Lauren Shera

Kristin Weber, Carter F. Smith, Tom Eizonas, Ali Sperry, and Chuck Beard

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the recap and recording of the 117th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 116, I repeat … 116, 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’ 117. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night is someone who teaches criminal justice at MTSU (Go Blue Raiders!). He was in the US Army CID for over 22 years, serving 15 of those at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he and a loosely-organized group of investigators identified the growing gang problem in the early 1990’s. After the Army, he got a law degree and PhD. so you know we’re dealing with another slacker artist again, to be clear. He is a founding and still serving board member of the TN Gang Investigators Association and is a 3-time recipient of an award named for sociologists Frederic Milton Thrasher awarded by the National Gang Crime Research Center. You may recognize him from his appearances in the History Channel’s Gangland series, and you may be seeing him for the first time. Either way, it will be a pleasure. I’m talking about the extremely smart, kind, and talented Dr. Carter F. Smith.

Carter came prepared. He had a special event where he did a talk about his book a few days before East Side Storytellin’ and another one the day after. He had his notes, book, and photos to share with everyone present. Like I said, Carter was ready.

b/w photo of Monk Eastman

Carter jumped into his talk by giving the audience facts and proper context behind his research of gangs in the US military. He couldn’t have gone straight into the excerpts from his book, but he wanted us to get a clear picture of what is going on and how serious the matter is to our civilization as a whole going forward. That said, the historical context and figures he decided to talk more in depth about were truly fascinating to hear about. I knew a few of the figures, but the more unknown the characters were for me, the more impact they had had with the history of our country. I know there is at least two more book projects, whether Carter knows now or not, that he could squeeze out of these lemons.

After Carter set the scene of his book, he dove right in. He shared a few highlighted interviews he did while putting the book concept together and also while going down the wormhole of our criminal justice system and dangerous gangs located throughout our country. I instantly heard the back and forth dialogue as an old time radio show, and told this idea to Carter later for further tread on this book’s tire. Point being, I feel like Carter is only on the tip of the iceberg of this story and, although he’s done a fantastic job with absolutely everything he’s produced and shared so far, I’m hooked to hear more. You can take a listen to Carter on the recording below to hear just how on point he is with his research, writing, and delivery on this important topic.

Then, it was time for our featured music of the night. Our headlining musical guest is a Nashville-based indie artist whose songs are undeniably rooted in folk music, simple and true. Originally from Iowa and two musician parents who encouraged her to sing and create music from the time she could speak, her musical education was taught by Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon, among others. She moved through Syracuse University and around Chicago before being pulled to Nashville via an all-girl band called Sweetwater Rose. I know we’ll speak more about that and everything else musical and life related later, but let’s not waste any more time than we have and get this girl to sing these amazing original songs while we have her here to ourselves. Fresh off of her 2017 release of “Crooked Feelings,” her third record so far, and joined on stage by her tremendously talented friend on the fiddle, Kristin Weber, I was super excited to finally introduce the one, the only, Ali Sperry.

Ali jumped right into her song “Crooked Feelings” off the newest album. I was instantly pulled in by the lyrics “treason if you won’t fight the war” and “I quit for love!” and “I’m gonna be alright.” I thought it was the perfect transition from the dark side of life and current events explained by Carter’s work into a much more comforting and hopeful future prompted by Ali’s words, melodies, and style. I said it a few times to Tom during the performance, but Ali reminded me of a folkish version of Julie Andrew’s Mary Poppins. She was serving up the spoonfuls of sugar and it was helping us digest the real life medicine that already went down with Carter. I was feeling alive and okay.

Ali and Kristin were side by side on every note and harmony they dished to us. From the way they told the crowd to “Look at Me” with the lyric of “nobody loves you half as much as me” and “Pay attention.”, they had the entire room spellbound and in the palms of their hands. We even had two toddlers in the crowd who were recording the performance for future notes. It was very inspiring, to say the least.

Ali and Kristin ran through a solid handful of originals, from the inspiring song on hills about journeys going forward, to fictional tales and characters who Ali hopes is really real and happening somewhere in the world today, and finally wrapping up with some sad tunes and tributes to fallen friends and muses. One of the coolest moments of then night, for me, was when Ali and Kristin finished the set by covering Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ song Breakdown. You can hear it in the recording below, along with the rest of the set, but I will say that I thought it was perfect, timing and performance.

After the Tom Petty tribute ended, I was gifted with the chance to talk more about creative journeys and life passions with Ali and Carter. Both were as energetic and honest and positive as I’ve seen any duo of guests in all my time, and that says a lot since pretty much everyone I’ve had the chance to speak with is energetic, honest, and positive. You’ll hear it all in the recoding below, so I’ll save you from reading too much of my rambling post-show.

So here it is, the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 117, the night we featured the likes of Carter F. Smith, Ali Sperry, and Kristin Weber at The Post East on Tuesday, October 17th, 2017 at 1701 Fatherland. I’m no Yoko Ono, but I was not disappointed with a magical experience with all of these people and numbers aligning with the stars. Feel free to listen to this link and share it with all of your friends over and over again. Thank you.

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

You can read more of Carter’s writing here – www.gangsandthemilitary.com

You can listen to more of Ali’s music here – alisperry.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’ 118, the 5th anniversary show

Tuesday, November 7th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Dana Malone

singing- Solar Twin

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 117 and another fabulous event at The Post with East Side Story at the helm. Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word and giving some love to all of these great Nashville artists and our creative ideas. Please remember to be nice to one another out there.

Much love,

mE

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Matt Urmy, Tom Eizonas, Joanna Barbera, and Chuck Beard

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the 99thepic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 98, I repeat … 98, 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’ 99. Let us begin, again.

Forget the classic Dos Equis men, past and present representation, the first featured artist of the night is, without a doubt, the most interesting artist in Nashville. A nomad since birth, Matt has planted roots and enriched the creative soil of Music City since first calling it home as a child. He has spent the majority of this life mingling with uber-talented and well-known musicians, writers, healers, entrepreneurs, outside-the-box thinkers, and culture shifters. He is the co-founder of Artist Growth, which just so happened to celebrate its official 5th anniversary on this very date of January 17th = you can thank the Facebook memory that reminded me of attending that party in 2012, but he is here tonight because of his poetry. The most interesting artist in Nashville, I’m talking about the one and only Matt Urmy!

Matt didn’t jump right into his poetry. Instead, he stepped up to the podium and threw down a lesson on language that was pretty much what every English professor wishes they could relay to their students. Unbeknownst to anyone on the room, Matt was giving us some real higher education about art and language and the power of words. He spoke eloquently about associative imagery, the power of finding the right word (whether it is in English or Spanish or something else) to fit the audible impact desired for the message at hand, and the overall process of how an artist creates and the audience experiences and shares that material. That said, he spoke in a way that made these layered lessons so simple to digest and relate to in our own lives. I knew from the start that this night and reading was going to be very special.

Matt did share a few of his own poems, all the while sprinkling in some of his favorites from other people who inspire him as well. His material, like the stuff he admires, aims to transcend while recording and expressing his everyday and deep thoughts on life and why we are here right now. He aims, and he hits the mark every time. He constantly explores his limits within his prose, seeking out meaning behind his purpose, and relates it in a way that you never feel intimidated or uninspired to go out and do the same thing in your life (all of this happens just by listening to him too). I’m telling you, Matt’s words and example is something to take note of in your world. Do yourself a favor and listen to the recording below, before you find out where and when you can hear him next. It was truly an honor.

Our featured music of the night is a mutual friend of two of my all-time favorite Lauren’s in Lauren Farrah and Lauren Shera (the newest super mom on the block). She is also a well-traveled artist who leaves impeccable footprints everywhere she goes. Influenced by personal relationships and all things ethereal (from religious studies to yoga and shamanism), her wandering spirit shines through in her spooky folk tunes. Her world travels turn to powerful prose set to meandering guitar and violin harmonies. Her work has been featured on Austin NPR, several TV shows on MTV, ABC, and NBC, and even on an international hit soap opera in Poland (that reminds me of the “We’re big in Denmark” comment from the hit movie Singles = watch it, if you haven’t seen it). With her upcoming EP IMAGO, I was humbled to introduce and showcase the lovely and super-talented songstress, Joanna Barbera.

Joanna took the stage like a pro. And by pro, I mean she didn’t flinch to have friends help her brush past a minor guitar strap repair that happened seconds before we were about to start her set. Despite what she said about herself, she was not moody or needy or anything other than an excellent human being. On top of that, she is an extraordinary singer-songwriter. She talked a little bit, but her songs spoke from themselves.

Joanna mixed in humorous banter and back story with songs that pulled at your heartstrings and left you exploring the reverb in your own heartaches. She sang about catholic school (one of my most favorite lyrics EVER about Jesus and Jim Morrison, listen closely), New York City, family, Mexico, and everything in between. I was starting to think that we needed to lock her outside in the rain with the karate man next to The Post or even further outside the city limits so she can write her next big hit about Nashville and her experience with East Side Storytellin’, but we’ll leave her to her own devices and creative processes. Either way, and any way you listen to her, Joanna make beautiful songs out of beautiful experiences. She is honest, candid, and everything I appreciate the most from artists who share their world and talent with strangers in perfectly lit rooms. No. That’s not creepy at all. That’s what happened. Take a listen in the recording below, if you don’t believe me.

photo by Chance Chambers

Per usual, I was gifted the opportunity to chat with both guests for awhile after their respective sets. It is something that never fails to light up my day and find deeper respect and appreciation for the city I call home right now that is filled with the most extraordinary people on Earth. Matt and Joanna were no different in that regard. We found out they were both born in New York, learned their love of making art from their families, they use Artist Growth like it’s their job (because it kinda is), and they are two bright stars who are excited about the future because they expect their best is yet to come. I’m glad we get to cherish what they’ve accomplished so far and stick around to see what’s next.

So, what’s next, you ask? Well, it’s time for you to listen to the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 99 that featured the tremendously talented combo of Matt Urmy and Joanna Barbera on Tuesday, January 17th, 2017, at The Post. Please listen lovingly and share with other friends, family, and strangers, over and over again. Enjoy!

I can’t thank Matt Urmy or Joanna Barbera enough, but I’ll do it one more time right here. THANK YOU!!!!!

You can read more of Matt’s creative endeavors here – www.matturmy.com

You can listen to more of Joanna’s music here – joannabarbera.com

You can listen to this show, edited, soon, alongside the previous shows too, on our website,www.eastsidestorytn.com, at our In Our Own Words Tab – see here – www.eastsidestorytn.com/in-our-own-words

I’ll keep the gratitude going for Tom Eizonas, my lovely wife and most talented artist in Emily Harper Beard (efharper), and everyone that came out live to support the show … and to everyone who has helped continue to spread the word and support the show online afterwards.

I’d also like to show much love to Clay Brunton for the beautiful artwork online to promote the show.

art by Clay Brunton

Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to give one last shout out to Tonya and Chris for making The Post so welcoming and positively life-changing for the East Nashville community at large.

Our next show will be

East Side Storytellin’ 100

Tuesday, February 7th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- John J. Thompson (www.33andathird.net)

singing- Phil Madeira (philmadeira.net)

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 99, the penultimate show to #100, and another fabulous event at The Post with East Side Story at the helm. Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word and giving some love to all of these great Nashville artists and our creative ideas. Please remember to be nice to one another out there.

Much love,

mE

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Tom Eizonas, 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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