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 –

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

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 –

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 (

singing- Phil Madeira (

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,



Betsy Phillips, Shannon Hall Smith, Debbie Sutton, Andrew Maraniss, Chuck Beard, Marshall Chapman, and Tom Eizonas

Betsy Phillips, Shannon Marie Smith, Debbie Sutton, Andrew Maraniss, Chuck Beard, Marshall Chapman, and Tom Eizonas

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to the recap of another epic event at Riverwood Mansion. In case you missed it in person, let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the 55th spectacular edition of East Side Storytellin’! And boy this was a bill with some heavy-hitters that are sure to floor you with their excellence. Like the 54 previous shows East Side Story has put together, we gathered in a terrific East Nashville gem, this time at Riverwood Mansion, to get y’all 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 the night, this is the total recall of East Side Storytellin’ 55. Let us begin, again.

art by Clay Brunton, printed by Kevin Anthuis at 5 Points Digital Imaging

art by Clay Brunton, printed by Kevin Anthuis at 5 Points Digital Imaging

Wait, again, before I talk about how the event began, I should remind everyone that the guests knew what their pre-ordered tickets got them on top of another killer East Side Storytellin’ show. To clarify, the people that bought the $35 ticket were privy to a one-of-a-kind dining experience like none other in town. To the patrons that bought the $10 tickets, although I was happy to see you there, I felt kind of sad for you as you sat behind, in sight and smelling distance of, the wonderful food made by the Riverwood Mansion owner/chef, Debbie Sutton and served by the delightful staff throughout the show and night. Most of them said they learned their lesson and will be purchasing food for the next show, but I’ve digressed.

As I’ve said before, one of the coolest things we’ve put together for this series of shows on Welcome Lane is to have Debbie Sutton create a four-course meal inspired by conversations beforehand with the featured artists and what they plan to share for the night. Below is a glimpse and description of the meal that was served to a packed house of smiling faces. You can here Debbie explain it to the excited crowd here-

1- Roasted Root and Beet Top Salad with French Vinaigrette and Carrots and a side of Macaroons with Blue Cheese Cream Filling

2- Wisconsin Beer Cheese Soup

3- Hot Springer Mountain Farm Chicken on French Toast, Drizzled with Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup and Mashed Potato Puree, Mixed with Stewed Tomatoes & Okra

4- Cherry Galette topped with Fresh Cream and Lemon Zest – a Rustic French Cherry Pie!

Now … on with the show. The first featured guest of the evening was a writer, activist, and one of the most humble New York Times Best Selling authors you’ll ever meet (FACT). I first met him when local author extraordinaire, East Side Storytellin’ alumnus, and Vanderbilt University Press staff member Betsy Phillips suggested that he visit East Side Story to see if we’d like to promote and sell his book. This was months before the release, and this guy was so kind and humble (I stress that word again because it is worth repeating and so very true). He was over the moon excited that I wanted to help share his story and book but then quickly asked the question if I thought anyone else would buy his book at all. I said they most certainly would and it would be a perfect fit for a March Madness timing of East Side Storytellin’ if he was still interested by that time. Now, as we stood on stage after a few months and many thousands of books sold after the release, I could honestly say that more than a few people near and far have enjoyed the book. Since the release of Strong Inside: the untold story of Perry Wallace, this man has been interviewed on NPR and ESPN, spoken at The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis over the MLK holiday weekend on an esteemed panel, and has traveled all of the country sharing Perry Wallace’s story with some of the biggest names in the Civil Rights movement. Strong Inside is his first book. He is a partner at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations, a graduate of Vanderbilt University. More importantly, he is a wonderful father of two and a proud husband of a trailblazing environmentalist. The festive crowd helped me properly introduce the one and only Andrew Maraniss with an overwhelming round of applause that nearly brought the high ceilings down!

photo credit: Tiffani Bing Emmett

As Andrew usually does, he walked up to the stage with a smile and instantly jumped into the spotlight in order to deflect said spotlight by speaking about his praises and personal admiration for both Perry Wallace and Marshall Chapman. This man’s talent and good-hearted nature runs laps around an ego that is invisible to the naked eye or eyes with microscopic lenses. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to finally be able to provide a moment for this unique person to read from his instant classic work. In fact, Andrew noted that in all of his speaking engagements and media appearances that this was going to be the very first time he had actually read from the book to a crowd. It makes sense that people would just want to interview him or have Perry Wallace talk about his own story if he was present with Andrew instead of reading from the text. All that said, it was quite a precious moment for me and others to witness such an exceptional writer have the chance to finally share the script on the pages that he worked on for so long and so passionately as his own personal calling. As always, Andrew did not disappoint.

photo credit: Tiffani Bing Emmett

He chose to read two eloquent excerpts from the book that perfectly set up the striking environment that was going on in the world of Nashville and the South during the decision for Perry Wallace to break historical racial precedence. If you haven’t read the book, you should come buy a copy at East Side Story and read it soon. For those who were not living in the South at that time or weren’t even born yet, Andrew’s words are superb and put you right back into that time and place to allow for you to understand and feel the gravity of Perry Wallace. It is powerful, to say the least. Everyone in the crowd was mesmerized while listening to every inspiring word that sprung from Andrew’s book and mouth. Before we knew it, the reading was finished and Andrew made his way back to his seat with new friends and his proud family.

Then it was Marshall time. The featured musician of the night was another guest who has a growing list of accomplishments that would have had me introducing for days telling them all if we didn’t have a show to put on for everyone before the stroke of midnight. She is a world-renowned American singer-songwriter-author, born and raised in South Carolina that has released 13 critically acclaimed albums (some of her songs have been recorded by the likes of Joe Cocker -God rest his soul-, Emmylou Harris, and Jimmy Buffet, to name a few). She added acting to her credits when playing Gwyneth Paltrow’s road manager in the motion picture Country Strong, and her musical Good Ol’ Girls opened off-Broadway soon after that. As an author, she has penned two great releases titled They Came to Nashville (also published by Vanderbilt University Press) and Goodbye, Little Rock and Roller (both of which you can purchase at East Side Story later). She is a contributing editor to Garden & Gun, Nashville Arts Magazine, The Oxford American, Southern Living, W, and Performing Songwriter … again, to name just the tip of the creative iceberg of continued accomplishments for this artist. I stopped there so she could get on stage and rock the house (or plantation, as she later referred to it and the sofa and the curtains). Everyone clapped their hearts out for Marshall Chapman.

Marshall is a natural born entertainer. She opted to skip the songs and dive right into giving props to Andrew and reading an excerpt or two from her Goodbye, Little Rock and Roller. She talked about the moment her life was changed forever at an Elvis Pressley concert on February 9, 1956. It was the way he sang, the way he moved, and the way the crowd was separated by race. All factors created quite the transition for the Perry Wallace theme of the night and for the music to come. And the music did come.

photo credit: Tiffani Bing Emmett

Marshall sang a handful of songs that easily transitioned from historic storytelling into poetry and everything in between with rhythm that made it all seem reverent and inspiring at the same time. She referred to one of her tunes as something like Bo Diddley on acid. She commented that another song was semi-autobiographical and saying that that meant it was only half true- leaving us all to question and figure out which part was or wasn’t. If you listen to the set and the entire show all the way through in the link below, you will notice that her words and songs rang out loud like a novella. We all traveled the story arch with her as she drove us through her creative world of past, present, and the future. Like the Nashville legendary songwriters of Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson, Marshall knows what she is doing and does it so very well (regardless if she claims that she doesn’t plan anything before doing it. But, then again, that may be where her real magic of performing lies).

Marshall ended her set with one request from the crowd about a song in the kitchen and then she returned to the show experience with Elvis. She even got many of the people in the room to join in the singing. Y’all sounded like angels, she said. Overall, it was something to behold.

That last phrase pretty much explains this entire show to me. It was something to behold. I was able to get Andrew and Marshall up on stage at the end of the night to share some personal background and stories that enlightened the patrons even more than their performances. We all laughed together, shared their creative gifts, and enjoyed each other’s company. Is there anything more you can ask of anyone on any given day?

Before we closed the night and gathered in the side parlor to sell a ton of books for everyone to take Perry Wallace’s story home with them, Andrew and I made a great idea happen on the fly. Because we only recorded the show’s sounds (see below), and because Perry was not in attendance in person, Andrew pulled out his iPhone and filmed the entire audience as I asked if they could take a second to stand and give Perry Wallace a proper acknowledgement of thanks and ovation for his courage and leadership in something extraordinary that means just as much today for all of us as it did when he first broke the racial barriers of the NCAA SEC basketball back in the 60’s. Again, it was something so special to behold.

See standing O video for Perry Wallace here- perry standing o

I advise you all to listen to the entire show below and share it with all you know. They will be better people for it. I know I am.

Here it is, East Side Storytellin’ 55 with Andrew Maraniss and Marshall Chapman-

Before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for Marshall Chapman and Andrew Maraniss (and Perry Wallace) for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

You can read more about Andrew Maraniss-

You can listen to more from Marshall

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 –

I’d also like to show much love to Clay Brunton for the beautiful artwork for the prints made by Kevin Anthuis at 5 Points Digital Imaging ( to celebrate the show.

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.

photo credit: Tiffani Bing Emmett

Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to give one last shout out to the crew at Riverwood Mansion: the owner and chef- Debbie Sutton, also Shannon Marie Smith and Jennifer Anderson, for allowing us to celebrate East Side Storytellin’ in such a fun place and way.

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be …

Tuesday, March 17th

East Side Storytellin’ 56

7pm at Riverwood Mansion (1833 Welcome Lane)

Reading- Michael Supe Granda (

singing- Joseph Lemay (

YOU can buy your tickets here-

That’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 55 and another fabulous event here at Riverwood Mansion. 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. Thanks and good day your way.

Much love,


The Beard ladies

The Beard ladies

{ 1 comment }

Zach Broocke, Chris Chamberlain, Chuck Beard, and Tom Eizonas

Zach Broocke, Chris Chamberlain, Chuck Beard, and Tom Eizonas

Hello everyone, and welcome to another great round of East Side Storytellin’.  Similar to the 36 previous shows we’ve put together from East Side Story, we’re all here, right here smack dab on your laptop or mobile electronic device (welcome to the future, eh?) to provide you with some very inspirational moments of clarity in your busy lives 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 a recap of East Side Storytellin’ 37.  Let us begin.

The first featured guest of East Side Storytellin’ 37 was probably the biggest guest that I was most envious of that I’v ever had on the show as of yet, and that’s saying a lot.  This man gets paid to go out and eat and drink some of the best food and drinks that this city, state, and country has to offer.  Seriously, this guy has a lot of self discipline because I would surely need gastric bypass surgery if I did what he does on the daily … and then he still has enough energy and vocabulary to write about his experiences too!  A University School of Nashville and Stanford graduate, he is currently  a food and drink writer for the Nashville Scene, a southern correspondent for, and a food, drink and travel writer for hire on the side (among other things spectacular).  Author of the East Side Story’s bestselling book The Southern Foodie: 100 Places to Eat in the South Before You Die (and the Recipes That Made Them Famous), I was so excited to introduce and finally bring to the stage the one and only Chris Chamberlain.

Chris, with kindle notes in tow, was as cool as a cucumber (I guess a cucumber in the fridge, temperature-speaking) up on the microphone.  He had scribbled down some notes for a future talk in front of a bunch of ladies in Green Hills later this month, so to say he was prepared to entertain the more easy-going, laid-back, casual crowd filled with people living in various parts of East Nashville might have been quite the understatement.  Chris talked about his personal past, upbringing, school, and family business around the area, and worked in the talk about the various steps that got him to where he is today with his appreciation for good food and good writing.  Speaking in hindsight, all of the dots connected to point Chris in just the right direction to do what he enjoys most in life.  Hearing Chris speak in hindsight, it was reassuring to hear someone tell their personal tale of what they have dared to do from the bottom of their heart, not fully knowing what was next around the corner at the time they decided to leap with blind faith.  I’m just saying, the entire talk that Chris revealed to the crowd was very comforting and entertaining.  Before he made room for the musical act of the evening Chris took time to draw out some highlights of food and cooking in Nashville during the past handful of years and describe why what we are so fortunate to have in our city at the moment is something truly remarkable and not to be taken for granted one bit.  We are lucky to have so much great food and people who appreciate great food in our city right now, and we are lucky to have people like Chris Chamberlain documenting it all as we eat it too!

Next up, the featured musician of the evening originally hailed from Milwaukee WI (pronounced “Mill-e-wah-que”, meaning “the good land”, as Alice Cooper once told Wayne Campbell in Wayne’s World, the movie).  Growing up with a love of music by Jim Croce, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, Van Morrison, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson to name a few, it’s no surprise to me that after leaving his hometown and visiting and living in places for a sec like Boston and LA, that he returned to Nashville after a bit to make more of his own amazing music here in all of our current hometown of Music City.  You’ve probably heard several of his songs on major motion pictures without knowing it before right now (as in 2007’s underrated flick of “Feast of Love,” starring Morgan Freeman), or you might have recently heard the album “Enjoy The Ride: Solo Writes 2001-12” that was a retrospective album of this guy’s solo writing skills released by Lakeshore Records in 2012.  It’s written on his website that “his music is about all of the things we never say and wish we could have; all the times you let slip through your fingers; and being thankful for the moments where you then realize that maybe, just maybe, that’s just the way it’s supposed to go.”  Having never met in person until this night, and introduced together by mutual friend, talented local musician, and East Side Storytellin’ 13 alum in that of Don Gallardo, I was honored and beyond pumped to introduce and enjoy the sounds of Zach Broocke.

Zach was as cool as a cat (in or out of the fridge) in front of everyone.  I had listened to many of his songs prior to the show to get a good feel of what to expect, and loved everything I heard, but it is truly amazing how hearing quality music played live and from the heart can immediately make the moment, the songs themselves, and life in general radiate more than usual.  Zach’s calm, collected, and poignant playing style and voice delivery were a match that perfectly fit and helped blend the crowd, the weather on the patio with the cool breeze overhead, and everything about this particular evening just right.  He stormed through the songs, mostly because he didn’t have to wait for any other musicians to play and tell stories like his usual rounds with other singer songwriters, and he owned the night, quite honestly.  Words, notes, and stories inspired by personal experiences and some written specifically for shows on the big and small screens, respectively,  I don’t think I was alone thinking I could have sat and listened to Zach play his songs all night long.  We all sat in wonder, sharing a laugh or two at some of the funny insights in some of the songs revealed, and had ourselves a solid good time.  I don’t think we could have asked for more than that and been more happy than we all were together.

After Zach finished his songs, I had him and Chris back up front and center to talk about a few things on my mind.  I asked them about some of the stories behind deciding to pursue and do the wonderful things they do, and they obliged with clever, fun answers that both enlightened and entertained the attentive crowd.  On a personal note, it was so nice a feeling to look out into the packed crowd again to see so many fellow local writers, artists, and friends that continue to come out and experience this awesome idea called East Side Storytellin’ in person.  Back on track here, Zach and Chris seemed to enjoy themselves to the max as well.  Chris even got into the act of asking questions for Zach to learn more about the man behind the music.  All in all, yet again, I felt so great after the show because it just felt like these two featured artists were meant to share this stage, this night, and this crowd together to make something extraordinary come out of an ordinary Tuesday night.

Here is the link for the edited recording of the live event we called East Side Storytellin’ 37.  Feel free to enjoy it many times, again and again, while sharing it with one and all of your family and friends, again and again.

Before we say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for Chris Chamberlain and Zach Broocke for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

**You can continue to read more from Chris Chamberlain here (aside from buying his books at East Side Story, of course) –

**You can stay updated with Zach Broocke 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 by 5 Points Digital Imaging

art by Clay Brunton, printed by 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 3rd, 2014

Time- 7 pm sharp (Central)

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

With author Jenny Hickman ( and music by the great Grant Terry (

That’s all for the East Side Storytellin’ 37 show.  Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word.  Remember to be nice to one another out there.  Thanks and good night.  Much love.

one more for the road, from Zach Broocke

one more for the road, Sweet Ambrosia, from Zach Broocke