April 17, 2017 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase

April 17, 2017 VOCAL Songwriters Showcase

 

Last night a great group of songwriters performed at O’Tooles! Performers included Matt Manion, Justin Laughter, and Doug Patrick. Each singer/songwriter awed the crowd with their creative music and persona. I think it is safe to say that everyone left with a smile on their face, so let us give a big thank you to these three gentlemen for giving the crowd of O’Tooles a special treat!

 

First to perform was Matt Manion who played six songs for his showcase of original songs. Songs that were performed included: “Job Hunting Blues,” “Hotel By The Highway,” and the fabulous “Pamunkey River Canoe Ride.” Matt’s songs for the night provided a mix slow and fast paced tempos, but they all were enjoyed by the crowd! Also, Matt performed a song called “Thank You Chuck Berry,” which featured a fellow VOCAL artist John Ellis! This particular song sent Matt out with a bang, and left the crowd feeling joyful with its fast paced beat. Thank you Matt once again for a wonderful performance!

 

Second on the list of performers last night was Justin Laughter who treated the audience to six of his songs as well. Many of Justin’s song were about love and being there for those you may hold close to your heart. Some of his songs included: “Remain,” “Stitch,” and “Thanksgiving.” Justin’s songs left the crowd full of love, and eagerness to go back and tell the ones we love how much we appreciate them.

 

Doug Patrick was the third performer of the night, and gave the crowd ten songs to enjoy in the final minutes of the showcase! Some songs Doug has performed before in front of audiences at O’Tooles, but needless to say they are a treat for everyone no matter how many times they are played. Songs performed by Doug included: “Leave It Like We Found It,” “Special Place in Heaven,” “New Orleans Nights,” and “I’ll Hold You as Long as I Can.” Every one of Doug’s songs sought a different emotion from the crowd, but nothing hit at the heart string of the audience than his song “I’ll Hold You as Long as I Can.” This song was written for Doug’s grandkids, leaving them not only something to remember him by, but the lesson that love lives on even in death. We all have relatives that we hold dear to our hearts, and wish that we never had to let them go. However, one day we must, and in the words of Doug Patrick, “But ‘til that time comes around, ‘till they lay me down / I’ll hold you as long as I can.” Cherish the ones you love while you have them here, and never forget them when you don’t.

 

Once again this was another great showcase! Hopefully these lovely performers will be enticed to treat us with more of their original work again soon. Until that time comes stay tuned to the VOCAL website and blog for more information on the upcoming May showcase!

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James Linderman: Getting Out of the Four Chord Rut

Getting Out of the Four Chord Rut

by James Linderman

Many would consider a four chord song to be a song with one completely unnecessary chord in it, and it is true that there are many brilliant three chord songs.

Country songwriter, Harlan Howard famously stated that all he needed was “three chords and the truth” and my mother in law used to joke that she only knew how to play three chords and a thousand songs and that I seemed to know thousands of chords but only three songs.

It would be fair to say that there are definitely a lot of ways, both simple and complex, to decorate our songs with harmony and it is well worth our time to explore some options and detail some of the rules of the road when it comes to “chording up” our tunes.

One of the first determinations, when looking for the greatest number of chord options for our song, is to establish what key that song is in. Determining key is easier with the help of the following chart which lists the names of the keys in the left column, lists the number of sharp and flat notes featured in the key, in the right column, and displays the chords indigenous to that key in the rows between. When attempting to establish which key a particular song is in, there are lots of criteria that music theorists factor into the equation but in most cases we can simply state that, “majority rules”. In other words, whatever key most of the chords are in, is a pretty good key to work within.

View chord chart

If we determine that all (or at least most) of our chords are in the key of C, for instance, we can then add, remove, shift or replace any of the chords in our song with other chords from that same key. Although we are not guaranteed to like the result of every choice, we might find some chords that fit to our liking and some of those good choices will provide a foundation to work from, as we add chords to the other parts of the song.

As we continue to edit, we can then start to focus our chord selections by applying one of the many chord substitution techniques that are built right into the key system. A substitution technique that is fairly straightforward and easy to apply involves relative chords. The general concept of harmonic relation acknowledges that chords are considered similar to one another by having the most notes in common and therefore offer the greatest likelihood for success during substitution.

For instance, a “C” chord is a relative to “Am” due to the two notes they share in common (C & E) and therefore they can substitute for one another almost always and with very little, or perhaps even no adjustment to the melody. Likewise, a “Dm” chord is related to an “F” chord and an “Em” is related to a “G”, all within the key of C. Numerically, we can more broadly state that the 1 chord is related to the 6 chord, the 2 to the 4 chord and the 3 to the 5 chord in every key, which gives us a substitution platform that we can apply to any key we choose to write in.

A terrific way to test drive this concept of relative harmonic substitution is to take a song you have already written in the key of “C” (or any other key using the chart above) and swap out the relative major and minor chords. You would then listen and assess the effect of each of the alterations. This may not necessarily increase the number of chords in our song but it will definitely get you more used to hearing your song framed in a new chord system that might challenge your initial choices as well as challenge the general feel of the song as well. Think of this as the training camp of chord substitution.

As far as using relative substitution to increase our chord count, a great technique is to use the relative major and minor in each section that previously featured only one of the two chords. For instance, in a bar where we had previously been playing just a “C” chord, we would now try a split bar of “C” to “Am” and then also try “Am” to “C” and determine if either of those options is more likeable than the original chord choice.

I often teach the concept where we consider our songs initial chord progression to be an unchallenged plan “A” until we have tried replacing the chords with at least three other progressions (plan B, plan C, plan D) to determine if there is a better progression available, at least with the options from this primary substitution concept of related majors and minors in spits and/or swaps.

There are a few more ways to substitute harmony that are only slightly more complex than relative major/minor substitution that offer even more chord options and the goal is to rule in or rule out that the best progression for our song is the 4 chord box pattern that we often initially use to bring our songs into existence.

James Linderman teaches guitar and piano and coaches songwriting to students all over the world over Skype. He teaches songwriting for film and film composition at the Canada Film Centre and is an Academic Ambassador to Berklee College of Music. James writes songwriting articles for songwriting organizations all over the world and is the author of a new book Song Forms for Songwriters. To learn more about James visit his site at www.jameslinderman.com or contact him at info@jameslinderman.com.

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March 20th Songwriter Showcase

Spring of 2017 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase

Monday March 20th, 2017

*This is the 308th consecutive show: A Showcase of Original Songs

 

Monday March 20th was not only a wonderful first day of spring, but a fantastic presentation of original songs from members of the VOCAL organization!

john-ellis-032017John Ellis, an avid member of the VOCAL group, was the nights “surprise opener.” He performed six of his original songs for the crowd of O’Tooles which included: “Blues #1,” “Five Black Kittens,” “The Stranger,” “I’ll Be There For You,” “Chimes,” and lastly “In My Place.” Two of these songs, “The Stranger” and “I’ll Be There For You,” he has performed for us at several previous showcases, but they are always a joy to hear! All of his songs tonight were performed using his electric guitar, and programming he had been experimenting with on his computer to enhance the songs’ potential. Various other instruments could be heard in the background, such as drums, bass, and chimes.  His first song “Blues #1,” an instrumental song, started off the night with a slow beginning, but then quickly picked up the pace giving the audience a taste of rock and roll qualities. Up next he performed “Five Black Kittens,” another instrumental piece was more upbeat from start to finish compared to “Blues #1.” For some it could put you back into the 1970s or 80s, cruising in your old Chevrolet with the windows down, and spending time with your friends. One could say this song would fit into the soundtrack of the film Dazed and Confused (For those who do not know of this movie you are really missing out)! For his fourth and fifth song he took us back to some of his older pieces, “The Stranger” and “I’ll Be There For You,” which left us all feeling a bit sentimental after the high tempo pieces early on in his set. Finally, for John’s last two songs he performed another instrumental known as “Chimes,” and “In My Place.” “Chimes” was a quick, fast paced song that left the audience in a rock and roll vibe as he quickly switched to his final song “In My Place.” “In My Place” ended the night literally with a heavy, enthusiastic, electric bang!

Carey-Colvin-Granger-Helvey-032017Shortly after John performed the main event for the night tuned up their instruments to perform a twelve song set! We cannot thank Carey Colvin and Granger Helvey enough for taking their time out of their lives to come, and give the diners at O’Tooles a little treat of music. Their twelve songs were performed by Carey on the guitar and Granger on the bass go as follows: “Gulf of Mexico,” “Ten Thousand Arrows,” “Fragile Hearts,” “Let It Flow”, “Don’t Let Life Go By,” “Refugee”, “Love Have Mercy,” “Satisfy Me,” “Ricochet,” “Tropic Skies,” and “Thin Line.” Their song “Gulf of Mexico” and “Tropic Skies” left the crowd begging for summer to approach faster than it already was! Talk of sand beneath our feet, and the sun smiling down on us only sent the audience into a dream like state, dreaming of warm weather and a nice ocean breeze. Several of their songs were a more deep and pulled emotions out of us that we may not have wanted every diner of O’Tooles to see! For example, the songs “Ten Thousand Arrows,” Fragile Hearts,” “The Refugee,” “Love Have Mercy,” and “Ricochet”. These songs made us think about love, loss, gaining love, winning back love, being secure about who were are as people, and dealing with the ups and downs of life. Other songs such as “Thin Line,” “Satisfy Me,” “Don’t Let Life Go By,” and “Let It Flow” were songs that may not have necessarily drawn a significant emotion out of us, but were extremely entertaining to listen to!

Stay tuned for a list of performers for next month’s April Showcase! Once again it will be held at O’Tooles in Richmond at 8:00 PM.

 

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2017 February Showcase

On Monday, February 20, 2017, the members of VOCAL got together for their monthly showcase to perform pieces of their work for the audience of O’Tooles. Performers included Anthony Dowd, John Ellis, Richard Hinman, Doug Patrick, Norman Roscher, and Gary Shaver. All the performers also wanted to send out a get-well wish to one of the founding members of the group, Matthew Costello who went into surgery the week before. Best wishes Matthew and get-well soon!

The songs tonight had a couple themes, and the biggest one being love – love between friends, love between family, and love with that special someone.

The fist performer of the night was Gary Shaver with his songs: “Between Her and You,” “Burn,” “All Things Pass.” His songs held the theme of love being complicated. His first song was a story of a person being caught between two lovers, and having to learn how to choose between them. Continuing with the theme of love Gary also sang about a lover that makes their way back into your life, and we all can relate to this in one way or another. Lastly, he performed one of Matthew’s songs as a tribute to him while being out for surgery.

Next up to perform was Richard Hinman who mesmerized us with his guitar pieces on love, but a different kind of love. His first song, “Lost,” taught us that sometimes we may be lost, but somewhere we find something to love within ourselves. After “Lost” he performed his “Reggae Song” that made you want to reach out and hug the person next to you. The beat was calm and peaceful, putting us all in a good mood as we approach the spring season. That song taught us to see the love in one another. Lastly, he played a song called “Crazy for You,” that represented the beat from the swing era, and made us all feel like we were in high school involved with young love.

Third to perform was Anthony Dowd who amazed us with his jazz influenced pieces. He played several songs over the course of the night; “Family Reunion,” “Little Hands,” “Waiting for You,” Sing me to Sleep,” and a potential theme song for Rachel Ray. All of his songs dealt with some aspect of love whether it be familial or with a significant other. Each song was played on the keyboard and moved us all throughout the night with his sweet melodies.

Fourth to perform was Doug Patrick who allowed us to enjoy his guitar works: “You Never Crossed My Mind,” “Rivertown,” and “Mist on the Water.”  His songs gave the crowd a reminder that we are all getting older every day, and we have to love ourselves, each other, where we have been, and even where we are going.

The next singer/songwriter to perform was John Ellis who played his songs on the guitar as well. His songs included: “Just What You’re Looking For”, “The Stranger,” and “I’ll Be There for You.” Each of his songs had a theme of being there for the ones you love, and moved the crowd with their lyrics.

Norman Roscher was the fifth and final performer of the night to wrap up the monthly showcase. His songs included: “Fat Alice,” “You’re Beautiful,” “Holiday,” “So Long Baby, Bye, Bye.” Many of Norman’s songs leave us laughing and carefree as we leave the show, and on Monday night Norman did not disappoint. All of his songs spoke of love, but the humor of love that each of us needs every now and then. Songs like “Fat Alice” and “So Long Baby, Bye, Bye” left us laughing and appreciating the love we all share for people who may be different from us, or in “So Long Baby, Bye, Bye” the love we do not share for those same people.

Come back out to O’Tooles on March 20th to see another lovely group of performers, and enjoy the great Richmond City atmosphere!

  • Jordan Ellis

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2017 January Showxase

VOCAL January 2017 Showcase.

First open mic of the year drew a small, but enthusiastic crowd of admirers for original singer/songwriter music, most of which, revolved around break ups with lovers. Host for the evening was Norman Roscher at the keyboard who was first to perform. “So Long Baby, So Long” was his way to to bid adieu to a relationship gone south. That was followed by “Pictures of Irene” a touching tribute to the late mother of a close friend.
Next up, John Ellis on electric guitar, kicked off his set with “Honestly” a brutal diatribe to a broken affair with the line “You can go to hell” prominent in the lyric. “I’ll Be There” offered support for a hurting friend, and
“You Never Said You Love Me” bemoaned the lack of commitment. Long time VOCAL member Gary Shaver took over on keys and launched into “One More Time” a song wishing he could love his departed partner once again,, Joined by Larry Lyles on violin, He next did “I Don’t Believe You Anymore” which refers to the words in a letter offering him a chance to “try, ( love) again”. Saul Black, a non VOCAL member, took over on guitar and offered up a rock song “Fade into The Fire” which made reference to disappearing emotions. “Criminal Cigarettes” paid homage to pot which left the singer “out of it. “Heavy Life” was followed by “Kiss” which was descriptive of what the singer wanted in a relationship. Gary and Larry encored with a song partially composed by his late father, “Hard To Say Goodbye” about leaving those things behind that mean so much to you. Trey Hall, a non VOCAL member, took over on guitar to do a three song set, “Trouble, Trouble” was an up-tempo tune, followed by “Piney Oaks” and “Old Time Romance” that featured advice given to him by his father about how to win the ladies and what to wear while doing it. To close out the evening Norm returned to perform his popular song “You and Me and Baby” which depicted a night-time fantasy of stars, dreams and moonlight.

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VOCAL December 2016 Songwriter Showcase

The December 2016 VOCAL showcase took place amidst a festive crowd at O’Toole’s Irish Pub. This is VOCAL’s annual holiday event, where members perform at least one of their holiday-related songs. John Ellis kicked off the evening with “Me and My Baby on a Cold Winter’s Day”, an ode to simply staying inside under a blanket next to a warm fire rather than braving the outdoors. “Winter Solstice” is a very pleasant instrumental picking/strumming combination, leaving the many images and sounds of winter to our imagination.
Glen King then took the stage on keyboards and backing tracks, bringing us “That’s Not the Way” and his holiday song “New Year’s Eve With You”.
Matt Manion delivered “Quarter ‘til Midnight”, reflecting on his journey to midnight mass, passing through the toll booth, and the interactions of people along the way. He then performed a brand-new holiday song “Give the Gift”, reflecting the true spirit of Christmas.
Glenda Creamer brought us a number from a musical she recently wrote about the story of Joseph and Mary. She then enlightened us with a new song she wrote about the addiction of Christmas cookies, and how it all started with the ladies’ circle at her church.
Carey Colvin, a VOCAL newcomer, took the stage accompanied by her husband, Granger Helvey, on bass and harmony. They performed four tight, energetic numbers in perfect harmony: “Ten Thousand Arrows” and her new Christmas song “Christmas Imp”. Yes, those Elf-on-a-shelf characters can be pretty obnoxious! “The Distance Wall” and “Refugee” are from her new CD, definitely worth a listen!
Norman Roscher finished out the evening with his Clackwell band, a treat for all! “It’s a Humbug Christmas” tells the tale of the woes of not having enough moolah for a decent Christmas. “All Grandpa wants for Christmas” (a desire for a hug) was written for his grandson living in California. The next two numbers, “The Little Box”, and “Waiting for Santa”, were written as part of his Dog’s New Clothes journey several years ago. He then brought out his holiday bawdy side with “Rudolph Dead in the Yard”, followed by several holiday standard sing-alongs. At the audience’s insistence, Norman had to perform the quintessential “Boobs” to “round” out the night.
A wonderful time was had by all! Happy Holidays.

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VOCAL November 2016 Songwriter Showcase

The November 2016 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase took place on Monday, November 21st at O’Toole’s Irish Pub.

The ever-talented Claudia Carawan opened the show on keyboards and backing tracks. The first few songs she performed were co-written with a fellow song-camp attendee, a brave endeavor. Everything’s A Song was a cool jazzy menagerie of classic song titles As Time Goes By, My Foolish Heart, My Funny Valentine, etc. What a great idea! She then had us gathered Around My Kitchen Table, reminiscent of the many great times sitting at the big oak table. Special Request was asking the hubby to be a little more considerate around the house. She then turned us onto the holiday season with some tunes from her new Christmas cd. Magic in the Air was everything Christmas, while On a Moonlight Winter Night was a jazzy big-band sound you could hear Tony Bennett singing. Be the Light was fitting for the season, stressing that what is in our heart is the most important thing this time of year. Christmas in the Islands, co-written with Harold Payne, has a very catchy reggae beat that pulls you right in – coconuts on the Christmas trees, a perfect 85 degrees!

Dick Upton then took the stage, accompanied by electric guitar wiz Mirek Formacek. They delivered several high-energy and bluesy numbers. They opened with Treadmill, an ode to the fact that life is short, so you must make the best of it. Put Down the Bottle calls for help from above in getting you out of a rut, while Distant Friend fondly remembers a musician friend from the past who is in his last days. Where Everybody Knows My Name was written in honor of VOCAL and O’Toole’s, celebrating the camaraderie of fellow songwriters. Dick switched to keyboards for a Mississippi-ish tune On the Levee. I could picture myself there watching the driftwood floating by! My Spiritual Home is a signature song of Dick’s from when he was in Marathon, FL closing down a Tiki bar. He then delivered Something to Believe in, a beautiful, heartfelt song co-written with Glen King. He ended the show with a moving, boogie-woogie like number Going Down to Georgia, featuring Gary Shaver on sax. A magical trio, indeed!

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VOCAL Oct, 2016 Showcase.

VOCAL songwriter showcase Oct. 2016

Tonight two performers took the stage to showcase their original songs. First up was Glenda Creamer, longtime VOCAL member, to be followed by Bill Wellons, as the featured act.
To keep in the Halloween spirit, Glenda started off her set with some of her holiday appropriate material.
First up was “Love’s Not Supposed to Hurt” a co-written song about a battered woman who needs makeup to hide the scars of abuse. Next up was “Fortune Teller” co-written with Jerry Tarver in which the singer is looking for love and is hoping to get a positive outlook from the seer she consulted. Switching to bible inspired material, Glenda did “The Wilderness’ in which Jesus comes out fo the woods to confront the devil who is trying to tempt him. “Lazarus” tells the story of Jesus raising him from the grave ending with the line “Lazarus come out”. Switching back to Halloween, “I’m A Witch, Today” depicts a woman who is in a bad mood and should be tied to a dunking stool for punishment. Next up was “Ghost House’ which was a pictorial song about all the ghostly and other worldly actions that take place in a haunted house complete with ghostly moaning. To close ot her set, Glenda performed “Moonshine Sky” about Marvin the bootlegger who’s doing great until he is ratted out to the “revenuers” and shot dead in a confrontation.

Bill Wellons is a longtime VOCAL member who seldom performs at the showcase, so it was a rare treat to have him appear at this one. His choice of instrument is the electronic keyboard which he manipulates with great skill. Opening song was and instrumental “Walk Like a Duck” with featured some quack sounding licks through out the piece. “Do You Remember” had an air of nostalgia to it as he asked “where did the time go?” looking back at the past. “My Best Pal” is definitely an audience pleaser as he sings about his dog and how much he stays loyal to it through the years despite some unseemly moments. A medley of sunshine related songs was followed by “We Gave It Our Best Shot” a break up song that came about when “things we knew were certain turned to lies” . “Memories of Distant Days” kept alive the nostalgia theme “looking back, I’ll always remember your smile” he sings. “Mere Humans” looks askew at the human race for never seeming to learn from its mistakes while things in nature do. “Melody On May” was a very pretty instrumental piece that was well received by the audience, Taking a poke at the slow pace of political response, “Holding On” was series of vignettes depicting people in various stages of bad times trying to get some help from their politicians with no results. “It’s Just Another Lonely Night” is how the singer feels after nothing seems to be going his way. To close ot his set Bill chose to do a satiric song “Big Top” about today’s political candidates and how the whole process of the election has turned into a circus, the idea of which was well received by the audience. This then turned into a request for an encore and Bill obliged by doing “Home With You”, a salute to servicemen and women, and the story of a G.I. returning from duty overseas who can’t wait to get back home to Oklahoma.

Overall, it was good night to be present at the showcase and hear these two fine singer/songwriters present some of their best material.

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September 2016 VOCAL Showcase

The September 2016 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase took place on Monday, September 19th at O’Toole’s Irish Pub. This was the first showcase to also feature an open mic for non-members.

Norm Roscher was the MC for the evening, and kicked off the show with one of his signature tunes I Don’t Play Doctor Any More. Why play with boys when you can hang out under the porch with some young girls playing with your favorite toys?

Glenda Creamer then took the stage with I Get Dumb in the Sun, a mixture of the summer heat/humidity and a relationship heading south. She then delivered the timely September Wind, saying goodbye to the summer and welcoming the winds of autumn.

Markiss Blowfish then brought us a triad of blues numbers, Engine # 9, Bad News Blues, and I’ve Been Around so Long. You definitely feel like you’ve heard/lived the blues after hearing what Mark has to say!

Newcomer Wayne Williams then arrived on the scene in dropped-D tuning with Going Down to the River, a rocky “Chris Knight-ish” number that had us moving to the beat. He had some cool metaphors like “lightning bugs were my candlelight”. Another Night in Memphis took us for a tour of the city with Elvis, BB King and everything in between.

Norman re-appeared on stage with his newest tune Mr. Johnson’s Sticky Substance, just oozing with adjectives only familiar to Richmonders. You and Me Baby describes making a getaway with the one you love, with no one else around.

Steve Nuckolls then performed Gibson Guitar in a Furniture Store, followed by his newest work-in-progress Vacation in Your Photo Stream. He then played his “African hymn” Simunye, with Gary Shaver on stellar harmony.

Gary Shaver delivered a heartbreaker There Must be Someone Else, followed by a poignant If I Could Go Back Home, where the highway was always calling him home.

Norman took the stage again to close out the evening with a couple of works-in-progress. The Sky is Falling is a really cool “political paranoia” number most of us can relate to. Within Your Eyes reflects the many feelings/emotions he experienced while looking into the eyes of his lover. He ended the set with the quintessential Boobs, which the audience graciously participated in.

Yet another wonderful evening with a quality showcase!

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August 2016 Showcase

VOCAL Showcase August 2016

Hot night, hot music. The longest, continuously running songwriter showcase in Virginia added one more to it’s record with this presentation tonight, at O’Toole’s Bar and Grill. Two great songwriters presented a slate of original tunes for an appreciative audience of VOCAL fans. Up first was guitarist Mark Daniel. in a rare appearance, who thrilled the crowd with a variety of songs in several genres. “My Home Is Where I Lay My Hat” kicked off his set followed by “Trail of Tears” which told the story of those who travelled along Cherokee Road, a route of anguish, for those Native Americans who were uprooted by hostility. “Country Blues” outlined all the things the singer liked about his love, “Complicated” was a Christian themed song about getting through the hardships of life by putting your faith in the Lord. Drought can be a disaster to farmers who desperately need rain to keep their crops alive, This story was the focus of “Charles City Rain”, a tale of prayer that comes true in the end with some much needed rain. Going up-tempo, “Bad Horses, Pretty Women, Free Whiskey” described what bad things can happen to you if you give in to their attractions. Country song “If You Were Free” was a list of what the singer would do if the woman he loved were available. Mark demonstrated his picking ability with the song “I Got High On a Mountain” (in a town called Monterrey) followed by “Loving You, Again” a nostalgic song fueled by pictures and whiskey. Mark closed out his set with “How Far The Moon” comparing his unbounded love to the distances of celestial bodies such as the moon, sun and stars.
After a brief intermission which featured a 50/50 raffle and the sale of VOCAL t-shirts, the program continued with Norman Roscher on guitar, and his lovely daughter Deanna as singing accompaniment. Norman, usually known for his humorous and sometimes nonsensical songs, presented a softer and more sedate side tonight with songs mostly inspired by real life incidents. Starting off with “I Don’t Play Doctor Anymore” the singer puts aside his boyish toys and comes to grip with adulthood. Travelling through Hollywood cemetery, Norman is struck by a statue of a woman holding a bouquet of poppies, thus he is inspired to write Lady Of The Poppies” a ballad that wonders about the significance of this statue to reality. Reminiscing about his youth, the song “Prince of The Tree” talks of the wonders one sees when high up above the mundane world, “Dog’s New Clothes” describes the experience of seeing a stroller on Monument Ave. in casual dress, walking a dog with upscale clothing and wondering why the dog looks better than his handler. Demonstrating his softer side, Norman presented “Mister Sleepyhead” a lullaby for kids. Switching to keyboard and next in his set list was “Baby, Bye, Bye” an up-tempo song about breaking up, which was enhanced by his daughter’s vocal contributions. In “Roaming Eye” we got a song about, well, nothing, but still entertaining. In a sentimental mood. “Pictures of Irene” presented a touching portrait of a friend’s deceased mother who greatly influenced his life as a young lad. “I’m Gonna Take My Baby Dancing” , written by VOCAL member Bill Wellons, was a rouser that lifted the spirits of the audience, followed by an audience participation song “Bip Bop On The Top” encouraging them to pat their heads on the chorus, Influenced by Deanna perhaps, :My Little Girl” was a tribute to
his daughter. Of course, Norman couldn’t go the whole night without doing one of his outre numbers, so for an encore, he presented “Mister Johnson’s Sticky Substance” which describes gooey human deposits made in stolen ladys’ shoes by a deranged individual. “What were you thinking, Mister Johnson?”
Thus ended the showcase.

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