Mike Hicks

Tom Eizonas, Susan McBride, Chuck Beard, and Mary Bragg

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 113th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 112, I repeat … 112, 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’ 113. Let us begin, again.

Our first featured artist of the night is someone who is an amazing artist but is an even better person. I first met her while we were both working at Oasis Center. Whenever anyone finds out that I worked at Oasis Center, they give me this look that I’m lucky and that that means I’m a special person. The truth is that I’m lucky to have met this friend there and she is truly a special person. She is the child of chronic church attending, God, drug, and alcohol addicted relatives (aren’t we all though), but she embraces a resurrection of sorts through confrontation of lethal theology. She is a recent graduate of Vanderbilt with her Master of Divinity (at the young age of 65, mind you), but her poetry is why she is featured tonight. Her work is a poignant prose styled picture of misery that sometimes gives way to humor. It is a testament to truth and strength found within us all. Without writing for days, let me say that it was an absolute honor to introduce my friend and talented artist, Susan McBride.

Susan went toe to toe with the immense and looming aftereffects of current events in our country that took place in Charlottesville this past weekend the only way she knows how, with honesty, insight, and love. She started her set with two long and family-related pieces that took everyone in the room on a roller coaster of emotions in the best of ways. The first story was about an unfortunate death and someone’s last meal. The second delved more in family characters and locations and was a superb trip via trains and rehab and possibly jail in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. There were mentions of Elvis-like Bear Bryant sitings, and the volcano of emotions and actions blew its lid and overflowed with a young girl declaring to the family everything she knows is true from the bottom, top, and sides of her heart. It was some very powerful stuff! And not only did it have a cool name of Aunt Evelyn (I pronounced it as Evil Lean, which fit her character), Susan also had a main character by the name of Uncle Otis (shout out to my son without being an uncle thing).

Anyways, Susan ended her set with a short piece from God and Family that begged to bring up the thought of someone not asking to be born to these people she has as parents, always confronted with the right answers to the wrong questions … or something like that. It was, as the rest of her writing, heart wrenching and hit you straight to the core. Lucky for you, even if you were in the audience this given night, you can listen to Susan read it all over again and again in the link below. Be strong, and take the trip.

Our featured music of the night is an award-winning singer-songwriter who was born in THE Swainsboro, Georgia, but now calls Nashville home. The youngest of four children and a city full of cousins, she grew up listening by default and became a great observer from the get go. After finding herself and finding her own way of telling her stories via music, you can tell by such titles as SUGAR, TATTOOES & BRUISES, EDGE OF THIS TOWN, and her latest in LUCKY STRIKE, that this artist makes quite the layered stories within stories with her word and her melody skills. This songbird’s music explores the questions and search to discover our truest selves, the ones outside of our families and communities in which we are raised. More than happy to finally get her to become part of the East Side Storytellin’ family, it was perfect timing for everyone for me to introduce Mary Bragg to our stage.

Mary wasted no time in getting up to the microphone and letting everyone know just how special this timing and pairing was to her. She said something to the effect that, and I paraphrase in quotes, “These types of events, it often comes down to timing and availability, I know from experience, and it is truly amazing how all of Susan’s stories reflect and relate to my songs.” To which I yet again said under my breath, “Serendipity!” Yes, serendipity, indeed. Mary completely dropped everyone’s jaws with her voice from the heavens and the content from the depths of her soul. I’ll admit it here and now, my mom was in the crowd and she shed real tears during one of the songs … maybe two. It was that good and moving.

Mary broke out a lot of her “story” songs for the crowd and this set. She sang about wildfires, the 40 year love between her aunt and uncle (not sure if his name was Otis or not at the moment), bayou lullabies, and the title track from Lucky Strike, to name a few. She was in character as the melodic narrator of these epic tales, and you can actually feel the words if you listen carefully in between the notes in the recording below. Before she was to finish her set, Mary changed things up a bit on a lighter note and sang a song she co-wrote with her friend Becky Warren about two of my household’s favorite things (items that could be the perfect reflection of my marriage and love), ice cream and liquor. Mary finished the set with smiles and fun all around. Everyone was feeling better than before the show, and that’s all I could ever ask of anything we do.

After the music and the applause faded, I asked Mary and Susan to join me up front yet again to talk more about their own personal mantras and lessons they’ve learned about their personal stories and creativity in general. They both maintained the same honesty and openness and spunk that they showed while sharing their original art. Let me repeat this again, I couldn’t have asked for a better and more closely pair of strangers to be featured on this given Tuesday when we hosted #113. With so much weight in the world at the moment, it was more than refreshing to share an evening with two artists who live with so much love and care for others on and off the stage, every day they breathe. I don’t think it was just coincidence that this pairing hit the stage one a day that my mom told me before the show that it was a Catholic sacred day for Mary because I really feel like Mary Bragg and Susan McBride were delivering some powerful messages that those of us in attendance needed to be reminded of for that day. It was like we all went to church on a Tuesday … a church filled with more love and teach than judgement and preach.

But who am I to ramble on about everything that happened. I was merely a witness. And, again, lucky for you and those who weren’t there to witness it firsthand, go ahead and click the link below to listen to and share the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 113, a recording of Susan McBride and Mary Bragg doing what they do and did at The Post on Tuesday, August 15, 2017. It was truly an honor. 

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

You can read more of Susan’s writing here – http://approachingperfection-barnone.blogspot.com

You can listen to more of Mary’s music here – www.marybragg.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’ 114

Tuesday, September 5th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Destiny Birdsong

singing- Mike Hicks

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 113 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, Alicia Michilli, Jenna Dorian, 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 109th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 108, I repeat … 108, 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’ 109. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night is a powerhouse female artist who originally hails from the mountains of North Carolina where she was raised in an unstructured classroom from home by her mother, an author and nutritionist. Spending tons of time outdoors during her childhood, her early education and upbringing plays a heavy influence on her style and voice. She’s the featured author tonight because her first novella, You Holy Screaming Symphony, has been a treasure at East Side Story for some time now. She has also published works of short fiction and poetry in various magazines such as Perjus and others, and she is an active member of our friends at The Porch Writers’ Collective. Let me just say it. It was an honor to finally spotlight and introduce the very talented Jenna Dorian.

Jenna brought an unrelated trilogy of readings to the stage, and she was ready to roll as soon as I got out of the way. She appeared to be as equally honored to be involved with the show as I was to introduce her. She is an amazingly talented writer, with a work ethic like few around, and she’s just getting started. So, when she stared her set, she let the audience know pretty much everything she was thinking, about the moment and the material.

With a smile on her face and her heart on her sleeve, she went through the levels of her artist insecurities while revealing her true mission of discovering her comedic writing voice someday but settling knee deep into her sad characters and situations for the time being. After she read an excerpt from her novella, she addressed the crowd directly when she called out the comedic genius of Patrick Shaffner. She had recognized him from visiting the Third Coast Comedy Improv night (you should check them out as much as you can). They had some witty banter before Jenna jumped heart first into an original, sad tale about the first time a mother left her … a flash creative non-fiction piece (because that is a thing, as she recently discovered and relayed). Then, when she had the crowd right where she wanted them at full attention, she went into a slightly emotional, very deep story about the grieving of love and life loss between a marriage and the dream of a baby never to be. Like I told you, this girl is great. You can hear the stories in the recording below, but know that the way she casually and candidly throws her joy and secondary thoughts of an outside personal narrator in between the sad notes of her prose really makes for such a delightful and instant classic way to digest Jenna’s art in person. It kinda makes me want her to do an audio book version of her writing in the same style.

Our featured music of the night is someone I first saw sing alongside my wife a few years ago at The Fontanel. Let me clarify, she was not actually singing beside my wife. My wife was beside me in the crowd but equally blown away. This special lady was on stage singing alongside her long time hero, Keb’ Mo’ for his monthly Blues Jam at The Fontanel. It was also the night when we first were introduced to the musician like none other named Mike Hicks. You should check him out pronto. Anyways, back to the musician at hand. This young star on the rise moved to Music City from Motown. With Detroit roots, it may not surprise you to hear a beautiful blend of R&B and Soul from this lady once she gets going. She has a voice as powerful as Etta, Aretha, Ella, and Billie, to name a few of her singular named heroes. She released her first EP in 2015 and did a spell on the national television show America’s Got Talent too. I’m not sure if everyone in the house was as ready as I was for the second powerhouse female with the voice way beyond any of Wonder Woman’s skills, but there was no turning back after saying all of this good stuff and finally aligning up the stars to book this lady. I’m talking about the unforgettable soulstress, Alicia Michilli!

With the same natural nervousness and self-degrading personality as Jenna, Alicia approached the crowd with her guitar strapped over the shoulder and her heart on her sleeve as well. If you had never seen her perform, you might think she was a nervous, fresh out of college, intern at her first day on the job inside a cubicle who stepped out with the new team to do karaoke for the first time. And, as if it had been proclaimed and written in the good book, then Alicia started to sing. Everything changed after that first note.

Alicia mentioned before the show that she has the look of an angel but the mouth of a sailor. You may notice more than one edit in the dialogue of the recording. All that said, I’ll go ahead and say it that Alicia has the look of an angel but a voice of a soul goddess. It is not only a gift from the heavens that she trains and takes care of like a baby, it is a gift for anyone who gets a chance to hear her share it aloud. I could ramble and compliment this artist for a week straight, as you can tell from the first paragraph or two here, but I’ll let the angel do the singing in the recording below.


Like Jenna, Alicia is her toughest critic. I get it. We all need to be our own toughest critis, but in the end we know there are a ton of haters and critics out in the world. So for tonight, in this shared moment, there was nothing but love and appreciation for every personal note and lyric we witnessed. I can’t speak for everyone else in the room, but I know I was just as close to happy tears as Alicia said she was after she sang the song written for and about her recently passed grandfather. If you can’t relate with and instantly fall in love with that song and the way she sang it from the heart, I’d tell you that you need to make an appointment with the closest doctor to examine if you still have one beating. I’m serious. Take a listen to her final happy song and tell me that isn’t the most soulful and, pun intended, heartfelt heartbeat lyrics you’ve ever heard. I was humming it for hours after the show.

But as soon as Alicia was getting revved up and totally in her wheelhouse with the crowd, everyone in the palm of her hands really, she was finished and ready to talk alongside her new best friend in Jenna. Let me know after you listen to the show if you don’t think they are long lost sisters. Yet again, the non-formula of pairing artists has worked its magic and formally introduced two artists who were born to work together and appreciate the talents they both share. It was obvious to me, as the self-declared translator of their personal answers to my general questions, that these two will do something else going forward. They both had smiles and laughs for days, and they are both as ego-free, talented, humbled, and giving of their positivity as anyone I’ve met in quite some time. This evening, this combo, this event was something special to behold. I feel extremely blessed to have been a small part in this sweet picture.

So here it is, the edited version of East Side Storytellin’ 109, featuring the Wonder Women dynamic duo of Jenna Dorian and Alicia Michilli at The Post East on June 20, 2017. It was a night to remember, one nobody will soon forget. Please share this link and enjoy it for yourself, over and over again. You’re welcome.

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

You can read more of Jenna’s writing here – jcdorian.com

You can listen to more of Alicia’s music here – aliciamichilli.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’ 110

WEDNESDAY, July 5th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Lance Umenhofer

singing- Dylan Lancaster

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 109 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, Buchanan Moncure, Tom Eizonas, and Lance Whalen

Chuck Beard, Buchanan Moncure, Tom Eizonas, and Lance Whalen

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another epic collaboration with East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the recap of the 61st spectacular edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 60 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’ 61. Let us begin, again.

The first featured guest of the night is a prolific literary machine for Nashville’s creative future. Not unlike East Side Storytellin’ alumnus Dave Wright (who just so happened to be in attendance) with his writing and publishing talents going full tilt all of the time, this artist not only writes, but he also makes it possible for other writers to make dreams into realities through his press. He is the founder and frequent contributor for Lost & Found Fiction- an indie publishing company that has been sharing short fiction and other prose with readers since 2010. With a handful of various authors already on their bill with several successful releases, this guy has more than his hands full juggling publishing and his own writing, but he does a great job with everytyhing. With titles such as This Was Supposed to be Simple …  and You Can’t Make Love to a Nihilist and other short stories already under his belt, this guy decided to release two connected novellas recently by the titles of Olive and The Fool. That said, several of the fans of this guy came out and gave it up for Lost & Found Fiction’s brave leader, Buchanan Moncure!

Buchanan was as cool as the other side of the pillow. In fact, he was as cool as the other side of the pillow while reading one of his first stories about a chilling murder scene and very wild thoughts racing through his characters’ minds. I thought it was brilliant. The combination of Buchanan’s tone, tempo, and presence fit his writing and the stories behind his words like a glove.

Then there were lines that seemed to bounce around the room and right into my deep thought. Talking about murder as a feeling and not an action struck a chord with my ordinary Tuesday night thought process at the moment it hit me in the head. Wondering if a mind that is lost is worse than one that is cluttered made me rethink my cluttered head this past week. Using writing as a tool to face your problems was a therapeutic notion to share with everyone to cope with their own issues. And one of my favorite sections of the reading (all of which you can listen to in the recording below) was the description of holding an egg until you squeeze and break it and how that related to how the characters in the story felt about relationships with other people. It was all just brilliant, I tell you. He even explained how someone can actually kill a ghost beside a river. I can’t make this stuff up. And then Buchanan was finished with the reading.

Up after Buchanan, the featured musician of the night is a Kentucky-raised, Nashville-based talent that is quickly checking off everything he wants on his personal goal lists. He’s performed at CBGB in New York City, Common Ground in Chicago, and the Bluebird Café here in Nashville. Add and check off playing The Post while you are at it, if you are following this pattern I’m dropping. He has shared the stage with the likes of Pokey Lafarge, Eerie Von, and has already influenced countless others near and far. With a passion for sharing his stories and life experiences through music, he has developed his style that falls somewhere between the folk music from his Southern Roots and the music of Nick Cave. Aside from being a talented musician, he is also spends a lot of time with nature through camping, marksmanship, and sharing his living room with 14 pet frogs. I was first put in touch with him via our mutual friend and Palaver Records co-owner and new dad for the second time (shout out to Samuel) in Gary Branigan, and I want to thank Gary for that because it was such a treat to introduce and witness the art from the one and only Lance Whalen!

Lance is a true original. He is the first solo artist to bring 4 guitars and a banjo with him, but we were all better for it (even if he didn’t play the final guitar … maybe next time). Back to the music though, Lance was truly one-of-a-kind.

Now, you may have heard me say or write a time or two that every single one of these shows end up having a serendipitous moment or theme or something extraordinary that happens unplanned and unscripted since over 95% of the shows include artists who have never met one another before taking the stage. Either way, it was more than refreshing to hear Lance walk up to the microphone for the first two songs and directly say how they were similar to Buchanan’s stories that he just shared. Seriously y’all, there is something amazing going on in these East Side Storytellin’ shows beyond the great music and stories.

But yeah, Lance was so unique. His voice is unforgettable, his guitar playing style is perfect for his stories, and his lyrics could rival any poet and short story writer in the South. I don’t kid. Lance is this good.
61 singing 1

Like Buchanan, Lance hit me over the head with a frying pan of literary lines that won’t be leaving my dome any time soon. The moment he dropped a scene with a character having a picture of Winston Churchill and needing a red feather from a blackbird to understand why the hell he fell in love with a particular girl, I got chills. All of the songs had their own great high points and lines, but the last one with Lance talking about his sweet sugar pie and wanting her to stay with him just for one life and how she could bring all her books and dress up in white really shot close to my own home and heart. I haven’t even mentioned the slide banjo playing. REALLY? How much better could a Tuesday night in June get in Nashville? I don’t know. Luckily, I didn’t and don’t have to look or be anywhere else. Thank you, Lance.

Before we finished the show, I had Lance and Buchanan back on stage. Lance was a man of few words, Buchanan shared lots of his personal experiences and thoughts in writing and had olives for anyone who wanted some (I had three and they were delicious), but I was most excited about the final line that Lance shared about his own songwriting process that Buchanan and pretty much everyone else in the room related to for their own whatever. He said, “I just want to write more, play more, and try not to suck.” With that, I couldn’t say it better for right now. We may have bumper stickers out soon … stay tuned.

Speaking of staying tuned, here is the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 61 that featured Buchanan Moncure and Lance Whalen at The Post on Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015. Listen to this link, share this link, and enjoy it over and over. It is that great-

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

You can read more about Buchanan’s writing here- http://buchananmoncure.net

You can listen to more of Lance’s music here- http://lancewhalen.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.

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’ 62

Tuesday, July 7th, at 7pm, at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street)

Reading- Amy E. Hall (amyehall.blogspot.com)

Singing- Lauren Farrah (www.laurenfarrah.com)

I will keep you posted as soon as we make the plans and line-up. We are taking off the show for June 16th because East Side Story is having a huge celebration that you are cordially invited to right around the corner.

To explain myself, East Side Story has partnered with The Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville to publish an anthology titled Based On: Words, Notes, and Art from Nashville. The project is a special collection of short stories, songs, and visual art prints which are all inspired by one another and blended together into the fold of a single book (cd of the music included).

art and design by efharper

art and design by efharper

On Monday, June 15, 2015, East Side Story and the Arts & Business will celebrate the release of what could possibly be the most epic creative collaboration of Nashville artists with a one-night release concert extravaganza at Belmont University’s McAfee Concert Hall. The evening will be hosted by Music City Roots host Craig Havighurst and include performances by a majority of the contributing artists … all to commemorate the launch of this unique project.

You can get your pre-order tickets for the book/cd and general admission for the show involving the majority of artists involved in this project here- http://basedonnashville.eventbrite.com

As always, feel free to share with others.

I’ll keep you posted about East Side Storytellin’ 62 and beyond back on schedule as we get it together.

That’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 61 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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