Washington

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

{ 0 comments }

Tom Eizonas, Gregory Delzer, Alexis Stevens, 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 104th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 103, I repeat … 103, 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’ 104. Let us begin, again.

Our first featured artist of the evening is a stunningly handsome young chap. He is also not only a writer of unusual stories, he actually specializes in unusual books. A brother in the bond, he is one of the few, the proud, and crazy bookstore owners and sellers I am honored to know. Despite what some may have said about him, like me, he is NOT interested in encyclopedia sets, Reader’s Digest condensed books, old textbooks, or any books in poor condition or that he can’t sell. And this guy, like any great fiction writer, can sell pretty much anything. He is the co-founder and owner of Defunct Books. Like most of his inventory, he is of a rare breed, the few, the proud, the owner of a store that encourages people to read and think and slow down in this fast paced world. Truth be told, this guy only gets out when the Cubs or Gonzaga win, so you know this night was important, and this past year really, has been a very special occasion. But we aren’t weren’t there for his bookstore, we came together because of his writing. He’s been published in Acoustic: Literature, Owen Wister Review, Piece x Piece, and has done numerous poetry readings in various stops around the country as he’s moved to and fro from Washington to Iowa to Nashville, TN. A man who needs no introduction, in my book, although I just gave him one. Ladies and Gentleman, someone who smartly moved from Iowa City to Nashville at just the right time, my good friend, the one and only Gregory Delzer.

Gregory mentioned right off the bat that although he had read various poetry spots in the past, this was one of the first times he would decide to share his original prose. And it was something relatively new and outside the box. The story was a story told in five parts, called five deer for obvious reasons at the beginning and the rest of it was anything but obvious. It was a Twin Peaks-like trip, filled with some trippy and gritty moments involving reoccurring hitch-hikers who may or may not have slept with the narrator. In every twist of the tale, which wasn’t in any particular order or specific sequence (as told by Gregory in the preface), people sat on the edge of their seats to see where Gregory and the narrator would drive us to next. It was quite fascinating, actually.

I personally loved how real it was. And when I say the word real, I’m talking about the language and honest descriptions that Gregory used to set the scene and draw the pictures of what was going on in the narrative. I also loved how Gregory took great pleasure in using his peripheral vision to notice and smile at the fact that Tom would grab the pen from me taking my show notes every instant he cussed during the reading. He cussed a lot. You won’t hear the specific words in the recording because of the editing, but that’s why you and everyone you know should be at the actual live shows. The real sounds of the stories, and the look of childish fun that Gregory showed every time he cussed, were priceless in person.

Our featured music of the night is someone who also hails from the land our forefathers called Iowa. This lady is a friend of our author tonight, and is now officially a Nashville-based songwriter after living and playing in various places our forefathers called Eugene and Portland, Oregon (or West East Nashville) and Los Angeles. She went back home in 2008 to independently make and release her debut album titled Flood or Drought. She wrote her self-titled album four years after the flood (or drought), and she self-describes her writing as one-part needle work and one-part aerial photography, heartbreaking human experiences patch-worked onto beautiful Midwestern scenes to form landscape portraits of love and loss. She has played with or warmed the stage for the likes of some folks you may have heard in Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, and many more, but this night she was all ours. Once again, I was honored to introduce someone as talented as Alexis Stevens.

I have to tell you here and now that before East Side Storytellin’ 104, I visited friends in Montana with my family for about a week. It was Big Sky country, completely surrounded by weather of the four seasons, snow-capped mountains as high as the eye could see, and a deep sense of openness and space that is unheard of in a cityscape environment. Point being, I was fresh off quite the meditative and deep thought trip alongside good friends and good places. Fast forward to my experience of sitting front row with Alexis Stevens playing her original work that perfectly painted the pictures of her intense cross-country trips as a traveling musician constantly on the road, and what you had was the perfect soundtrack for my Montana voyage. I’m telling you something you already know if you know Alexis’ music, this girl is, for a lack of a better word, amazing.

Alexis sang songs that were deeply personal, in direct regards to her ten year college reunion and time passing from a domestic life to the opposite as an artist to relative creative interpretations of Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dream to the rough transition of moving to Nashville and getting robbed (literally and figuratively with her photographs and memories before coming here) to talking about lost loves to something epic that came to her after spending a solid four months out on the road playing solo shows and realizing that is a VERY long time to play solo shows on a single run. Special note, the final song in the recording is Alexis’ favorite original song she has written to date. A lot of musicians and artists won’t choose between their works because it’s like saying which of you children you love more, but she went there on this one and I totally respect and dig that. Again, this Alexis girl is for really, y’all!

After the music, I had the chance to talk with Gregory and Alexis about their travels and how they got to where they are today. It was very refreshing to hear that both of them listened to that inner voice that told them when and where to move and invest their time and energy into next along their way. They aren’t crazy, listening to those inner voices. They are true artists, in every sense, fragile, insecure, not scared to jump off the cliffs to search for happy, and unabashed for their actions of jumping off cliffs when they are standing in the fog and not sure of what’s coming next. Again, point being, these two people are my kind of friends, and I’m especially thankful for them sharing their stories, time, and thoughts on what their journeys have meant to them individually and how it helps others like me relate on my own way. Plus, these two make me belly laugh a lot too. Because that’s important.

So, with all that said about another very special show that was/is near and dear to my heart, here is the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 104 that featured Gregory Delzer & Alexis Stevens at The Post on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. Feel free to enjoy and share it with everyone you know, over and over again. It is well worth your time and energy. You’re welcome.

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

You can read more of Greg’s writing here – www.defunctbooks.com

You can listen to more of Alexis’ music here – www.alexisstevens.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’ 105

Tuesday, April 18th

At The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

Reading- Robyn Leigh Lear (www.aprilgloaming.com and www.theregenerates.org)

Singing- Ally Brown (www.allybrownmusic.com)

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 104 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

 

{ 0 comments }