Virginia

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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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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Chuck Beard, Amanda Gayle Oliver Hendricks, Caroline Spence, and Tom Eizonas

Chuck Beard, Amanda Gayle Oliver Hendricks, Caroline Spence, 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 64th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 63 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’ 64. Let us begin, again.

The first featured guest of the night is a Southern Belle by birth and a New Englander by heart. Born and raised in Alabama (Roll Tide), she was first published in the Birmingham News at the age of 16. A graduate of The University of Alabama at Birmingham (Roll Tide) with a BA in Literature and Creative Writing, her work has appeared in a variety of literary journals beyond being published in the San Diego Poetry Annual, Torrid Literary Journal, and Steady Moon Press. Not only a poet, she had 3 plays performed at her alma mater (Roll Tide). Her poetry and prose concentrate on taking what the world sees as ugly and making it beautiful, giving a voice to the voiceless, an honest human connection. She is author of the chapbook titled Easter Shoes, a brilliant book that you can purchase at East Side Story. Everyone in the crowd gave a big Roll Tide welcome to the one and only Amanda Gayle Oliver Hendricks.

Amanda told me before the show that she had woken up that morning with a couple of butterflies roaming around in her stomach with some good nerves, and we talked about how funny it was that she was less and less nervous about reading the closer it was to actually reading. I mentioned that at least she didn’t have to play a guitar at the same time she was singing her verses, and she agreed. She had already done the hard work by creating the poems and the chapbook, and she was confident in her latest poems that she had never read in public before this special event. I was very excited.

Amanda prefaced her poetry with a small true tale about killing some flies in her writing studio with her bare hands (with one finger actually). It was not a long story, but the emotions attached to it and relayed to the crowd were poignant and powerful and something out of the norm to feel close with without expecting it at all. That story pretty much set up the rest of Amanda’s poems that she shared with everyone. There were poems about Medusa, Tony the Nashville homeless man, camp boyfriends and birthdays, random adventures about becoming a woman on the go, a recipe for peace, and a killer poem that interwove the childhood song Ring Around the Rosie with original lines that were beautifully framed and delivered. But that’s what Amanda is all about = taking everything going on in her world at any given time and unveiling her creative interpretation of what she sees into something everyone can relate to regardless if they thought they would normally relate to it with Amanda’s help or not. Another great example was Amanda’s poem about the music and life and death of Selena Quintanilla (the singer portrayed in a so-so movie by Jenninfer Lopez before her first wave of plastic surgery). Everyone in the crowd was at home and in awe of the way Amanda took words like bitty bitty bum bum and moved them into something that we could all relate into our own daily lives. That takes mad skills, y’all! Amanda left us after giving us a delightful tale about a squirrel who eats green tomatoes and revealing the poison of acorns. It was filled with random elements but perfect timing, ideas, and a genius combination and curation of words. It was what Amanda does better than most. And then she was finished with her set.

The featured musician of the night is a Virginia native who has quickly made Nashville her home. Enamored with words and songs, she craftfully and carefully and constantly finds ways to beautifully blend her personal writing with her coy, dusky soprano voice across genres of folk, Americana, and alt-country. With original songs that wrap the truths of life up into personal vignettes of clever wordplay and catchy hooks, it was not a big surprise to many of her friends and fans when she won the grand prize for American Songwriter Magazine’s 2013 songwriter competition and also the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest songwriter competition later that same year. Beyond competitions, this artist is all about making great art. She is well-respected, followed by, and covered by many of her talented contemporaries near and far. She recently released her first full-length solo debut titled Somehow, which has been called both magical and meditative, basically a breath of fresh air. Again, everyone was up to giving another big round of applause to welcome the tremendously talented Caroline Spence.

Caroline mentiond after the show that while she was listening to Amanda’s poems that she felt some nerves in her stomach about going up on stage similarly to how she felt about sharing her own poetry and prose during college while studying literature. She didn’t talk about killing any flies, but she did jump right into singing an instant classic song about how trains cry such painful sounds. It was the absolute best lonesome train song I’ve ever heart, actually. Basically, she kept the audience’s attention from Amanda’s prose and then raised her own bar with her guitar.

Caroline had a fun way of telling stories about her admiration for Buddy Miller’s songwriting and fateful shows that only take place in Nashville these days and how it all helps to let her know she is doing what she needs to be doing at exactly the right place and time she needs to be doing it = meaning her original songs. I thought it was funny how she picked Buddy Miller as a personal example because he usually plays with Patty Griffin whenever I’ve seen her play around town and Caroline had the tone of Patty with the perspective of her honest lyrics as well. Being that she is about 30 years younger, at least, than Patty Griffin, it gave me hope to think that we have more than a handful more decades of being able to listen to and appreciate the stories yet to come from Caroline via her music.

Back to her music, Caroline sang stories about softball, told us about her making every word count in her songs (memories of past literature professor notes) and also never sticking to a set list once she gets started. The most powerful song for me, personally, was the last one, her ode to Buddy Miller’s classic style, called Mint Condition. You can listen to it and the others below for yourself, which I highly recommend, but it was more special to me than the others because I had one of my grandmothers in the crowd. You see, this song was written about all of the good things and people and times Caroline had in her 20’s instead of the stereotypical pondering just the mistakes or lessons learned after surviving that decade of life. One of the things she mentioned for inspiration was her grandparents’ love for each other and that hit close to home for me.

In the end, Caroline and Amanda were a perfect match for a perfect night. After I had the opportunity to listen to each of them talk about how they continue to learn and be inspired by great teachers, artists, and friends, all of which you can listen to below in the edited recording, we had a few laughs and everyone, including the packed house in the crowd, felt like old friends already. And speaking of friends and community updates, I had the privilege of announcing the news of the newly engaged couple of RD and Heather in the audience and also the presence of Magnolia “NOLI” White, the cutest baby to ever sport an East Side Story onesie at an East Side Storytellin’ show, at her first ever concert/poetry reading. Y’all, it was a very special night for everyone at this show!

Noli White's first concert/poetry reading and sporting the East Side Story onesie!

Noli White’s first concert/poetry reading and sporting the East Side Story onesie!

Now, back to the show … here is the recording of East Side Storytellin’ 64. Please remember to share it with all of your friends and family after you listen to it over and over again. Seriously, listen to it over and over again. Enjoy!

Before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for Amanda Gayle Oliver Hendricks and Caroline Spence for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

You can read more about Amanda’s writing here- https://anythingbutsilent.wordpress.com

You can listen to more of Caroline’s music here- http://www.carolinespencemusic.com

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

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

Art by Clay Brunton

Art by Clay Brunton

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

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

The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be …

East Side Storytellin’ 65

Tuesday, August 18th

7pm at The Post

reading- Nadia Bruce- Rawlings (www.facebook.com/NadiaBruceRawlingsWriter)

singing- Eryn McHugh (www.soundcloud.com/erynmchugh)

That said- that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 64 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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