestorytn.com/in-our-own-words/

 

But we are not finished.

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ 49 event will be …

EAST SIDE STORYTELLIN’ 49

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18TH, 2014

Time- 7 pm sharp (Central)

Location- Mad Donna’s (1313 Woodland Street)-http://maddonnas.com

Need information or details about Mad Donna’s, call  615-226-1617. Otherwise, it is first come, first available seats.

Who will be featured- author Alecia Whitaker (www.aleciawhitaker.com) and music by Alissa Moreno (www.alissamoreno.com).

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

Much love,

mE

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

 

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

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

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July 19th, 2013- When East Side Story turned the Windy into Music City and made dreams come true: a tale of 3 Matt’s, mE, Em, and Pearl Jam

July 25, 2013

 a week prior: “So let me get this straight.  You asked a friend, who happens to be the nephew of Magic Johnson, to see if Magic Johnson could ask the owner of the Chicago Cubs for tickets to see Pearl Jam play a concert at Wrigley Field?” My friend, Matt Hummer, looked at me funny. […]

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