Diana Krall

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

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the 112th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 111, I repeat … 111, previous shows East Side Story has put together, we all decided to take a break from our busy schedules all over town in order to sit back and relax and get everyone cultured up just right in the form of a Nashville writer reading from original prose, followed by an amazing local musician performing and talking about their original music, and then a round-up creative conversation with all featured guests of this event to talk about their individual journeys and personal ties to Nashville. Without further ado, fulfilling the entertainment portion of your day, this is East Side Storytellin’ 112. Let us begin, again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to give one last shout out to Tonya and Chris for making The Post so welcoming and positively life-changing for the East Nashville community at large.

Our next show will be

East Side Storytellin’ 113

Tuesday, August 15th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Susan McBride

singing- Mary Bragg

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 112 and another fabulous event at The Post with East Side Story at the helm. Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word and giving some love to all of these great Nashville artists and our creative ideas. Please remember to be nice to one another out there. I repeat, please remember to be nice to one another out there.

Much love,




Allie Farris, "GG" Betty Jo Beard, Carson Morton, Chuck Beard, and Tom Eizonas

Hello, good evening, morning, lunch, or siesta, and WELCOME to the 29th edition of East Side Storytellin’ – the recap, recording, and aftermath.  Right now, comfortable in your chair & computer of choice, sit back, relax, and relish in the talents of two amazing artists in their own rights here again to showcase one of many things they are great at and known for around town.  First, you will hear a reading from a Nashville author, followed by a Nashville musician on the rise, and then a creative conversation between them both about their creative processes and journeys to Nashville.  Before I start rambling about how excited I am for the New Year and all of the things about East Side Story and East Side Storytellin’ we have lined up and not even planned yet, I’ll just let YOU begin the show.

Our first featured guest of this particular show hailed from England originally as a wee child.  In between the time that he was born then and now living in and calling Nashville home, he has worked extremely hard to become a published screenwriter, playwright, songwriter, musician, and author.  A slacker he is not, this author was more than ready to read from and talk about his first published novel called “Stealing Mona Lisa.”  The book itself, since first being published in 2011, has been chosen for Kirkus Reviews’ Best of Fiction 2011 List and The Library Journal’s Best Mysteries of 201 List, and it is a an ongoing work of art that grows in popularity by the day.  Recently, this past year, a featured guest on John Seigenthaler’s famed program “A Word On Words.” He was one of two authors in the entire span of that famed program to ever sing an original song on the show as well (the other being Marshall Chapman).  It was an honor and joy to introduce the modern-day Nashville Renaissance man and artist in that of Carson Morton.

Carson took to the stage and crowd, a superb crowd who weathered the cold weather and made it a point to fill the upstairs of Mad Donna’s with a happiness and warmth that was quite contagious and made everyone feel great, and Carson was the consummate professional.  Carson dove right into telling the crowd about how this epic story came about and into writing.  Then he immediately started reading a passage or few to entice the people to want to know more.  After that, he picked up a ukulele, plugged it into the sound system, and played an original song that planted the seeds for the writing of the novel at hand years before he wrote it.  It was the first time on East Side Storytellin’ where the featured author sang an original song.  It was quite a pleasure to witness.

And talk about a pleased crowd, I then was super excited (even more so after I heard the short pre-show sound check) to introduce our featured musician of the evening.  She, simply put, is a breath of fresh air for Music City.  Spending her formative years in the state of Texas, she, much like the slacker of our featured author- facetiously speaking , wasted no time at all once she knew she wanted to become a musician at a young age.  She formed her first band at 15, recorded several albums while performing venues around the Dallas area around that time.  She then went on to college at University of North Texas’s College of Music, where she won several awards at highly competitive songwriting contest.  She later expanded her audience in the world of songwriting and solo performing and flew to Boston to study at the Berklee College of Music.  Realizing that her dream of becoming a full-time songwriter and performer was better suited in Nashville, she flew here in 2011 and has been busy ever since (not like she wasn’t busy before).  She’s made her music and presence stand out in a city of standouts, made an album in 2012 called “You Make Me Smile,” made countless friends with fellow musicians you already know by heart in town, and is working on several projects RIGHT NOW that we’ll talk about later tonight.  All that said, I first got to know her and her music because my Grandmother and aunt met her on a plane ride and she made them smile.  They made each other smile.  So please put all distractions to your side and give your full attention to the recording and songs in the edited link below for the talented songbird on the rise in that of Allie Farris.

Allie, as seen in the pictures above and below, on top of the recording, gives off a positivity that is completely stripped down to honesty and pure talent.  It’s not hard, after just a measure or two of listening, to see and agree that she has made a perfectly wise decision to become a unique singer-songwriter.  To me, and I wasn’t/am not alone, she is a great mix of everything great about Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Carol King, and Diana Krall … but something even more fresh and current for today’s world.  Like I said, take some time to click the show link below, and then make plans to see her live whenever you get the chance.  This girl is definitely going places AND calls Nashville home!

After the music concluded, I managed to get Carson and Allie back up on stage for a short round of candid questions.  They were a great duo of positive energy that, as I said before, made the wonderful crowd of the night enjoy their own decision to come out and celebrate another round of East Side Storytellin’ much much more than had they not.  Take a listen for yourself below.

Here is the link for the edited show of East Side Storyellin’ 29 (for you to “like,” enjoy, and share with all of your friends and your little dogs too):


Before I give you the details of the next show, East Side Storytellin’ 30, I want to take a second to properly thank Allie Farris and Carson Morton.  They took time out of their busy schedules and creative sessions in general to donate their talents and treasures with that of a crowd that night and with YOU here now (over and over again).

You can read more about Allie Farris‘ work here- www.alliefarris.com

You can keep up to date on book 2 & 3 and more from Carson Morton here- www.carsonmorton.com

I’d also like to thank a few others one more time for making this show a reality. I’d love to thank Tom Eizonas for doing the recording and edits for this show, like all the others you can hear on our eastsidestorytn.com and www.facebook.com/eastsidestorytn.  A big shout out to artist Clay Brunton, who made the wonderful art poster for this evening, to my lovely bride for always having my side, and for everyone who came out to make tonight extra special- especially Grandmother for showing up after introducing Allie to our East Side Story world.

That is the end of this show, and our only show for January.  We will be back on track for East Side Storytellin’ 30 … I repeat, East Side Storytellin’ 30 on Tuesday, February 4th, at Mad Donna’s, at 7pm, with the poet Stephanie Pruitt Gaines and music by our friends Jimmy and Nate of Colour of London.  I hope to see you all and more here then.  But until we do this again, be nice to one another and thank you for being a part of our journey.  Thank you and good night, morning, brunch, or post-siesta/pre-nap time.

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be …

Date- Tuesday, February 4th, 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- words by author Stephanie Pruitt Gaines (www.stephaniepruitt.com) and music by the talented band of brothers called Colour of London (www.colouroflondon.com)

Oh, before we go, we might as well, because we have them, leave you this round of East Side Storytellin’ with 2 for the road … 2 pictures of Allie Farris smiling, of course!