Steve Simpson

Christopher Pilny, Abbey Moss, Chuck Beard, and Tom Eizonas

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the recap and recording of the 122nd epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 121, I repeat … 121, 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 recap and recording of East Side Storytellin’ 122. Let us begin, again.

Our first featured artist of the evening is a man of many words, many stories, and many great things to come. He is a writer out of Hope Valley, Rhode Island who now calls Nashville home. He is a producer for Rated Red, a digital media network here in Nashville, where he writes a weekly series called Strange Heartland History. I first met him via another outstanding writer and performer and East Side Storytellin’ alumnus in Melanie Vare via their work together with the award-winning storytelling show titled That Time of the Month. His essays and interviews have been featured on publications such as Salon, AskMen, British GQ, Business Insider, The Travel Channel, and more. After I secured the booking for his participation in this show, he promised me that he would share something that is somewhere in between a PG and R rating. As always, this guy never disappoints on stage. It was truly an honor to finally work together with this phenom who usually spends most of his time spotlighting others’ work, I’m talking about the one and only Christopher Pilny!

Christopher approached the podium with his tablet in hand and his confidence filling the friend-filled room. He later mentioned that he uses the tablet out of tradition of when he was too cheap (and didn’t have the money while in school) to print out pages of his work to read for others. Either way, like his writing, it works. There are layers upon layers of work that has been revised and rehearsed within the prose and the voice of this artist, and his final product and performances are delivered with a brilliance similar to an A-listed comedian. He lets the material do the magic that it has been created meticulously to do, and the crowd takes it from there (usually with ample amounts of belly laughs that are perfectly spaced out so that you can catch your breath for dramatic pauses and moments to connect even more with the points of Christopher’s stories). Y’all, he is that good (and will only keep getting better, with his creative process, routines, and dedication to his craft, on and off the stage).

Christopher opted to spend his time reading from a selected original work that was based on journal entries that later developed into a piece that was published in Salon (To read the published form, click HERE). In his classic personal narrator tone, he seemed to enjoy looking down and around his personal odyssey for how he found his voice and a professional foundation of creative writing by methodically detailing the ups and downs of his notes via his journal entries (written by a soon-to-be college graduate but with an air of a school girl finding out what love is and means to her through the mishaps of puberty). You didn’t have to be a guy working in women’s fashion or stressing over life plans after graduating from college to relate. Christopher has a gift of not only taking the less travelled road and enjoying it, he also has a knack for making plans that are larger than life and odd on purpose because he knows it will always add to and become part of a more interesting story in hindsight after it is experienced, written, and shared for others to incorporate that lesson into their own lives. Seriously, I love the way he chooses his life decisions of jobs and everything because I’ve tried to do similar things on my own journey. I haven’t done as many blatantly random choices for the sake of my story in humorous ways, but Christopher’s work reminds me that I still have time.

So yeah, Christopher’s story involved shout outs to David Sedaris, Eminem, Artie Lange (and who the F is Artie Lange, LOL), Forrest Gump, Christopher’s mom, and many others). It detailed the hilarious moments of school kids making fun of Christopher’s shoe fashion, the dark comedy of retail robbery and the possibility of becoming a martyr for the sake of Ralph Lauren Polo shirts, and more … I’m not starting to sound like an infomercial that is selling Christopher Pilny’s work like I’m his agent. But I am not his agent. I am just a big fan, and I’m not alone. Go ahead and take the time to explore his published works on the links above and below, and enjoy the full reading that he shared with us at The Post East in the recording below. In this day and age, we need all of the humor and intelligence that we can get. Lucky for all of us, Christopher Pilny delivers all of that every chance he gets.

Our featured music of the night is a singer, songwriter, and a composer like you’ve never known. Her style is sort of like apocalyptic, but in the best of ways. She is also a dear friend of our friend RJ Bracchitta. She creates an eccentric musical identity desperate to make its way into the mainstream music. She draws from a theatrical past and a brooding alter ego while combining melodies and lyrics in ways that are quite bewitching. Her music usually falls within the ranges of Indie Rock and Cinematic Pop. She has self-proclaimed her music insightful, unapologetic, and downright spooky. We figured she would be the perfect start to put 2017 behind us and really hit the ground running for 2018. Thanks to RJ Bracchita for sharing the love for his fellow friend to be spotlighted and more known because from the first note of sound check, I was completely in awe and floored by the talents of Abbey Moss.

Abbey embodies everything of how she presents herself on  her website bio and, like Christopher, much more, in the best of ways. She approached the stage with just a ukulele in tow and a world of stories and melodies to share, bright and loud. And with all of the doom and gloom surrounding our world in the news these days, it was nice for Abbey to kick things off in her set with the happier side of her song collection to date. She smiled and said that she would go from happy to sad throughout her time at The Post, and we were sitting, thankful and ready to listen.

Abbey sang songs about Mr. Right Guy (where love is everywhere if we look because it’s as simple as just being an animal instinct), taking chances on me (a sweet but not so sweet song because it was about an ex-boyfriend), and then she dove into the dark. I don’t necessarily mean total blackness though. When I say dark, I just mean that she dove into her songs involving death. Actually, it was more light and illuminating, as she broke out with concepts of what it may be like on the other side of life and relating it specifically to a bar on the river Styx that you can’t leave once you get in (but the drinks are forever flowing and your pretty bones will be just fine). Entrancing stuff, to say the least.

She then dove into a beautiful song about laying a lover down and layering the lyrics with the story of the metaphor of putting things to rest. She explained it better than I will now, before she sang her songs, but the meaning and wonder of life lesson cycles totally reminded me of the beautiful documentary I saw recently by the name of Samsara (you can check the trailer HERE). Abbey pushes the boundaries of thoughts and volume within the words she sings in ways that allow you to appreciate the singular moment we live in but at the same time reflect and feel the deeper meaning beyond the surface of the present. Marinate on that for a moment.

Before Abbey closed her set with an unfinished song about love letters in the works, she belted out a vision of a song titled Phoenix. Inspired by the story of her good friend battling Cancer, she did what only a best friend could do to help a trying situation and inspire the friend being tested by reminding them of their purpose and strength. Again, like most of these songs, I cannot give them the justice they deserve as much as just you taking the time to listen to Abbey sing them so great for yourself. You can check them out in the recording link below of the show. Side note, if you or anyone you know is battling Cancer at the moment or did before or just got diagnosed, please refer everyone to Gilda’s Club Nashville. It is FREE support, and it is a magical place for those who need magic. And who doesn’t need magic in their lives? Check out Gilda’s Club Nashville HERE.

But before I get to the recording, I would like to say that once again I felt blessed to take a few candid moments of the artists’ and crowd’s time to talk a little more about the passion and practices behind the show curtain and what has made these guys inspired enough to make the decision to live their lives as artists. It’s not an easy road, even for the most well-known artists out there, so we all need a reminder that we are not alone in this deal. Like those who came before, Abbey and Christopher shared their hopes, fears, lessons learned, happy times, battles with adversity, all the while being completely honest by saying that they are still just literally making things up as they go. Lucky for us, they are doing exactly what they need and want to be doing, and they see the signs and realize that the learning and the process is all happening when it is supposed to be happening. Nothing was more evident of this than when Abbey made a comment post-show that she was at one of Christopher’s first public readings of his work across town years before this particular paring came into fruition. It’s stuff like that that reminds me everything we are doing here is worthwhile and makes a positive change in the world beyond our immediate comprehension. So, here’s to more positive signs and changes in the New Year together!

So here it is, after writing and talking about it throughout the text above, this is the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 122, the night when Christopher Pilny and Abbey Moss brought light, life, death, humor, and a good heart to a New Year. This was recorded at The Post East on Tuesday, January  2, 2018. Feel free to listen to this link and share it with everyone you know, over and over again. You’re welcome.

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

You can read more of Christopher’s writing here- christopherpilny.com

You can listen to more of Abbey’s music here – www.abbeymoss.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 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’ 123
Tuesday, January 16th
at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm
reading- John Winston Heacock
singing- Madison Pepper (Peppersaid)

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 122 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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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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Shane Tutmarc, Dave Eastman, Dana Malone, Chuck Beard, and Tom Eizonas

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the recap and recording of the 5th anniversary and 118th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 117, I repeat … 117, 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’ 118. Let us begin, again.

Our first featured artist of the evening is as Nashville as you can be without being born here. She has been living and writing here since 1990. After a full-time career as a publications editor, PR director, and speechwriter, then teaching writing at TSU and Watkins College of Art, Design & Film, she has produced podcast series before it was the cool thing for everyone to do, and she has been one of the biggest supporters of all local writing programs and writers alongside Chance Chambers. She currently co-hosts Writings on the Wall with our fellow favorite muse in Ciona Rouse, and she was featured to share some of her original work for a change. I could talk for days about her accomplishments, but I just let her work do the talking. I’m talking about my very talented friend, Dana Malone!

photo by @davidrobertfarmerie

Dana knew what she wanted to get across and she dove right into her words. She explained that she would read from parts of a personal creative essay and then finish with an excerpt from a poem. The passage from the essay she threw us into was all about her Appalachian roots. She painted such a bright and vivid and original painting of her life with characters and scenes that literally came alive after being spoken and lit up the room like Christmas. Some of my favorite lines were when she talked about digging her hands in the Appalachian mud and having that provide the fuel for divinity school and other things left undone and also when she compared the movie Carrie and being covered with pig’s blood with that of religious cleansing … something obviously written by a man.

photo by @davidrobertfarmerie

Seriously though, it was a biographic escapade like view I’ve seen with my eyes and mind open. The pace was fast and frantic but perfect at the same time. She kept us on the edge of our seats with imagery, action, and personal depth & grace. There were lessons to be shared and learned, and who can’t relate to the thought that no good mother wants her child to burn in hell? I mean, this girl was on fire. She closed her set with a poem that relayed the fact that love is enough. Again, my words can’t really give Dana’s words justice. Take a listen to the recording below.

Our featured music of the night is a Seattle born Nashvillian who is a singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist who has already appeared once on the East Side Storytellin’ stage alongside his life muse Tanya Montana, but was primed to help promote his latest creation of awesome. He is someone who, like Dana, is always smiling and helping others become better artists, friends, and humans in general, by being supportive and himself. His most recent creative project was brought forth from a painful place, like most great art, it seems. After grieving the loss of his best friend, this guy found solace in creating these new songs. Most people know him as Shane Tutmarc, but this night we referred to him as Solar Twin.

photo by @davidrobertfarmerie

To preface this music and this set, the original Solar Twin project is filled with multiple layers of sounds, melodies, instruments, loops, and vocals. For this given set, it was just Shane and his guitar. He told the crowd that he had put off my invitation to be on this show and this format for months because he didn’t know if he could pull it off just right in his heart and mind. I’m telling you right now, he did. He started with a song about being tired of waking up, and on the 5th anniversary that not only marked a time before the chaos now when we started our first show 5 years ago on a very different US Election night … it matched the mutual feeling a lot of people are having right now with politics and world news in general. It’s been a tidal wave of a year so far. I was thankful to have Shane and Dana begin the transition of 2017 into the next year.

photo by @davidrobertfarmerie

Shane spoke in detail about the way he wrote each song in this project versus prior records. He made things simple and relatable. As I sat and heard the way he gently sank his vocals into small scream-like melodies to emphasize the words and the melodies, he reminded me of two legends who I musically appreciate more than most. Take a listen to the sounds of Shane’s voice, and you too may be able to hear the song-child of a young Kurt Cobain and young John Lennon. It takes a skill that few have to change their voice in that tone to reach that emotion and frailty but at the same time coming through as a life force to be reckoned with and noticed. Shane has that magic about him and his music. He is thoughtful, articulate, passionate, and skillful enough to make his wondrous ideas into beautiful and fragile realities. One big example, as he discussed for the final song, was writing and performing a song for a documentary about the heroine epidemic in his hometown of Seattle. It will make you cry sad tears for the subject matter and happy tears for the beauty of the song at the same time. Again, Shane has that magic.

photo by Chance Chambers

I forgot to mention that my main man, the original voice of WAMB, Sir Dave Eastman, was on hand in the crowd to open this special occasion and to witness another round of awesome that we’ve put together. I can’t say enough great things about the 5 years and over 250 local artists who have shared the stage with Tom and me … sharing their creative gifts, stories, and doing it all with fearlessness and honesty seldom matched in any other show I’ve ever been to in person. This special night and round was no different. Shane and Dana took the time to follow up their reading/singing with a few candid moments of answering some personal questions I dished their way. There was a common theme of salvation between the art that both of them shared, and that same message of salvation was evident when they spoke to me beyond the page and guitar.  I don’t want to spoil the answers and art for you, so go ahead and listen to the show in the link below so you know what I’m talking about. Again, as always, I felt humbled and blessed.

I hope to see y’all at the next 5 years of shows coming up. We are just getting started with this idea.

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

Here it is, the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 118, the night we featured Dana Malone & Solar Twin at The Post East on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Please feel free to listen to and share it with everyone you know, over and over again.

You can listen to more of Solar Twin’s music here – solartwinmusic.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



And speaking of other shows, here is a special compilation compiled by Tom Eizonas that features at least one song from each show we produced in the 5th year of this show’s being (shows 97-117, to be exact). As before, feel free to explore each of these tracks and shows from hence they came, over and over again. Many thanks to each and every artist who has donated their time and talents to this idea so far. Like I said before, we are just getting started. 

photo by Chance Chambers

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 like to give one huge shout out to Tonya and Chris for making The Post so welcoming and positively life-changing for the East Nashville community at large.

But how can I forget the include a picture of my trusty roadie crew of Steve Simpson and Chance Chambers. They have made more shows than anyone not named Chuck or Tom, and they are not only always engaged and supporting us by recruiting countless friends on and off-line to attend these shows too, they also help me break down the set so I can get more quality time at home with my family than if I had to do so by myself. They are as kind and true of friends as a person could ever have, and I get to call them my own. They are like brothers, and they are amazing. I just wanted to give a special thanks to them as well. The show is what it is because of you two too. Here’s to many many more, together.

Chance, Steve, and Chuck = the crew.

Our next show will be

East Side Storytellin’ 119
Tuesday, November 21st
at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm
reading- Ashley Roth
singing- Dale J. Gordon

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 118 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 shot of Solar Twin and me for the road, because we finally made it happen.

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Chuck Beard, Destiny Birdsong, Mike Hicks, and Tom Eizonas

Thank you for visiting this blog. If you are a return visitor, 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 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) in order to study why so many people loved the writing behind those series so much and also to further examine the variety of storytelling 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 her personal 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 experienced while trying to choose a favorite between two opposing black girls racing each other made me feel as though Dave Chappelle would be a little jealous that he hadn’t written the same lines first to commentate on the same dilemma.

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 me 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 big finale. She recalled a poem that was inspired by her great-grandmother, a woman who wrote many touching church sermons on the one side of her life and also ended up killing her husband on the other. Again, you really need to listen to the poem in the link below to understand where I’m coming from here. But, that being said, I am forever grateful for Destiny taking the time to start the conversation that was had on September 5, 2017. If I could listen to her read every day, I would certainly continue to become 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 over two years ago, his contribution was titled Uruhu (inspired by poetry/fiction 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). 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 artillery of melodies and love, 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, 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 recording below). 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 currently life itself. Once you taste it, you can’t go back to what you were eating before, and you certainly can’t un-hear 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 dropped 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 and backstory of where he and the song came from. He grew up in the church, and he effortlessly 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 worldwide popular music scene. He sings about injustice with race, financial systems and institutions, and historical figures who more people need to know about and who should never be forgotten, and then he beautifully ties all of that into words that you can relate to without even trying.

photo credit to Chance ChambersMike ended his set with two songs that will not soon be forgotten by anyone in the crowd. Both were about two separate people who have continuously inspired Mike while on his personal journey. The first was about a woman named 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 also because it was a chance for so many white patrons in the crowd and beyond 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. And by everyone involved, I mean we’re all in this thing together. 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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East Side Storytellin’ 111 – The night Nick Rossi and Zach Ryan took us from the dark into the light

July 24, 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 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 […]

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East Side Storytellin’ 105: When Ally and Robyn howled at the moon & rain and made us howl too

April 23, 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 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, […]

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East Side Storytellin’ 103 – When two long lost brothers showed us what America looks and feels like, all thanks to Sam and Odie

March 25, 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 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 […]

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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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