Middle Tennessee State University

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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Chuck Beard, Destiny Birdsong, Mike Hicks, and Tom Eizonas

Thank you for visiting this blog. If you are a return visitor, hello again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the recap and recording of the  114th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 113, I repeat … 113, previous shows East Side Story has put together, we all decided to take a break from our busy schedules all over town in order to sit back and relax and get everyone cultured up just right in the form of a Nashville writer reading from original prose, followed by an amazing local musician performing and talking about their original music, and then a round-up creative conversation with all featured guests of this event to talk about their individual journeys and personal ties to Nashville. Without further ado, fulfilling the entertainment portion of your day, this is the recap and recording of East Side Storytellin’ 114. Let us begin, again.

Our first featured artist of the evening was someone who was born to be an artist, by the sound of her name. She was born in Louisiana, but now calls Nashville home. She is a triple threat, with her striking words as a published poet, essayist, and editor. Her writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in African American Review, Indiana Review, Rove, The Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature, The Feminist Wire, and more. She is a recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize, and she earned both her MFA and PhD from Vanderbilt University. Needless to say, we were beyond honored to have her featured with us. After a busy Summer for us both, it was perfect timing to spotlight and showcase the tremendously talented Destiny Birdsong.

Destiny approached the microphone and the audience with a quiet confidence that was both powerful and calming in its silence. She pushed her papers together and started the day’s conversation. She acknowledged that her first poem was a process piece and that her process entailed watching Prime Time television. This instantly put my creative heart at ease because I’ve been binging some older, successful television series (such as The Sopranos, This is Us, and more) in order to study why so many people loved the writing behind those series so much and also to further examine the variety of storytelling styles compel me to create. Point being, it was a perfect start for everyone to put their guards down and listen to Destiny tell us about life via her personal art. The second piece was another television inspiration, but it went even deeper with visuals of athletics and patriotism and racism, as she analyzed what her life meant while reflecting on the Olympics. You can listen to this poem, as well as the others below, but all I can say is that it is brilliant. The lines about  exercising by reaching for ketchup followed by the sadness experienced while trying to choose a favorite between two opposing black girls racing each other made me feel as though Dave Chappelle would be a little jealous that he hadn’t written the same lines first to commentate on the same dilemma.

photo credit to Chance Chambers

But Destiny didn’t stop at the Olympic finish line. She dove deeper into politics with an original poem that included the infamous speech that Melania Trump said at the RNC … wait, check that … the same speech that Michelle Obama gave a few years back at the DNC. Either way you heard it, it was fascinating to think about the idea of how different meanings come from two people saying the exact same thing. Then Destiny took us on a trip with her poem that was featured on a poem of the week deal. To say that it was moving and gave me chills to the bone while she discussed the Charleston 9 racist/terrorist monstrosity would be the understatement of the year. But Destiny saved a personal tale for her big finale. She recalled a poem that was inspired by her great-grandmother, a woman who wrote many touching church sermons on the one side of her life and also ended up killing her husband on the other. Again, you really need to listen to the poem in the link below to understand where I’m coming from here. But, that being said, I am forever grateful for Destiny taking the time to start the conversation that was had on September 5, 2017. If I could listen to her read every day, I would certainly continue to become a more thoughtful and better version of myself with every poem.

And then we were gifted with music. Our featured music of the night was someone who I believe is the future of Nashville’s musical soul. I first saw him at a very special show alongside East Side Storytellin’ alumnus Alicia Michilli, as they both completely floored me and my wife while they played with Keb’ Mo’ at the Fontanel (as part of a residency like none other). He was also part of the Based On anthology we put together over two years ago, his contribution was titled Uruhu (inspired by poetry/fiction by Rashad thaPoet and Shawn Whitsell). Originally from Warner Robins, Georgia, this artist studied business and marketing at Middle Tennessee State University (Go Blue Raiders!) before moving completely to Nashville and making magic happen with his music. He has toured with the likes of Keb’ Mo’ and Jonny Lang, among others, but we were more than happy to share this day with this man, as he played his original work that floored everyone in the building and outside the windows passing by. And when I say we were happy to share this day with this guy, this was the only date available for the rest of the year (and I’ve been trying to schedule him for over 2 years). I’m talking about one of the busiest and most talented musician I know in show business today … the one, the only, the humble, the man … Mike Hicks.

Mike sat down at his office, behind the self-proclaimed “most expensive shield” he could find to go to battle with his artillery of melodies and love, tickled the ivories, shook off the dust of the day, and immediately made a near full house light up with smiles from the first note he struck. If you’ve ever seen or heard Mike perform, then you already know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I’ll try to explain (before you just listen to the extended recording below). Mike is not only a musical and creative breathe of fresh air, he is also the first breathe of air you get after being submerged in the deep end of the pool by the man while the lifeguards ignore the dire situation laid out right in front of them. His music and message is currently life itself. Once you taste it, you can’t go back to what you were eating before, and you certainly can’t un-hear the stories and lessons interwoven into the emotional songs he sings. Simply put, his music is a force of life and can easily be used to take the conversation and insight that Destiny dropped on us to the next level of action in the streets (or social media, if you need to start there).

Mike prefaced each song with a little gem of knowledge and backstory of where he and the song came from. He grew up in the church, and he effortlessly combines the good parts of his childhood lessons with the trials and tribulations, adversity and accomplishments, that he faces on a day-to-day schedule in the current worldwide popular music scene. He sings about injustice with race, financial systems and institutions, and historical figures who more people need to know about and who should never be forgotten, and then he beautifully ties all of that into words that you can relate to without even trying.

photo credit to Chance ChambersMike ended his set with two songs that will not soon be forgotten by anyone in the crowd. Both were about two separate people who have continuously inspired Mike while on his personal journey. The first was about a woman named Miss Josie, and the second was about a local man by the name of Mister Bobby. I told Mike I would spread the message (beyond just sharing the recording below), so here it goes. Mister Bobby is an older black man around the age of 70 who you may hear singing at any time of the night if you are walking around the East Nashville street of Shelby Avenue at any given spot from the park to Downtown. Mike hasn’t seen him in years. But, if you see a man who fits the description, please ask the man if his name is Mister Bobby. And, if it is Mister Bobby, please tell him to call his friend Mike Hicks. Thank you for sharing the good word and paying it forward.

After the music faded, I was blessed with the opportunity to converse with Mike and Destiny. Typically these conversations last around an average of 20 minutes. I knew this was going to be longer because of the depth and heart that these two artists give on a daily basis and also because it was a chance for so many white patrons in the crowd and beyond the recording to listen to two black artists who articulate the current cultural, political, and social questions and struggles our country and world is dealing with every single second of every single day. Again, I will do their answers and the conversation injustice if I don’t just let the recording do the talking for this recap. I will end my comments here, unless you reach out directly via the website or email. This recap has ended, but the conversation sparked and lit even brighter due to the efforts of Destiny Birdsong and Mike Hicks on this given show will continue to grow like wildfire … until we get this thing on the right track for everyone involved. And by everyone involved, I mean we’re all in this thing together. I’ll just leave it at that for now.

So here is the edited version of East Side Storytellin’ 114, the show when Destiny Birdsong and Mike Hicks spoke, sang, preached, taught, and threw light (the opposite of shade) needed in our worlds more than ever. It was recorded at The Post East on Tuesday, September 5, 2017. I am so thankful these two people took time out of their busy lives to share their talents with us. Once again, serendipity struck with the absolute perfect pairing and timing for this series. I am forever grateful.

You can read more of Destiny’s writing here –

http://destinybirdsong.com

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

https://www.youtube.com/user/MHicksMusic

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

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

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

Our next show will be

East Side Storytellin’ 115

Tuesday, September 19th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Aaron Joel Lain

singing- Joe Nolan

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 114 and another fabulous event at The Post with East Side Story at the helm. Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word and giving some love to all of these great Nashville artists and our creative ideas. Please remember to be nice to one another out there.

Much love,

mE

photo credit to Chance Chambers

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60 group

Matthew Leavitt Brown, Dave Eastman, Chuck Beard, Jonathon Dewveall, and Tom Eizonas

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to the recap and recording for another epic collaboration with East Side Story and The Post that took place on Tuesday, May 19th, 2015. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the 60th spectacular edition of East Side Storytellin’! That’s right. I did not stutter. By my calculations, we are just a few shows shy of social security and growing and rolling like moss down a hill! Like the 59 previous shows East Side Story has put together, we’ve all decided to take a break from our busy schedules all over town in order to sit back and relax and 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 your day, this is East Side Storytellin’ 60. Let us begin, again.

The first featured guest of this particular evening is a writer, activist, editor and educator. His work has been published by literary presses and journals across the United States. He has been a featured lecturer and performs readings in community arts forums and at academic conferences throughout North America and Europe. He currently teaches writing and literature at Middle Tennessee State University (go Blue Raiders!) and resides in Nashville, Tennessee. One half of the artists’ list behind the images, sounds, words, and action of the project called The River Sonnet, I was honored to be able to introduce some new friends to the art of Matthew Leavitt Brown.

Matthew made his way to the stage, walking past the table of extremely inspiring  photographs taken during The River Sonnet experience, and found his comfort level in front of a listening crowd on the edge of their seats and willing to take another literary trip with him. Before he got started on his actual work, he prefaced his words with a little background tale about the project and also about the history of the sonnet. Once again, like I do so many times during these East Side Storytellin’ shows, I felt enlightened by the newfound knowledge and experiences bestowed upon me and the rest of the crowd from the featured guests. Matthew talked about what called him to begin The River Sonnet with his brother-in-law, Justin Orlowski, and then he figuratively jumped right into that river again.

Matthew mentioned that a sonnet typically has 14 lines and that for his project he got greedy and ended up making 14 sections for his work. During the first part he shared, I was completely spellbound by the imagery of the fridge floating in the water and live along the banks. Matthew has a tone with his voice and the tempo of his writing that flows as naturally as the river he’s reporting on. It was very easy to sit back and float along the sections he shared. In between several sections, Matthew took a moment to set up the scenes and explain the why’s and where’s for everything. I particularly loved the moment when he explained the topic of “ruin porn” and trying  to record the accents and dialects of the people he and Justin interviewed and met but without making fun or coming across as trying to define the interviewees’ lives and worlds through the filters of the ones doing all of the questioning and recording. He made a cool notation about other people doing that to Nashville from time to time more frequently these days and how unfortunate that is for everyone involved. That said, Matthew finished off his set with a powerful poem and reflection on Da Da and shared a moment or two on the river he and the audience won’t soon forget.

The featured musician of the night is one of the best persons you’ll meet in Nashville = fact. I don’t typically like to see or talk to anyone before 6am, but one part of tonight’s band always seems to get me laughing and feeling better about life before sunrise when I see him at the Margaret Maddox East YMCA on the regular. Getting back to the music side of his life, the core members of his band are Houston, Texas natives. Like the Oilers, they moved here for a better life doing what they love. They are a unique blend of rock-n-roll and comfort blues, pouring out excellent lyrics and heartfelt melodies that will ring you to your core. Honestly, the only thing that is difficult about anything regarding this family band is learning how to spell their name when trying to find them on Facebook after you’ve seen them perform live for the first time. It’s pronounced like the actor, Robert Duvall, but spelled totally different. You can have them spell it out for you after you see them again in concert and you ask for their autographs. Again, I was completely honored to finally have the chance to introduce and welcome this guy and his one-night one-man band (with his counterpart babysitting their young child) to the East Side Storytellin’ family, I’m talking about being excited to have the chance to share a spotlight on the band Dewveall.

Jonathon began his set after making a side comment to me with slight hesitation saying, “How do I follow that up?” He recognized the powerful essence of Matthew’s poems and delivery, but I knew he needn’t worry too much because of the soul he was definitely going to bring and ring throughout The Post and beyond. Dewveall had already cleared out a small group of people who had not come to the show for anything other than a cup of Joe during sound check so he was ready to go whether he knew it fully or not. Standing solo, he belted out his first song, the title track from his record titled Word, and all ears and hearts were just as focused as they were when listening to the poems before the music began. Word was a perfect reflection of the transitions currently going on in all of East Nashville. You can hear a taste of it in the recording below, but trust me when I say that hearing Jonathon’s voice in person is transcendent like his song writing.

Fitting to the bill of the night, it was perfect that Jonathan shared a song with metaphors of a river and floating home in the middle of the set. I don’t plan these things, but life tends to make coincidences happen to remind us that everything is happening for a good reason. After the music ended, Jonathon told Matthew and me that he had another song that strongly related to the featured poems of the night, but hadn’t planned on including it so he forgot on the fly. What he didn’t forget was finishing with two epic Texas inspired rock opera-like songs that told fantastical stories of an imaginary world in The Wild Wild West. The latter of the two was described as a lullaby version of a tale for his two-year old daughter that involved vigilantes, love, death, and a whole lotta livin’. Take it from me, listen to the recordings below and take the trip for yourself before you jump to conclusions. My conclusion = it totally rocked!

Before I let these two guys leave The Post, I gathered them together one more time for them to share some personal stories about how they got to Nashville and began doing what they love to do. Despite coming from very different political territories, both of these artists shared a mutual passion for life, wanderlust, and appreciation for good people and great creativity. Both are leaders in their respected jobs and communities, wherever they call home. Basically, these are two fine young gentlemen who you are stellar fathers, good-hearted connectors between valiant causes, talented artists in their own rights, and both seem to have a bright future wherever the grand river of life leads them.

Special note, I did not get a picture of how red my face was nor did I pay Matthew one dollar to say the extremely nice things he mentioned at the beginning of the interview about East Side Story and all of the creative ventures we are trying to make happen in the Nashville creative community. I was blown away by the kindness on the spot, and I’m pretty sure my wife shed a tear or two from the back although I didn’t look out into the crowd to check. It was yet another very special evening in my life and I know that I wasn’t alone. It was truly an honor to share some time with these two featured artists of East Side Storytellin’ 60.

 

Now, whether you were in the crowd for the diamond show or not, here is your chance to listen to East Side Storytellin’ 60 that featured the poetry of Matthew Leavitt Brown and the songs by Dewveall. Please feel free to listen and share it with all you know who love the arts over and over again:

 

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

You can read and watch the movie for more information on The River Sonnet and Matthew Leavitt Brown here- riversonnet.org

You can listen to more from Dewveall here- dewveall.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’d also like to show much love to Clay Brunton for the beautiful artwork online to promote the show tonight.

art by Clay Brunton

art by Clay Brunton

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.

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be …

East Side Storytellin’ 61

Tuesday, June 2nd

7pm at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street)

reading- Buchanan Moncure (http://www.lostandfoundfiction.net)

singing-  Lance Whalen (www.lancewhalen.com)

That’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 60 and another fabulous event here 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. Thanks and good day your way.

much love,

mE

one more group shot before the road … or the river as it is

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Tom Eizonas, Taylor Corum, Leslie LaChance, and Chuck Beard

Tom Eizonas, Taylor Corum, Leslie LaChance, and Chuck Beard

Hello everyone, and welcome to another great round of East Side Storytellin’.  Similar to the 44 previous shows we’ve put together from East Side Story, we’ve come together here to get you cultured up just right in the form of a local Nashville writer reading from original prose, followed by an amazing local musician performing and talking about their original music, and then a round-up creative conversation with all featured guests of this event to talk about their individual journeys and personal ties to Nashville. If the last show with Ciona Rouse and Amita Fukui was the most soulful show yet, the combination of the featured guests for this one had the promise of being one of the most heartfelt shows yet.  And like all of the guests of this show bringing their A-games to the crowd and recording, this show did not fail in keeping its promise.  This is East Side Storytellin’ 45.  Let us begin, again.

The first featured guest of East Side Storytellin’ 45 is more than the lovely stepmother of the absolute coolest yoga teacher in Tennessee (and that I know anywhere- shout out to Rachel Mathenia).  Born and raised in Upstate New York, she has made Tennessee her home since 1990.  Recently changing her mail delivery and voting services to call Nashville home, her poems and essays have appeared in literary journals such as Birmingham Poetry Review, Quiddity, and, most recently, Number One, published here in Middle Tennessee.  Her collection, How She Got That Way, appears in the chapbook quartet Mend & Hone.  She is the founding editor of Mixitini Matrix: A Journal of Creative Collaboration, an assistant editor at Sundress Publications, and teaches writing courses at Volunteer State Community College.  It was truly an honor to introduce a good friend, the amazing poet, and even better person who we like to call Leslie LaChance!

Leslie was spectacular.  She kicked things off with a candid set of poems that dove into mixing English with Spanish, love with life, childhood with growing up, memories with deep thoughts, and her intimate, life-changing moments with a crowd that was all heart, smiles, and ears.  It was really something to sit and listen to while appreciating the nice Fall weather comforting everyone in sight.  I had a handful of people come up to me after the show and recite their favorite lines and concepts that Leslie shared throughout her performance.  And let me tell you, before you get to the recording below, it was quite the performance.  Few I’ve seen do spoken word utilize such a gift that Leslie shared with us this evening with the inflection of her voice, shifting and emphasizing the perfect syllables in multiple languages to get her exact points across.  Whether you knew what the Spanish words meant (I did), everyone seemed satisfied with understanding where Leslie was coming from and where she was taking everyone.  It was a fun trip for all.

The second featured guest of the evening wrapped up this month of September’s homage to talented friends of talented friends of my favorite music duo of Carolina Story– new parents of the next wave of Americana in Bruce Wilder Roberts.  I first met this young man at the same house concert that headlined East Side Storytellin’ alumni Carolina Story and Amita Fukui.  Saying the same as I did with Amita, any friend of Ben and Emily is someone with whom we should all should hope to to be friends.  You’ll know it for yourself after about 5 seconds of meeting this guy on or off stage, but its impossible not to be in a good mood instantly around him and his music.  Born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee … their loss is Nashville’s gain.  A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University (Go Blue Raiders), he is one of the few people and musicians in town that truly gives me hope that country-western & southern music has a future by relating to its historic past and bridging that gap with the current state of our city and world … his world.  I personally feel that he’ll step out from behind the backstage passes shared by Carolina Story and start playing originals at the Opry for the masses soon enough, so cherish the recording below while you have him all to yourself with more than two songs at a time.  This is my promise.  This is just the beginning of your musical journey from this talented guy.  A man that strums three chords and sings only the truth, get ready for the one and only TC, Taylor Corum!

Taylor immediately treated the people and the stage like another house show.  He has a knack for cutting past all the bologna and serving the people his heart on a platter.  He jumped right into a song that put a 100 smiles across the patio.  His feet, my feet, everyone’s feet were moving to the beat of Taylor’s strum.  He took time in between songs to thank the crowd and his amazing friends (friends, as I have come to find in my own life = our chosen family that give us more strength than we ever knew we had before), and he took a tough personal year and transformed it into a set of seven songs that transformed the moment and us all.  You see … when you cut past all of the little stuff, like Taylor did and does with outward ease, you do actually see the truth and the basics for which life is about.  It’s not a complicated thing, the words and chords Taylor uses are always quite simple, but the point is that Taylor’s music and positive outlook/metaphors reveal a sense of hope that is more than easy to relate to on a perfect Fall evening amidst good people.

After Taylor finished his set with a song that he changes the ending every night like a Pearl Jam Yellowledbetter song, I was really excited to get Leslie and Taylor on the stage together so they could share a little more of their stories beyond their creative awesomeness.  I was like The Joker, I couldn’t stop smiling.  I told the people that unless you were watching Taylor’s performance from the front row, you missed a white James Brown with dance moves way bigger than the radio recording.  The way that Leslie and Taylor shared their art, you could see that it moved their bodies as much as it moved our minds … and that’s saying a lot about how good these two are.  You can take the time to listen to the recording below to get a sense of what you missed or remember what happened if you were lucky to witness it live.

I’ll say it again, like my friend and East Side Storytellin’ alumnus in Nate Woodall mentions during every show he comes to (frequently, I will add).  He said, “About halfway through every East Side Storytellin’ show I start to feel sad for everyone else that isn’t here with us.”  I think that pretty much wraps up my sentiments exactly, but I couldn’t feel too bad on this particular evening because there were no more seats available for the crowd – some standing in the back, all with smiles for the show.  In the end, I  hope everyone agrees and says in years to come that it was something to see.  I think this is something to see.  I also think this is something to hear and listen to as well.

That said, here is the edited recording for East Side Storytellin’ 45.  Please feel free to shaw with everyone you know and listen to it over and over again until you fully understand English/Spanish poetry as your own heart’s language and you get enough of what Leslie and Taylor are dishing here (Which, coincidentally, the answer is it’s never enough).  So, enjoy this recording as many times as you want.  This is a gift.

https://soundcloud.com/eastsidestorytn/sets/east-side-storytellin-45

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

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

I’ll keep the gratitude going for Tom Eizonas, for the recording and sound of the night, Clay Brunton for the amazing art print, for Kevin Anthuis at 5 Points Digital Imaging (http://5pdi.com) for printing those art prints, Otis James for my wicked cool hat, 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.

otisjames

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 – http://eastsidestorytn.com/in-our-own-words/

 

But we are not finished.

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be …

Date- Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Time- 7 pm sharp (Central)

Location- Mad Donna’s (1313 Woodland Street)- http://maddonnas.com

With Fog Ink’s own Amy Neftzger and music by the wonderfully talented Rae Hering.  It will be another transcendent, soulful night not to miss.

That’s all for the East Side Storytellin’ 45 show.  Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word.  Remember to be nice to one another out there.  Thanks and good day your way.

Much love.

chUck

Ben Roberts, Taylor Corum, and Amita Fukui.

Ben Roberts, Taylor Corum, and Amita Fukui.

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