Phill Thompson, Rob Stewart, Emma Louise Berkey, Chuck Beard, Michael McRay, 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 120th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 119, I repeat … 119, 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’ 120. Let us begin, again.

Our first featured artist of the evening is a young man who has lived, traveled, and written enough for about several lifetimes already. He is a scholar and a gentleman. He received his Master’s in Philosophy, Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation from Trinity College of Dublin at Belfast. He is a writer, advocate, adjunct professor, storyteller, and a fellow host. He was a volunteer prison chaplain before being banned for organizing. He is the cofounder of No Exceptions Prison Collective, and is the founder/cohost of TenX9 Nashville Storytelling. He has several books, but the one I sold the most of at East Side Story was Letters from Apartheid Street. You can purchase any and all of his works published to date here- It was a true honor to finally get this friend on out stage, and it was an equal honor to relief him of his usual hosting duties to relax, focus, and enjoy the single act of sharing his stories in front of a crowd without worrying about anything else. As you can guess from reading the title of this recap and the website link in the previous sentence, I’m talking about the honor of introducing my friend and inspiration, Nashville’s patron old soul saint of peace himself, Michael McRay!

Michael had asked me several questions about content to share leading up to the show. When asked if he should share a funny story or a very dark story, I told him that we’ve had everything on the spectrum to this point in the series and that it was totally up to however he was feeling at the moment. He decided to go somewhere in the middle of said spectrum and reveal a very personal incident that has left him heartbroken for the sake of lost friendship yet also feeling good for being proactive and living his proof, letting his actions speak louder than his words could with people of power who have a hard time listening to said truth. I was not alone in the fact that I was excited to hear what Michael had to say.

Michael prefaced his short story, a story that he had originally written for and shared at one of his superb TenX9 Nashville Storytelling shows in the past, by drawing up a proper setting and backdrop to the personal history he invested at Riverbend Correctional Facility in Nashville. He had been serving as a volunteer chaplain, consistently providing peaceful and impactful practices for the prison mates to use to diffuse conflict and find more resolutions that would benefit everyone involved. At some point, like in every great story, there was adversity. The adversity that Michael faced was with the authorities of the prison, seemingly siding with the inmates because of gross misconducts of power and miscommunication and non-action or actions that were not exactly in the best benefits of those living at the facility. Sounds like the current state of our political adversity, right? Well, this story didn’t end in the best of terms. I won’t tell you that the Titanic sinks to ruin the story for you, but I will let you take a listen to the recording below so that you can hear the story straight from the heat and mouth of the man who lived it firsthand.

Michael is one of the most brave and intelligent and altruistic people I’ve ever come across so far in my life. I kid you not, when I say that he seems to have done more and lived more than a hundred lifetimes of service for the good already. I’m excited to follow his journey going forward, on and off the pages of his written word and important interviews, and I’m grateful that I get to be a small part of that journey at times whenever he needs my or other friends’ help. Point being, before I move on to the music of the night, Michael McRay is someone we should all sit and listen to and think about how we can take even a piece of the great things he is doing every day and add that into our lives to help ourselves and others at the same time. I wrote that he is a Nashville saint, but even he would say that he’s just doing what he’s meant to be doing and that every single one of us has the time, energy, and passion to do the same if we put our hearts and minds and calendars on the same page.

Our featured music of the night is a local songbird who brings enchanting electrified folk music wherever she goes that has been described as darkly cheerful and cheerfully dark. Her influences range from indie rock to country to Eastern European folk music, aka folk punk. I was introduced to this lady via one of our most enthusiastic and awesome musicians in the East Side Storytellin’ family by the name of Ally Brown. You may have already met her, Emma and not Ally, at The Patterson House, Rumours East, The Wild Cow, or even at High Garden while she was busy slinging tea and herbs. You may have seen perform in her other band Chicken Little! Originally from Ashville, North Carolina, she now calls Nashville home and she revealed on the spot that she is no longer on the market for a good roommate. She found one! On that great note, I was happy to welcome back our house band of the month with the talented Rob not Rod Stewart and Philly not Philly Thompson so they could rock the house beside and behind the one and only dynamite punk folker Emma of Emma Dilemma!

Emma is like dynamite. She quite and petite by nature, but once you light the mic fuse and give her the chance to plug in any number of instruments that she can play and play oh so  well, she will blow your mind. Her stories are deep and her melodies are all over the place, but everything is within your wheelhouse to take in, appreciate to another level, and leave with a new sense of the world you live in after they tickle your eardrums and soul. She started off a song about driving all night underneath the moonlight and it just feeling right. Talk about setting a cool mood for a set. Then, right when you were feeling at ease, that’s when the capo incident happened to add dilemma into the Emma Dilemma namesake. The capo was found exactly where Rob put it and all was back to normal, but it was almost like a reality show of home renovations of insert the made up drama of a deadline 2/3 of the way into the show so they crew can make everything better at just the right time to wrap things up like a bow. I don’t say this to say that the capo was not important or made up. I say this because Emma and the band really did knock out the rest of the set, even with instrument changes that rivaled Cher’s wardrobe changes (again, in the best of ways), with ease and delight.

Between the blur of instrument changes, Phill is steady as a rock that rocks.

Emma went on to sing songs about “No Hard Days”, a protest song, a song about iPhones and having the whole world in our hands, and all of it seemed to perfectly reflect and expand on the sentiments introduced by Michael’s reading about life in prison. I guess we don’t need bars on our doors and windows to feel similar pain and life perspectives in our own daily lives and struggles.

Emma closed her set with a song called “Here We Go.” I told her after the fact that it and she reminded me a lot of Paul Simon mixed with the storytelling and Eastern European stories and sounds of Regina Spektor. Not to sound like I have a firm grasp of the music language and technical terminology, but the changes in the measures and tempo throughout the song was such a treat to listen to for the entire duration. The title of the song was spot on to the musical rollercoaster ride that the band took us on, and I think I could listen to this song over and over again for about a week and it never get old. You can test that theory out for yourself, as well as diving into the other songs on the set list, when you have a moment or two to check out the show link below.

And then I was yet again able to stand up on stage beside these comrades and converse with them about there creative journeys, inspirations, and little nuggets of knowledge that they hold dear to use as fuel for their motivations. Both Michael and Emma have lived in a lot of places, met a lot of interesting characters, and have used their time wisely to learn from others in order to make their lives and others’ around them more purposeful. I can’t say how refreshing it is to meet other people who don’t waste their days with inactivity, while at the same time constantly questioning others and life in general in an attempt to find more truthful answers during the short time we have here together. Emma and Michael both have smiles, personal & communicative skills, and genuinely positive attitudes that can light up any room they walk into. And that fact was on full display at The Post East on this great evening with friends.

Photo Credit to Steve Simpson

Before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for Michael & Emma (and Rob & Phill) for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

And here it is, after writing and talking about it throughout the text above, this is the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 120, the night when Michael McRay and Emma Dilemma allowed us to spend a few minutes in the lives of other people to give us positive and good perspectives on our own lives going into the holiday season and New Year. This was recorded at The Post East on Tuesday, December 5, 2017. Feel free to listen to this link and share it with everyone you know, over and over again. You’re welcome.

You can read more of Michael’s writing here-

You can listen to more of Emma’s music here –

You can listen to this show, edited, soon, alongside the previous shows too, on our website,, at our In Our Own WordsTab – see here –

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 (and Zach) 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’ 121
Tuesday, December 19th
at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm
reading- Joseph Ingle
singing- India Ramey

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 120 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.

Much love,


Jenny Hickman, Chuck Beard, Grant Terry, and Tom Eizonas

Jenny Hickman, Chuck Beard, Grant Terry, and Tom Eizonas

Hello, AGAIN, everyone, and welcome to another great round of East Side Storytellin’.  Similar to the 37 previous shows we’ve put together from East Side Story, we’ve come together here to get you cultured up just right in the form of a local Nashville writer reading from original prose, followed by an amazing local musician performing and talking about their original music, and then a round-up creative conversation with all featured guests of this event to talk about their individual journeys and personal ties to Nashville.  This is East Side Storytellin’ 38.  Let us begin.

The first featured guest of this show is actually a near local Nashville writer now.  She’s the first person to write and publish and sell her books in Nashville, run off to Ireland to get married to a dapper Irish man, the love of her life, have a baby, make another book, and then fly back to her real home of Nashville to share it with you.  Her home for the time being is Limerick, Ireland.  She is the author of three novels titled “The Mirrors at Barnard Hall”, “Semester of Thursdays”, and “Flight Risk.”  You can buy her books here tonight and at East Side Story.  For this special event, this author read from her latest book called “Flight Risk.”  It was my honor to ask this lady to the stage and let the crowd give her a warm, homecoming welcome from over the big pond for author Jenny Hickman!

Jenny was so excited and nervous.  She has been full-on mommy duty since the birth of her baby last year, so getting out on the town, her old hometown, without her baby or her baby’s daddy was quite an event.  She had prepared a specific section of her latest book that she wanted to share, and she dove right in head and heart first.  The crowd was happy, and Jenny was too.  She sped through an entire, entertaining chapter of “Flight Risk” like it was just a regular Tuesday night.  She smiled, the crowd smiled, and everyone was happy.  I’d simply describe it as the Jenny Hickman way.

To preface the excitement, excellent writing, and general happy feelings that follow Jenny Hickman all the time, I only need to share one of the most endearing stories, special courtesy of Jenny Hickman’s involvement, that has happened at East Side Story to date.  It happened when Jenny first brought her first book into East Side Story and totally flipped out in a great way (hyperventilating for the picture) to put her book an actual shelf for the first time after selling many copies online (and the fact that we put her book right next to our mutual friend and fellow author in Cary Graham at that).  As many might not know while reading this, I always send an email to the authors when their books sell at East Side Story.  I spend a few extra minutes letting the author or artist know about who purchased their work to take home, and I relay the customer’s information too if they are a fellow artist, author, or musician.  Well, the first one I sold of Jenny’s in the store, I sold it to local glass-blowing artist.  I gave Jenny the glass-blower’s email and link to share their creative links.  The next time that Jenny came by the bookstore a month later to pick up her invoice and money, she had two girlfriends with her, on the way to a wine bar next to the bookstore.  One of those girls was the glass-blowing friend, and they both squealed excitedly that the friendship would not have happened if not for the bookstore and email exchange.  Long story short, it was one of the sweetest stories I’ve had at the store since opening.

Jenny came, she read, and all was well in the world.  After she took a most righteous applause, I introduced the next guest of the night.  The featured musician of the evening was one heck of a great guy and an amazing musician on the rise.  I first met him when he showed up at my house, shortly after moving to Nashville from North Louisiana.  He came with our mutual friend and fellow Lousiana-ian artist B-Rad for a fun gathering of good people.  He instantly felt right at home at Nashville and my home as he sat down on the side of the party with a guitar (or big tu-tar as my cousin’s 4 year old boy obsessed with guitars called it) and jammed the night away with said little boy amazed by his musical sounds.  Soon after that night, this guy released his first studio album called “All She Wrote”, and that debuted at #3 on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart.  With that success, he has stuck to his so called guns and his dreams and has been able to write and perform songs for a living … living his dreams if you will, right in front of us.  Today he is excited to share with you some old songs and some brand spankin’ new songs from his recent album called, “Silent War”, just released last month.  I was certainly not the only person in the house to put hands together and clap for the tu-tar god of East Nashville by the name of Grant Terry!

Grant, shocked by the introduction (best he ever had, Grant said), was speechless.  He decided to jump right into the performance and his songs.  Grant took to the crowd and the crowd equally took to him.  Because the placed was so packed, after running out of seats for the patio and perfect weather, I decided to stand by the door in the back to get the whole picture.  I not only enjoyed seeing everyone eat, drink, listen, and be merry, from the back of the house, I also loved the fact that a table full of fans of Grant’s music were singing along to every song in perfect harmony and joy.  It was really something to see.

Grant barreled through his set like a champ, and garnered as much positivity from the people who came out as Jenny had.  It was a perfect pair of talented artists coming together to share their passion and art.  After Grant finished, I quickly had Jenny join him on stage and they talked about the things they enjoy about making their art and the things that they are excited about sharing for the near future at hand.  You can listen to the show, edited, below and share this experience with as many people as you think would enjoy it too.

group talk

That said, all you have to do is click on the following link, sit back, relax, enjoy, and share with everyone and your mom, here, near, far, and back over in Ireland too.  This is the edited version of East Side Storytellin’ 38 that featured author Jenny Hickman and musician Grant Terry:

Before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for Jenny Hickman (Fife) and Grant Terry for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

You can listen to more from Grant Terry here-

You can read more from Jenny Hickman here-

I’ll keep the gratitude going for Tom Eizonas, for the recording and sound of the night, Clay Brunton for the art print, for Kevin at 5 Points Digital Imaging ( for printing those art prints,and to my lovely wife 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.

art by Clay Brunton, printed at 5 Points Digital Imaging

art by Clay Brunton, printed at 5 Points Digital Imaging

You can listen to this show, edited, soon, alongside the previous shows too, on our website,, at our In Our Own Words Tab – see here –

But we are not finished.

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be …

Date- Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Time- 7 pm sharp (Central)

Location- Mad Donna’s (1313 Woodland Street)-

With author Megan Duke ( music by Lauren Lyle (

That’s all for the East Side Storytellin’ 38 show.  Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word.  Remember to be nice to one another out there.  Thanks and good day your way.

Much love.



Kiernan McMullan, Ricko Donovan, Chuck Beard, and Tom Eizonas

Hello, good evening, morning, and whenever you are read this the first or 40th time. THANK YOU for coming here to the page to support another round of East Side Storytellin’!  With a very special reading from Nashville’s newest published author, to a very cool storytelling set of songs from a relatively new Nashville resident from abroad, and a very interesting, creative conversation between the featured guests afterwards to talk about their creative journeys, creative processes, and personal ties and experiences in Nashville, welcome to East Side Storytellin’ 32.  

The first featured guest of the show was not your ordinary Nashville author – assuming that many or any of them are ordinary.  This guy seems to not only have had nine lives, but about nine different successful careers as well.  From humble beginnings in punk-oriented bands in New Jersey, drifting down to Baltimore to play with an alternative rock band, he moved to Nashville, retiring his drum kit for guitar, songwriting, and the hammered dulcimer.  After a few years of success in Music City, he broadened his talents and world by making the big leap across the big pond over to Europe.  Ironically for tonight, he regularly spent summers in Ireland in the County Clare area during those transformative years.  After a bit, while touring and promoting the release of one particular album, he returned to the States and back around the Nashville area.  Spending more and more time in Music City, he picked up a side gig of being a registered tax man accountant and picked up the figurative pen and paper to create more stories on pages instead of singing on stages.  For this particular event, we were lucky to have him do a little of both.  The author of the recently released and debut novel, Sunnyville, it was my extreme honor and delight to welcome to the stage one of the hardest working artists and tax men that I know, Ricko Donovan.

Ricko took to the stage and did exactly the opposite of what he said he was going to do right out of the gate.  You can listen below, but Ricko broke the crowd’s applause and silence by saying that he couldn’t decide what portion to read from the book so he was going to just read the entire thing, with breakfast and mimosas being served at 4:30am.  Ricko did in fact read a specific portion of the novel that is based on a bunch of charismatic elderly people at a retirement home.  Ricko read with great enthusiasm and articulation.  He was a natural on the microphone, not hard to believe after so many years as a professional musician on the road.  Aside from the reading performance, it was quite refreshing to hear the written dialogue from the elderly characters.  I personally love listening banter between older people without their social filters in place any longer.  There’s something beautiful, in most sane cases of course, about age being the ultimate truth serum for us all.

Truth be told, Ricko was AWEsome!  He wanted to not only showcase his book for the evening so we gave him the chance to sing a song or two from his other passion of storytelling … with his music.  He was joined on stage by a friend and her violin, and they struck an Irish-accented folk song or two to close out that portion of the show and introduce the featured musician.  It was off the cuff and fun for all to experience.

The musical guest for the evening was an Irish-Australian turned Nashvillian.  Born in Hong Kong and growing up between Ireland and Boston to an Irish father and Australian mother, it wasn’t hard for everyone present to understand why he rarely stays in one place for too long.  I personally consider Nashville and everyone present for East Side Storytellin’ 32 extremely blessed to have him call this town home, even if only for a minute.  As a touring veteran who AVERAGES about 250 shows per year, it’s no surprise that many of his songs are written for and about the road while on the go.   Although young, he has spent the past decade making an international impression as a soulful, acoustic songwriter, performing sold-out shows, festivals, and various tour dates with other well-established talent such as Sheryl Crow, Colbie Callait, walked just over 500 miles with the likes of The Proclaimers, and sang alongside one of my favorites in Lisa Hannigan to name just a few.  Usually touring with nothing more than a hiking bag and a guitar, hitching and bussing it most of the time the length of his tour and literally playing it all by ear day by day, I was far from the only person in the room providing huge applause for a current homecoming like none other for the one and only Kiernan McMullan.

Kiernan, similar to Ricko, was a man of the road that is a natural on stage with a captivated audience in front of him.  He spent little time before jumping into an original song that lasted twice as long as your ordinary song on the radio but told tenfold the amount of story and lyrical rhyme.  In between each song, Kiernan took his time to spit out his thoughts about the songs and the stories behind creating them.  His monologues were poignant, honest, and refreshing.  I felt like I gained a deeper understanding for his processes and passion for music, songwriting, and touring in general.  I particularly loved the talks about the sad state of mind of the majority of people in public in general.  I couldn’t agree with him more.  Not a spoiler alert, I’ll let you dive into the recording below and get to know what I’m rambling about above.  All you need to know before clicking the recorded link is that you are about to heard some truly amazing songs and writing.

After the music ended, also containing a very cool moment or two of Kiernan singing through his guitar and several other points of him looping sounds into each song – which I am a HUGE fan of and wish more solo artists learned and used that form of the craft, I grabbed both of the featured guests to have an interesting talk about creativity that quickly lent it’s way towards talk about Baltimore, The Wire, drugs, life on the road, how the road led both to Nashville, and the art of writing stories.  Needless to say, it was a talk filled with several laughs, smiles, and pauses because some people got really real about their lack of appreciation for grunge music.

Ricko shining with his rock rant 🙂

But yeah, in the end, it was all another magical evening of entertainment and local culture.  It’s really hard not to enjoy yourself and your time when you are surrounded by cultured, talented, and good-hearted people doing everything that they love and doing it all with everything that they are.  It was a special night for all.

So here, here you have it to enjoy and share with others over and over again … this is the edited recording of East Sides Storytellin’ 32:

I’d love to get another big shout of appreciation for both Ricko Donovan and Kiernan McMullan for taking time out of their busy schedules to join us here and join the East Side Storytellin’ family.

You can read more about Ricko Donovan here –

You can read more about Kiernan McMullan here –

I’d also like to give another round of mad props to Tom Eizonas for recording the show and doing sound for the night.  Then, another round for the always delightful staff of Mad Donna’s for making us feel at home and giving us a home for the show.  Also, I’d like to recognize artist Clay Brunton for creating the art print for tonight, my wife, Emily Frances Harper Beard, for being my awesome wife, and for everyone who took time to come out for the live show and the others to continue supporting this idea and cause.  As the drag bingo crew that always follow us sing, We ARE Family!

Art print by Clay Brunton

Art print by Clay Brunton

You can listen to all the others, on our website- on the In Our Own Words tab here –  That said, we aren’t finished. Please come back and bring all your friends and little mom too for East Side Storytellin’ 33.  It will be one for the record books for sure.  That is all for the show tonight.  Remember to be nice to one another outside, in the heat and cold, and THANK YOU for being here for us.  Thank you so so much!

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be …

Date- Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Time- 7 pm sharp (Central)

Location- Mad Donna’s (1313 Woodland Street)-

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

Who will be featured- author Honest Lewis (author of Parasitesand music by Adam Hill & special guests (