Archive for May, 2015

May 2015 VOCAL Showcase

May 2015 VOCAL Showcase

Scheduled performer Joannie
Valentine was unable to appear
tonight, so her slot on the showxase
was filled in last minute by Matt
Manion. Matt opened the show on
acoustic guitar with a repetoire of
self penned tunes. He projected a
strong stage presence with a big
voice. leading off his set was the
plaintive song “Light and Laughter”
which despite its title was on the
melancholy side. “VCU Veteran”
described his time at the university
with such words of wisdom as “take
an inner journey, listen to your
mind”. “Life Can Be Funky Down on
the Pamunkey” described life along
the river. A Quarter to Midnight” is
one of Matt’s signature songs
detailing his lonely journey to
church on Christmas Eve and finding
solace and identification with
another lonely soul, the man in the
toll booth who appears at his church
during the service. “Don’t Need To
be Perfect” advises the listeners to
be who they are and be happy. “Last
Man on Earth” details the experience
of the title and how that feels to
the singer. Expressing his humorous
side, Matt regaled the audience with
his take on being member of a band
and having to be immersed in their
miscreant ways. His solution, “Don’t
Stand By Me” don’t let me be
associated with all the dirt, become
a solo act, Closing out his set, was
the tale of living in a raunchy
Louisianna flea bag, he dubbed the
“Royal Roach Hotel.”

A brief break followed to set up the
next act Flashlight Tag. Flashlight
Tag is the duo of Justin Laughter
and Brian Phelps. Justin plays
various electric guitars and Brian
plays bass guitar. The duo is well
known around Richmond and an off
shoot of their larger group Silly
Bus which usually features songs for
children. They kicked off their set
with a song inspired by Justin’s
farming experience, “In the Short
Rows” which refers to how the rows
of corn get shorter when planted on
the bias. “Betsy Ross” was a tribute
to the lady who supposedly designed
the original American flag. That was
followed by “Coldest Eskimo” which
could describe how a jilted lover
might feel. Between songs there was
funny bantering going on much to the
delight of the audience. “Snack
Machine Love Affair” was folllowed
next by “Unravelling” which had
Justin switching to 4 string tenor
guitar. Many of Flash Tag’s songs
are short, punchy, pop rock tunes
usually consisting of two verses and
two choruses and a quick exit.
“Dorothy” referred to the Wizard of
Oz character and covered her
relationship with the other
characters in that film. “Something
Got A Hold” was followed by “I Get
Lost” and “Puppets”. Next song in
the set was a humorous look at fast
sea food places like Captain D’s and
described the good (!) stuff on
their menus, like fried fish and
fries. Switching back to 6 string,
Justin and Brian finished up with
“Beacon” which is something we all
need in our lives, a source of
light, and then ended their set with
“Control” which was about how we
lack control.
Despite the small crowd, both acts
were warmly received and shown much
appreciation for their efforts.

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