A large audience was treated to a mostly up-tempo, bluesy musical evening at O’Toole’s Restaurant and Pub on March 15, 2010, for VOCAL’s 224th consecutive monthly showcase of original songs.
The opening performance was a nice mix crowd-pleasing songs by James Lester and Tom Mayer, using guitar and harmonica to accompany their singing. Their songs ranged from medium to up-tempo, nothing real slow, in styles showing influences from acoustic blues, country, and standard pop music. James started off with a straight-ahead, up-tempo song saying “I like your love,” and continued with a song telling about being “rode hard and put up wet.” He then did a song dedicated to one of our central-Virginia congressmen, saying “it’s all about the money.” All of these songs were accompanied by Tom Mayer on harmonica. Then Tom took over the singing duty with some songs that were positive but a bit more serious. The first of these was about “heaven in your eyes,” then “you’re the best I’ve ever had,” then a song that promised “think of me, and I’ll be right here.” James Lester came back with a finger-picking guitar song for people who wake up with “an empty wallet and a broken heart” with more harmonica work by Tom Mayer. They closed their set with James doing an up-tempo song wondering “did I stay or did I go.”
The headline performer this evening was our guest from out of town, Pops Walker. Pops reported that his influences ranged all the way from the Allman Brothers to Ravi Shankar, then opened with a guitar instrumental that contained some passages with sitar-like sounds. Pops went on with a down-and-dirty, growling vocal in a song saying “can’t do it alone” and continued with a song about doing the “best I can.” These songs implied a strong back beat that made you really want to stomp on a bass drum pedal. The next song contained a little more sadness but maintained the rhythmic and bluesy, occasional slide-guitar accompaniment. Pops kept up the rhythm as his set went on with songs about down home food, “hoppin’ John”, and a semi-gospel song saying “it don’t matter where you come from, it’s a long way to the promise land.” Pops Walker kept up his audience-engaging chatter and strongly rhythmic music for the rest of his set, leaving everyone in the mood for more at the end.