VOCAL Showcase February 2009

It was a fantastic winter night February 16, 2009 as we settled into the warm, inviting atmosphere of the showcase venue.  As the showcase counter flipped over to 211, we ordered our meals, shared thoughts on songwriting over drinks and readied ourselves for the musical experience that was unfolding.  VOCAL re-introduced a newer member to the showcase stage, James Lester, who is a great blues picker and a fine songwriter.  VOCAL also welcomed back a steadfast musician who is a gifted poet and always a fine performer, Gerry Laverty.

It seem like just yesterday that VOCAL held its first showcase performance at Richbrau’s TapHouse, but it has been about three years now that the live music event has been hosted by the TapHouse.  Join us every third Monday of the month at 1212 East Cary Street, in Shockoe Slip, for live music, great food and a welcoming staff.  Thanks to the management of Richbrau for continuing to support live, original music in Virginia.

Many styles of blues music were on display in our first set, when James Lester took the stage to show his skills with the pen and the guitar.  The set included instrumentals and songs that dabbled in the blues and country genres.  James warmed the crowd with three instrumentals including ‘Almost Blues’ and ‘Rugged Cross Blues’ showed his abilities with finger-style blues music.  The timely and widely applicable ‘Why I Sing the Blues’ gave everyone something to relate to – “…because times are hard…”, “…depressed watching the news…” and “…laid off…” were some of the reasons to sing along to this great blues tune.  James said ‘Whatever Makes You Happy’ before he spoke his mind on ‘All About Money’.

James’ song ‘Circus Blues’ reminded me a bit of the bluegrass guitar style, with fast, alternating flat picking and strumming.  And the blues/country themes were present in this song with the line “That clowns’ been knockin’ at her door”.  ‘I Like Your Love’ was a little bit rock-a-billy to my ear.  The song ‘W Blues’ had a political theme and a bit of reflection on a past presidency.  James wrapped it all up with ‘Lame Pony Blues’.  Thanks to James for sharing his music and giving us a great variety of styles in his set.  We look forward to a quick return from this artist!  Gerry Laverty found James’ blues so compelling, he dubbed him ‘Little Jimmy Lester’. 

It was great to have Gerry Laverty back to present his poetic lyrics and fine fingerwork in the folk style.  Gerry started off with ‘By the Blood of the Nazarine’.  He introduced some new material ‘Delta’ written on a train from Richmond to Seattle – thanks to Gerry for introducing this great new song.  It was a welcome sound to my ears to hear Gerry perform a fan favorite ‘Lonesome Blue Eyes’ which is a wonderful blend of emotion and harmony.  Another favorite of mine and a powerful folk song addressing the problems revealed during the hurricane Katrina disaster was ‘Details of Catastrophe’.

Gerry delivered his own dose of the blues, a song for the insomniac, ‘Blues in the Night’.  Gerry’s guitar was ringing out with sweet blues tones in a slow and easy riff.  The set closed out with ‘Jerusalem’ and another Laverty classic ‘Zion Crossroads’ about a mysterious red haired lady at a mysterious location in Central Virginia.

Thanks to our performers for presenting a great evening of live, original music!  Each showcase is pulled together by a team of volunteers – special thanks to Matt Manion for sound services, Larry Cody for announcing our performers with his table tent cards, Matthew Costello for web services and John Ellis for sitting in as MC.  Thanks to you for supporting our performers and visiting our website.  See you next month!

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