Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
VOCAL Showcase Sept. 2014
What is perhaps the longest running songwriter’s showcase in Virginia continued its streak with edition #278 (over twenty three years) at O’Toole’s Bar and Grille on Monday Sept. 15th.
Fittingly, The first performer was Gary Shaver, who has been involved since the inception of VOCAL. Gary is a multi- talented songwriter who plays a variety of instruments such as the sax, clarinet, flute and piano. This night he chose to perform on keyboards. His set of tunes consisted of throwback material to the early stages of his career, the 1970’s. “With You” kicked off the retrospective and was followed by “Taking The Easy Way Out” and “Don’t You Know I Love You”. At this point, Gary was joined by Larry Lyles on fiddle for a couple of tunes “If I Could Write a Song” and “I Don’t Believe You Anymore”. As the titles may suggest, these were all songs about love and the relationships it fosters both good and bad. The ballady, haunting melodies helped convey the emotions the singer was trying to convey. The set closer “How Could Love Make Me Feel This Way” was more in a jazzy uptempo mood which conveyed the positive message of the lyrics. No question Gary is talented, His deftness on the keyboard alone proved that.
Next up: Steve Nuckolls on acoustic guitar led the appreciative audience through a series of songs reflecting his roots that reach back To Galax Virginia. Lending his tenor voice to original songs such as “At Home in the Back Roads” and “Much Obliged” Steve gave the room a folksy air. “Everything is Just Too Good” was a positive tune followed by “Graysons Lady” a bluegrass tinged song. Digressing from his set list, he talked about seeing the flag flying on the state capitol building at various times at half mast, at the whim of the then Governor Tim Kaine, who quixotically had it set that way on every questionable occasion. This inspired Steve to write “Flags At Half Mast” which he then performed. Lastly, he played one of his most loved songs judging from the audience reaction,”Something About Your Love” which is a sensitive hooky song with a positive theme. Listening to Steve is well worth the time and effort should he be in your area.
The featured performers for the evening were The Clackwells. What can you say about these folks? They are the epitome of quirkiness and musical invention. Led by Norm Roscher, on guitar, the two back up singers on washboard and finger percussion and two back up instrumentalists on bass and banjo they sailed through a nine song set of funky songs with various human and inhuman noises. “The Ballad of The Clackwells” described how the group was formed and served as an introduction to each of the groups members, with the interchangeable names of Blinky, Stinky, Slinky and Winky (I thinly). They were the spawn of a lady wrestler and gambler. Going back into their extensive catalog, they pulled out “You and Me and Baby” and “I Don’t Play Doctor Anymore”. A sly nod to the pleasures of weed followed in “Sweet Nectar”, no doubt fueled by the leader’s proclivity to partaking in such stuff. “Think I’m Gonna Take My Baby Dancing” was a bouncy tune, written by VOCAL member Bill Wellons and perfomed solo on keyboards by Norm. “Pull The Wool Over My Eyes” was followed by “A Song of Hope” which indeed, advised all the single guys not to give up hope because there is someone out there for you. “The Hat” was a cute song about a character who lived in his hat which changed size according to his needs and was thus magical. “Your Beautiful” inspired by the singer’s lady friend, was a lovely tribute. By overwhelming request, The Clackwells could not finish the might without doing their most enduring and fun singalong song “Boobs” What can you say about a song that asks the audience to sing out loud their appreciation of a woman’s assets as they change over the course of her lifetime. The Clackwells are touring Richmond in the coming months. Don’t miss their show.