Regina Spektor

Phill Thompson, Rob Stewart, Emma Louise Berkey, Chuck Beard, Michael McRay, 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 120th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 119, I repeat … 119, 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’ 120. Let us begin, again.

Our first featured artist of the evening is a young man who has lived, traveled, and written enough for about several lifetimes already. He is a scholar and a gentleman. He received his Master’s in Philosophy, Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation from Trinity College of Dublin at Belfast. He is a writer, advocate, adjunct professor, storyteller, and a fellow host. He was a volunteer prison chaplain before being banned for organizing. He is the cofounder of No Exceptions Prison Collective, and is the founder/cohost of TenX9 Nashville Storytelling. He has several books, but the one I sold the most of at East Side Story was Letters from Apartheid Street. You can purchase any and all of his works published to date here- michaelmcray.com. It was a true honor to finally get this friend on out stage, and it was an equal honor to relief him of his usual hosting duties to relax, focus, and enjoy the single act of sharing his stories in front of a crowd without worrying about anything else. As you can guess from reading the title of this recap and the website link in the previous sentence, I’m talking about the honor of introducing my friend and inspiration, Nashville’s patron old soul saint of peace himself, Michael McRay!

Michael had asked me several questions about content to share leading up to the show. When asked if he should share a funny story or a very dark story, I told him that we’ve had everything on the spectrum to this point in the series and that it was totally up to however he was feeling at the moment. He decided to go somewhere in the middle of said spectrum and reveal a very personal incident that has left him heartbroken for the sake of lost friendship yet also feeling good for being proactive and living his proof, letting his actions speak louder than his words could with people of power who have a hard time listening to said truth. I was not alone in the fact that I was excited to hear what Michael had to say.

Michael prefaced his short story, a story that he had originally written for and shared at one of his superb TenX9 Nashville Storytelling shows in the past, by drawing up a proper setting and backdrop to the personal history he invested at Riverbend Correctional Facility in Nashville. He had been serving as a volunteer chaplain, consistently providing peaceful and impactful practices for the prison mates to use to diffuse conflict and find more resolutions that would benefit everyone involved. At some point, like in every great story, there was adversity. The adversity that Michael faced was with the authorities of the prison, seemingly siding with the inmates because of gross misconducts of power and miscommunication and non-action or actions that were not exactly in the best benefits of those living at the facility. Sounds like the current state of our political adversity, right? Well, this story didn’t end in the best of terms. I won’t tell you that the Titanic sinks to ruin the story for you, but I will let you take a listen to the recording below so that you can hear the story straight from the heat and mouth of the man who lived it firsthand.

Michael is one of the most brave and intelligent and altruistic people I’ve ever come across so far in my life. I kid you not, when I say that he seems to have done more and lived more than a hundred lifetimes of service for the good already. I’m excited to follow his journey going forward, on and off the pages of his written word and important interviews, and I’m grateful that I get to be a small part of that journey at times whenever he needs my or other friends’ help. Point being, before I move on to the music of the night, Michael McRay is someone we should all sit and listen to and think about how we can take even a piece of the great things he is doing every day and add that into our lives to help ourselves and others at the same time. I wrote that he is a Nashville saint, but even he would say that he’s just doing what he’s meant to be doing and that every single one of us has the time, energy, and passion to do the same if we put our hearts and minds and calendars on the same page.

Our featured music of the night is a local songbird who brings enchanting electrified folk music wherever she goes that has been described as darkly cheerful and cheerfully dark. Her influences range from indie rock to country to Eastern European folk music, aka folk punk. I was introduced to this lady via one of our most enthusiastic and awesome musicians in the East Side Storytellin’ family by the name of Ally Brown. You may have already met her, Emma and not Ally, at The Patterson House, Rumours East, The Wild Cow, or even at High Garden while she was busy slinging tea and herbs. You may have seen perform in her other band Chicken Little! Originally from Ashville, North Carolina, she now calls Nashville home and she revealed on the spot that she is no longer on the market for a good roommate. She found one! On that great note, I was happy to welcome back our house band of the month with the talented Rob not Rod Stewart and Philly not Philly Thompson so they could rock the house beside and behind the one and only dynamite punk folker Emma of Emma Dilemma!

Emma is like dynamite. She quite and petite by nature, but once you light the mic fuse and give her the chance to plug in any number of instruments that she can play and play oh so  well, she will blow your mind. Her stories are deep and her melodies are all over the place, but everything is within your wheelhouse to take in, appreciate to another level, and leave with a new sense of the world you live in after they tickle your eardrums and soul. She started off a song about driving all night underneath the moonlight and it just feeling right. Talk about setting a cool mood for a set. Then, right when you were feeling at ease, that’s when the capo incident happened to add dilemma into the Emma Dilemma namesake. The capo was found exactly where Rob put it and all was back to normal, but it was almost like a reality show of home renovations of insert the made up drama of a deadline 2/3 of the way into the show so they crew can make everything better at just the right time to wrap things up like a bow. I don’t say this to say that the capo was not important or made up. I say this because Emma and the band really did knock out the rest of the set, even with instrument changes that rivaled Cher’s wardrobe changes (again, in the best of ways), with ease and delight.

Between the blur of instrument changes, Phill is steady as a rock that rocks.

Emma went on to sing songs about “No Hard Days”, a protest song, a song about iPhones and having the whole world in our hands, and all of it seemed to perfectly reflect and expand on the sentiments introduced by Michael’s reading about life in prison. I guess we don’t need bars on our doors and windows to feel similar pain and life perspectives in our own daily lives and struggles.

Emma closed her set with a song called “Here We Go.” I told her after the fact that it and she reminded me a lot of Paul Simon mixed with the storytelling and Eastern European stories and sounds of Regina Spektor. Not to sound like I have a firm grasp of the music language and technical terminology, but the changes in the measures and tempo throughout the song was such a treat to listen to for the entire duration. The title of the song was spot on to the musical rollercoaster ride that the band took us on, and I think I could listen to this song over and over again for about a week and it never get old. You can test that theory out for yourself, as well as diving into the other songs on the set list, when you have a moment or two to check out the show link below.

And then I was yet again able to stand up on stage beside these comrades and converse with them about there creative journeys, inspirations, and little nuggets of knowledge that they hold dear to use as fuel for their motivations. Both Michael and Emma have lived in a lot of places, met a lot of interesting characters, and have used their time wisely to learn from others in order to make their lives and others’ around them more purposeful. I can’t say how refreshing it is to meet other people who don’t waste their days with inactivity, while at the same time constantly questioning others and life in general in an attempt to find more truthful answers during the short time we have here together. Emma and Michael both have smiles, personal & communicative skills, and genuinely positive attitudes that can light up any room they walk into. And that fact was on full display at The Post East on this great evening with friends.

Photo Credit to Steve Simpson

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

And here it is, after writing and talking about it throughout the text above, this is the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 120, the night when Michael McRay and Emma Dilemma allowed us to spend a few minutes in the lives of other people to give us positive and good perspectives on our own lives going into the holiday season and New Year. This was recorded at The Post East on Tuesday, December 5, 2017. Feel free to listen to this link and share it with everyone you know, over and over again. You’re welcome.

You can read more of Michael’s writing here- michaelmcray.com

You can listen to more of Emma’s music here –www.emmadilemmasongs.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.

Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to give one last shout out to Tonya and Chris (and Zach) 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’ 121
Tuesday, December 19th
at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm
reading- Joseph Ingle
singing- India Ramey

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 120 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. I repeat. Please remember to be nice to one another.

Much love,
mE

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Jennifer Anderson, Debbie Sutton, Chuck Beard, Shannon Marie Smith, Walker Bass, Joshua Dent, Kirabelle, and Tom Eizonas

Jennifer Anderson, Debbie Sutton, Chuck Beard, Shannon Marie Smith, Walker Bass, Joshua Dent, Kirabelle, and Tom Eizonas

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Good morning, afternoon, or evening (depending on when you read this) and welcome to a monumental event at hand. With Unbound Arts at the helm of a beautifully planned and enjoyed evening, let me be one of the first to recap and share that this was not just the 1st event East Side Story experienced at Riverwood Mansion, this was the 52nd spectacular edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 51 previous shows we had put together before, we all arrived at Riverwood Mansion, described below here and now, to get y’all cultured up just right in the form of a Nashville writer reading from original prose, followed by an amazing local musician performing and talking about their original music, and then a round-up creative conversation with all featured guests of this event to talk about their individual journeys and personal ties to Nashville. Without further ado, fulfilling – to the max – the entertainment portion of the night, this was East Side Storytellin’ 52. Let us begin, again.

Image courtesy of Emily Harper Beard

Image courtesy of Emily Harper Beard

If you haven’t been to Riverwood Mansion before, you really need to make it a point to take a visit. Unbound Arts will be hosting multiple pop-up events every month, on top of the glamorous weddings that you may or may not already be invited to as well. Either way, you need to take the time to get lost in the history and wonder that Riverwood Mansion possesses. All of the featured artists and guests piling in before the show actually started were able to spend time wandering about throughout the upstairs and downstairs rooms and really take quite the trip on a cold Tuesday night in January. People were dressed nice and it was more than fancy for all involved. It was a treat even before the food and entertainment began.

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Stewart

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Stewart

Speaking of treats, before we get to the show, one of the coolest things we did for this epic undertaking like none before was to involve the Riverwood Mansion owner/chef, Debbie Sutton, to create something very special for the night. She had contacted the featured guests before the show and planned a 4 course meal to add to the mix. Before the show began, I introduced Jennifer Anderson of Unbound Arts to talk about the venue and then introduce Debbie. Debbie greeted the packed and seated crowd with pleasantries. Then, without skipping a beat, she described the food and its inspiration in the order that it would be served.

1st – A Southern play on Cici Bean Soup, made with good ol’ White Beans.
2nd – Fried Green Tomato Parmesan with Angel Hair Pasta
3rd – Chicken Marsala, Garlic Smashed Potatoes, Slow Cooked Green Beans
4th – Buttermilk Red Velvet Gelato

Images courtesy of Emily Harper Beard. Images are the four courses mentioned above and made by Debbie Sutton of 8 Lavender Lane Catering and Event Planning

I was sitting next to Tom stage right and it sounded like a firework show of OOO’s and AHH’s behind us. I kid you not, the crowd exploded into jubilation like a group of Black Friday shoppers at midnight after Debbie detailed the desert for the night. It was totally amazing all around. You could sense the wonder and inspiration in the air. Basically, everyone who bought a ticket and attended was served some of the best and unique food anywhere in town that evening … fact. So, on top of the show below, now you know what you missed and why you need to get a ticket for the next show before it sells out!

Now, here is the show … East Side Storytellin’ 52.

The first featured guest of the evening is a man of few words but a man that is admired by many because the words he does share always count and matter so much to everyone in his life. He is a local poet who received a certificate from the MTSU’s Writer’s Loft in January of 2013, where people like Jeff Hardin and Kory Wells were his mentors. He has been a guest host at Poetry in the Brew and was recently featured at Poet’s Corner at Scarritt-Bennett this past October. He has been published in the journals Blast Furnace, Number One, Third Wednesday, and Nashville Arts Magazine (to name a few and counting). Beyond his stellar writing and performing track record among his writing peers, this guy has “thru-hiked” the Appalachian Trail twice (both being 6 month endeavors). He also studies and practices Mindfulness, something we all should do better at taking notes and implementing into our own lives. It was an honor and great feeling to introduce this man to kick off 2015 in style and I was not alone in giving a mindful and heart-filled welcome to the stage to the likes of the one and only Walker Bass!

Image courtesy of Chance Chambers

Image courtesy of Chance Chambers

Walker didn’t even bother starting his soup because he was ready to read. He walked through the crowd, filled with a handful of past East Side Storytellin’ alumni and regular supporters, and made his way to the spotlight below the beautiful chandelier. Honestly, the set-up was impeccable and dreamy for any event coordinator of any sort. Back to Walker, he kicked things off with his one and only sonnet. He described how difficult those can be at times, and that was the only moment difficult was mention or expressed throughout his readings because he really knocked the performance out of the park (or mansion, as it was). Walker has an innate presence and skill to exude a calm aura but at the same time cut to the core and revealing the depths of life for all to see how he sees the world. The poem about the bathroom door telling him where to go and what to do was simply awe-inspiring. Like most of the other talented Nashville poets that have taken the East Side Storytellin’ stage, I can’t do them justice with the recap after the fact. You really do need to just listen to the recording below to get the full effect (and come in person if you don’t want it edited at all and to feel it live).

Image courtesy of Emily Harper Beard

Image courtesy of Emily Harper Beard

Before Walker took his seat for his food and applause, he did something I’ve always wanted to have happen at the shows and never has occurred up to this show. He asked the musicians, Kirabelle and Joshua Dent, to come on stage and play their instruments to accompany his words. The style of his poetry and the sheer talent of the instrumentalists for this moment fit like a charm. Actually, it was more than a charm or charming. It was perfect.

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Stewart

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Stewart

We took a short break to let Walker sit down and enjoy the music of the night and for the musicians to get set up. The featured musician of the night was yet another person that I discovered while perusing the pictures and recap from the artists festival this past year with Float Nashville (an organization that all of you should take time to look up and check out this year). Born into an eclectic musical family of Welsh, Scots, English, and Italian ancestry, this female phenome is a blend of Folk, Pop, and Jazz mixed with a fine sense of pitch and humor, intonation and elegance. She can play the guitar, banjolele, ukulele, and the piano (probably not at the same time though, though I wouldn’t be surprised if she did). She was recently featured on the Firebreathmas 2014 album called “All I Got for Christmas” and you can buy more of her tunes online in the form of “Songs for Baby Beans” and “Wildwood Flower.” It has been written that this lady sounds like Norah Jones and Regina Spektor spun on a 40′s record player. Like Riverwood Mansion and the overall setting of this particular event we found ourselves in that night, she brings a fresh energy to an old sound. Joined by her good friend and cellist Joshua Dent, the loving crowd put their hands together and showed big love for Kirabelle!

Image courtesy of Emily Harper Beard

Image courtesy of Emily Harper Beard

Kirabelle, a born professional musician and experienced Vaudeville act, instantly lit up the faces and smiles for all eating their 2nd or 3rd course at that point. She mentioned that she had managed to stuff some of the goodness in her mouth before taking the stage, and that she was honored to be a part of such a magical night. Joshua, one of the best jazz cellist I’ve ever seen play live, kept Kirabelle’s humor and stories in check with his constant chuckles and improv sounds from behind. It was quite the duo to kick off the new year with new sounds.

In a city filled with country, it was nice beyond words to fill the antebellum house with sounds of folk jazz (yes, Kirabelle coined it that way). Her voice was like something Boardwalk Empire would have dreamed about showcasing, and I know my wife was not alone in wanting to capture her sound for our newest very old record player at our house. Everything about Kirabelle’s performance was a nod of respect to musical ancestry and yet making it new in a way that was comfortable and exciting and breathtaking for all in the crowd. She did fit in two covers- Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” and Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell’s “You Are My Sunshine.” Both were so poignant, original, and … seriously, yet again I cannot give these people justice in a recap. You simply must listen to the show below and make plans to see these shows live so you don’t miss a minute of awesome.

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Stewart

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Stewart

Before Kirabelle and Joshua put down their instruments, they left us with a very cool, introspective original that displayed feelings of love and longing but in a way with such skill and sound that I’ve never quite heard anything like it before. This was something special y’all!

After the music stopped, I managed to get Kirabelle and Walker back on stage to share some personal thoughts on creativity and their paths to Nashville and beyond. I’ll just stop talking now, and let the recording do them and the show justice. I could ramble for days here if allowed.

So, as promised, here is the edited version of Unbound Arts presents: East Side Storytellin’ 52 with Kirabelle (featuring Joshua Dent) and Walker Bass. Enjoy it over and over and share it with a friend or two:

 https://soundcloud.com/eastsidestorytn/sets/east-side-storytellin-52

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

You can read more about Walker Basshttps://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007952945873&fref=ts

You can listen to more from Kirabellehttp://kirabellefrabotta.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 –http://eastsidestorytn.com/in-our-own-words/

I’d also like to show much love to Clay Brunton for the beautiful artwork for the prints made by Kevin Anthuis at 5 Points Digital Imaging (http://5pdi.com) to celebrate Unbound Arts presents: East Side Storytellin’ 52.

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

Unbound Arts presents: East Side Storytellin’ 52 at Riverwood Mansion- art by Clay Brunton, printed by Kevin Anthuis of 5 Points Digital Imaging

I’ll keep the gratitude going for Tom Eizonas, Otis James for my wicked cool hat, 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 the crew at Riverwood Mansion: the owner and chef- Debbie Sutton, the PR master of Shannon Marie Smith, and the event guru Jennifer Anderson for allowing us to celebrate East Side Storytellin’ in such a fun place and way.

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event presented by Unbound Arts will be …

East Side Storytellin’ 53

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Riverwood Mansion (1833 Welcome Lane)

7pm

author- Roschelle Ridenhour (www.roschelleridenhour.com)

musician- Justin Collins (www.justinandthecosmics.com)

For more information: Email chuck@eastsidestorytn.com or unboundartsnashville@gmail.com to see about purchasing tickets.

OR

Purchase your tickets and share with friends here- https://www.eventbrite.com/e/unbound-arts-presents-east-side-storytellin-tickets-15155592786

Read more information about the location and all involved in this limited run of shows here-

www.eastsidestorytn.com

www.facebook.com/unboundarts

www.riverwoodmansion.com

That’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 52 and the official beginning of a wonderfully fun run of events here at Riverwood Mansion. Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word and giving some love to all of these great Nashville artists and our creative ideas. Please remember to be nice to one another out there. Thanks and good day your way.

Much love,

mE

 

See y'all at the next show! Image courtesy of Elizabeth Stewart

See y’all at the next show!
Image courtesy of Elizabeth Stewart

From my family to yours ... Image courtesy of Elizabeth Stewart

From my family to yours …
Image courtesy of Elizabeth Stewart

 

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