Hello everyone, and welcome to another great round of East Side Storytellin’. Similar to the 41 previous shows we’ve put together from East Side Story, we’ve come together here to get you cultured up just right in the form of a local 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. This is East Side Storytellin’ 42.
The first featured guest of the night was a wordsmith like few others. A native of Dickson, Tennessee, a graduate of Tennessee Tech University, this driven writer is more than busy putting his education and life experiences to written page and helping to champion the cause of discovering and sharing good literature for the good reader. Founded one year ago to the day of this show, way back on August 5th, 2013, this guy created an independent publishing company called Dig That Book Company so that he could help alleviate the growing publishing problem of good stories getting lost amidst mountains of slush piles. On top of helping publish others, he has made time to get his wonderful works out in the world as well. The first book he brought to East Side Story was his own collection of poems titled Riverwalkers. I was super excited and honored to introduce this guy and welcome him into the East Side Storytellin’ alumni family. I’m talking about the one and only Dave Wright!
Dave appreciated the applause, but wasted no time getting right into his words. He briefly explained the overall concept behind his book of poems, and then he laid out how he was going to present it to the crowd on hand. Most of the poets in the past, all of them very talented, have come to the show and read from a variety of poems that never really followed a continuum even though most flowed with common themes. The way that Dave approached the reading from his book, he shared his art, making the absolute most of every second given, by connecting the poems to form a single, continual story arch of his book. Growing up beside a river when I was young, the themes of river life really hit close to home and took me away to a very cool place during the reading. It was very transcendent, to say the least.
The beautiful language, every word that was rendered for the fifteen minutes of reading, blended with the breeze that once again blew through the bamboo surrounding the patio fence outside. The temperature had cooled to perfection, and the lighting dimmed to a setting of tranquility. The faded bulbs hanging above us lit up the pages like a hundred lightning bugs that were killing themselves not to ever burn out, lighting the words that Dave read to enlighten our night and lives.
Dave expressed a world viewed by an imagined narrator in the form of a riverwalker. He included striking elements of contemporary rural life on the river, mixed with epic tales inspired by tragedy and death experienced by several of the most influential creative artists from Dave’s own life, and it was all more than words amazing. You didn’t have to grow up near a river to instantly understand and relate to everything that Dave shared. You can listen in the link below for yourselves, but I highly suggest that you come out in person to hear Dave and all of the other guests of these shows to hear and feel it live.
That said, Dave allowed himself one final round of applause from the crowd before sitting down in the back of the crowd with family and friends to take in the music of the night.
The second set of featured guests of the show was another round of a Music City married duo. These two met in a cigar shop where each was scheduled to perform in 2009, and have been singing together ever since. They’ve played the legendary Bluebird Cafe several times, along with The Listening Room Cafe, Commodore Grille, and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, among other places locally and afar. With a flare of Country and a natural blend of folk and Americana, these two tell stories from the heart with every song they sing. Not ones to hog any spotlight, they brought two other very talented friends to share in the moment in that of Austin “Rattlesnake” Valentine on percussion and Sam Hunter on guitar. I was not alone while clapping my hands out, surrounded by a few fellow Frist Center family mates, to give a proper welcome to the stage for Sarah and Ronny Criss.
Ronny took the lead of the group and the moment and began right where Dave had left the energy. It was one of the most seamless transitions between artists that I’ve experienced on the show yet. Like Dave’s poetry, Ronny’s songs felt like one long short story that we were all meant to hear this particular evening for deeper meaning in our own lives. Do I sound like I was moved? Well, I was. Each song was indeed straight from the heart, stripped down the core for the utmost emotional connectedness and meaning. It was something to hear.
Speaking of something to hear, it was refreshing (most of all for a loving husband like Ronny) to hear Sarah take the time to tell compassionate stories of Ronny’s songwriting skills and make several specific notes of thanks out loud and in public to the solid man and loving husband he is while not on the stage. I’m not sure if the artwork of the night inspired these wonderful moments or what, but everything just felt right and at ease.
After personally visiting the Grand Old Opry this past month, and visiting my fair share of big-named country acts in Music City while living in Nashville, I can honestly say that few are as undeniably talented as Ronny Criss- as a genuine songwriter and showman. The rest of the band was spot on and great, but Ronny instantly fell into the group of amazing artists that I know and have seen that deserve more than double the accolades, financial success, and creative opportunities than the majority of “artists” that you see on all the billboards in town. I hope, with his continued efforts and will to succeed, that some people in powerful places can take the time to really listen and give this guy the break he deserves. Point being, we need more artists like Ronny Criss and Dave Wright heard by the masses.
So it was another honor for me to briefly talk candidly with the featured guests of the evening after the music was finished. You can take a listen in the edited link below to get the picture and hear everything we talked about. A few things that I really thought worthy of noting before you listen: I loved the way that Sarah and Ronny talked about how they continually inspire themselves to keep the drive alive with their music, and I more than words loved the way that Dave explained the importance of having a larger number of quality readers in our creative community on top of just having a lot of quality writers contributing to the mix. You can take a listen below for yourself. I highly suggest you do, over and over.
So, here, without further ado, is the recording of East Side Storytellin’ 42:
Before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for Sarah and Ronny Criss (also featuring Austin Valentine and Sam Hunter) AND Dave Wright for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.
You can read more from Dave Wright (www.digthatbook.com)
You can listen to more of Ronny Criss (www.reverbnation.com/ronnycriss)
I’ll keep the gratitude going for Tom Eizonas, for the recording and sound of the night, Clay Brunton for the art print, for Kevin at 5 Points Digital Imaging (http://5pdi.com) for printing those art prints, and to my lovely wife 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.
Also, without forgetting a major uplifting change in fashion for the evening, I’d like to give a very special shout out to the fashion guru Otis James (http://otisjames.com) for my fantastic new trademark lid. The new hat even has my name on it (on the inside)! Talk about being thankful to have such creative, inspiring friends doing amazing things in the community and beyond. Thanks, Otis, my man!
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 – http://eastsidestorytn.com/in-our-own-words/ or HERE- http://eastsidestorytn.com/eastside-storytellin/
But we are not finished!!
The NEXT East Side Storytellin’ event will be:
Date- Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
Time- 7 pm sharp (Central)
Location- Mad Donna’s (1313 Woodland Street)- http://maddonnas.com
With poet, painter, and full-blown Renaissance man in Cory Basil (http://hereliescorybasil.com/) and a very special musical guest that you won’t want to miss.
That’s all for the East Side Storytellin’ 42 show. Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word. Remember to be nice to one another out there. Thanks and good day your way.