Tuesday, January 19th, 2016
The January 2016 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase provided a warm escape from the chilly weather. We were treated to performances by Steve Fisher, Flashlight Tag, and Dick Upton.
Longtime VOCAL member Steve Fisher opened the show with some cool, bluesy tunes on the resonator guitar, tuned in Open G. Sweet Tea reminded us that the best peaches grow at the top of the tree, and that’s where I’ll be! Holding Back the Sea is a dreamy “art” song about the search for the little light inside us all. We’re Not Bound was another resonator tune with the slide effect, delivering another blues feeling – when we’re buried below the tombstone, we’re not at a dead end, but simply on our way elsewhere. Steve then switched to his guitar with Turn Me Around, an ode to giving love a second chance “this aching heart belongs to you”, I’m gonna turn around and start all over again. He ended his set with Only Love Remains, dedicated to Martin Luther King (only love remains after everything falls away, in the ruins of the day). Good to see Mr. Fisher back on the VOCAL stage!
Flashlight Tag then took the stage (Justin Laughter on electric guitar, and Sam Bennett on keyboards). 1040EZ offered the guarantee of death and taxes – I’ll pay my debts and buy my coffin, and hope you meet me half-way! Skeleton is a new song with a cool vibe – I’m a skeleton picked to the bone – we know all those bones are connected! Glitter had a very attractive melody that drew me in – (tonight your light breaks through the rain and comes find me). Matter followed, and then When I Go, reminiscent of the late David Brockie of GWAR fame. “When I go, just sing for me, just paint for me, just laugh for me”. Breathe in the Love (?) begs us to fill every inch of your heart with love. They ended with Beacon (not bacon…), asking that special one to be the beacon to the shore, for I’m afraid of my own shadow, the fear is real, and holding me captive. Great set, Flashlight Tag!
Dick Upton then took the stage for his headlining act. He was accompanied by his guitar and “vocal bandmate”. Put Down the Bottle is a tale of giving up the sauce and finding salvation with the one above. Distant Friend is a heart-felt tribute to a long-lost friend/musical collaborator who died of cancer. Here’s to catching the eye of an angel in a one-night stand! Treadmill was a work-related theme about keeping your priorities straight, and not letting the treadmill be your drummer’s beat. Where Everyone Knows My Name (?) is a VOCAL-inspired number that captures in words the camaraderie/safety of being around like-minded songwriters. Dick infused some mighty fine guitar-picking in that tune! Standing on the Levy is a new Delta Blues-feel song that occurs somewhere along the Mississippi, watching the driftwood go by. The next number was started 30 years ago, but only finished recently, describing how life can be going along perfectly fine and then a train wreck occurs, perhaps throwing you into a depressing funk. My Spiritual Home was born in Marathon Key during a vacation stay (sounds like almost a permanent stay!). You can feel the atmosphere and vibe as he sings about the seagulls out on the sea, and the peace and calm the island provides. Dick took us home to Georgia to see his sweet baby Jane, driving all night, hoping everything was going to be alright. Another fine performance by Dick, whom I think must be channeling Randy Newman…