Indiana Review

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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Bret MacFadyen, Tom Eizonas, Kendra DeColo, Chuck Beard, Lauren Shera, Kristin Weber, and Shelby Means

Bret MacFadyen, Tom Eizonas, Kendra DeColo, Chuck Beard, Lauren Shera, Kristin Weber, and Shelby Means

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 our 75th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! I’ve heard that diamonds are the traditional gift for a 75th anniversary and that diamonds are a girl’s best friend so it’s fitting we have two extraordinary ladies to feature in this silver anniversary round of fun. Like the 74 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 out of the cold 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’ 75. Let us begin, again.

The first featured guest of the night is the author of one of my favorite poetry books in East Side Story called Thieves in the Afterlife. I’m not alone in loving this book because it was named the “Favorite Nashville Poetry Book of 2014” by the Nashville Scene. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, Copper Nickel, Verse Daily, Third Man Books’ Language Lessons Vol. 1, and many more. She has received awards and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the Millay Colony, and the Tennessee Arts Commission. She is the book editor at Muzzle Magazine and guest teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. To say that this writer is talented would be the understatement of the year. Nashville is a better place to live because of her and we are lucky to have her here tonight. The featured author of the night and soon to be poetry mommy of the year, it was an absolute privilege to introduce the likes of the talented Kendra DeColo!

Kendra brought her words and a shining pregnant glow to the stage and then set the perfect mood with a calm, soothing, sensual voice that would make Delilah jealous. Actually, as the night progressed and we took in Kendra’s poetry, I felt as though I was driving across the Western front of the US with the windows down and the warm night breeze and her poetry narrated the randomness of dreams through the radio and guiding us into another realm of reality altogether. She is that deep, y’all.

The tone and the tempo of Kendra’s musing was a perfect comfort from the budding freeze front rolling into town the night of the show. The passionate and complicated weaving of beautifully crazy motifs derived from wet dreams and dry realities came together and washed over us like a meteor shower. From gritty images from Christian Camps for girls to self portraits of the Virgin Mary watching Magic Mike to Donald Trump riding escalators in dreams to Natural Born Killers’ versions of wide-eyed Rodney Dangerfield being the honorary godfather of Kendra’s daughter to just being plain thankful for having teeth and good vision, Kendra DeColo drives the magic school bus for a psychedelic and therapeutic trip for anyone who is privy to listen to her mind flow. You can go on said trip when you listen to the recording below or go see her read in person when she comes out on maternity leave in a few months. I highly recommend both to expand your mind, body, and soul in the best of ways.  That said, she finished with some fresh poems that continued her amazing work found in print that you can purchase at East Side Story and beyond.

The featured musician of the night is someone who I personally counted as extended family while sharing a creative business location at The Idea Hatchery before ever knowing she played music. Beyond Haulin’ Oats and East Side Story being neighbors, this lady has made great strides with her music in the past year since releasing her album Gold and Rust. Her third album following two independent releases, the most recent has been well received in her new home of Nashville and beyond. Featured on Lightning 100 many times over, this lady has called her recent release a musical farewell to her home state of California, which is nice to hear about such closure since she spent the last year getting married to the love of her life and buying a beautiful house with land on the outskirts of Nashville to call home for her bright future ahead. Growing up in a musical family and raised in Monterey, California, this lady has already shared performing dates in the company of top names as Shawn Colvin, Jason Mraz, and Jackie Greene among others. Yet again, it was an absolute honor to showcase and introduce my friend, the amazing artist and person in Lauren Shera.

It’s appropriate that Lauren’s name is pronounced as “She-ra” because she totally reminded me of the 1980’s cartoon superhero by the name She-Ra: Princess of Power. Twin sister of He-Man, most people in the crowd didn’t know that Lauren had been confined to a bed from sickness a mere two days before this performance. Was she going to let that keep her down and out? The answer was a resounding NO. Before the show, we discussed her sound and she mentioned that some of her friends have said that some of their favorite performances of hers have been when she was forced to fight through being sick. Needless to say and flash forward, this was another performance for the ages. Lauren focused on every note and pitch and emotion to battle possible coughing bouts and anything detrimental to what she wanted to share and I’m proud to say that it was as moving and inspiring a musical performance as I’ve seen from an acoustic rocker in Nashville in quite some time. You can listen below for yourself, but give me a second to relate the highlights I enjoyed from the front row.

Lauren chanted songs about the act of releasing love, told a very personal narrative of living on the West Coast, dreaming in foreign languages, creating totally fictional stories of characters from a unique Valentine’s Day picture and then closing with a memoir-like prose of her move from California to life in Nashville. Like Kendra, everything Lauren did was personal, powerful, and one-foot inside her comfort zone while kicking the other foot out as far as she could to push and drive her own creativity and personal growth.

With only a handful of coughs and sips of hot tea to battle with in between songs, Lauren decided to close her set by bringing two talented singers and friends by the names of Shelby Means and Kristin Weber to help her take it all home for the night. I’m serious, y’all, you really need to check out this recording below and then go out and get all of Lauren’s albums online and in person. You’ll thank me in the morning.

After the music faded, I was again afforded the chance to stand and talk with both of these amazing artists to break the ice and close the distance even more between them and the crowd and post-show talks and congratulatory admiration while getting them both to open up more in-depth about the education and life histories and what has inspired and what continues to inspire them on the daily to create and do what they do so well. Just listen to the recording below and share with all you know so you can say you knew these ladies way back when before they were known by everyone outside of Nashville.

So here it is, the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 75, the silver anniversary edition, that featured the Southern Delilah with child in Kendra DeColo and the superhero young Stevie Nicks with more bass and soul fighting off colds and any other sense of adversity in the air in Lauren Shera. This went down at The Post on Tuesday, January 19th, 2016, before the ice storm and real winter arrived. Don’t worry. This recording will keep your soul warm until Spring if you listen to it over and over. You’re welcome.

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

You can read more about Kendra’s writing here- www.kendradecolo.tumblr.com

You can listen to more of Lauren’s music here- http://laurenshera.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 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.

THE NEXT Round of East Side Storytellin’ will be …

East Side Storytellin’ 76 

Tuesday, February 2nd

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Kate Parrish (aimingforokay.com)

singing- Sarah Carter
That said- that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 75 and the start of the best year ever in 2016 until the next 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 before the baby comes

One more for the road before the baby comes

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