ice cream

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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