Georgia

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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Molly Parden, Chuck Beard, Patricia Alice Albrecht, and Tom Eizonas

Molly Parden, Chuck Beard, Patricia Alice Albrecht, 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 95th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 94, I repeat … 94, 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’ 95. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night is a writer whose fiction and poetry has appeared in more literary anthologies and publications that I could list in an hour. She never pigeon holes her prose or ideas into one particular concept. Her chapbook The Value of Sacrifice deals with the theme of healing from breast cancer. In The Shade of A Forest deals with young motherhood. She’s had CD’s of her poetry recorded and one, A Touch of Pizzazz was recorded for fans of the internally syndicated cartoon series JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS (which she played the antagonist, Pizzazz). She has read at Writings On The Wall, Poetry in the Brew, Lyrical Brew, the Global Education Center, Poetree with The Porch, and now she can add East Side Storytellin’ to the growing list. I’m talking about the one and the only Patricia Alice Albrecht.

Patricia is like dynamite. She is petite in size, but she blows up the joint with awesome words and ideas when she is on fire. Right from the first word, she was on fire. Patricia gave some love to the show and everyone in the crowd before diving into a plethora of powerful poems that resonated heavily with her father’s influence. It wasn’t mentioned out loud, but Patricia told me before the show that it was serendipitiously the anniversary of the passing of her father and that she rarely publicly shares some of the more meaningful poems inspired from her father’s relationship … but she planned on it for this special occasion. We were all honored by the gifts she shared. Whether the poems had originated from creative prompts about owls, abundance, the last of the toothpaste, famous quotes (like “What is the poem underneath the poem” or Joseph Campbell’s, “When the world is falling apart, keep to your own trajectory, hang on to your own ideals and find kindred spirits”), Patricia was spot on. Without talking about the election, she, like most artists in this city so far, spoke with her actions. By sharing her work, she embodied JFK’s eulogy for Robert Frost, “When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.” Point being, I wasn’t alone in the room feeling cleansed by the original work by Patricia.

Our featured music of the night is a mutual friend of one of our favorite alumni in Erin Rae and we were over the moon excited to hear her do her thing. Her 2011 release, Time is Medicine, like all of her music, reveals beautifully crafted melodies and angelic refrains that attract followers from fans and fellow musicians near and far. Like the publishing record of our featured author, our featured musician has had more impressive creative collaborations than I could list in an hour. Hailing from Georgia, we are proud to call her a Nashvillian and finally have her be a part of our East Side Storytellin’ show. It didn’t matter if she forgot her guitar strap at home, she was ready to get on her high stool and share her songs. I’m talking about the extremely talented songbird Molly Parden.

Molly is very shy by nature. She told the audience that she is everything Southern … she writes songs slowly, she processes life slowly, but she knocks the socks off everyone she sings in front of immediately. On this specific date, songs like Kentucky Eye, Weather, and I Know You Can hit me right to the core. They reminded me of my home state formative years, with past friends and memories living and dead. Molly has an extraordinary gift of taking simple words and melodies and transforming them into something so beautiful it could bring anyone to tears. And, more striking than anything else, she sings so eloquently so easily and seemingly effortlessly. You need to go see her perform live to know what I’m talking about. In the end of the set, Molly smiled as she said that she saved her saddest song for last. That made everyone laugh. Then, when she sang it, everyone was silent and in tune with her message. It was really something to behold.

I was grateful to yet again have the opportunity to casually talk to both featured artists to shed light on their background and motivation for creating art and doing their things. We made Molly laugh. We got stellar insight into the fan world of JEM and The Holograms (“Shut up, pigface!”). We had a great time with great company of friends and family and new people all around.

I must say something else. I know that this election was hard for everyone. The election and everything surrounding it has left us all in a daze and quite a funk. Sure, the super moon didn’t help with that feeling, but I feel like I wasn’t alone (being redundant here) when I say that the combination of Patricia and Molly’s art soothed the nature of the ill vibes circulating and permeating our worlds online and off. It certainly was a cure for all that ailed me recently. And if for that reason alone,  I’m so excited to be able to share it with you below in the recorded form.

So here it is, the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 95 that featured Patricia Alice Albrecht and Molly Parden  at The Post on Tuesday, November 15, 2016. Please listen to it and share with everyone you know, over and over again.

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

You can read more of Patricia’s writing here – http://patriciaalicealbrecht.com

You can listen to more of Molly’s music here – www.mollyparden.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 print by Clay Brunton

art print 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.

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 95 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

Our next show will be

East Side Storytellin’ 96

Tuesday, December 6th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading-Leanne Smith (www.leannewsmith.com)

singing- The Arcadian Wild (www.thearcadianwild.com)

a candid shot of Patty directing fan traffic caught by our good friend and artist Patrick Shaffner

a candid shot of Patty directing fan traffic caught by our good friend and artist Patrick Shaffner

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Chuck Beard, Drew Kohl, Kiely Schlesinger, Matt Johnstone, and Tom Eizonas

Chuck Beard, Drew Kohl, Kiely Schlesinger, Matt Johnstone, 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 87th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 86, I repeat … 86, 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’ 87. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night is a poet and an artistic activist (meaning he helps spark inspiration in others to not only talk but to do things creatively all over town and beyond). Online, he articulates his thoughts on poetry and Nashville and where the two intersect, on a blog titled hemouthsmewrong.blogspot.com. Offline, he coordinates and hosts the monthly poetry readings that are at least one visiting poet and one local poet reading an hour’s worth of poetry called E t A l Poetry Readings. But he doesn’t stop there. He co-edits the sporadic web-journal ‘Pider, and does his own thing too. He is the author of the full-length collection Let’s be close Rope to mast you, Old light’ and chapbooks ‘o n e’ and ‘Note on Tundra’. I’m talking about the word maestro of Nashville himself, the one and only Matt Johnstone (exclamation mark)!

Matt had his cell phone in one hand and a cold beer in the other. He knew exactly what he was doing. He declared that he had some poems that he wanted to read and others that he needed to read, and he told the crowd to figure out which were which. Nothing like an artist who lays down the bravado and a contest for all to get involved with their art before they start the show. I loved it.

One funny thing that happened from reading from his phone instead of from memory or papers on the podium, nobody had a good idea of when to show some love and clap in appreciation for sharing each individual poem because we didn’t know if he was finished with the poem or making dramatic pauses while scrolling on his phone. It wasn’t a flaw in the performance nor did this fact take away from his wonderful words. On the contrary, the major solo applauses that Tom Eizonas dished out during every secondary pause in the reading totally made Matt feel appreciated as he smiled and told the crowd, “Thank you, YOU.” I know Tom and everyone around us loved it.

But yeah, Matt spoke about truths and current events all-life encompassing. He talked about cops, LeBron James needing to revitalize the Akron University Press, the depth of responsibility and connectedness within the current use of the word “I” in modern poetry, and many other things that made me feel smarter in general and more aware of how someone who has a skill of articulating just the right words at the right time can honestly change everything. Matt Johnstone has those skills, and we are all better off for being around him and listening to what he has to share.

In an attempt to follow the magic of Matt’s words, we went big. I’m talking about bringing out the figurative cake and candles and decided to feature someone with a big birthday. Quasi-sponsored by our fine, mutual John friends who own and run The Beer Pale and Wingfield’s Cleaning Service, respectively, this birthday gig was also one of the first major literary/music events for the likes of my son’s dear friend Colin Wesley Craver. As you can see, he thought the show was finger-lickin’ good, taking it all in with his mom and dad. We are grateful for kids of all ages who attend our shows.

Our featured musician and man with a birthday this show day is a folk singer-songwriter from Athens, Georgia who does way more than play a guitar and sing a few songs. Drawing influences from some of my favorites in The Avett Brothers and Old Crow Medicine Show, to name two, he writes and performs an acoustic blend of bluegrass, folk, and country music. Last year, he recorded an EP titled Sweetheart-a bluegrass driven folk record of twangy love songs. Playing alongside a very talented friend and singer by the name of Kiely Schlesinger, it was perfect timing to give attention and love to the likes of my good buddy Drew Kohl.

Drew and Kiely wasted no time getting everyone in the mood to put on dancing shoes with a tune that was literally called Dancing Shoes. Luckily, before most of us could get out of our chairs to dance and try to keep up with their beat, Drew and Kiely slowed down the next few songs to some of the most poignant and introspective ballads I’ve heard in quite some time. Each song had a ton of raw emotions and backstories mixed into lines and melodies that we could all relate with in our own lives and personal backgrounds. Most of them had a knack for leading with general lines that involved sadness, but Drew turned everything around by the end and made those initial, simple lines into something with more depth than first imagined. Plus, it sounded great.

Between Drew’s lead vocals and the way Kiely lifted up the material and added a beautiful fierceness and grit to the stories, the pairing of them both together just fit so nicely. Whether it was a funky cover of The Ramones with a country twang, or a love song that hit you straight to your heart, these two know how to make a song come to life.

So after the music ended, Kiely took a seat and let the three amigos take to the two mics on sight and talk about some things. It was a fun, flexible interview where I enjoyed listening to each of their takes on their journeys so far and also mixing things up while asking each other questions when they were looking for tangent lines to connect between their two highly creative worlds. And as much as I enjoy and admire both of these artists as artists, I also love to hear more about how each of these people spend so much time and energy to help others in the short time they call spare time in their everyday lives. There are many reasons why people like Matt Johnstone and Drew Kohl have such dedicated fans and friends who go to great lengths to support their art. We were lucky to recognize several of those reasons by experiencing their craft and insightful conversations firsthand at The Post.

Here it is, the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 87, featuring Matt Johnstone and Drew Kohl (with Kiely Schlesinger) at The Post on Tuesday, July 19th, 2016. Enjoy and share over and over again, as you wish:

So before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks, once again, for Matt Johnstone and Drew Kohl and Kiely Schlesinger for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

You can read more of Matt’s writing here – hemouthsmewrong.blogspot.com

You can listen to more of Drew’s music here – drewkohl.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.

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’ 88

Tuesday, August 2nd

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Barry Jones (www.barryjonesstories.com)

singing- Woodferd – aka Peter McKeown (woodferdmusic.com)

That said- that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 87 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, Jon Latham, Joshua Moore, and Chuck Beard

Tom Eizonas, Jon Latham, Joshua Moore, 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 85th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 84, I repeat … 84, 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’ 85. Let us begin, again.

You may not know this but our first featured artist of this show is Black Batman. I’m not kidding, but let’s keep that secret … or not. He is also a 2014 graduate of Eureka College where he studied creative writing and biology pre-med. Recipient of the Ronald W. Reagan Fellowship, he had a brief stint as an oncological researcher at the legendary Tuskegee University, but decided to put his med school goals on hold in order to follow his heart … and his passion for creative writing and poetry specifically. He is not only a member at the Porch Writers’ Collective, he’s also the head facilitator of their Poetry Book Club. He typically spends most days working, writing, reading, and prepping his grad-school applications and his post grad self. A world traveling poet and professional, we are honored and ecstatic to finally introduce this man to the East Side Storytellin’ family. Please give your attention and a big round of applause for the likes of Joshua Moore.

photo credit by Chance Chambers

photo credit by Chance Chambers

Joshua took to the mic without any pages to read from. He wore his original words on his heart and his heart on the sleeves of his traditional attire. His clothes, his words, his tone, and his stories were all beautiful. It’s not every day when Tom Eizonas is sitting next to me and mentions that this writer really has a wonderful speaking talent, but it happened on this night. It’s true. You’ll hear Joshua’s voice and smooth delivery in the recording below, but it had me thinking of how to describe his reading experience while I was listening in the front row. The best way I could come up to describe it was that he had a voice of a dream. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not speaking in cliches and saying Joshua’s voice is dreamy and leaving it at that. What I am saying is that the smooth delivery and depth of emotion and personal stories involved within the layers of Joshua’s poems are like what I imagine traveling through dreams would be like. I may be rambling, but take a listen below and let me know how you would describe the reading.

Joshua prefaced each of his five poems with detailed accounts of where they came from and what he believed inspired him to write them. The first couple were about family, history, and society. None of them were happy or cheery, but all were very insightful into how this artist views and connects the world.

Before leaving the stage, Joshua talked a little bit about his work with The Porch and also about his fun with poetry on demand. Again, I’ll let him explain himself in the recording, but I thought everything he shared, inside and out of his creative writing, was simply amazing. They way he presented his material and the material itself, is something quite extraordinary to experience and behold. I suggest you read more of his stuff and make it a point to hear it read live as frequently as possible.

Our featured musician, like everyone we’ve had on this show before, is a very talented singer/songwriter. Unlike everyone else who has been on the show before him, he was born in Greenwood, South Carolina and raised in Marietta, Georgia. He believes that a song is more important than the singer and the audience is the judge, jury, and executioner who decide a song’s fate. Let’s pardon this guy and give his music a real chance to be fully appreciated and loved, shall we? I was tremendously honored and humbled to introduce the one and only Jon Latham.

photo credit by Chance Chambers

photo credit by Chance Chambers

Jon jumped right into his ballad about a classmate in 5th grade named Katie Rutledge. What sounded like a short story of an introduction turned into a killer tune that reflected just how cool the combination of love and love loss and rock ‘n roll can be. But that kind of embodies what Jon Latham is about. He mentioned at one point that his songs resemble books by Nicholas Sparks – meaning every Nicholas Sparks book is a Nicholas Sparks book. But, although Jon is a fan of Mr. Sparks’ work, I don’t think I’m alone in being a huge fan of Jon and thinking he is much better than the former mentioned. I know, at the very least, that Darrin Bradbury would think so because he has been parading around town for quite some time declaring Jon Latham the greatest songwriter in Nashville today. I wouldn’t object.

Jon’s stories before and during the songs perfectly matched the tone of Joshua’s poetry, in my mind. Jon made cultural references to other song titles and performances he has been lucky to experience and transformed them into something new and fresh and songs that felt like they were instant hits and yet old classics at the same time. My personal favorites were when he made the comment about “that was audience participation” and also the Billy Ocean reference. There is not enough references for Billy Ocean these days.

But seriously, Jon eventually did get the audience to participate with his final song, singing together and chanting in rhythm as if we were in the middle of Ascend Amphitheater singing along with The Lumineers. Beyond Jon talking about his experiences of trials and tribulations with his past in love in regards to bad dating and bad health, the golden ticket with Jon is the bright light of humanity that shines through from his endurance, honesty, and ability to transform any shitty experience (i.e.- cheating death in the hospital and dreaming of an ex-girlfriend singing Bob Dylan that turns out to be his dad playing Bob Dylan tunes beside his bed when he finally wakes up) into brilliant music and stories we can all relate to and deeply appreciate. Point being, he walks the walk, talks the talk, and sings the truth like few I’ve encountered.

Before I let these two great artists leave the stage, I had them articulate a little more about what makes them tick with their creativity and their creative journeys and friends and family within Nashville. I particularly loved Jon’s quote about how now he feels more like Nashville has become his home when he’s away even more than his original hometown. Again, I can’t object to that because it is the same for me in a lot of ways and I have many people like Joshua and Jon to thank for said feeling. Both of these guys will continue to make an indelible mark on Nashville’s creative scene for many years to come, but I am beyond thankful I had the chance to see them do their thing at the same bat time and the same bat channel. Take a listen below and check it out for yourself.

So here it is, the edited version of East Side Storytellin’ 85, featuring the poems of Joshua Moore and the songs of Jon Latham at The Post on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016. Prepare to have your mind, body, and soul blown away and put back together again better than ever. Trust me. You’re welcome. Enjoy the ride:

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

You can listen to more of Jon’s music here – www.reverbnation.com/jonlatham

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 print by Clay Brunton

art print 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’ 86

Tuesday, July 5th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay (www.facebook.com/lagnajitam)

singing- Matt Walberg (thelivingsituation.com)

That said- that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 85 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 of Jon shining bright for the road

one more of Jon shining bright for the road

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