Archive for November, 2014

November 2014 Showcase Review

The November 2014 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase was the 280th consecutive monthly showcase and marked the 5th anniversary at the O’Toole’s location. A large and mostly attentive crowd gathered for the evening performance. George Maida opened the show accompanied by his drummer Kevin, and led off with a Thanksgiving-inspired instrumental medley of tunes. The first was Keltic Turducken, followed by The Beggar and Vinterverke (a German word made up by George). He delivered some fine hard-driving guitar work followed by some more mellow electric tones. He then followed with a King David-inspired Psalm 38, another fine instrumental which conjured up a Metheny/Santana feel. George left us with a Christmas song with the help of guests Steve Fisher and Matthew Costello. Lyric sheets had been distributed throughout the room, so there was also some fine audience participation.

Pamela McCarthy then took the stage for a fine solo acoustic performance. She led off with her ever-popular and requested Since You’ve Gone, where we know Hell must be freezing over! Now You Know is a more recent creation of hers, a bit on the sad side, but Pam does those songs so well! Pam displayed her political side with Let Me Be, and then treated us with the very beautiful, tender Age of Forgiveness. What it Is captured the spirit of her earlier desire to be another Julie London. You Aren’t Coming Back was another tear-jerker newer song lamenting love lost. Pam ended her set with a stellar performance of the enigmatic Body Language – you couldn’t hide it, I saw right through, silent but true, body language.

Gary Shaver and his bandmates then took the stage for the headline performance. While the stage area seemed a little cramped for the five performers, there was plenty of room for them to showcase their musical/vocal talent! Gary led us through a timeline of the 80’s-90’s and the writing he did during that period. Between Her and You (1991) is a tender love-lost ballad, always a crowd favorite. Southern Breeze (1990) is a very catchy instrumental waltz which featured Larry Lyles on some fine violin playing. Under a Starlit Sky was co-written (1989) with Chris Craig, who was also in the audience. Yet another love-lost ballad delivered as only Gary can do! We then travelled to 1992 with No More Goodbyes, a very catchy tune which I thought was reminiscent of Elvin Bishop (she took me for a ride – she used me as a lover then cast me aside). We Don’t Have the Guts to Say Goodbye was a bluesy/jazzy number featuring Frank Lucas on a searing electric guitar. I’m Trading the Present for the Past is a 1995 tune that featured Larry again on violin (we let our love slip away, now I’m holding onto memories, and that’s where I’ll stay). The very-talented fellow VOCAL member Marna Bales then joined the group as a guest vocalist on You Didn’t Mean It (I should have seen it – you said you loved me, but you didn’t mean it). Gary then performed another crowd favorite There Lies the Stone, and he did a marvelous solo piano performance. Marna took the stage again and did a stellar performance of Little Old Me, which is probably this reviewer’s favorite Gary Shaver song! (Little old me is who you’re gonna catch, you just don’t know it yet…). Gary ended with a 1999 song Just Believe in Me (I don’t know what got out of hand, can’t you talk to me and help me understand?).

The crowd called for more, but we were out of time, so we’ll just have to wait ‘til another night for more of Gary’s talent!

Posted in Showcases | No Comments »

October 2014 Showcase Review

The October 2014 showcase brought an eclectic mix of writers/performers to O’Toole’s Irish Pub and Grill. Robyne Byrd and Anthony Curtis opened the show with all new songs Robyne has written since February of this year. They opened with a very “floaty” tune (written by her daughter when she was nine years old), called Choose Your Own Choice. Anthony provided some fine electric guitar reminiscent of Hendrix/Santana/Metheny. They then moved on to a very touching Song of a Soldier’s Wife. I Don’t Want It had a very eclectic influence, with an infectious, Middle-Eastern –sounding groove. Solitary Way channeled an isolated feeling of loneliness.
Chuck Kerwath then took us on a pleasurable journey of acoustic instrumentals. Travelling from a Native Trail (American Indian with Spanish influence) through some sophisticated finger-picked blues, he then brought us Serengeti. This had a really cool West African influence, with the guitar tuned in African tuning (B tuned up to C, along with a dropped D). I envisioned morning falling onto the Serengeti, unfolding a sun-drenched desert. Chuck then broke out the dobro and brought us three tunes ranging from the island style (think steel drums) to gangsta-grass.
Cheryl Fare and Matt Treacy then took the headline spot on the stage. They started with The Messy Song (love comes in threes, and I’m still in the middle). Wait and See is a new tune Cheryl wrote – you waited for me, now I’m waiting for you, we’ll wait and see. Show Me How deals with your mind’s behavior when the serious stuff comes along. Matt then delivered a very beautiful The Only Girl Who Ever Sang the Blues. Same Old Dance sees her watching him walk away without saying goodbye, but then rolling back in to dance the same old dance. Cheryl then sang a bluesy Stones in My Pocket, followed by a song about friendship, Face to Face. I Gotta Move is a great blues number with some great blues fingerpicking by Matt – I can’t be sitting here waiting for the sun to come around – I gotta move! They then played a song Matt wrote, The Dead of Night. Very strong vocals were presented here – she’s the forbidden fruit that came to me in the dead of night. Cheryl and Matt then brought us Roll Me Under, which carried us along on a ride in the ocean – the waves roll me under and push me back up. The duo ended with Springfield, inspired by the Ford Pinto hatchback – what a car. An explosive situation, a very steamy scene!
Kudos to the performers for yet another memorable VOCAL showcase!

Posted in Showcases | No Comments »