Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
November 2013 VOCAL Showcase
Tonight’s showcase was well attended with lots of enthusiastic music fans waiting to hear from the three scheduled singer/songwriters, Valerie Rourke, Flashlight Tag, and David Atkins.
First to perform, and for the first time, Valerie Rourke is doing a solo act for her complete set, with help from Gerry Laverty on guitar and Flashlight Tag (Bryan Phelps and Justin Laughter) on multiple instruments. Valerie, heretofore, had done mostly accapella singing of her original compositions, so it was a treat to hear her with accompaniment. Her set consisted of mostly unrequited or lost love songs done in a plaintive style of classic country heartbreak. Her wistful voice carried the heartbreak words very well. Song titles that were the undercurrent of her oeuvre included “Fly Away Shy Bird”,
“You’re Not Coming Home Again, Tonight” and “Choker and Chain”. Lightening up the set, Valerie gave us a short uptemmpo song on her uke, which she is pursuing as her instrument of choice. All in all, a fine performance.
Flashlight Tag is a duo composed of Bryan Phelps on (5 string)bass, and Justin Laughter on a variety of stringed instruments. Their style is in the alt. pop genre and their songs featured syncopated and jazzy riffs. “30 Odd Years” and “Clip-on TIe” leaned on memory and nostalgic lyrics to get across the message, “If the Good Die Young” was a pep talk, “Paul Revere” was a lyrical tribute to that patriot from years ago, and “Old House, Good Bones” described the sturdiness of relationships with the metaphor of a house. One thing that persisted through out their set, was the distant echo of the DMB, which is a good thing.
The featured performer of the evening was David Atkins. He is a long time member of VOCAL, but rarely does a showcase, so this was an especially welcome surprise. David is involved in many musical ventures, teaching and performing in theatre, besides his songwriting activities. Tonight, playing guitar, he was accompanied by computer tracks on most of his songs.”I Fall in Love, All Over,Again” was an upbeat tribute to enduring love, followed by “When a Woman Smiles” which was self explantory,(good things happen), after two songs about wishing and dreaming, he wowed the audience with an uptemmpo blues tune “Doctor of Honky-tonky Blues” a crowd favorite, which was followed by a beautiful ballad about a houseful of memories that the singer revisits. “Put Down the Phone and Drive” a new song, was amened, by the audience with its comtemporary vignettes of seemingly distracted drivers and how they threaten life and limb of others, and closing out his set, David performed “Sing Your Own Song” which was his inspirational message to us all. It was definitely a pleasure to have David back doing his material with such verve and craftmanship, and we hope it won’t be too long before he returns with another set of great songs.