January 2024 VOCAL Songwriters Showcase

After a week's delay due to weather conditions, The January 2024 VOCAL Showcase  got back on track at O'Toole's on the 21st. Despite the delay: There was a packed house ready to be entertained by the night’s songwriters. Performing this week were two veteran VOCAL songwriters, Jeff Wagner (with his wife Sherry) and Matt Manion.

Matt Manion.

To begin the night, Matt went up first and began his set with an old song, "Things Have Changed" which related the story of a liberated woman who decided to go out on her own. This was followed by “Don’t Stand By Me” one from his catalog, depicting the anguish a band member feels when one of his mates is fooling around and he fears a jealous husband will shoot the guy while he’s standing next to him on the stage.  “Getting Old is Getting Old” relates the emotion the singer feels as the title says, and “a long life could be considered a luxury”. Early Richmond was the seat of slavery and in “Devil’s Cafe” we get a picture of what it was like to live in those times. This was followed by “Forget Yourself” a song about forgetting yourself.  Cranking up the tempo, Matt rocked out “Playing On My Dobro” though, not on one.  Next tune “If That’s What It Takes” asks the listeners to me less self-involved and think of others in a collective way as “us” and not “’you and me”.

To finish his set, Matt revived one of his classic rock tunes “Thank You Chuck Berry” which as the title implies, is a tribute to the late great guitar and blues player.

Jeff and Sherry Wagner

Jeff and Sherry make up a husband and wife music team, though Jeff sometimes solos, at showcases. Tonight, both playing guitars traded off songs during the set.

First up “She Was Raised on Sad Songs” one of his standards, about a woman growing up on music that matched her life conditions. Sherry took a turn and gave us “Fierce Friendship” depicting the depth of commitment one can evoke when there is reciprocation. Jeff continued with “Ghost Rider” an eerie tale of imagination and then gave us “Play From The Heart” a moon shiners lullaby and life tale.  Sherry followed with “Soft Petals”, a lovely song about flowers that flourish with sun and air and give you a beautiful garden to love.  This was followed by “the Devil’s In The Details” and then an epic song about “The Old Guard”. Based a real life experience, Jeff relates the tale of four of his friends who have grown up together and the paths their lives have taken. Some of the lessons they learned appear in the lyrics. “we have seen our share of life” and “we suffer no fools”.   Good advice.  Lastly, “Musicland” presented the audience with a musical tour Jeff and Sherry took of Nashville and the sights and sounds it offers.  Music being the main thrust with people singing everywhere even “someone singing in the sheets”.

A great night of music, friends and food.

Showcase Photos

Click a photo for larger view

Photo Credits: Matthew Costello and Norman Roscher