Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
VOCAL SONGWRITER SHOWCASE
May 16, 2011
Pete Seeger once sang “When these hands can strum no longer, pass the old guitar to a young one stronger.”
That was certainly not evident at the most recent Songwriter Showcase held at O’Toole’s Pub. None of the three performers appeared ready to vacate their status as masters of workers in song.
Bill Kaffenberger, originally from Northern Virginia commenced the evening’s festivities with Maybe by Then, influenced by Gene Clark of the Byrds which plaintively stated “ She’ll know, she was meant for me.”
This was followed with a wistful tribute to his Dad, simply titled Dad.
The minor key She’s so Real was next with the frank admission “ Love that’s deeper than the deep blue sea.
The Byrds influence continued through Lonesome Rider and the closer What am I doing here, where the subject seems to be caught between interia and isolation.
Sitting on my hands and lamenting, No one listens to an outsider like me and the killer Beauty came from deep within his pain.
Bill’s songs come from his love of Philadelphia Soul and the aforementioned Byrds . The songs seem to spring forth in chains of images. An excellent guitarist and singer to boot.
Next the veteran and ever-growing Steve Nuckolls, one of the premier ballad writers on the scene today eased into his set with the beautiful open tuning piece Whole World Turning, performed on his vintage Martin D-35, featuring Gary Shaver on the flute. You know you’ve arrived when Gary sits in with you.
The open tunings continued with The Earth had been painted blue. A tender rememberance of the victims of the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001. The song seems to travel through the steps of grief- I thought the earth had been painted red describing anger at the news, to I thought the earth had been painted white harkening back to the Martyrs bathed in light which was colored with a sad flute solo by Mr. Shaver. The song ended with I heard the world singing with one voice.
Anguish with a flickering flame of hope.
Trying to get you home seems to recall the sweetness of young love and stealing away for innocent intimacy.
Changing lanes, he debuted a new song which recalls the joys of the early days of learning the guitar as a youth. Nothing in this world I’d rather do, then spending Saturday morning sitting in with Emmy Lou.
Amen to that brother!
Steve then moved through his “glass is half full song,” My Prayer of thanks. He ended his set with Something about your love which if there were any justice in the world would be a chart topping hit.
Recalled for an encore he placed a giant exclamation point on an absolutely stunning set with his much loved Simynye ( spelling ?) loosely meaning ‘We are one.” about his travels in Africa. In this writer’s opinion, one of the finest songs to ever emerge from VOCAL.
Steve himself just keeps getting better and better. One knack I hope he never loses.
The head liner, Darryl Ellyson emerged in a bright multicolored shirt and ‘60’s style fedora. Mr. Ellyson is a top notch performer with a wide array of influences. He sang so many great songs and space does not permit us to expound upon all, so we’ll provide a few of the many highlights.
The sweet soul of Daryl’s powerful singing voice was manifested immediately on the opener Love Refugees, a classic, beautiful love song.
Darryl then moved through You are the only one ( the strummin life is hard) and I RememberYou, before the exuberant Down on the Point which describes the satisfaction and joys of fishing.
This was followed by the upbeat country of Rainy Days Ahead accompanied by fast guitar licks, and That’s just the way ( love goes) which harkens back to the style of Conway Twitty. This song allowed Darryl to demonstrate his wide vocal range.
What’s Gone Wrong which seemed to come blazing out of a film noir night with its minor key mood was followed by the imaginative News Man Blues.
He concluded with Blue Light District with its ‘50’s New Orleans feel and finally Done With You where the singer is resigned to Love has finally been defeated.
Hearing Darryl Ellyson is always a treat with his powerful vocals and guitar accompaniment that is just right.