April 2024 VOCAL Songwriters Showcase

Tonight's VOCAL showcase was what one might call a folk festival featuring two acts of great classic folk music. Doug Patrick is a long time VOCAL member and he started off the night with a five pack of his seasoned songs. "Good Time Train" followed the longings of a down and out family with each member longing to catch a ride out of dire circumstances on the song's title. "Put Him In The Lineup" was a cry to give a much unheralded baseball player a chance to get in the game. pleading to the team manager that the guy could "hit the tater a country mile". Commenting on the wasteful conditions the world is in, "Leave It Like You Found It" was a song asking the listeners to treat the planet with respect and give recyling a chance. Doug's tender side came out next in his "Ill Hold You As Long As I Can" telling a distant lover while out on your journeys, keep me in your heart. Closing this segment of the showcase, Doug was accompanied by Gary Shaver on clarinet with a nod to "New Orleans Nights" with a tribute to the great music one can find down Bourbon Street in places like Preservation Hall.
Next up: The duo of Gene and Gayla Mills began their set with " Anna Mae" painting us a picture of a venerable lady, followed by "Eight Lanes Headed West" a musical map of how to get the heck out of Florida with all it's vulnerability to hurricanes and other disasters. "Fools Gold" is a stand in for love unrequited with is better left alone just like a worthless stone. Talking To A Stone" exhorts the listener to talk to those you love and respect before they are out of your life because a stone cannot respond emotionally. The last song in their set was the story of the "Fiddle In The Wall" which tells about how a fiddle was discovered buried inside a wall of a cabin being torn down and how it got to be there. The reason suggested that the hider's motive had to do with a religious belief that "When my Savior calls, gotta put his ( the devil's?) fiddle in the wall."
The third segment of tonight's showcase was a collaboration between Doug and the Mills, trading off songs through their set.
"Bad Luck" by the MIlls was a description of how being down can affect one's life causing them to suffer such things as bad booze and rotten meat. After all. "Bad Luck" by any other name is just a numbers game. Next, from Doug, his story song about lessons learned while growing up and being "At My Grandfather's Knee" was the safest place to be.
"Around the Lake" was an instrumental picked by Gene Mills. "Where The Wild Wind Blows" was a sad tale of lonliness by Doug. This was followed by Gaya Mills who took her turn at the mike with "Twelve Days" of an exasperated person trying to find work and not having much luck, finally declaring "I'll take any job at all." Going back to his East Kentucky roots, Doug regaled us with "Getaway" and living life back in those younger days. Finally: another going back to your roots song from Gene "Forks Of Buffalo" told us about his life away from that tiny Virginia town and how after living 40 years away in places as diverse and California and Maine, it was a pleasure to once more see that old home town again.

A very appreciative audience gave the performers a rousing round of applause for a great night of music and camaroderie.


Showcase Photos

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Photo Credits: Matthew Costello and John Ellis

June 2023 VOCAL Songwriters Showcase

There was a nice, boisterous crowd gathered at O'Tooles Monday night, June 19th for our monthly Songwriters Showcase, and like the month before, we experienced a few growing pains. Specifically, we were scheduled for three performers, but due to "technical difficulties", we ended up with two. We hope to have this particular glitch figured out moving forward, but as the saying goes, "the show must go on". So we did!

Our first performer was Dave Drouillard, a singer/songwriter with a folk troubadour style that was melodic at times, tender at others, and always a joy to listen to. His set started out with a medley of three songs woven one into the other -  "Untitled", evoking personal images of home; "Get Down Sister", a love story that wafted through the venue with a Travis-picking beat; and "Robinsong", with a tender intro that morphed into a straight ahead country feel, with nice tempo variations and an affinity for "screw-top wine". After a breath, Dave continued with a self-described "Deuteronomy set to music" offering entitled "St Raphael". Dave ended his set with "Voyager", with a haunting melody, minor chord progressions, and visions of raven hair. Dave handled a less than attentive crowd well, and we look forward to hearing more from Dave in the future.

Our next performer, Doug Patrick, suddenly found himself in the featured songwriter slot, and handled it with all the grace and ease we've come to expect. Out of the six song set list Doug handed me before his set, he played nine, including two or three he kept in his back pocket, just in case. If you give him a nice chair, a front porch, and a tuned-up guitar, it's this writer's opinion there's not much that would phase Doug!

Doug's set contained some familiar favorites as well as a few surprises…

  • "Special Place In Heaven" - a love song for the one who's been most patient with the performer
  • "Molly" - an ode to the struggles and loves of the Civil War
  • "One Lone Georgia Pine" - a tribute to a Civil War ere relative
  • "Til The Boys Come Home Again" - a haunting Civil War era melody with guest vocalist/collaborator Kelly Kennedy joining Doug on stage.
  • "Full-Time Love" - a quirky love song lamenting a 2nd fiddle status
  • Granddaddy's Knee - a tribute to the beloved patriarch of the family and the life lessons he imparted
  • "Getaway" - a Doug Patrick classic, re-envisioned, with Kelly Kennedy once again singing harmony
  • "I'll Hold You As Long As I Can" - grandchildren and family roots run deep in this song
  • "Leave It Like We Found It" - a timely plea for Mother Earth

Congratulations to Doug Patrick and Dave Drouillard for a wonderful night of music at O'Tooles on Forest Hill Avenue, and for helping VOCAL as we slowly but surely find our way back to normal. Until next month…!


Showcase Photos

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June 2022 VOCAL Songwriters Showcase


The June 2022 VOCAL Virtual Songwriters Showcase featured two fine songwriters who represent distinctly different points within the spectrum of our membership, Keely Burn and Doug Patrick. This was another virtual showcase using Zoom while streaming via FB Live, which has been our standard operating procedure during the pandemic.

Keely Burn

Keely opening the evening, sharing both her Richmond home as well as her favorite four-legged audience with us! Keely has been with VOCAL since 2013, where even as a teenager her creative potential was clear to see. Her songwriting is filled with smart, challenging lyrics, joyful melodies, and confidence in the face of a challenging world. Her set tonight opened with the self-affirmation anthem Not Afraid. From her forthcoming sophomore album release (stay tuned for more info), Bed Of Nails explored the difficulty of making friends in the digital age, and “friending” someone who ultimately isn’t worth one’s time. Switching instruments, we were next treated to “Ukalady”. (Don’t ask, just watch the showcase on our website archive!) Keeping with the 4-string theme, Keely charmed us with her quirky tongue-in-cheek bio-pic, Cute Girl With Glasses. Her next songs dove further into her new album project, in the form of anxiety studies, including Drowning On Thin Air and Your Company, in honor of Pride Month; addressing those dealing with the pressures of trying to conform to society’s expectations. Rounding out this portion of her set was The Flood, a call to prioritize real life issues over personal drama. Concluding with a song of empowerment, for anyone struggling to carry both themselves and a partner, Keely delighted us with one of our favorites, Masterpiece. Thank you, Keely, for a great set!

Doug Patrick

We then turned from one of our freshest songwriters to one of our most enduring. Doug’s standard of excellence has endured as long as many of us can remember, and no one tells a story in song like Doug. Doug’s stage was his screened-in back porch, complete with rocking chair and crickets for background ambience!

Doug opened his set with the dreams of a small-town boy looking for a faster life, in Good Time Train. Next, when things don’t work out, we took comfort in the promise of a home to come back to, in Rivertown.

I try not to use words like “old”, “seasoned”, and “experienced” in these reviews, but when the artist sings a song of fatherly love, written for his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren(!), the artist leaves me little choice! Congratulations, Doug, both on the great-grandchildren, and for your tender song I’ll Hold You.

Doug continued with a story of Kentucky migrants looking for better days during the Great Depression, in Getaway, an old (sorry!) VOCAL favorite made new again with a slightly slower tempo and a soulful, poignant singing of the lyrics.

Hot dogs just taste better at a baseball game, and baseball just looks better when the coach finally relents and puts your grandson in the game, in Put Him In The Lineup.

Doug’s interest in Civil War history came in handy for his next few songs. Molly told of the horrors of battle through the eyes of one soldier’s final lament, while One Lone Georgia Pine romanticized a dark time from the performer’s ancestry.

Doug then concluded this night of original songwriting excellence with a song of hope for the future, “food for thought” as he put it, in I Believe.

Doug Patrick and Keely Burn. Separated by generations, but united in the craft of songwriting and the pursuit of excellence. Thanks to you both for a wonderful evening of music!

VOCAL Showcase August 2010

The “curtain” opened on the August 16th, 2010 Showcase precisely at 8:05 p.m. Jeff and Stephanie Boarman, a husband and wife musical team and long-time VOCAL members, set about to entertain the good-sized crowd with an eight-song set. Describing their music as “Americana”, they opened with a gentle tempo train song entitled “Bittersweet”, with pleasing vocals by Stephanie. A tongue-in-cheek honky-tonk tune followed: “I’ll Toast to Your Sobriety” which featured the lyrics “I ain’t here to think, I’m here to drink, I’m right where I’m supposed to be!” Jeff’s delivery of this tune had the audience grinning and chuckling, and featured expert mandolin work by Barry Lawson.

A minor sonority framed the song “Miner’s Prayer”, telling of a father’s hope that his infant son not have to live the life of a miner. “Cappuccino Cowboy”, the set’s only waltz, told of a cowboy’s new life (and diet!)r his son to not follow in his footsteps. chucklinged to be!”. g vocals by Stephanie. a toungue-in-cheek honky as a married man. Stephanie sang of a man “broke and branded” and how “she did it single-handed”. Clever concept and writing!

More minor sounds from the duo in “Don’t Take My Baby Away”, a lover’s lament, followed by a switch to major in the witty “Baby, How About You?” This duet, a male-female discourse, speaks of the man’s practicality and the woman’s seductive approach. The audience responded with generous applause to yet more of Jeff and Stephanie’s fine writing.

“My Kentucky Flower” was given an up-tempo bluegrass treatment, speaking of “hillbilly justice” and included the warning “don’t mess with Daddy’s little girl!” Jeff mentioned this song was once pitched to superstar Ricky Skaggs. “He swung…and missed!” said Jeff, drawing laughs from the songwriters in the crowd. Once again, Barry Lawson’s fine mandolin work greatly added to the song.

“Bury Me in Kentucky” painted a picture of a beautiful rural area and closed the first half of the show. After a warm round of applause showing their appreciation for this trio, the audience responded with even more as the Boarmans were presented with the
Co-Songwriters of the Year Award from VOCAL.

Doug Patrick, the evening’s featured act, left no time for the crowd to even fasten their seat belts, instead launching into his first song with nary an introduction! The familiar “Make It Work” opened his nine-song set and featured backup from the Boarmans, Barry Lawson on mandolin, and long-time ‘Vocalonian’ Larry Cody on bass guitar. Larry would be on stage for the entire performance, as others would come and go throughout the evening.

“Full Time Love” featured the same lineup laying down a good backbeat, and told of a fickle woman trying to get a relationship into high gear. Sharing the spotlight, Doug brought up his good friend Eddy Kitchen to sing a self-penned song titled “Good Loves Can Die”. This tune captured the essence of what many call “pure country music”.

One of my favorites followed: “Put Him in the Lineup” tells the story of a young “Tee Ball terror” from the viewpoint of a proud grandfather. This tyke is a switch-hitter like Pete Rose, a slick fielder a la Brooks Robinson, “can run those bases like Willie Mays”, and “can hit the tater for a country mile”. A pure bit of genius from the pen of Doug Patrick!

Louis Millhouse and Gary Shaver grabbed trumpet and clarinet respectively and lent a hand on the song “New Orleans Nights”, another well-known and well-loved song from Doug’s catalogue. A highlight of the evening followed: Kelly Kennedy’s lead vocal of Doug’s new song “Till the Boys Come Home Again”. Her delivery mesmerized the crowd as she sang of two families connected by marriage, each with men fighting on opposite sides of the Civil War. Andy Cleveland’s fiddle tenderly underscored the song’s message.

Continuing with the Civil War theme, Doug offered “One Lone Georgia Pine”, a moving story of a soldier’s exploits on the battlefield and his final resting place. The war cycle was completed with “Molly”, a quick waltz describing a soldier’s love for his wife. One lyric was especially powerful: “when the fighting gets heavy, you can hear grown men cry”.

The closer was Doug’s ode to the famous Virginia racehorse, Secretariat. “Watch That Red Horse Run” told of Big Red’s feats at Churchill Downs and beyond. While the rest of the field was “hotter than a Maytag range”, Secretariat was “cool as ice” and set a record clocking in at “one fifty-nine and change”. Doug did justice to the horse’s great career with this well-written song. Many who lent musical support during the evening squeezed on to the stage for this final tune.

The VOCAL Showcase has been a mainstay of our group and the Richmond music scene since July 1991. We are proud of its longevity and the many talented members and appreciative fans who make it possible. Here’s to songwriting and VOCAL’s upcoming 25th Anniversary in July 2011!

– Gary Shaver

VOCAL Showcase March 2009

What a night for music!  Despite the dose of cold, wet, nasty weather outside, everything inside was as hot as a Richmond summer day!  A fantastic crowd gathered on March 16, 2009 to witness an outstanding performance for showcase number 212.  Drew Routh gave a fantastic solo performance, followed up by the team of Larry Cody, Eddy Kitchen and Doug Patrick.

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Thanks to Richbrau’s TapHouse for three years of hosting the showcase.  Each month our members, fans and friends gather with the songwriters to enjoy live performances of their original music.  Come down to Shockoe Slip and enjoy freshly prepared meals, at an original micro-brew as you enjoy original music performed by the song’s writer.

Drew Routh started the evening with his fine fingerwork and his unique songwriting style.  In fact, the first song wasn’t a song at all, but basically a finger excercise to get the hands going – it was impressive none the less!  Next Drew moved into ‘Dream Me Out of Here’, which is somewhat of a ballad, at least in feeling if not lyrical content.  ‘Little Better Light’ is an evocative song, that inspired emotions of hope in my mind.  Drew then introduced the song ‘No Place to Run’ as a poem, that inspired the music to accompany the words one year after its creation – sometimes good ideas take time to ferment.  Drew concluded the first set of the evening with ‘Take a Little Time’, ‘Am I Crazy?’ and ‘Right Now’.  Thanks to Drew for a varied and entertaining performance.

For the second half of the evening VOCAL presented a tag-team match – Larry Cody, Eddy Kitchen and Doug Patrick were on the card for an outstanding set of country, blue-grass(ish) and a touch of rock.  Each gentleman had a guitar in hand for each song, trading off lead or rhythm parts, with Larry Cody taking guitar solo’s in many songs.  Larry Cody took the mic first to kick off the set with ‘Ready for the Road’, an appopriate beginning for this musical journey.  The trio stopped along the way for a quick game with Doug Patrick pitching vocals on ‘Put Him in the Lineup’ – a fun song.  Eddy Kitchen stepped up to the microphone next and said hold on…we should ‘Drink This Thing Through’ – Larry Cody chimed in with some good lead guitar during the solo break.  It was great to hear Eddy’s extraordinary voice again on the showcase stage.  After this time of reflection, the trio crossed a cool running stream, passed through the valley up the hillside to visit ‘Mountain Girl’ – this song had a moving melody and the lyrics seemed to captivate the crowd who responded with a great cheer for Larry’s lead vocal and guitar solo.  While on the mountain top, Eddy again told the story in song about how ‘Good Loves Can Die’.  A tribute was also paid to ‘Molly’ in a somber, but eloquent and poetic song by Doug Patrick about a soldiers’ dying thoughts.  On the way back down the mountain, Eddy shared more thoughts with ‘If These Walls Could Talk’, Doug proclaimed ‘Think I’ve Really Done It’ and Larry sent the crowd home with a rockin’ little number and a wish for the road ‘Keep On’.  These three gentlemen put on an outstanding show that kept fellow songwriters and other attendees in awe as they presented one great song after another.

Thanks to all of those who attended and supported our performers.  A great big thanks to VOCAL volunteers, Matt Manion for sound assistance, Larry Cody for the table tent cards, Matthew Costello for web development and photography.  We’ll see you next month!