Steve Simpson

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

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the 113th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 112, I repeat … 112, previous shows East Side Story has put together, we all decided to take a break from our busy schedules all over town in order to sit back and relax and get everyone cultured up just right in the form of a Nashville writer reading from original prose, followed by an amazing local musician performing and talking about their original music, and then a round-up creative conversation with all featured guests of this event to talk about their individual journeys and personal ties to Nashville. Without further ado, fulfilling the entertainment portion of your day, this is East Side Storytellin’ 113. Let us begin, again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our next show will be

East Side Storytellin’ 114

Tuesday, September 5th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Destiny Birdsong

singing- Mike Hicks

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 113 and another fabulous event at The Post with East Side Story at the helm. Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word and giving some love to all of these great Nashville artists and our creative ideas. Please remember to be nice to one another out there.

Much love,

mE

 

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Tom Eizonas, Nick Rossi, Zach Ryan, 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 111th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 110, I repeat … 110, 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’ 111. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night is not just an amazing writer and human being, he is also a publisher of beautiful weirdos. It’s true, this guy, alongside Eric Benick, started the oober-awesome Ursus Americanus Press. With several hit projects in the bag and more on the horizon, this guy barely has time to do anything else … but alas, he persisted. When this guy isn’t eating too much sugar, spending too much time on his phone, or staying up too late for no reason, he endlessly churns out original stories on the page, over the interwebs, on countless white t-shirts, and more. His diligent work ethic is only matched by his positive attitude and energy for everyone around him. To say that he has a lot of friends and literary peers would be the understatement of the year. He has a busy year ahead with a move and work appearing in MESMER, Souvenir Lit, MAYDAY magazine, Chicago Literati, Vanilla Sex Magazine, and a few bathrooms around Nashville. He also writes and plays in a band called Choovanski. Point being, this guy rocks. It was truly an honor to introduce the man, the legend, Nick Rossi!

Nick took to the microphone like a caged animal who had been drinking caffeine all day while trying to decide if he needed to make brand new prose and poetry ready for a reading or if he should just rely on his old and trusted friends. I believe he ended up drinking a few pony high life’s and doing a little bit of both. All in all, Nick was in his zone. He apologized for his Chicago voice, gave a multitude of personal shout outs throughout the reading and night, and set the mood of the event perfectly with his tales of life on the road and not so light material that felt right at home for this day and age.

photo by Chance Chambers

I though Nick did a beautiful job of tying together the three stages of his Nashville experience. He shared a poem that explained why he decided to first come to Nashville (he apologized for the lack of edits for parts he claimed that sucked but everyone else in the room agreed that his words and reading did everything but suck). He spoke about the places he had come from and where he is going soon. Somewhere in the middle, he shed light and a deep perspective of privilege that he and so many of us other white males live with on the daily in this country, all the while sharing vivid examples and imagery of references with the abuse towards African Americans in this world. Like Nick’s shirts, his words and thoughts are extremely powerful. The sooner you get in the groove of how to digest the manner in which he races through his words, thoughts, and pages, the better you are to understand the pure heart and passion for literature and life and connecting with other people that Nick exudes on the daily. It’s all right there in his work. You can hear it as plain as day right there in the recording below.

Our featured music of the night is someone who has been playing music regularly since the age of 11. He’s chased his dream under a multitude of names and across several genres, but he’s still truckin’ and searching for his truth. After spending years doing the solo artist thing, his current project is The Wanderers (not to be confused the That Thing You Do’s The Oneders). Drawing inspiration from sounds and folks like Tom Waits, David Lynch, Chet Baker, and Dick Dale, The Wanderers just finished a record due to be released in late September. Lucky for us, we didn’t have to wait until September to here this guy play his great music. Via a wonderful connection and introduction with our mutual friend Shane Tutmarc, I was thrilled to finally be able to shed a spotlight on the one and only Zach Ryan!

I recently watched a segment of CBS Sunday Morning that featured John Mellencamp. They were talking about how Mellencamp had originally moved to New York City on a visual art scholarship but then got a record deal as soon as he got there. When he first played an original song for the suits at the label, he didn’t believe they heard any of his words and could just tell from the first five seconds of his playing that he had that special something. Mellencamp later mentioned in the interview that he really believes you can tell when a person has that special something of talent in any creative medium in the first few moments. Fast forward to hearing and seeing Zach Ryan play the guitar at The Post and I was not alone to be completely blown away by his virtuoso skill and sounds and musicianship that struck us all like lightning in the first few chords he played and sang. Again, you can hear what I’m talking about it the recording below.

Zach’s music is guitar driven and guitar led, and surrounded with the air of cinema. Some of the people in the crowd mentioned that he looked like the great actor Robert Mitchum, and I said I’d love to hear Zach play his melodies to old Robert Mitchum movies that are filmed out West and have the uncertainty of death and dark subject matter … almost like a not-so-funny but still as brilliant version of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I’m sure there are a million great references that came out of this specific show from the music and story themes, but nobody could deny that Zach was on the top of his game, even without the extra players in his band. Zach, like Nick, came correct to the show with some stories and melodies that took our breath away and blew our minds at the same time.

During the conversation portion of the show, we learned that both Nick and Zach had roommates by the name of Carl (with a C, not a K, because that’s much cooler) … shout out to Carl Carbonell. What was not planned before the show and with the pairing but was acknowledged by Zach very early into his set was that the darker subject matter shared by each unprompted or pre-curated artist reflected like a perfectly symmetric swampy sunset that made you appreciate the glow of the sun descending but at the same time scared you to death about what was hiding in the dark to come. Not to make you jittery while reading this, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom. There was plenty to smile about, during the talking and the reading and singing. In fact, one of Zach’s happy songs was about a man finding joy in moving away and getting away with murder. You really need to take a listen to it below to get where I’m coming from about loving these guys so much.

photo by Chance Chambers

It was my pleasure and an honor to share the stage and shed the spotlight on this unique pair of troubadours. I do want to add a little note here for the sake of big transitions and moves for Nick Rossi. He told me when I booked him for the show that this would be fitting  for him since East Side Storytellin’ was one of the first literary events he attended when he moved to town and it would be one of his final public readings (outside of a fun Life is Boring reading event the Friday before he moved later that week). In between those two shows, Nick has become a beacon for the literary community at large and we were lucky enough to promote and share his books and journals while we ran the retail portion of the first chapter of East Side Story. We are gonna miss him, but we are thankful he will continue being awesome in Chicago and connecting our Nashville family with people and ideas beyond the city limits for years to come. Plus he is going to come back and visit often. Plus plus he is going to hire me when he gets his white t-shirt company off the ground and going. This will happen.

That said, before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for Nick and Zach for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us. These are two of the good ones doing great things and both are just getting started. The best is yet to come.

So here it is, the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 111, a show when we were lucky to feature the likes of Nick Rossi and Zach Ryan at The Post on Tuesday, July 18, 2017. Feel free to listen to this one and share it with everyone you know, over and over again. You’ll thank me afterwards.

You can read more of Nick’s writing here – www.ursusamericanuslit.com

You can listen to more of Zack’s music here – zachryansongs.bandcamp.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’ 112

Tuesday, August 1st

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Eric Benick

singing- Kira Hooks

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 111 and another fabulous event at The Post with East Side Story at the helm. Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word and giving some love to all of these great Nashville artists and our creative ideas. Please remember to be nice to one another out there.

Much love,

mE

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Tom Eizonas, Robyn Leigh Lear, Kateri Farrell, Ally Brown, and Chuck Beard

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the recap and recording of the 105th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 104, I repeat … 104, 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’ 105. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night is someone I like to refer to as the resident dreamer. She is also the Creative Director behind the majestic, the awesome, and the infinitely coolest publishing company in the world that goes by the name of April Gloaming Publishing. This lady was born to the world but claims no country. Lucky for us, she claims Nashville as her current home base. Also lucky for us, is the creative dreamer behind Authors and Artists: The Regenerates, a writing and art collective that is majestic, awesome, and infinitely cooler than anything I have dreamed up so far. Point being, this lady is a creative force to be reckoned with and to fully embrace in a hug if she grants you permission. She doesn’t just dream or publish other authors’ and poets’ work though. She was featured tonight because she is a writer as well, a brilliant writer and reader. I’m talking about the wild dreamer in the heart to Lance Umenhofer’s world, the one and the only Robyn Leigh Lear.

Robyn sashayed her fabulous wardrobe and positive attitude to the microphone to battle the dreary rain outside and the slight fear of reading her work in public. She told me and the crowd that she tends to cuss to make herself feel better, and it didn’t take long for her to start feeling better. Some of us who know her better knew that her moments of silence between stanzas were due to nerves, but the overall dramatic pauses that they lent themselves to for everyone else simply heightened the amazing original poetry that she was sharing with us. Without trying to do so, she was effortlessly giving a brilliant performance of her work, mixing laughs with stormy motifs that were deeply personal and instantly connecting with everyone in the room.

Throughout the reading, Robyn tackled emotional themes such as pain and trauma and being unafraid in the midst of soft milk in a violent storm (listen to the recording to catch the drift), but one of my favorite moments was when everyone’s cell phones blurted out an emergency alert for the impending weather surrounding our city. Robyn, caught in the middle of the alerts and two of her poems, used and spun that alert into a perfect transition for everyone to pay attention to the storm of words she was about to throw out and make us weather. We were safe at The Post and safe in Robyn’s majestic leadership. I also want to make a special note that Robyn shared some new material that was so fresh she had recently written it and never shared with anyone. That’s the kind of fearlessness I love and respect from her and other guests who do the same. You can hear the recording, but I advise you to listen to the final poem at least two times, a poem about seeing a dead body and pulling it apart to find the heart and understanding of life and your own purpose. And, like Keyser Soze, before we knew it, Robyn was finished and gone from the stage. She practically dropped the mic on the stand with an eruption of applause and inspiration in her wake. It was quite epic.

Our featured music of the night is someone, like our featured writer, who creates and performs art that will hook you, lift you, and as she would quote/unquote “make you think and probably feel stuff.” She is our first featured musician who labels herself as Indie/Folk/Uke-rock, with a hint of jazz and a dash of soul. Her vocals give life to vivid imagery, catchy melodies, and profound themes of creative dynamic shows that are light-hearted, fun, sincere, and thought provoking. Born in Hollywood, she was destined to be a star. So, from Florida to her now Nashville home, alongside her good friends Abigail Flowers and Kateri Farrell, it was an honor for me to formally introduce the very talented Ally Brown.

Ally immediately thanked Robyn for sharing her work that inspired Ally and the gang right off the bat. Ally then jumped right into setting the mood for her set, asking us to be prepared for her to take us into outer space and then bring us back into another world again later. She said it with a smile, but I knew she meant it. Packed with two of her best friends, she took us on quite the musical and lyrical trip.

Ally’s music was in line with the themes that Robyn left us with. She sang about the haziness of life’s uncertainty, dealing with not knowing where you are and what you’re doing, but then coming back around to assure us that everything is okay. One of my favorite songs and stories behind the music came from Ally watching an episode of “Cosmos” where Neil Degrasse Tyson taught her the concept of moving faster than the speed of light and the result being that all of time around that person or thing would stand still. Ally took that concept a step further and wrote a song about being in a relationship where you were moving faster than the speed of light and how then you could sing and dance and be with that person forever. The song, like the idea, was beyond beautiful. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that have the most profound effects.

Ally went on to make us laugh and feel great while she sang about a fictional (maybe) wolf while her crew howled at the moon, and then she told stories that resembled fairy tale characters where she lost things in her hair. Overall, the comedic banter between the songs matched the brilliance of the wonderful harmonies that rained down over all of us inside The Post as Mother Nature cleansed the rest of the city outside. I had the thought, not that I was sad or depressed before the show, that nobody could NOT be in a better mood after listening to both Robyn and Ally’s creativity in person. These girls were all about that shine.

Then, when I was able to get them both on stage after the music ended, it was fairly obvious that the synchronicity of East Side Storytellin’ 105 would be that Robyn and Ally were meant to be new besties. They will most certainly do some creative collaborating and events together in the upcoming year and our city and world will be better for it. I’m kinda throwing out the manifestation that Robyn writes a cool story to read before or during a Spookulele show in October, my favorite time of the year. Again, just listen to the recording of the masterful experience we all shared together because of these great people and great artists on the rise on a random Tuesday night when everything in my world made sense, even for just a moment and a flash.

So, with all that said about another very special show that was/is near and dear to my heart, here is the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 105 that featured Robyn Leigh Lear & Ally Brown (with Abigail Flowers & Kateri Farrell) at The Post on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Feel free to enjoy and share it with everyone you know, over and over again. It is well worth your time and energy. You’re welcome.

https://soundcloud.com/eastsidestorytn/sets/east-side-storytellin-105-1 

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

You can read more of Robyn’s writing here –  www.aprilgloaming.com and www.theregenerates.org

You can listen to more of Ally’s music here – www.allybrownmusic.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’ 106

Tuesday, May 2nd

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Tim Shaw

singing- Joshua Black Wilkins

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 105 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 – Steve Simpson (aka The Ice Cream Gypsy)

 

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Tom Eizonas, Odie Lindsey, Chuck Beard, and Sam Lewis // photo credit to Steve Simpson

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 103rd epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 102, I repeat … 102, 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’ 103. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night first entered into my life and store because of a mutual friend, East Side Storytellin’ 83 alumnus, Justin Quarry. The two are friends and professional colleagues who are just as excited to promote the other’s work before their own. It’s not hard to promote and find this guy’s work outside of the shelves of East Side Story. His writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories, Iowa Review, Guernica, Electric Literature, Forty Stories: New Writing from Harper Perennial, Fourteen Hills, and many more. A veteran, his related story collection, We Come To Our Senses, can be purchased at East Side Story after you finish reading this. Because I know him as a writer and a father and a man and a friend, it was one of my biggest honors to introduce this man, the local author with one of the coolest names ever, and introduce him to the microphone to read on a microphone for maybe his first time ever … I’m talking about the very talented Odie Lindsey.

Odie already had my respect, but he took it to another level when he decided to read something new and fresh off the typewriter (or computer and printer, what have you). He took one of his characters, a vet named Colleen, from his short story collection and made it into a longer project that will someday sell many many copies when finished and published. If you haven’t ever heard Odie speak or read any of his works, you should Google and buy his stuff like yesterday. If you have, then you know how colorful and brutally honest his characters are and how they represent AMERICA to a T, at least our current State of chaos. Another aspect of his writing that I love more than words is his representation of veterans, male and female protagonists. He develops characters and situations that may come off as zany in one scene but then bring your heart to tears in the next. You learn about them and then love them for who they are. And, in turn, you relate to those characters in an intimate way you don’t get the chance to always do with other fiction.

The more Odie read about Colleen’s adventures and beauty pageants and support system, we followed him into that Trumpland rabbit hole of crazy. It was crazy awesome. More than everything else that touched me about the story he shared was the comradery from the everyday civilians who had their own stories and came together to help patch up a lost vet who returned to her homeland picking up her pieces. At times, I laughed. At times, I felt sad. The entire time, I was in awe. Odie is an extraordinary writer that definitely puts the extra on the ordinary.

Our featured music of the night also entered into my life because of a mutual East Side Storytellin’ artist, #99 alumnus in that of Matt Urmy. My friend who did tonight’s print, Clay Brunton, and I stumbled into an event by Artist Growth a few years back and were both blown away instantly by the honesty, the melodies, the overall talent, and everything this guy brought to the intimate show that night. I’ve personally tried to get him on this show ever since that night. This night was finally that night. Most recently, he’s been quite the tour mate and stage collaborator with Chris Stapleton (an artist who dubbed this artist “a modern Townes Van Zandt”). An artist who rarely needs an introduction, and surely won’t sooner than later, I was double-honored to finally have the opportunity to introduce the one and only Sam Lewis.

I’m not certain, but I’m guessing that Sam was born to be a songwriter and performer from the word go. Everything about him, his lyrics, stage presence, relationship with the audience, flow of conversation and transitions into each song, his humor, the inflection of his notes at just the right spot in every song that is in itself a wonderful novella … everything about his set flows as natural as a creek in the woods. And he pretty much started his set from his own beginnings. He sang what he called an intro to his life, one of the first songs he wrote when he came to Nashville. Then he transversed over into his very personal history called Southern Greek Tragedy, a song that outlined his family tree and roots for all to witness. He dabbled in a co-write in honor of John Prine, and kept the night lively with short stories about travels and friendships  that truly helped shape him into the man he is today and get him to where he’s at now and going tomorrow (over seas that is).

There were just as many laughs in the audience because of Sam’s wit as inspiration from his songs and storytelling. There were tales of trips with East Nashville friends and mushrooms that helped create songs and memories that will last forever, and there were other parts that continued the vain of his ongoing Southern Greek Tragedy too. One of my favorite lines and songs was inspired by current political climate and the losing of two of Sam’s heroes in Leonard Cohen and Leon Russell this past year. Yessiree, Some fall hard living easy and Talk about it may be my two new favorite songs in the world. I suggest you both take a listen to the tracks in the recording below and then go out and buy all of Sam’s albums online and in person. He, like Odie, is an artist who will be helping make this world a better place to live in for decades to come.

Then, per usual, I was fortunate to have the chance to converse with both featured artists and dig a little deeper into what drives them to create and share with others. After the second question, it was fairly obvious that these two shared more than just a single serendipitous theme in their stories or where they were from. Turns out, these two have countless connections and friendships and shared stories to get back together and talk about at a later date. I promise I don’t pair these things together as perfect as they always turn out on their own. The conversation and grouping yet again left me with an overwhelming sense that we were all exactly where we needed and were supposed to be for that moment in time. I was honored to be a small part of something so grand.

So, with that said, here is the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 103 that featured Odie Lindsey & Sam Lewis at The Post on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Feel free to enjoy and share it with everyone you know, over and over again. It is so worth your time and energy. It will change your life. You’re welcome.

Before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to acknowledge the fact that I’m glad Sam was always too busy until this given night. Both Odie & Sam paint perfect pictures of what AMERICA really is today. Today, this night and now, I needed this pairing to happen. And I’m sure I wasn’t alone. These two realized, soon after some questions and performing, that they were thick as thieves and had countless connections already set in stone along their paths so far. So, with that, I want to give one last big round of thanks for Odie and Sam for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

You can read more of Odie’s writing here – http://oalindsey.com

You can listen to more of Sam’s music here –http://samlewistunes.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 and below 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’ 104

Tuesday, April 4th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Gregory Delzer (http://defunctbooks.com)

singing- Alexis Stevens  (http://alexisstevens.com)

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 103 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 for the road //photo credit to Steve Simpson

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East Side Storytellin’ 101: The night Sarah rallied us to embrace every body and Leah summoned her old soul

February 28, 2017

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 101st epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 100, I repeat … 100, previous shows East Side Story has put together, we all decided to take a […]

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East Side Storytellin’ 100: When John J. Thompson & Phil Madeira made Jesus, Bread, Chocolate, and God on the Rocks make sense when we needed it most

February 14, 2017

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. And thanks to Dave Eastman for saying such nice things about the show, about me, and about several insightful meanings behind the significance of the number 100. We were sorry to miss you at this show, Dave, but we wish nothing but the best for health and happiness in […]

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East Side Storytellin’ 92: When Blu and Andrew paid creative tributes to their dads

October 10, 2016

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 […]

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East Side Storytellin’ 90 – The night when Jennifer Justus spoke about hot chicken, american watermelon, and real baby talk

September 8, 2016

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 90th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 89, I repeat … 89, previous shows East Side Story […]

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