Vanderbilt University

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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The Jealous Mime Syndrome Band = Justin Quarry, Megan Palmer, Chuck Beard, and Tom Eizonas

The Jealous Mime Syndrome Band = Justin Quarry, Megan Palmer, 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 recap and recording of the 83rd epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 82, I repeat … 82, 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’ 83. Let us begin, again.

Our first featured artist is a Senior Lecturer in English and Program Coordinator of Undergraduate Creative Writing at Vanderbilt University. He holds a B.A. from Vanderbilt, where he received high honors in English, and an M.F.A. from the University of Virginia, where he was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. His fiction has appeared in a number of publications, including TriQuarterlyThe Southern ReviewNew England ReviewAlaska Quarterly Review, and The Normal School, which awarded him its Normal Prize in Fiction. He is also the recipient of the Robert Olen Butler Short Fiction Prize, an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Arkansas Arts Council, and a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, among other honors. In addition to teaching at Vanderbilt, he also serves on the faculty of the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference at the University of the South. The room was filled with several handfuls of friends to support the one and only Justin Quarry.

Justin prefaced the show by becoming the very first featured artist to bring a bouquet of fresh flowers for me and the other artist of the night. Let me just say, it was the nicest unexpected way to start any of the shows so far but that’s just how Justin rolls. Before he reached the podium in front of the adoring crowd, we had already talked a bunch about what he refers to as the “creative crisis” that he was faced with recently when taking a break from writing to experience life in other ways to get re-charged to tackle writing creatively once again. After completing his handgun certification and training (it is the South and it totally relates to a major inheritance he received that he tackles in his nonfiction essay), Justin decided to take a break from his novel in the works to try something new. He was shaking just a tad, and no more than any other reader who we’ve heard so far on this show, and brave enough to share his new work for the first time since writing it.

Before he got to the story, he took more time to thank everyone involved with the show, from production to the audience in front of him. I’ll tell ya, the kindness that beams from this guy is radiant and effortless. After he finished with his thankful speech, he jumped into his essay about his father, guns, college, getting lost in the woods only to be saved by sirens ringing just over the trees next to him, and coming out of the closet with those he loved and all the while wondering what his father was seeing in the future as he looked out from his deathbed. It was pretty deep stuff but it was perfect. Once again, I could’ve sat there and listened to the featured author read for an entire day. I’m definitely not alone in wanting to read the next essays on deck.

Before I get to the music, and before you take a listen to Justin and Megan sharing everything they so gracefully shared, I must add that there were so many gems laid out in this amazing essay. I definitely wrote more notes in this show than I had in some time (and that says more about the magical combination of Justin and Megan than anything else). Here are a few tidbits that made my soul smile and belly laugh to keep an ear out for while you listen to the reading: no girl scout cookies in the wood, hiking = a pacifist’s parallel to hunting, “looking at me how only the dying view the world …” , red hair and Sarah McLachlan pen, “death rattle” and its definition and context within families and friends near death, camouflage Cabbage Patch Kid doll, and many more. Point being, Justin is a brilliant writer, whether he is diving into non-fiction, fiction, or whatever strikes him with a pen in  his hand (or a laptop close by). We happily await his forthcoming novel and everything else in between that finish line.

Our featured musician has been on East Side Storytellin’ two times before while supporting our friend Tim Easton way back in East Side Storytellin’ 22 and then again East Side Storytellin’ 77 with Darrin Bradbury. To top that show connection, she is so cool that her website bio was written by one of our all-time favorites in Aaron Lee Tasjan! She started in Ohio and explored New York City before making her way to Music City. Beyond her gifts with music, she spends her spare nights and days as a Palliative Care Nurse at Vanderbilt University Hospital, often beginning work in the morning and then closing concert gigs late in the night. She’s been extremely hard at work at her latest album called “What She’s Got To Give” and it’s already being toted as the next big must have in this city … not that anyone who knows her and her music is surprised. Tasjan gracefully put it like this- This record leaves the impression that Megan is one of those rare people who truly care. She expertly communicates in her songs her sense of kindness and compassion even when there’s good reason to behave otherwise. It’s not just something she says, it’s also who she is as an artist and a person. I’m honored to finally feature this fine friend and musician. I coined her as our version of Paul Simon to the first years of Saturday Night Live (the best years) … I’m talking about the unforgettable Megan Palmer!

Like every other time Megan has graced us on East Side Storytellin’, she didn’t come alone. But instead of bringing other talented players to be by her side, she brought along a plethora of instruments to liven up her original songs the only way she knows how … the best ways possible. That’s right. Her car was packed with an electric piano, a fiddle, a guitar, brand new CD’s hot off the press, and the same positive attitude that Megan brings to every show and day. She is a bright star.

After a said a few nice words for introductory purposes, Megan laughed and said that it was ironic how I said those nice words and yet her first song was gonna be her new track involving a knife. So that made for number 4 on the synchronicity of this show’s pairing between Justin and Megan (Vanderbilt connection, caretakers beside a bed, artists just out of their own versions of creative crises, and now violent symbolism within their stories via guns and knives). Oh, and both of these artists are super down to Earth and cool as cucumbers fresh from the fridge. Megan then followed up knife talk with a new take on a classic syndrome called jealous mind syndrome (to which I thought initially she said jealous mime syndrome and I was totally going along with it). It’s where you want your friends to become famous but not too famous without you getting there too, or something like that. Like everything else I write here, the artists read and sing much better than how I can relay the message to you in this post-show recap. Megan jumped on the piano for the next few tracks to add a little soul to her string play and it felt like Tuesday night church by the Cumberland River once again. Like Justin’s essay took us on a personal trip, Megan lifted our spirits with an original tale about what it’s like to be a pilot.

Megan finished strong and calm by picking up her fiddle and playing a cover song that could easily make a grown man cry if he was moved to do so. I’ve seen Megan play several times and one of my favorite things about her musical talents is when she owns the fiddle. She can do more to a song in her pauses than most guitarists do by thrashing the strings non-stop. She highlights the notes and words she gives the world by making the most of the spaces in between. She is truly gifted at telling stories through music. And her new CD is pretty kick ass too!

Once again, I took great pride in the fact that I had a few minutes with the featured artists to see behind the curtain of their creativity and let them talk a little more about their art than what their stories and songs give on the surface. The crowd was attentive, the atmosphere was chill, the humor was witty and candid, and the personalities on stage couldn’t have been more delightful and genuine. These two professionals broke it all down so that even someone in the crowd who doesn’t write or sing or do many things creatively could leave The Post and feel like they had been a part of something special and could then go forth and create something with the time and energy they have left in the day, week, and year ahead too. These two are special people.

So here it is, the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 83 which featured the likes of Justin Quarry and Megan Palmer on Tuesday, May 17th, 2016 at The Post (one day before my Mother’s birthday … Happy 60th!). Enjoy and feel free to share with everyone and your mother as well!

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

You can read more about Justin’s writing here-  http://as.vanderbilt.edu/english/bio/justin-quarry

You can listen to more of Megan’s music here – http://meganpalmer.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.

I’d also like to show much love to Clay Brunton for the beautiful artwork online to promote the show.

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’ 84

Tuesday, June 7th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Linda Barnickel (www.millikensbend.com

singing- Tanya Montana Coe (www.tanyamontanacoe.com

That said- that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 83 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 "normal" group shot for the road (before our new band hits the road) ... Chuck Beard, Justin Quarry, Megan Palmer, and Tom Eizonas

One more “normal” group shot for the road (before our new band hits the road) … Chuck Beard, Justin Quarry, Megan Palmer, and Tom Eizonas

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Nathan Wahlman, Aaron Wahlman, Becca Mancari, VeerajaR, Chuck Beard, and Tom Eizonas

Nathan Wahlman, Aaron Wahlman, Becca Mancari, VeerajaR, Chuck Beard, and Tom Eizonas

Hello again and welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially and whole-heartedly welcome you to the 82nd epic edition of East Side Storytellin’. Like the previous 81 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 listening 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 of the featured guests of this event to talk about their individual journeys and personal ties to Nashville. So without further ado, fulfilling the entertainment portion of your day, this is the recap and recording of East Side Storytellin’ 82. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of this evening is an admired poet and well-published scientist. Born and raised in what is now Sri Lanka, she earned a doctorate from Marquette University and has been a faculty member at a variety of medical schools in Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and right here in Nashville at Vanderbilt University ever since. She is currently calling Nashville home as a trusted consultant Scientific Editor living in middle Tennessee with her three children and loving husband of nearly 30 years. She is the c0-author of the devotional Resurrection Reflections and has been published in the anthology Filtered Through Time (which is also sold at East Side Story alongside her poetry collection titled Joy of Being). She came prepared to read a little from everything she’s done and she was welcomed with the joy and open arms of a packed post house. I’m talking about the likes of the poet known as VeerajaR (pronounced Veera-ja-R).

photo credit Chance Chambers

photo credit Chance Chambers

If you’ve never heard VeerajaR read anything or spoken to her at all, then you really can’t grasp the magic in her voice. She uses words like the rest of us use on the daily, but the way she says them takes it all to another level. In one of her poems about a good morning with God, she must have said the name God at least 30 times. In the thick of this presidential election season, where most candidates and television talking heads use religion and the name of God with various intentions for any given vote, it was more than refreshing to hear the word God with its purest form of love, peace, and understanding as VeerajaR recounted them throughout her prose. I made the off-hand comment after the show that there was a distinct difference between the way she said and meant God than our Republican figure Ted Cruz does on the daily (special note, it wasn’t too long after this show aired when Mr. Cruz dropped out of the race for good = possibly a coincidence, but I digress).

VeerajaR took her time explaining each poem, the back story of where and how she got the idea to write each one and also the intricate details of how each writing session empowered and inspirited her in the creative process. I haven’t heard too many writers that talked about the material at the same time she delivered the material in such a refreshing and original manner. Like her book Joy of Being, the entire reading set VeerajaR curated was filled with faith, spirit, hope, awe, and prayer that would make a literary believer of anyone listening. Don’t believe me? Take a listen to her words in the recording below. I also made another off-hand comment afterwards that if I was ever to have an autobiography published (not on my bucket list at all), I would request that VeerajaR be the voice on the audio book because she would make my life seem more interested and add a deep, spiritual tone to it that could connect with everyman. Seriously she’s that great. Take a listen below and thank me later. But, before I get to the music of the show, I do want to say, sticking with the religious elephant in the room, I’ve never heard more thoughtful proverbs than the set of haikus that Veerajar finished her set with before taking her seat. Each were profound and simple at the same time. She made it appear easy to write and yet very easy to follow at the same time.

Our featured musician of the night is someone who has already made a backing appearance on East Side Storytellin’ way back in East Side Storytellin’ 41 with now new mom Sara Marie Thompson. This lady is not only an extremely talented musician loved by pretty much every other musician in town, she is also a traveler and storyteller to the core at heart. She’s lived like a gypsy from Staten Island, Florida, Zimbabwe, Virginia, India and Pennsylvania, among others, and she has collected plenty of tales while spinning sounds and stories while on her journey. She makes songs that mix the organic stomp of American roots music with the approach and attitude of raw rock & roll. Her music is a snapshot of a musician who’s still on the move, constantly writing songs about the people she’s met and the impression they leave. I asked the crowd to give this young artist an unforgettable impression of applause so she might just write a hit song about us in the future. I’m pretty sure Becca Mancari is writing that song as I type.

photo credit Chance Chambers

photo credit Chance Chambers

Becca is a true original.  A lot of people have heard her Summertime Mama song recently in the Lightning 100 spin cycle, but we’ve been privy to hear her magic for awhile now. Like her journey to Nashville, Becca’s songwriting has been a long process of finding the right stories after living a lot of them. I’m not saying her songs are all autobiographical. What I am saying is that she’s doing a lot of living to inspire herself in between writing songs that in turn inspire us. One such song and tale told about being moved by a poem while working as a part-time janitor was called Long Way Down.

Becca treated the show like I always envision them, like a perfect blend of your favorite house/cafe show. She drew the crowd in with her humility and humor, and slayed the moment with her poignant and poetic stories told through hauntingly great melodies. She, like VeerajaR, makes sharing creativity appear easy and that is no easy feat.

Becca busted out a few brand new songs and one that she had never sang in public before this show. I was not alone in the room to appreciate such dare to share. And, like several of Becca’s friends who have played the show before, she brought up a few musical friends from the crowd. She ended up eventually coaxing her good friends and bandmates and brothers in Aaron and Nathan Wahlman to come up on stage and help sing a lovely cover to bring the great set to a close. Like a true professional, Becca had a plan for us before the show started and she perfectly executed it to entertain and enlighten us all.

And because I always have the opportunity to ask the featured guests some personal and deep questions about their creative processes and passions, the above is a visual take on what you’ll hear in the recording below. The entire night had a casual and meaningful flow of positive energy throughout and it had everything to do with Becca and VeerajaR. A lot of people tell me great job after the shows are over but all of the credit truly should go to these featured artists who give their time and talents to us for the price of the time we take to experience their show. I’ll stop rambling now and let you hear what happened on the night mentioned above right here. These ladies say everything a lot better than I could ever write it.

Here is the recording of East Side Storytellin’ #82 that featured the likes of VeerajaR and Becca Mancari at The Post on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016:

 

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

You can read more about Veerajar’s writing here- www.joypoet.com

You can listen to more of Becca’s music here – www.beccamancari.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.

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’ 83

Tuesday, May 17th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Justin Quarry (http://as.vanderbilt.edu/english/bio/justin-quarry)

Singing- Megan Palmer (http://meganpalmer.com)

That said- that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 82 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, Rita Bullwinkel, Chuck Beard, and Dutch Whisky

Tom Eizonas, Rita Bullwinkel, Chuck Beard, and Dutch Whisky

Well, we did it! We successfully made it to lucky number 70 and counting. I’m not sure if anyone ever believed we would do it or doubted us, but I’m happy to say that we celebrated our 3rd anniversary of East Side Storytellin’ in the best of ways (together with talented Nashville artists, surrounded by a supportive crowd filled with loving friends and family). Here is my take on the monumental night.

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 70th epic edition and 3rd anniversary show of East Side Storytellin’! THREE years and counting, y’all. Like the 69 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’ 70. Let us begin, again.

Before we got started with the featured guests, we had the privilege of getting our annual celebratory visit from the man behind the voice of every show’s intro, Dave Eastman. He recalled the backstory of how this thing got started and the players involved and gave a nice toast to everyone around.

The first featured guest of the night is a graduate fiction fellow at Vanderbilt University, the fiction editor of the Nashville Review, a Vanderbilt Commons Writer in Residence and the founder of Band of Poets, a monthly reading series at Bobby’s Idle Hour, the historic bar on Nashville’s music row. Her fiction has appeared in many places including SporkThe Atlas ReviewThe Fanzine,Deep South MagazineThe Brooklyn Rail and Joyland. She is a Sewanee Writer’s Conference Tennessee Williams Scholarship Award winner and a Helen Wurlitzer Foundation grantee. This fall her story “Lunch” is being published in the book Gigantic Worlds: An Anthology of Science Flash Fiction alongside work by Phillip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard and Jonathan Lethem. She was also recently a finalist for The Conium Review’s Innovative Short Fiction Prize judged by Amelia Gray. To say that she is a talented writer on the rise might be the biggest understatement I’ve ever shared on this show. We were honored to have her join the East Side Storytellin’ family and listen to her words firsthand. Point being, several of the members from her Band of Poets and various other writing colleagues gave major props and applause for the introduction of Rita Bullwinkel.

Rita, no stranger to a room of avid literature fans, grabbed her story with both hands and took us for a wild ride. With the one, genius, and epitome of cool like that of the great Margot Tenenbaum, Rita shared her story titled “In the South the Sand Winds are Our Greatest Enemy.” Recently showcased and published with Joyland Magazine, you can read the story in its entirety here- www.joylandmagazine.com/regions/south/south-sand-winds-are-our-greatest-enemy.

A tale of two brothers, Gleb and Oleg, Rita introduced us to several unforgettable characters in an unforgettable world that instantly drew everyone to the edge of their seats to follow along such a delightfully strange trip. It reminded me of several things, from the finger count of one character flashing memories of the extra-fingered villain in The Princess Bride to the visuals of what I can only imagine would make for the next great Tim Burton off-holiday stop-animation film gone awry (with an extra hint of the throwback style and characters of the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer classic narrated by Burl Ives. Rita’s story was fantastical, enchanting, other-worldly, original, refreshing, and all that and a bag of crispy chips to say the least about how much I absolutely loved it and the reading performance. Again, like my recap for most of the shows so far, I feel as though I would diminish the energy and quality of the sublime shared inside East Side Storytellin’ if I was to ramble on an on here about my show memories if I tried to recount every personal detail that made me happy so I shall leave you with descriptions above and let you digest the full story in the link mentioned and the recording below for yourself. It is a treat and you are welcome. Thanks be to Rita.

The featured musician of the night is, like East Side Storytellin’ in general, unforgettable. I said during the previous show that this guy is someone who needs no introduction. I am a man of my word if nothing else. So, jumping right into a stage of AWEsome, get ready for the sounds and stylings of another true original in the recording below and if you’re not ready … too late. It was honestly one of the great honors of my life to this point to introduce  the one and only, the man, the myth, the legend … my Nashville hero, Dutch Whisky!

But Dutch did not come alone. Flanked on boths sides by Ferd, Xatticus (the X is silent y’all), his lovely bride Brandy Alexandria, and first name Del last name Camino, Dutch grabbed his guitar and tackled the stage like only Dutch does. He wasted no time with introducing the first song as an ode to his first true love, his Monte Carlo. An innocent song about a spaceship of sorts that shook his world and changed him forever, his Monte Carlo put a smile on everyone’s faces. Then, showcasing a tender, romantic side of his ego, Dutch belted out a song about dating and stating he’d walk a 100 miles to find the love that came into his life. Not stopping there, Dutch shared a song about the life and death and love for his mother with a song about how she cooked and killed it on a skillet.

photo credit - Connie Chornuk

photo credit – Connie Chornuk

Needless to say, the first act of Dutch Whisky, tempered down to perfectly fit into the intimate, acoustic set at The Post, was something made of magic. He continued his instant classic set with a special ode to his teenage daughter and how a real woman should act with Prom Promise Me. The gem I took from that one was that MeMaw is always watching us from above so we need to mind our P’s and Q’s.

At this point in the anniversary show, my face was starting to hurt. I was not meant to live like The Joker and the permagrin I was holding in the front row was about to burst. It didn’t help that the next song, I think called One Hot Mess, gave more beautiful and zany and touching desciptives than a classic novel while relating Dutch’s dream girl to a bunch of exotic foods. I still can’t get the circus peanut toes out of my head. In one word … BRILLIANT!

How do you follow up brilliance? Dutch tops himself with a run of three songs for his finale that I dare you to find can be outdone in this city and life in general. He made us all believer in miracles with his hit Miracle Baby, singing and asking how someone can’t believe in miracles if two ugly people can make a beautiful baby tonight. This was followed by a cover that’s not really a cover (like yoga pants … I can’t make this stuff up), titled All my exes send me texts. Again, instant classics. But, Dutch saved one of his best and trademark love songs for last and dropped the mic with the ultimate love and car and car and love song called Truck You.

You really do need to just listen for yourself. Here’s a game to try on for size. See how long you can listen to the show and musical performance before you simaltaneously bust a gut laughing and blow your mind from the musical talent from this man and his loyal and ever-changing band. I thought Emily was going to go into labor 2 months before her due date at one point.

In the end, Rita and Dutch joined me on stage together to take pictures and talk about storytelling and stories past, present, and future. The crowd was in stitches and, without a doubt in my mind, changed forever … happier than when they were before the show and these were all pretty darn happy people before the show, let me tell you what.

Before I give you the link to enjoy the edited show recording of East Side Storytellin’ 70 that featured the genius of Rita Bullwinkel and the brilliance of Dutch Whisky, I must add my final gem of the night. See if you can hear the wordplay and puns that Dutch dropped about playing in the spin-off sitcom of the hit show Nashville by playing East Side Storytellin’ at The Post. Major points for anyone who emails me the link between ABC’s Nashville and East Nashville’s new version of A Different World. Seriously, mind blown, y’all!

The entire East Side Storytellin' posse plus 1 in the belly photo credit - Connie Corchuk

The entire East Side Storytellin’ posse plus 1 in the belly
photo credit – Connie Chornuk

So here it is, the recording of East Side Storytellin’ 70, the 3 year anniversary show that featured Rita Bullwinkel and Dutch Whisky at The Post on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015. We started on an election night in 2012 and we managed to top the ratings again and win more life-long fans and supporters than most who won at the polls this particular night at your nearest voting precinct. Here’s to many more years and success for East Side Storytellin’ and our friends Rita Bullwinkel and Dutch Whisky!

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

You can read more about Rita Bullwinkel’s writing here- www.ritabullwinkel.com

You can listen to more of Dutch Whisky’s music here- facebook.com/DutchWhiskyMusic

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 recording and sound maestros of Tom Eizonas and Dave Eastman. Without their help and teamwork, this show would never have made it beyond the first one at Rumours East years ago.

I’d also like to show much love to Clay Brunton for the beautiful artwork online to promote the show and the great art he makes for every show. Clay makes our world look better and we are grateful to call him friend.

art by Clay Brunton

art by Clay Brunton

To 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 say thank you from the top, bottom, and sides of my heart. Your support and love means more than you’ll ever know.

I’d also like to give one special shout out to Tonya and Chris for making The Post so welcoming and positively life-changing for the East Nashville community at large. It is by far the most fun and welcoming place I’ve ever experienced good art and the future is brighter than ever.

Last, but certainly not least, big love goes to my lovely wife and the most talented artist in Emily Harper Beard (efharper). She is everything to me, and everything I do good in this world is because of her inspiration.

That said- that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 70 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

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be …

East Side Storytellin’ 71

Tuesday, November 17th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Joseph Powell (jobychronicle.blogspot.com)

singing- Nick Flora (nickflora.com)

 

PS –

Tom Eizonas & Dave Eastman, as another surprise gift to mE (Chuck Beard), put together this very special compilation of one song from each show from the 3rd year of East Side Storytellin’. Now I give it to you to enjoy and share and spread the word about every show in the past and future.

East Side Storytellin’ is a bi-monthly live event that we record and edit into an hour long podcast/radio show. Recorded live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month since November 2012, Chuck Beard brings together and hosts local writers and musicians in a spectacular show that lets the talent do all of the shining. The writers read their original works, beginning promptly at 7pm, and then are followed by original storyteller sets of music by the featured musicians. After the last note is played, Chuck gathers up all of the featured artists of the night and moderates a casual conversation about the guests’ creative processes, artistic journeys, and special ties to the Nashville area. It is generally over by 8:30pm, FREE to attend, and a great time had by all present (there is also artist merch, food, and spirits to purchase each round while you enjoy the show). Beginning in November of 2012, East Side Storytellin’ has consistently showcased the best of what Nashville is about to everyone taking a break from their busy lives to join in the fun.

This special compilation tracks shows we hosted during the 2014-2015 season at Mad Donna’s, Riverwood Mansion, and The Post.

See www.eastsidestorytn.com for more information or email chuck@eastsidestorytn.com

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Chuck Beard, W.S. Lyon, Andrew Leahey, and Tom Eizonas

Chuck Beard, W.S. Lyon, Andrew Leahey, 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 69th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 68 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 of East Side Storytellin’ 69. Let us begin, again.

The first featured guest of the night was (and still is) one of the coolest writers I’ve met while living in Nashville (and I say this without seeing him regularly in person or reading much of his work or hearing him read all of the time … point being, when I do see him or hear his words, his writing is always a breath of fresh air). The self-professed ambassador-at-large at Woodland Wine Merchant, this young man grew up along the North Carolina coast, and then later lived in New York where he worked in development on both documentary and narrative features which screened on PBS and Toronto and Sundance and other festivals around the world. In 2012 he founded a creative writing workshop on death row (which has no association whatsoever with Suge Knight) and he has uncovered and tapped into some of the deepest narratives I’ve ever read in the process. As the editor of the anthology from the death row writing called So I Can Live and with his own work recently appearing on the blog Philanthropic and busy as all get out currently pursuing his MFA in fiction at Vanderbilt University, it was an honor to final introduce the wonderful Mr. Scott (W.S.) Lyon!

Scott is a pure writer and an excellent reader and finds his comfort in front of a crowd by sticking to his words on paper and/or talking praise of other people. To kick off the show, he jumped head and heart first into the one piece he wanted to share for the evening. He prefaced the reading by saying that it would probably become the first story in the anthology that he is currently in the middle of making for his MFA thesis. Titled Hurricane Party, it was something to behold.

With his writing technique and mission for the thesis adjusted to a clearer focus by a recent enlightening discussion with award-winning author Charles Baxter (who shared his ideas and essays on fiction craft and how great books should ask a spiritual question in the beginning whether you find the answers by the end or not), Scott prepared a most excellent version of a story he’s created. Hurricane Party, to me, was an endearing and brilliant homecoming, a poignant tale between two brothers exchanging memories, emotions, conversation, family drama, and extracurricular illegal activities surrounded by the strong winds of a prevailing storm. It, like the original stories I’ve heard and read from Scott before, was so refreshing. The delivery and pauses and poetic license with which Scott relayed his words weaved in a beautiful sense of awe and order instantly placed the entire audience in just the right position to immerse themselves into the characters and settings in a way to perfectly experience everything he was dishing. He does that every time he reads his work and it is truly a gift.

I won’t share any more about Hurricane Party other than my short review of the reading above because I’d like for you to directly experience it firsthand for the first time when you purchase the final book as soon as Scott finishes the anthology. But know this, after the reading, the stage and the listening crowd was set and ready to take the night and art even further into the territory of something extraordinary.

The featured music of the night was a Nashville-based artist that has survived his own personal death sentence and has gone on to create some of the most impactful music of his career up to this point. A little over 2 years ago, this man completed what some would call a career in a single year – four national tours, a Daytrotter session, an appearance at the Americana Music Festival, and the release of a critically acclaimed EP, but that was also when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The doctors told him to have surgery and then take a break from his band and music for a bit. He did have surgery, but the break from his band didn’t last quite so long. Then, two years exactly to the date of this very show actually, there was a local benefit show at the Mercy Lounge featuring performances from his talented Nashville friends, including East Side Storytellin’ alumnus Jason Isbell, and he quickly wrote new songs that combined his recent brush with death into beautiful tunes stacked with vocal harmonies, dual guitar leads, B33 organ and super-sized hooks and created a full-length album with producer and former drummer of Wilco in Ken Coomer. Sporting a fresh Lockeland Springsteen baseball t-shirt with the huge news of recently signing with the incredible Thirty Tigers and releasing his newest album titled Skyline in Central Time early next year, a mutual friend of many of our East Side Storytellin’ family of artists (one of them being the fantastic Lauren Farrah who was in the crowd, fully present and making art to promote the show minutes before it started AND who connected me to this guest in the first place) and the namesake and leader behind Andrew Leahey & the Homestead, the entire crowd erupted in applause for the one and only Andrew Leahey!

Andrew, with a tall glass of cold water and a fresh set list by his side, walked up to the microphone casually and collectively picking the flow of the show right where Scott’s story ended and continued the same cool momentum through the finish line. He started with a brand new song, so new in fact that he had never shared it live before. Then he threw in what will become the first track from his new album, just like Scott had shared with the first story in his anthology. Not giving a play-by-play but sort of giving a play-by-play, Andrew jumped from the first two songs into telling the story behind his third about going to church in New York to try and woo a girl once that didn’t work out. The song, as all before and after, was great and worked out just fine for everyone. Above all else, Andrew noticed and mentioned that it was nice to play in front of a listening crowd (something that always comes up each and every East Side Storytellin’ show so far and counting) and to have the opportunity to share stories that he doesn’t normally have the chance to do during any other shows on tour.

In between talking about his life-changing and perspective-changing incident with his brain tumor in the past and telling more stories behind the music for the first time, Andrew played some of the most relaxing and insightful music I’ve heard in a minute. With storybook lyrics like John Cougar Mellancamp in the early 80’s, he brought an honest and openly emotional voice that, to me, resembled a young Willie Nelson but stronger and more confident in his purpose and direction beyond the songs. I heard this comparison more than most in the final track of the night.

After Andrew shared a few more songs to round out the set, I was fortunate to have him and Scott back up to the microphone for a candid talk about their creative journeys and personal gems they wanted to give to the supportive crowd. Two things that I distinctly thought were perfectly put were the following: Andrew spoke more about what the brain tumor experience did to him, both professionally with the story behind being accepted into the Thirty Tigers family and personally with how he never takes music and every moment with his family and friends for granted, and, secondly, with Scott talking about what the MFA experience has meant to his writing and how he sees it positively changing his creative mindset and individual approach to creating his work going forward into the future. Obviously I can’t say it better or clearer than they did in the recording that you can totally check out below, but all I want to say to end this recap is that I was once again blown away by the talent of the guests, their stories and art, their humility and appreciation for being included in this special idea and program in front of a caring audience, and that these two guys made my world in East Nashville even better than it was before I witnessed them do their thing for the show at hand. For all of this and more, I say many many thanks to Scott (W.S.) Lyon and Andrew Leahey.

So, without getting too sappy here, I want to give you the link of the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 69 that featured W.S. Lyon and Andrew Leahey at The Post on Tuesday, October 20th, 2015. It was another for the ages and books and all that jazz. Please listen and share the following link with everyone you know and maybe a few strangers too. It is that good. These guys are that good. And we thank them and you for being a part of this Nashville trip. Enjoy!

Before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for W.S. Lyon and Andrew Leahey for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

You can read more about W.S. Lyon’s writing here- www.akashicbooks.com/william-scott-lyon-a-pathos-in-prison/

You can listen to more of Andrew Leahey’s music here- www.andrewleaheymusic.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.

I’d also like to show much love to Clay Brunton for the beautiful artwork online to promote the show.

art by Clay Brunton

art by Clay Brunton

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

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be our very special 3rd anniversary show …

East Side Storytellin’ 70

Tuesday, November 3rd

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Rita Bullwinkel (www.ritabullwinkel.com)

singing- a VERY special guest who needs no introduction and has promised to make it the performance of a lifetime.

That said- that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 69 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’ 55: The night Andrew Maraniss and Marshall Chapman and a house full of Nashvillians celebrated the life and spirit of the living legend Perry Wallace

March 8, 2015

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to the recap of another epic event at Riverwood Mansion. In case you missed it in person, let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the 55th spectacular edition of East Side Storytellin’! And boy this was a bill with some heavy-hitters that […]

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East Side Storytellin’ 50: The night Jewly and Angaleena got us all right by our roots

December 5, 2014

Thank YOU for visiting this page, hello, and welcome to another fun edition of East Side Storytellin’. You have found yourself smack dab in a reflection of a big celebration for quite the milestone. This is our 50th show. I repeat. This is our 50th show! Just 50 more until 100 and possible syndication, and […]

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East Side Storytellin’ 30: When Colour of London met the Queen of Southern Word

February 20, 2014

Hello, good evening, afternoon, or morning, and a very big, hearty, warm welcome to you ALL here to witness another great round of East Side Storytellin’.  This is the recap and recording of the 30th chapter of East Side Storytellin’, and I’m so very happy and excited to share this wonderful evening with you, but […]

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East Side Storytellin’ 25: When we turned 1 year old and celebrated Vandy style

November 20, 2013

It was one year ago, on Tuesday, November 6th, on a cold, rainy election night when we started making this cool idea into a reality.  It seemed like and continues to seem like an obvious, perfect combination of inviting local authors to read from and describe their printed work, showcasing local musicians that perform and […]

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East Side Storytellin’ 24: Where Old Hazelwood met new Nashville ghost stories

October 22, 2013

One shy of a full year of doing this East Side Storytellin’ project, 24 might be my lucky number now because I was as excited as I’ve been since the start to take part in it. Whether or not you know this about me personally, I am a huge Halloween and horror movie aficionado.  It […]

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