New York City

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

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the 99thepic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 98, I repeat … 98, previous shows East Side Story has put together, we all decided to take a break from our busy schedules all over town in order to sit back and relax and get everyone cultured up just right in the form of a Nashville writer reading from original prose, followed by an amazing local musician performing and talking about their original music, and then a round-up creative conversation with all featured guests of this event to talk about their individual journeys and personal ties to Nashville. Without further ado, fulfilling the entertainment portion of your day, this is East Side Storytellin’ 99. Let us begin, again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

photo by Chance Chambers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

art by Clay Brunton

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

Our next show will be

East Side Storytellin’ 100

Tuesday, February 7th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

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

singing- Phil Madeira (philmadeira.net)

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

Much love,

mE

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Blu Sanders, Andrew R. Adkins, Chuck Beard, and Tom Eizonas

Blu Sanders, Andrew R. Adkins, Chuck Beard, and Tom Eizonas

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the recap and recording of the 92nd epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 91, I repeat … 91, 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’ 92. Let us begin, again.

Our first featured artist of the evening is a man born with what I believe is the coolest name ever in Bluford. He grew up in West Texas on the border in El Paso, got his business degree from the University of Texas (hook’em horns), and has been successfully making a living as a musician for the past 15 years in Austin, New York City, and Nashville. In 2010, he left Nashville for El Paso to become the caretaker for his father who was battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease. His first book, The Forty One, which you can purchase tonight or later at East Side Story, is a tale about the 18-months of that time period between a father and his son, a terminal disease, and a dusty old car- racing to restore it and take his father for one final ride before he dies. Ready to roll with his first-ever official public reading for The Forty One, it was an honor to introduce the ultimate musician/author in Blu Sanders.

Blu took the stage and immediately said he was going to say all of the things that I said before I said them so now he didn’t have to and instead he was read to read from the selected excerpts he had prepared. He said he was going to read the intro and the final page of his book and fill in the gaps in between, without spoiling a good read. The Forty One title is significant because his father’s car was a 1941 Chevrolet beauty that had spent years collecting dust and untapped memories. Blu kicked things off by telling us what the car really was: a relic that represented finishing what you start, family, and love, among other priceless things. As for the reading, Blu was comfortable in the driver’s seat, taking us along for quite the ride down memory lane.

photo credit to Chance Chambers

photo credit to Chance Chambers

One of the most fascinating things I thought about while Blu was reading was the beautiful, yet completely tragic, symbolism between a father and his son bringing the family car back to life at the same time the father is slipping away. I’m pretty sure everyone and their mother in the crowd was thinking about and appreciating their own fathers, alive and gone, throughout the evening. Everyone was deeply connected to every word and following wherever Blu took us. Blu not only told us specifics about car parts and incidents that helped shape the time period written about in the book, but he also broke down the layered elements of communication, or lack thereof at times, between he and his dad and how they were built before and during this stage of their lives … only to see many of those walls break down in the process of learning more about themselves and the relationship they were to have with one another. Point being, the creative examination of the Sanders’ father/son dynamic was on full display, open and honest, raw and exposed, and something wonderful for everybody to relate with while reflecting on their own personal fatherly journey. In the end, Blu parked the car and the reading fresh, new and improved for the next ride with a future crowd to be named later. With the car, the book, and the reading, Blu found something he could be extremely proud of moving forward. We all hope to do the same.

Our featured musician of the night is a singer/songwriter who has written and recorded songs that have been acclaimed by critics from Paste Magazine, American Songwriter, No Depression Magazine, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and many others. His music has been featured on ABC, DirecTV, MTV, USA Network, and many others as well. A former member of the Dualtone recording group called Mellow Down Easy and Werewolf Heart Records’ Lions for Real. Fresh off his latest album, Glass Castles, he is always ready to play a little bit of Americana, Blues, and Country with a few shades of Folk-Rock. Again, I was honored and super excited to introduce someone I’ve been creatively following for some time in Andrew R. Adkins.

I know I say it off and on during or after most, if not every, East Side Storytellin’ show, but the serendipity of the theme of this particular show was brought together by something greater than myself. Yes, I book the pairings. But, Andrew and Blu, two guys who didn’t meet one another until an hour before the show, didn’t plan ahead on sharing projects that were both from the heart and themed about the history and lessons learned from their fathers. Wouldn’t you know, Andrew’s Glass Castles was just that, more or less a concept album with the concept being the story of his dad. I just love it when life happens the way it’s supposed to be without trying to fake or force things.

photo credit to Chance Chambers

photo credit to Chance Chambers

Andrew sang about coal mines in Eastern Kentucky, hard life in West Virginia, and just about everything in between. It was also refreshing to hear a musician actually fit in the word facetious properly into an original song. The writer in me jumped for joy with that one for sure. But my feelings aside, the facts are that Andrew also laid everything out on the line with his lyrics, melodies, and rhythmic guitar rifts that perfectly allowed his messages to come across unhindered and in excellent shape for all those listening in the crowd to take it all in and also reflect on each song as they were delivered. And after setting us all up with family-inspired tracks of conquering adversity, embracing love, and doing your best to leave an inspired legacy, Andrew kicked the rest of the walls down with a full-blown inspiration anthem (one that once brought together fans of 50 Shades of Grey and The Jonas Brothers of all things – true story, listen to the recording  below for more details). He finished with a call for us all to be the people we are meant to be … indestructible.

After the music ended, I was again fortunate to have both of the featured artists share the stage to share some deeper insight into the passion and drive for doing what they have done and continue to do artistically. Blu shared more about how the living and making of the book helped shape him into the person and artist he is today. Andrew explained how his family background has helped him articulate what he’s trying to do creatively via music. Both Blu and Andrew were so easy to talk with and connect to on this respect for our fathers level. This, like most shows we put together, was another case that it was exactly what I yearned to hear from the universe at just the right time. You can hear more of why and how I felt this way by listening to the edited recording of the show below for yourself. Do yourself a favor and listen to it now.

But, before you click the show link below, I would be remiss if I didn’t make a personal note and mention the fact that Nashville lost one of its greatest assets this past week. You probably never saw her name on any billboards over Broadway or caught any of her artwork on CMT or the show Nashville, but this person meant more to Nashville than most I’ve met. I’m talking about the one and only Kaaren Engel. A friend, mother, daughter, artist, author, sculptor, restorative yogi, and person with the least amount of ego and the biggest heart in the 615 = fact. East Side Story is blessed to carry her book Herman’s Journey, and we were very fortunate to showcase it and her and friends at Cheekwood this past spring with a very special East Side Storytellin’ show for kids of all ages. You can see her website and the Cheekwood show link here- www.kaarenengel.com AND http://eastsidestorytn.com/east-side-storytellin-cheekwood-in-bloom-edition/

http://www.kaarenengel.com/why-words-matter/

http://www.kaarenengel.com/why-words-matter/

We all hope to honor your legacy, your friendship, your creativity, and your love until we meet again, Kaaren.

So here it is, the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 92 that featured Blu Sanders and Andrew R. Adkins at The Post on Tuesday, October 4, 2016. Please listen to it and share with everyone you know, over and over again.

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

You can read more about Blu’s writing here- www.blusanders.com

You can listen to more of Andrew’s music here – www.AndrewAdkins.net

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

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

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

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

Our next show will be …

East Side Storytellin’ 93

Tuesday, October 18th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading-  Leeah Vickers (www.leeahvickers.com)

singing- Dustin Lowman (https://dustin-lowman.bandcamp.com/)

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 92 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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The Jealous Mime Syndrome Band = Justin Quarry, Megan Palmer, Chuck Beard, and Tom Eizonas

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

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to recap and recording of the 83rd epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 82, I repeat … 82, previous shows East Side Story has put together, we all decided to take a break from our busy schedules all over town in order to sit back and relax and get everyone cultured up just right in the form of a Nashville writer reading from original prose, followed by an amazing local musician performing and talking about their original music, and then a round-up creative conversation with all featured guests of this event to talk about their individual journeys and personal ties to Nashville. Without further ado, fulfilling the entertainment portion of your day, this is East Side Storytellin’ 83. Let us begin, again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our next show will be …

East Side Storytellin’ 84

Tuesday, June 7th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Linda Barnickel (www.millikensbend.com

singing- Tanya Montana Coe (www.tanyamontanacoe.com

That said- that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 83 and another fabulous event at The Post with East Side Story at the helm. Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word and giving some love to all of these great Nashville artists and our creative ideas. Please remember to be nice to one another out there.

much love,

mE

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

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

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Chuck Beard, W.S. Lyon, Andrew Leahey, and Tom Eizonas

Chuck Beard, W.S. Lyon, Andrew Leahey, and Tom Eizonas

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the recap and recording of the 69th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 68 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 of East Side Storytellin’ 69. Let us begin, again.

The first featured guest of the night was (and still is) one of the coolest writers I’ve met while living in Nashville (and I say this without seeing him regularly in person or reading much of his work or hearing him read all of the time … point being, when I do see him or hear his words, his writing is always a breath of fresh air). The self-professed ambassador-at-large at Woodland Wine Merchant, this young man grew up along the North Carolina coast, and then later lived in New York where he worked in development on both documentary and narrative features which screened on PBS and Toronto and Sundance and other festivals around the world. In 2012 he founded a creative writing workshop on death row (which has no association whatsoever with Suge Knight) and he has uncovered and tapped into some of the deepest narratives I’ve ever read in the process. As the editor of the anthology from the death row writing called So I Can Live and with his own work recently appearing on the blog Philanthropic and busy as all get out currently pursuing his MFA in fiction at Vanderbilt University, it was an honor to final introduce the wonderful Mr. Scott (W.S.) Lyon!

Scott is a pure writer and an excellent reader and finds his comfort in front of a crowd by sticking to his words on paper and/or talking praise of other people. To kick off the show, he jumped head and heart first into the one piece he wanted to share for the evening. He prefaced the reading by saying that it would probably become the first story in the anthology that he is currently in the middle of making for his MFA thesis. Titled Hurricane Party, it was something to behold.

With his writing technique and mission for the thesis adjusted to a clearer focus by a recent enlightening discussion with award-winning author Charles Baxter (who shared his ideas and essays on fiction craft and how great books should ask a spiritual question in the beginning whether you find the answers by the end or not), Scott prepared a most excellent version of a story he’s created. Hurricane Party, to me, was an endearing and brilliant homecoming, a poignant tale between two brothers exchanging memories, emotions, conversation, family drama, and extracurricular illegal activities surrounded by the strong winds of a prevailing storm. It, like the original stories I’ve heard and read from Scott before, was so refreshing. The delivery and pauses and poetic license with which Scott relayed his words weaved in a beautiful sense of awe and order instantly placed the entire audience in just the right position to immerse themselves into the characters and settings in a way to perfectly experience everything he was dishing. He does that every time he reads his work and it is truly a gift.

I won’t share any more about Hurricane Party other than my short review of the reading above because I’d like for you to directly experience it firsthand for the first time when you purchase the final book as soon as Scott finishes the anthology. But know this, after the reading, the stage and the listening crowd was set and ready to take the night and art even further into the territory of something extraordinary.

The featured music of the night was a Nashville-based artist that has survived his own personal death sentence and has gone on to create some of the most impactful music of his career up to this point. A little over 2 years ago, this man completed what some would call a career in a single year – four national tours, a Daytrotter session, an appearance at the Americana Music Festival, and the release of a critically acclaimed EP, but that was also when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The doctors told him to have surgery and then take a break from his band and music for a bit. He did have surgery, but the break from his band didn’t last quite so long. Then, two years exactly to the date of this very show actually, there was a local benefit show at the Mercy Lounge featuring performances from his talented Nashville friends, including East Side Storytellin’ alumnus Jason Isbell, and he quickly wrote new songs that combined his recent brush with death into beautiful tunes stacked with vocal harmonies, dual guitar leads, B33 organ and super-sized hooks and created a full-length album with producer and former drummer of Wilco in Ken Coomer. Sporting a fresh Lockeland Springsteen baseball t-shirt with the huge news of recently signing with the incredible Thirty Tigers and releasing his newest album titled Skyline in Central Time early next year, a mutual friend of many of our East Side Storytellin’ family of artists (one of them being the fantastic Lauren Farrah who was in the crowd, fully present and making art to promote the show minutes before it started AND who connected me to this guest in the first place) and the namesake and leader behind Andrew Leahey & the Homestead, the entire crowd erupted in applause for the one and only Andrew Leahey!

Andrew, with a tall glass of cold water and a fresh set list by his side, walked up to the microphone casually and collectively picking the flow of the show right where Scott’s story ended and continued the same cool momentum through the finish line. He started with a brand new song, so new in fact that he had never shared it live before. Then he threw in what will become the first track from his new album, just like Scott had shared with the first story in his anthology. Not giving a play-by-play but sort of giving a play-by-play, Andrew jumped from the first two songs into telling the story behind his third about going to church in New York to try and woo a girl once that didn’t work out. The song, as all before and after, was great and worked out just fine for everyone. Above all else, Andrew noticed and mentioned that it was nice to play in front of a listening crowd (something that always comes up each and every East Side Storytellin’ show so far and counting) and to have the opportunity to share stories that he doesn’t normally have the chance to do during any other shows on tour.

In between talking about his life-changing and perspective-changing incident with his brain tumor in the past and telling more stories behind the music for the first time, Andrew played some of the most relaxing and insightful music I’ve heard in a minute. With storybook lyrics like John Cougar Mellancamp in the early 80’s, he brought an honest and openly emotional voice that, to me, resembled a young Willie Nelson but stronger and more confident in his purpose and direction beyond the songs. I heard this comparison more than most in the final track of the night.

After Andrew shared a few more songs to round out the set, I was fortunate to have him and Scott back up to the microphone for a candid talk about their creative journeys and personal gems they wanted to give to the supportive crowd. Two things that I distinctly thought were perfectly put were the following: Andrew spoke more about what the brain tumor experience did to him, both professionally with the story behind being accepted into the Thirty Tigers family and personally with how he never takes music and every moment with his family and friends for granted, and, secondly, with Scott talking about what the MFA experience has meant to his writing and how he sees it positively changing his creative mindset and individual approach to creating his work going forward into the future. Obviously I can’t say it better or clearer than they did in the recording that you can totally check out below, but all I want to say to end this recap is that I was once again blown away by the talent of the guests, their stories and art, their humility and appreciation for being included in this special idea and program in front of a caring audience, and that these two guys made my world in East Nashville even better than it was before I witnessed them do their thing for the show at hand. For all of this and more, I say many many thanks to Scott (W.S.) Lyon and Andrew Leahey.

So, without getting too sappy here, I want to give you the link of the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 69 that featured W.S. Lyon and Andrew Leahey at The Post on Tuesday, October 20th, 2015. It was another for the ages and books and all that jazz. Please listen and share the following link with everyone you know and maybe a few strangers too. It is that good. These guys are that good. And we thank them and you for being a part of this Nashville trip. Enjoy!

Before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for W.S. Lyon and Andrew Leahey for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

You can read more about W.S. Lyon’s writing here- www.akashicbooks.com/william-scott-lyon-a-pathos-in-prison/

You can listen to more of Andrew Leahey’s music here- www.andrewleaheymusic.com

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

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

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

art by Clay Brunton

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.

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be our very special 3rd anniversary show …

East Side Storytellin’ 70

Tuesday, November 3rd

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Rita Bullwinkel (www.ritabullwinkel.com)

singing- a VERY special guest who needs no introduction and has promised to make it the performance of a lifetime.

That said- that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 69 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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