Friday, May 31st, 2013
VOCAL Songwriter Showcase – May, 2013
An intimate and attentive crowd gathered at O’Toole’s for an evening with Tom White, Drexel Rayford, and John Ellis.
Tom kicked off the evening with the seasonally-appropriate “The Kind of Man I Wish We All Could Be”, written in honor/memory of those who have served our country. “Caroline” was a tender ballad about being reunited with a spouse in the afterlife. “She’s in my Soul” was written about a friend from Texas who ran a diner with his wife. Sadly, she developed a tumor and passed away, so he had to close the diner – he’ll never forget her, never regret her, she’s always in his soul. “The Heartbreak Let’s Get Drunk Saloon” was a cool song about a watering hole where you drown your sorrows – while your success may have been in stocks, she’s now given you a life on the rocks. Tom left us with the lovely “I Want You to Follow Me Into My Heart Tonight”.
Drexel Rayford is a newcomer to the group, but certainly not to the business of songwriting and performing. “If I Could Be Bart Starr” was a really cool retrospective on the great quarterback of yesteryear many of us remember. Drexel wrote this from the perspective of a 12-year old. “Wanna See a Sunset in Santa Fe” evoked colorful and vivid images of that lovely part of the country, where everybody’s artsy, the air is crisp, and you can see the Milky Way! “I’m Gonna Move to Brazil” was inspired by a trip to Brazil, where the beaches of the Atlantic make you so romantic! I can hear the waves from here. He followed with a blues number written about a Scots fellow he met while traveling in Europe. Doubtful at first of a Scots’ ability to play the blues, he soon realized he had learned a thing or two! He now thinks of “Scottie” every time he plays the lick. “Corner Office” is Drexel’s newest song, and had some very cool images – working nights when the office fills with the city lights – sometimes when it’s bright and clear, I can almost see my home from here. Drexel left us with a festive sailing song that had everyone singing along. Welcome to the group, Drexel!
John Ellis then took the stage as headliner, and delivered some stellar guitar work as only he can do. The first few songs were acoustic instrumentals. I thought I heard Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young at one point, then one song brought a sitar to mind with its underlying drone. “Walking With Sharon” was reminiscent of walking near a pond with a friend. A couple of really cool tunes are still in need of titles, so we need to let John know if we have one! “Winter Solstice” had a really cool groove, and is something you might hear on a Wyndham Hill collection. He then kicked off the electric set with “Blues # 1”, using backing tracks. Thought I heard Peter Frampton in the background there for a minute! “In My Place” is one of the crowd’s favorites, and delivers some scorching guitar playing. John left us with his signature tune “The Stranger”. Again, some stellar guitar-playing was present, and I thought Carlos Santana was in the room briefly. Keep up the good work, John!
A big thanks to John Lephardt and Matt Manion for helping out with sound for the evening!