Kendra DeColo

Lisa Dordal, Chuck Beard, Alayna Renae, Ashton Kimbrough, 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 123rd epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 122, I repeat … 122, 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’ 123. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night is a consummate student, teacher, writer, poet, and all-around great person. She spent a good portion of her youth studying at the College of Wooster, Vanderbilt University Divinity School, and creative writing and poetry at Vanderbilt University before deciding to pay it all back by becoming a well-respected lecturer in English at Vanderbilt University today. When not helping everyone else becoming better thinkers and writers, she does find time to do her own excellent work. That is why she is here tonight. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Robert Watson Poetry Prize. Her poetry has appeared in various journals such as Best New Poets 2015, Cave Wall, CALYX, Ninth Letter, Rove Poetry, The Greensboro Review, Vinyl Poetry, Nimrod, storySouth, Connotation Press, Public Pool, and The Feminist Wire. I first met her when she let me promote and sell her first published paperback by the name of Commemoration, and she’s here tonight to share some work from her latest work, her 1st full-length collection of poetry titled Mosaic of the Dark. It was truly an honor to help pre-release the first full-length collection and give a proper spotlight on the one and only Lisa Dordal!

Lisa is another one of those artists who is small in stature and gives off the impression of being reserved, but she transforms herself into a formidable force of nature once she opens her mouth and starts sharing her powerful and poetic prose. And when I say that she turns into a force of nature, wouldn’t you know that she had a background echo of thunder at just the right moments of her reading from the storms outside. It really couldn’t have been better timing for Lisa to share her words at East Side Storytellin’.

Lisa opened her set with a dual-themed, deeply personal poem called Commemoration. It was one part a feminist response to the Virgin Mary’s conception and birth of Jesus and the other part a reaction to comments made by a visiting poet to the feminist response. The creative mathematical formula between the two was something more insightful and loud as a Sunday sermon for the ages. It got everyone perked up to full attention and ready for more. Lisa wasted no time from there to jump onto the mom poems. And when I say mom poems, I’m talking about work from Lisa that is inspired by her own mother. It is a figure in Lisa’s life that comes up regularly in what might originally seem the most irregular places, but, like the rest of Lisa’s work, it just fits and feels right.

One of my favorite prefaces to her poems was the title of the Last Poem about my Mother … for 3 Weeks. But the reading was more than just deep thoughts and worldly views from a daughter’s perspective. Lisa dove into themes of hauntings via house flies and ice men, winning wars despite having generals who drank too much, and other points inspired by transitions with drinking, sexuality, and traumatic life experiences. One such poem was inspired by seeing the news of a woman in New Delhi who was tortured, raped, and murdered on a bus after she had watched the movie Life of Pi with her boyfriend. The depths of horror revealed in such tales, while juxtaposed with Lisa’s honest, direct, not holding anything back, and empathetic energy within her punctuation, original insight, and delivery, all combine into something that allows the reader and listening audience to calmly walk up to the fine line of where sanity and death meet and reflect on life in a way that few artists and art can, in my humble opinion. Maybe it was the rain and the thunder and the lighting and everything else combined above that put me in such a trance, but I’m guessing that the talent and wonder of Lisa Dordal that can’t be defined in words has something to do with it.

Our featured music of the night is a mutual friend of one of our most enthusiastic East Side Storytellin’ alumnus in Ally Brown. This girl, our guest and not Ally, hails from sunny Orlando, Florida. A neo-soulite with a contemporary sound that follows the ever-changing fusion of Jazz and Neo-Soul, she often captures the attention of any audience with her versatile and original style. Since moving to Music City, she has released 3 singles via Firebreath Records and has held a residency at a local venue where she hosted a weekly jazz jam. Currently, she is working on her first album to be released any minute. Alongside her talented friend Ashton Kimbrough, the stage and crowd was set in the exact way it needed to be in order to properly digest the musical stylings of the amazing Alayna Renae!

I could actually hear Ashton continually playing soft keys in the background as I made my way to the mic to introduce the musical crew. I would later tell the crowd that I wanted to create a Kickstarter to raise enough money to pay Ashton to put wheels on his seat and keyboard and give him a salary to follow me around every single moment and everywhere while playing melodies to the tone of the day and moment. Everyone laughed, but I was serious … at least with wanting Ashton to follow me around and play his music. He is that good, y’all. The thing is, if that proposition were to  happen, Ashton would raise the bar for the moment every day that I would have to up my life game to make it look like a good pair. I say this because not everyone would be able to mesh and match with Ashton on the vocal side of music. Alayna Renae not only matches Ashton like two identical images in an old school game of memory, she totally surpasses any expectation of any vocal pairing I’ve come to East Side Storytellin’ with before this night. Again, she is that good, y’all.


With the busy fingers and musical canvas Ashton painted on the fly, Alayna pulled out all of the stops with her lyrics, stories, and emotions laid out for all to hear. It was as if she opened her private journal and poured out every emotion, life lesson, and any note that helped her to become the human she is today out on the floor for all to see. Whether it was talking about living life day by day or telling it how it is with your friends and loved ones, Alayna took a second to step back and then run  forwards with all of her might. Man, it was such a night. I’m not going to say anything else about the music because I want you to just listen to the recording and the talks below so you can get a glimpse of where I am coming from after experiencing everything I did on this special evening.

After the music faded, I again hosted a conversation with the featured artists. With two mics at the appropriate level, I kinda felt like all I had to do was drop the question like a tennis ball on the stage and let Lisa and Alayna knock it back and forth. The answers and smiles and honesty were as chill and amazing as a Championship match at Wimbledon on a Sunday afternoon. Again, you really just need to listen to the recording and hear for yourself. You will learn a lot about these artists and even more about yourself. Trust me. I know I am a better person already after being around these three.

So here it is, after writing and talking about it throughout the text above, this is the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 123, the night when Lisa Dordal, Alyana Renae, and Ashton Kimbrough brought the calm and the storm. This was recorded at The Post East on Tuesday, February 6, 2018. Feel free to listen to this link and share it with everyone you know, over and over again. You’re welcome.

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

You can read more about Lisa’s work here- lisadordal.com
You can listen to more of Alayna’s music here – www.alaynarenae.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’ 124
Tuesday, February 20th
at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm
reading- K. H. A. O. S. (KHAOS NOBULLSHIT)
singing- Bentley Caldwell

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 123 and another fabulous event at The Post with East Side Story at the helm. Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word and giving some love to all of these great Nashville artists and our creative ideas. Please remember to be nice to one another out there. I repeat, please remember to be nice to one another out there.

Much love,
mE

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The Jealous Mime Syndrome Band = Justin Quarry, Megan Palmer, Chuck Beard, and Tom Eizonas

The Jealous Mime Syndrome Band = Justin Quarry, Megan Palmer, Chuck Beard, 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 recap and recording of the 83rd epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 82, I repeat … 82, 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’ 83. Let us begin, again.

Our first featured artist is a Senior Lecturer in English and Program Coordinator of Undergraduate Creative Writing at Vanderbilt University. He holds a B.A. from Vanderbilt, where he received high honors in English, and an M.F.A. from the University of Virginia, where he was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. His fiction has appeared in a number of publications, including TriQuarterlyThe Southern ReviewNew England ReviewAlaska Quarterly Review, and The Normal School, which awarded him its Normal Prize in Fiction. He is also the recipient of the Robert Olen Butler Short Fiction Prize, an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Arkansas Arts Council, and a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, among other honors. In addition to teaching at Vanderbilt, he also serves on the faculty of the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference at the University of the South. The room was filled with several handfuls of friends to support the one and only Justin Quarry.

Justin prefaced the show by becoming the very first featured artist to bring a bouquet of fresh flowers for me and the other artist of the night. Let me just say, it was the nicest unexpected way to start any of the shows so far but that’s just how Justin rolls. Before he reached the podium in front of the adoring crowd, we had already talked a bunch about what he refers to as the “creative crisis” that he was faced with recently when taking a break from writing to experience life in other ways to get re-charged to tackle writing creatively once again. After completing his handgun certification and training (it is the South and it totally relates to a major inheritance he received that he tackles in his nonfiction essay), Justin decided to take a break from his novel in the works to try something new. He was shaking just a tad, and no more than any other reader who we’ve heard so far on this show, and brave enough to share his new work for the first time since writing it.

Before he got to the story, he took more time to thank everyone involved with the show, from production to the audience in front of him. I’ll tell ya, the kindness that beams from this guy is radiant and effortless. After he finished with his thankful speech, he jumped into his essay about his father, guns, college, getting lost in the woods only to be saved by sirens ringing just over the trees next to him, and coming out of the closet with those he loved and all the while wondering what his father was seeing in the future as he looked out from his deathbed. It was pretty deep stuff but it was perfect. Once again, I could’ve sat there and listened to the featured author read for an entire day. I’m definitely not alone in wanting to read the next essays on deck.

Before I get to the music, and before you take a listen to Justin and Megan sharing everything they so gracefully shared, I must add that there were so many gems laid out in this amazing essay. I definitely wrote more notes in this show than I had in some time (and that says more about the magical combination of Justin and Megan than anything else). Here are a few tidbits that made my soul smile and belly laugh to keep an ear out for while you listen to the reading: no girl scout cookies in the wood, hiking = a pacifist’s parallel to hunting, “looking at me how only the dying view the world …” , red hair and Sarah McLachlan pen, “death rattle” and its definition and context within families and friends near death, camouflage Cabbage Patch Kid doll, and many more. Point being, Justin is a brilliant writer, whether he is diving into non-fiction, fiction, or whatever strikes him with a pen in  his hand (or a laptop close by). We happily await his forthcoming novel and everything else in between that finish line.

Our featured musician has been on East Side Storytellin’ two times before while supporting our friend Tim Easton way back in East Side Storytellin’ 22 and then again East Side Storytellin’ 77 with Darrin Bradbury. To top that show connection, she is so cool that her website bio was written by one of our all-time favorites in Aaron Lee Tasjan! She started in Ohio and explored New York City before making her way to Music City. Beyond her gifts with music, she spends her spare nights and days as a Palliative Care Nurse at Vanderbilt University Hospital, often beginning work in the morning and then closing concert gigs late in the night. She’s been extremely hard at work at her latest album called “What She’s Got To Give” and it’s already being toted as the next big must have in this city … not that anyone who knows her and her music is surprised. Tasjan gracefully put it like this- This record leaves the impression that Megan is one of those rare people who truly care. She expertly communicates in her songs her sense of kindness and compassion even when there’s good reason to behave otherwise. It’s not just something she says, it’s also who she is as an artist and a person. I’m honored to finally feature this fine friend and musician. I coined her as our version of Paul Simon to the first years of Saturday Night Live (the best years) … I’m talking about the unforgettable Megan Palmer!

Like every other time Megan has graced us on East Side Storytellin’, she didn’t come alone. But instead of bringing other talented players to be by her side, she brought along a plethora of instruments to liven up her original songs the only way she knows how … the best ways possible. That’s right. Her car was packed with an electric piano, a fiddle, a guitar, brand new CD’s hot off the press, and the same positive attitude that Megan brings to every show and day. She is a bright star.

After a said a few nice words for introductory purposes, Megan laughed and said that it was ironic how I said those nice words and yet her first song was gonna be her new track involving a knife. So that made for number 4 on the synchronicity of this show’s pairing between Justin and Megan (Vanderbilt connection, caretakers beside a bed, artists just out of their own versions of creative crises, and now violent symbolism within their stories via guns and knives). Oh, and both of these artists are super down to Earth and cool as cucumbers fresh from the fridge. Megan then followed up knife talk with a new take on a classic syndrome called jealous mind syndrome (to which I thought initially she said jealous mime syndrome and I was totally going along with it). It’s where you want your friends to become famous but not too famous without you getting there too, or something like that. Like everything else I write here, the artists read and sing much better than how I can relay the message to you in this post-show recap. Megan jumped on the piano for the next few tracks to add a little soul to her string play and it felt like Tuesday night church by the Cumberland River once again. Like Justin’s essay took us on a personal trip, Megan lifted our spirits with an original tale about what it’s like to be a pilot.

Megan finished strong and calm by picking up her fiddle and playing a cover song that could easily make a grown man cry if he was moved to do so. I’ve seen Megan play several times and one of my favorite things about her musical talents is when she owns the fiddle. She can do more to a song in her pauses than most guitarists do by thrashing the strings non-stop. She highlights the notes and words she gives the world by making the most of the spaces in between. She is truly gifted at telling stories through music. And her new CD is pretty kick ass too!

Once again, I took great pride in the fact that I had a few minutes with the featured artists to see behind the curtain of their creativity and let them talk a little more about their art than what their stories and songs give on the surface. The crowd was attentive, the atmosphere was chill, the humor was witty and candid, and the personalities on stage couldn’t have been more delightful and genuine. These two professionals broke it all down so that even someone in the crowd who doesn’t write or sing or do many things creatively could leave The Post and feel like they had been a part of something special and could then go forth and create something with the time and energy they have left in the day, week, and year ahead too. These two are special people.

So here it is, the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 83 which featured the likes of Justin Quarry and Megan Palmer on Tuesday, May 17th, 2016 at The Post (one day before my Mother’s birthday … Happy 60th!). Enjoy and feel free to share with everyone and your mother as well!

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

You can read more about Justin’s writing here-  http://as.vanderbilt.edu/english/bio/justin-quarry

You can listen to more of Megan’s music here – http://meganpalmer.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’ 84

Tuesday, June 7th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Linda Barnickel (www.millikensbend.com

singing- Tanya Montana Coe (www.tanyamontanacoe.com

That said- that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 83 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 "normal" group shot for the road (before our new band hits the road) ... Chuck Beard, Justin Quarry, Megan Palmer, and Tom Eizonas

One more “normal” group shot for the road (before our new band hits the road) … Chuck Beard, Justin Quarry, Megan Palmer, and Tom Eizonas

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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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Tom Eizonas, Rashad Rayford, Eric Dozier, and Chuck Beard

Tom Eizonas, Rashad Rayford, Eric Dozier, and Chuck Beard – Attendee and Nashville artist Dana Malone commented, “It really was a night about three fathers and their children.”

If East Side Storytellin’ 74 is ANY indication of the kind of year that 2016 will bring us all then we need to just give thanks to the cosmos and get ready for one of the best years anyone has ever experienced.

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration and beginning of our greatest year yet in 2016 between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the 74th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 73 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 recap and recording of East Side Storytellin’ 74. Let us begin, again.

The first featured guest of the night is someone who never fails at inspiring every single person he meets and greets with his powerful words and heart (no pressure for tonight). He is an activist, actor, and an award-winning Spoken Word Artist who calls Nashville home. A natural born trailblazer, he was one of the first spoken word artists to release an all spoken word mixtape in 2005 with the album “Witness to the Truth” and in November of that same year releasing “Vol. 2 the Love Session” before finishing up that series with “Vol. 3 the Trilogy” in the summer of 2006. In 2008, he went on the “Talk to the People Summer Tour” while hitting over 30 cities and solidifying his place as one of the front runners in the Spoken Word game. The numbers prove it too. He’s sold over 20,000 albums independently and has released well over 10 hip-hop cd’s to his credit and counting. In April 2013, he brought down the house at the TEDxNashville event, of which you can experience online. He was also notably one of the first hip-hop artists to be featured at Nashville’s own Musician’s Corner as well. One of the major pieces of the outstanding non-profit Southern Word (and contributor of one of the coolest stories found in the Based On anthology that East Side Story put together and published this past year with proceeds going to the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville – you can purchase your copy of that project at East Side Story later), here’s to someone who I fully believe will go down as the most influential writer in Nashville. I’m talking about Rashad Rayford, aka Rashad thaPoet.

Rashad arrived to The Post about 15 minutes until show time and he promptly went to a corner and pulled out a notebook and a pen. After catching up with his day and making sure he was okay with the show template, I left him to his devices. By the time I introduced him to the absolutely jam-packed room filled with all shapes, sizes, ages, and races, Rashad was as ready as ever to help create another unforgettable evening for all in attendance. He opened up by explaining the differences between poetry and spoken word. He clarified that poetry is from the page and spoken word is about the performance. He excited the crowd by revealing he was about to do a little bit of both.

Rashad broke out the notebook he had dove into in the corner and said that he was about to share two pieces of poetry that he wrote minutes prior to taking the stage. It’s just how he rolls and writes. You can listen to every single thing shared during this monumental evening in the recording below, but I’ll briefly describe a little of everything just in case you are thinking of skipping the recording (which would be so foolish of you to do). The first piece Rashad shared was an insightful social work inspired by a family tragedy back in the 1930’s involving children playing, children missing, and the Klan. As with anything Rashad shares, it was powerful, poignant, and moving to your core. The second poem was no different, asking the people to think about what they would shed blood for, combining current events and people and places and topics that have flooded our news feeds for weeks, months, and recent years. Both were breathtaking.

photo credit Chance Chambers

photo credit Chance Chambers

Rashad then went into his spoken word bag. I’m not sure if I can give any of his work more justice than you simply listening to it all below. I will say that the following line was the most awesome line I’ve ever heard spoken at any spoken word event: “$1 for a burger, $85 for a pill, $5 for a salad that can give you all you need to heal.” I’m serious, y’all, it doesn’t get much better than Rashad doing what he was born to do. He asked the crowd if they wanted him to do a curated piece or an improv piece … he opted to do both AND bring Eric Dozier up on stage to add instrumentals to his words. What happened next was like jazz, dooooo dooooooooo do dooo dooooo. He literally took words and turned garbage into a slapstick version of his vision of personal liberty. Do yourself a favor and listen the recordings below.

With the brilliant transition of getting Eric on stage alongside Rashad at the same time, the music was primed for takeoff.

The featured musician of the night is another major influential artist who Nashville is beyond lucky to have at the moment. He embodies soul, gospel, and the blues while connecting us all to the past while bridging history with the history he is making on the daily. He is a gospel music educator, cultural activist, musician, and father. He is the former Musical Director for the world famous Harlem Gospel Choir and co-founder and Director of Arts and Education for One Human Family Music Workshops, Inc (we’ll talk more about this and everything after the performance). A graduate of Duke University with a B.A. in Public Policy Studies and a Master’s in Theological Studies at Duke Divinity School (which I’ve heard is the best Divinity School in the world), he has been committed through his workshops and programs and performances to investigate the global spread of gospel music and its effect on cultures outside of the African American community. He has recently launched the Young People’s Freedom Song Initiative, a community of supported grassroots music education movement. Host and founder of the Mobile Soul Café, of which he began at The Post this past summer alongside Rashad, the entire room of family and friends and new fans gave a soulful applause and their full attention to the likes of the one and only Eric Dozier.

Eric kicked off his set by playing a tribute to his grandmother about holding on for hope and life in general. I knew from the very first note that Eric was taking us to church and we would feel his grace. He had lyrical and melodic inspiration from Sam Cook and Otis Redding, but I also heard a heavy tinge of the man Bill Withers and “Grandma’s Hands” throughout his performance. Yes sir, Eric is that deep and that good at what he was born to do too.

Photo credit Chance Chambers

Photo credit Chance Chambers

Eric took time in between songs to set up the stories behind the songs and give respect to the people he wanted to pay tribute to via the songs on this given night. He didn’t take long, the second song to be specific, to shed light on recent family facts and announce that I’m now a dad too. Eric prefaced the second track by giving a short description of why he and another person he admires loves African American hymns so much – because they refuse to devalue emotion or simplify reality. That said, Eric dedicated his original song about life being found in the simple things to me and the rest of the new and old moms and dads in the crowd. I recorded the entire song on my phone for keepsake, but you can hear the dedication and wonderful tune alongside the others below.

Eric didn’t just stick with the insightful and positive side of things in his music. He dove deep into the other side on the track about the other side of life that involves the grit and heart of life adversity. He also performed a song titled “Today” and explained how today is so important because it’s today and we’re all here together right now. I couldn’t have said or sung or played the keys any better if I tried for years. All that said, just when you thought he couldn’t get any better, Eric played his big finale with the first train song that he co-wrote with a close friend. I’m here to say that it is without a doubt the best train song played in Nashville since Johnny Cash. Don’t believe me? When was the last time you saw a train song being played live in Nashville and random children who have no relation to the performer drop what they are doing and head up to the front row to dance and clap along with the song? That’s right. It doesn’t happen … ever. But it did with Eric.

Photo credit Dana Malone

Photo credit Dana Malone

Now, because both Rashad and Eric were phenomenal at sharing the stories behind their songs and their art in general throughout their performances, it was easy for me to bypass the regular interview questions and throw out a few that were pulling at my heart while I took in the show from the crowd. I asked and they told me their thoughts about why they do what they do for the community and world-at-large and how Nashville is such an important place for each of them to do everything they want to do going forward. They also had brilliant and heartfelt responses to my question about how fatherhood and parenthood has affected their creativity and drive to make art. Coming from two fathers and artists who I admire more than any others in town, I was all ears and eyes and heart during their answers. Again, do yourself a favor and listen to the entire show below. I told Tom not to edit much of anything and keep the show as long as it ran live because it was that special of an evening and event for everyone who experienced it.

Photo credit Chance Chambers

Photo credit Chance Chambers

I don’t think you’ll find another event as extraordinary as the combination of these two modern geniuses in the same room and sharing their missions anywhere in Nashville or beyond in the next year. I’m just saying, these guys are the best and we are all better people for being around them. As my uncle Matt said after the show and I agree, I want to be like Rashad and Eric when I grow up.

I can’t say enough great things about these two humans. They took time to mention their respect and admiration for East Side Storytellin’ and our 74 shows and counting accomplishment similar to the way many musicians and artists pay homage to The Ryman Auditorium when they perform there. I’m forever grateful that I’ve met Eric and Rashad and can continue to be inspired by what they do and who they are. Before you make plans to check them out live in the near future, go ahead and listen to the recording of East Side Storytellin’ 74. Here is the link for said show that featured Rashad Rayford and Eric Dozier at The Post on Tuesday, January 5th, 2016, and kicked off the amazing year of 2016 the best way possible. Enjoy and share this experience, over and over:

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

You can read more about Rashad’s writing here- www.rashadthapoet.com

Here is Rashad’s TEDxNashville performance -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Td9SBHm46KE

You can listen to more of Eric’s music here- www.ericdozier.com
Here is Eric’s TEDxPeachtree performance-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6g_7yT4ILCk
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 East Side Storytellin’ event will be …

East Side Storytellin’ 75

Tuesday, January 19th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Kendra DeColo (www.kendradecolo.tumblr.com)

singing- Lauren Shera (www.laurenshera.com)
That said- that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 74 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
ps- this show was dedicated to two people who couldn’t be there physically because of dinner time at home in that of Emily Frances Harper Beard and Avett Otis Beard!

When the shows are over, family is all we have.

When the shows are over, family is all we have. Courtesy of the Baker Boys and the Beards. Photo credit Taylor Griffin.

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