Texas

Joshua Dent, Kira Hooks, Christina Stoddard, Chuck Beard, Tom Eizonas, and Ally Brown (Abby Flowers pictured in spirit … again)

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 112th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 111, I repeat … 111, 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’ 112. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night is the author of HIVE … a work which won the 2015 Brittingham Prize in Poetry at the University of Wisconsin Press and was a finalist for the 2016 Washington State Book Award. More importantly, it had one of the coolest book covers we ever showcased at East Side Story. This artist grew up in Washington and has worked in both the Czech Republic and Japan teaching English as a foreign language and has said that they all speak better English than anyone down on Broadway any day that ends in day … I’m kidding about the last part, but the rest is true. Another truth, she earned her MFA from UNC at Greensboro, where she was the Fred Chappell Fellow. I’m not sure what that is but I know it’s important. Her poems have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, storySouth, Tupelo Quarterly, and Spoon River Poetry Review, to name a few. She is super smart, an excellent writer, a supporter for everyone and everything literary everywhere she goes, and we were darn lucky to have her to save the day. You already know who I’m talking about, but I’m talking about the legend herself, Christina Stoddard!

Christina took a stand beside the tilted podium and jarred our minds right off the bat with some historical facts about serial killers from her hometown. A few names that inspired a few of her poems in HIVE, I won’t give them more credit than what they already have received but I will say that the combination of Christina’s background stories mixed with her prolific skills as a wordsmith pretty much slay anything most of the people present had heard in a hot minute. Christina’s poetry is pure fire.

Christina introduced us all to a yearbook signing of one said serial killer before he was known as a serial killer, the suicide of a veteran sibling post Gulf War drama, her immense hatred for wearing rings in general, and specific haircuts to get her going in the right place. And speaking of getting things and people going, there were two poems that were more declarative and poignant, again, than anything I’ve heard in awhile. First, she did a brilliant original remix of the Lord’s Prayer that was slanted in honor of a true feminist pledge. Then she gave an opus of seizing the day and charging action in her homage of Ides during the month of July. You really have to listen to the reading below and buy a copy of HIVE as soon as you can to understand the truth I’m talking about (some of those poems will be on her next book as well). But, before I end my love fest for Christina’s poetry, I must single out the poem about her thinking about salmon. It was the major connection between the featured guests of the night and a theme of making a family, and Christina nails it. The imagery of fishing salmon as a child and learning one of her catches was pregnant after the fact and then the linear relationship of her life years later is both heartbreaking and beautiful all in the same light. Point being, Christina tells it how it is, tells it so eloquently, and doesn’t hold any punches. You feel her words in your gut, heart, face, and tears. She’s powerful … and wonderful.

Our featured music of the night is a Nashville based musician who was born in Houston, shout out Texas, but raised overseas in The Netherlands, Nigeria, Scotland, and China. This young artist is always in search of what brings us together and what feels like honest work. A gentle, but powerful, woman and a scholar, she graduated from the Los Angeles College of Music in 2013 and has since gone on to release one album, 3 EP’s, and four singles. She’s an active member of Concerts In Your Home and spends a lot of days performing on the road. Maybe most importantly, she is very close friends with several of our East Side Storytellin’ favorites. This girl is close friends with Joshua Dent, Abby Flowers, and Ally Brown. Alongside these talented local musicians, it was an honor to set up the stage and share the spotlight on the tremendous star on the rise in Kira Hooks!

Kira took a seat on a stool, hooked up her guitar, crossed her legs, acknowledged her side harmony in Ally Brown, and started her set like a needle to a vinyl on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Her voice was like a vintage jazz star from another day and time, her melodies instantly put everyone at ease, and then she set sail for awesome in the middle of her ocean of dreamlike material. In a town that refers itself to music in its nickname namesake and has a million and one singers living inside the city limits, I’ve never heard a voice as unique and fitting her her material as Kira. It’s almost as if Sade and Diana Krall mixed together with the absolute best of every R&B soul singer of the 90’s and churned out this majestic muse and conductor of awesome on a stool for all of us to enjoy for years to come.

Kira gave mad props to every person she brought up to the stage and constantly referenced new respect and love for the art that Christina had shared with the same crowd. Kira was equally as open and honest via her backstories and dreams of someday moving to New York (she will conquer it when she is ready and leaves … hopefully years from now for Nashville’s sake though) and her song about creating a family in Labor of Love. She admitted to being a bit sappy and lovey-dovey while trying to Waltz with an Angel and When I Ran Into You, but I was not alone in thinking that we all could use a lot more lovey-dovey if that’s the case. The classical sounds that Joshua Dent adds to any songs, mixed with the modern take of doo-wop and Motown-ish licks from Ally and Abby having a blast alongside an alternative folk Beyonce, was simply perfect for the occasion and week in general. It all made me think of that phrase, “If the Love doesn’t feel like a 90’s R&B song, then I don’t want it.”

This was actually one of the only shows where I was sad to be the host for a second. When Kira asked us how much more time she had left, and I could see in her eyes that she would have played a few more and was thinking about choosing the next one, I succumbed to the moment and told her we only needed one more. Truth be told, the crowd and I would’ve stayed there in our seats for another week for sure. I guess it’s better to keep the staff at The Post on our side too. It all works out for the best.

Speaking about working out for the best, this pairing was simply phenomenal. Nobody would have known that we had to change a thing or two a mere 24 hours before showtime, and my buddy Steve would call me out for saying serendipity again if I said it another 50 times during the show in the making. It honestly blows my mind how well everything comes together just as it is supposed to when you are doing something that needs to be done.

After Kira’s final track titled If You Got A Dream, a song that to me resembled Christina’s charge the moment poem, I was yet again fortunate to have both of the artists back on stage to talk about their lives beyond their art. I’m always amazed by the honesty and forthright of the guests who take my questions and answer them in ways that if you already call them friends you learn something new and if you didn’t know these people then you feel like you’ve known them forever. Both Christina and Kira were/are so gracious with their personal responses and so professional in everything they delivered from the stage all night long. It was an honor to host the show that paired so much talent and love for words and positive personal growth. I was humbled to be in the crowd.

Again, because I could ramble on about how great these people are and how much fun the show was in person, I’ll just cut to the part where I share with you the edited version of East Side Storytellin’ 112. You know, the show we recorded at The Post East on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017, that featured Christina Stoddard and Kira Hooks (alongside Ally Brown, Abigail Flowers, and Joshua Dent). Here it is, enjoy and share it over and over again. Thank you!

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

You can read more of Christina’s writing here – www.christinastoddard.com

You can listen to more of Kira’s music here – www.kirahooks.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’ 113

Tuesday, August 15th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Susan McBride

singing- Mary Bragg

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 112 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 out there.

Much love,

mE

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Sam Torode, Tom Eizonas, Russell Thompson, 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 107th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 106, I repeat … 106, 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’ 107. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night is someone who is actually related on his father’s side of the tree to Henry David Thoreau. On his mother’s side, the ancestors include Texas farmers, preachers, outlaws, banjo players, and Cherokee Native Americans. Like many of our featured artists, he doesn’t limit himself to one medium. You can Google him later and find his album of jazz standards titled Someone to Watch Over Me. Some of his favorite storytellers are Mark Twain, Flannery O’Connor, and Ray Bradbury. Some of his favorite thinkers are Ralph Waldo Emerson, Joseph Campbell, and Marcus Aurelius. Combining everything from the storytellers, thinkers, and jazz greats, this artist is the featured author tonight because of the release of his novel The Dirty Parts of the Bible. He’ll cover more about his work other than it being one of the catchiest and most intriguing titles at East Side Story later in the show, but it was an honor to welcome our featured reader to the stage. I’m talking about the one, the only, Sam Torode!

Sam had admittedly taken some time to build up confidence while battling insecurities every artist fights before he decided to bring some of his books into East Side Story recently. And before this show, he told me he had rarely taken time to schedule any planned readings to share his work, because he was unsure of the reception. There wasn’t any worry on my behalf for the show’s reception for Sam and his work because there were plenty of family and friends in the mix to listen. You wouldn’t have been able to tell that Sam had any butterflies either from the outside. Sam always gives off the impression that he is calm, cool, and collected. I knew the time was right and that his amazing book would speak for itself.

Sam had broken down his reading into several excerpts that not only laid out the perfect setting for characters and theme and title of his book, but it also was the perfect teaser for people to get pulled into his work and want to know more. Within the sections he shared, Sam told us about different stages of development about the main character named Tobias. This young man was raised by a strict preacher in the town of Remus, North Michigan. Sam started the story from Tobias’ birth. Then, he shared the direct piece of the story that influenced the title of the book where Tobias found out about the racier sections of The Bible that talked about a woman’s chest area of flesh. It’s true, it’s all there for the reading. Sam said it a lot better than I just did, but like everything else Sam shared, it just made perfect sense. I felt like we were all being entertained and educated at the same time.

Sam finished his performance by sharing two final sections that were cool and striking, to say the least. First, he described quite the adventure on a train with Tobias and his older friend Craw. Craw taught him some enlightening, non-traditional remedies that may or may not work (I’d love to ask Sam if he researched some of those or totally made them up = you’ll hear them in the recording or read them for yourself. It’s worth your time, either way). There was also a wonderful scene of Craw teaching Tobias how to properly jump from a moving train (don’t try this at home, kids). And then Sam closed his set with a trip to another character’s house by the name of Sarah (the character, not the house’s name). Like I said before, Sam did a wonderful job of setting up the book with a pinpoint layout of interesting scenes and characters that made everyone in the room want to read and hear more. And for someone who doesn’t do this very often, I’d say Sam is well on his way to making this more of a frequent happening. At least I hope so. He is a brilliant reader and an even better writer. But like Lamar, don’t take my word for it. Listen to the recording below and get the book when you have a chance soon.

Our featured music of the night is someone who I met the very first time I met our featured author. I kid you not, both of these scholars came into the store the very same day and we spent about an hour talking about literature, pop culture, religion (thanks to Sam’s book title and this guy’s past in the church), and everything in between. Back to our featured musician, he is mutual friend and frequent stage-sharer with fellow East Side Storytellin’ alumni greats in Megan Palmer and Sergio Webb. Born to a Navy man, he crossed the country 3 times over by the age of 10. He’s lived in and played towns and cities and farms and deserts and mountains, forests, canyons, and rivers all over. He is 64 years young and has lived in 62 different places. We are very lucky to have this guy here tonight. He’s been a mechanic, a painter, a carpenter, a salesman, a cook, a husband, a father, a minister, and combined all of that into being a stellar songwriter and musician for the past decade. Releasing his full-length recording soon, entitled Sometimes I Dream, I couldn’t have been more excited to introduce the likes of Russell Thompson.

If you’ve ever met Russell then you already know that he has never met a stranger. He took a seat beside the microphone, in front of a room of people he just met the hour before sitting down, and jumped right into talking about his move to Nashville and what pulled him out of religion and into searching for more soul outside of San Diego awhile back. It was one of the most intriguing introductions to an East Side Storytellin’ musical sets that I’ve ever witnessed. It reminded me of the great RL Burnside (you need to know who that is, if you don’t already). Before we knew what hit us, Russell was sipping his water and ready to sing the first song he wrote after leaving his ministry and before landing in Nashville. He had played it during sound check and blew Sam and I away, but then he took it to another level for everyone in the room. It was truly amazing.

In keeping with the featured book and content of the night, Russell carried on with the conversation of love and sex right into his song about a sweet and sacred bed. You can take the jelly roll line as that much or as a donut reference if you’re hungry and into that. Either way, Russell was on fire. His songs were as multi-layered in references and metaphors and flat-out philosophies that were much needed to be heard in today’s chaos. He made note of where he was and what struck him to write each one of his songs. He shared that the song about sunglasses was inspired from seeing Bob Dylan at an award ceremony, that a song about ding dong and the bells ringing was like a call to action from Woodie Guthrie himself, that a dream about a boy named Johnny and his pal got Russell thinking and rambling about people he had never met but was connected with, and also how the idea of Mother’s Day flashed a song thought that resembled an old Guy Clark favorite of his. I can’t say this enough, Russell’s songs and spirit are so brilliant.

Again, as soon as we were just hitting our groove of a show, it was time to get both of the artists on stage and for me to attempt to connect the dots via personal questions. Like the first day I met Russell and Sam in the bookstore, it was more about letting them do their thing and share the moment and me just trying to stay out of the way than anything else. It may sound in the recording as though I was a little more jittery than usual, and you may be right, but I admitted to them that I wish I could’ve just let them talk for several hours about their personal stories and professions and inspirations for why they do what they do without restraint. These two guys, like so many of the pairings we have on the show serendipitously, have so much to share with the world to help make everything make sense and strive for a better tomorrow. They have a deep sense of what changes should be made with focus and action in this country right now, in regards to religion and politics and life in general, and I for one was happy to share a small moment and spotlight with them as they continue on their personal journeys moving forward.

Again, I highly suggest you get a copy of Sam’s book and look out for the release of Russell’s newest album when it comes out and that you make plans to check out each of these guys whenever they are sharing their art in public again. I promise that you will be a better version of yourself after you experience what they’re creating and sharing.

And speaking of something these two are creating and sharing, please take a moment to listen to and share the edited version of East Side Storytellin’ 107 that featured Sam Torode and Russell Thompson at The Post East on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017. It was a brilliant show that can live on forever, thanks to the good ol’ internets. Do yourself a favor, and take a gander. You can thank me in an hour.

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

You can read more of Sam’s writing here –  www.amazon.com/author/samtorode

You can listen to more of Russell’s music by searching on Youtube.com and Facebook.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 design by Clay Brunton, inspired by The Dirty Parts of The Bible

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’ 108

Tuesday, June 6th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Casey Renee Le’Vasseur

singing-The Minks

That said, that’s all for the recap and recording of East Side Storytellin’ 107 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

1 for the road

2 for the road

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