Shawn Whitsell

Chuck Beard, Destiny Birdsong, Mike Hicks, 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  114th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 113, I repeat … 113, previous shows East Side Story has put together, we all decided to take a break from our busy schedules all over town in order to sit back and relax and get everyone cultured up just right in the form of a Nashville writer reading from original prose, followed by an amazing local musician performing and talking about their original music, and then a round-up creative conversation with all featured guests of this event to talk about their individual journeys and personal ties to Nashville. Without further ado, fulfilling the entertainment portion of your day, this is the recap and recording of East Side Storytellin’ 114. Let us begin, again.

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

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

photo credit to Chance Chambers

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

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

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

Mike prefaced each song with a little gem of knowledge of where he and the song came from to meet in the middle of writing and performing them. He grew up in the church and combines the good parts of his childhood lessons with the trials and tribulations, adversity and accomplishments, that he faces on a day-to-day schedule in the current popular music scene worldwide and in the front row. He sings about injustice with race, financial systems and institutions, and historical figures that more need to know about and who should never be forgotten, and then he beautiful ties all of that into words that you can relate to if you have a heart and a mind that work and music that will make you tap your feet and shimmy in your seat (if you aren’t already standing up and dancing).

photo credit to Chance Chambers

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

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

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

You can read more of Destiny’s writing here –

http://destinybirdsong.com

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

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

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

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

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

Our next show will be

East Side Storytellin’ 115

Tuesday, September 19th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Aaron Joel Lain

singing- Joe Nolan

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

Much love,

mE

photo credit to Chance Chambers

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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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