Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU for taking a moment out of your busy schedule to pop on here and check out the next amazing thing we have put together for you. As always, you will not be disappointed. Just your luck, you have found yourself smack dab in the middle of the 58th spectacular edition of East Side Storytellin’. Like the 57 previous shows East Side Story has curated, several very special Nashvillians gathered in order to get everyone present and beyond cultured up just right in the form of a Nashville writer reading from original prose, followed by an amazing local musician (band of musicians in this case) 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, this is the recap and recording of East Side Storytellin’ 58. Let us begin, again.
The first featured guest of the evening was a notable Nashville freelance writer that specializes in reflections on historic and current events. I first met her via another Betsy and East Side Storytellin’ alumnus, Betsy Phillips-another outstanding Nashville historian and fiction writer in her own right. This show’s Betsy is someone who has studied folklore and ethnic anthropology at the University of Oregon and is a scholar of early 20th century southern culture and history. She is an honor member of the Belleview Harpeth Historical Association and the Nashville, Chattanooga Preservation Society. She is a member of Nashville Historic Inc. and the Cowan Railroad Museum. Among other awards bestowed upon her writing and research, she was honored last year by being invited to contribute to the Nashville Encyclopedia. On this night we all got together, she shared stories from her first book, The Day the Whistles Cried: the Great Cornfield Meet at Dutchman’s Curve. It was my honor to introduce the likes of Betsy Thorpe.
Little known fact, Betsy was surprised when I asked her to actually read several portions of the book for the audience. She had only prepared for a few paragraphs, having never done an official reading of her book before to any group or audience before. She overcame her nerves, with the help of her friends and our support in the crowd, and got comfortable after a few minutes. It didn’t take long for her to dive into the heart of the history and the people involved within her wonderful book.
Betsy talked a little bit about how Betsy Phillips read and wrote a cool review about the book and how it read like an episode of Law & Order, and that this Betsy had never thought of it that way but she had watched an enormous amount of the television series (as have most women I’ve met in general). That said, Betsy did a superb job of setting up the horrific tragedy that is written in her book. She told individual family stories and also covered the racial factors in the event as well. You can listen to the reading below, but take my word from this that it is definitely worth coming to East Side Story to buy a copy for yourself and your friends. It is an important historical event in our country that hasn’t received its deserved notice until now.
And speaking of deserved notice, straying a little from the normal template, I had a very special change in the script for the show when one of Betsy’s good friends by the name of Joel Keller (you may remember him beforehand as The Singing Cabbie) jumped on stage with the featured musicians of the night to share his original song called “Dutchman’s Curve.” It was a throwback melody that pretty much told Betsy’s book’s story to music. It was a treat, especially after seeing the rehearsal outside before the show. It felt like I was at the Opry with some old newcomers and the house band and audience knew they were witnessing something extraordinary. Again, you can here the song in the recording below.
Then, after being so kind to share the stage with a stranger to their lot, the featured musical guests of the evening filled the stage with smiles, heart, and so much positivity that there wasn’t any room for another person to jam with them after they got going. They were a full band of wonderfully talented musicians. Specifically, they are a Nashville-based Americana quintet, with members hailing from the great states of Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota. Comprised of 5 songwriters, each having their own distinct sounds & styles that beautifully blend into one cohesive voice, their music is rooted in family harmonies and flavored with guitars, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, and good ol’ fashioned foot stomping percussion. I first found out about this band via the most recent member to join the band in Jesse Thompson, but I was over-the-moon excited to introduce, sit back, relax and enjoy, and even add my foot stomping percussion contribution to the mix for the newest set of local musicians to steal our hearts away and join our East Side Storytellin’ family … I’m talking about Chris Banke, Abigail Dempsy, Benjamin Lusk, Hannah Leigh Lush, and Jesse Thompson. I’m talking about Forlorn Strangers!
Seriously people, the place was packed and it wasn’t because people were lining up outside the entrance to watch me sing. The band took their places, got started right away, and never looked back. Before each song, the person who wrote the song mentioned a few reasons why each song was so special to them and what kind of place the message behind the inspiration spoke to them and hopefully reached everyone listening. I believe each one did. The members of the band, whether it was their brilliant technical skills on each instrument or the selfless manner they conducted themselves as one unified team of awesome, made the performance seem so easy. Yep, that’s the word for this band and what they have going on. It’s so good it seems easy. It’s easy to listen to, relate with, be inspired by, and apply to your own experiences and goals going forward.
I honestly can’t say enough great things about this band. Each song, even the one that made fun of an old love and her sisters in Cleveland, Ohio, made my heart smile and I was definitely not alone. I know someone sitting behind me was really moved by the song titled “Whiskey and Water,” among the rest. “Bottom of the Barrel” was one of my favorites because it got the crowd foot stompin’ and singing along like it was church on Tuesday night (and I’m not talking about a reserved church service either). But I think that the entire show’s overwhelming sense of wonder and awe and positive emotions can easily (see, that word again in one form or another) be revealed and relayed in the moments captured during the final song of the set in that of Pete Seeger’s “If I Had A Hammer.” I was privy to sitting right in front of the band and at one point, as the majority of the crowd was singing along, one of the band members got so choked up in a good way that tears came down during the song. The show and the song kept going, but it wasn’t long after the last note and before the applause ended when the girls took a moment to get some tissues. THAT was quite a moment to share and experience = another moment and reason where East Side Storytellin’ separated itself from any other ordinary music performance in Music City. The featured guests and friends in the crowd became one big ball of positivity and it was something to see, hear, and feel.
After several people broke out the tissues, I was fortunate to get Betsy and Forlorn Strangers to stick around and talk a little bit about their beginnings for their stories and music independently. I won’t waste your time here writing about it more when you can listen to the show below in its entirety for yourself. I just want to say that it was another night where and when I was completely humbled to shed some sort of spotlight of appreciation on some of the most talented people that you will learn to love hearing and reading their stories for many moons and years to come. I’m serious people, go ahead and buy the books and get online and buy the music for these people and be sure to take the time to see them perform in person whenever you get the chance again. I know I will!
Here, edited down to the perfect size to enjoy and share over and over, this is the recording of East Side Storytellin’ 58 that featured Betsy Thorpe, Joel Keller, and Forlorn Strangers:
Before I say goodbye for another round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for Betsy Thorpe, Chris Banke, Abigail Dempsy, Benjamin Lusk, Hannah Leigh Lusk, and Jesse Thompson, for sharing their stories, talents, and good time with us.
You can read more about Betsy Thorpe‘s work here – www.thedaythewhistlecried.com/betsy-thorpe.html
You can listen to more from Forlorn Strangers here – http://forlornstrangers.com
You can listen to previous shows, edited as well, here – www.eastsidestorytn.com/in-our-own-words
I’d also like to show much love to artist Clay Brunton for the beautiful artwork for the prints printed by Kevin Anthuis at 5 Points Digital Imaging (www.5pdi.com) to celebrate this occasion.
I’ll keep the gratitude going for Tom Eizonas for the sound and recording tasks it takes to put this together, to my lovely wife Emily Harper Beard for everything she does for me and this world, and to everyone who came out to see the show live and who continues to spread the word and support the show online afterwards. Thank YOU all.
Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to thank Tonya and Chris for letting us have more fun at The Post and for everything they do for the community and world at large.
The Next East Side Storytellin’ will be East Side Storytellin’ 59!
Tuesday, May 5th (Cinco de Mayo)
7pm sharp at The Post East (1701 Fatherland Street)
Reading- Chance Chambers – http://chancechambers.com
Singing- Lilly Hiatt – http://lillyhiatt.com
That’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 58 and another fabulous event at The Post. Thanks for coming out and visiting this page to remember how special this show was to everyone who helped make it happen. Thanks for sharing the good word and giving some love to all of these great Nashville artists and all of our creative ideas. Please remember to be nice to one another out there. Thanks and good day your way.