Friday, February 26th, 2016
The February 2016 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase drew an intimate and attentive crowd on a rainy evening. This was our group’s 295th consecutive showcase! The evening’s performers were longtime member Russell Lawson and Max Stampa-Brown, a Brooklyn resident visiting the area for a theatrical performance (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, playing at the November Theater).
Russell opened the show with a solo acoustic guitar performance. His stellar fingerpicking added a magical pull to his homespun tunes. He opened with Montana Wide, using big-sky metaphors to describe what God has provided to him and the love of his life. The Helping Hands is a mission-related, thought-provoking number about the aftermath of Katrina, and the kind deeds of many volunteers who went down to help the victims deal with their struggles. Oh My God is a humbling number related to the Episcopal Prayer of Confession, associated with the Lenten season. I’m Free is an uplifting song written about the experience of attending a funeral for his son’s friend, who left this world way too early. Anyway is a love song from a 1971 California concert experience – it’s hard to get to sleep after an Elton John concert, so might as well write a song! Russell brought out the harmonica on a really peaceful number Shipyard Creek, written in honor of an uncle who was dying of cancer. The numerous nautical themes tied in closely with life and the passage into a safe harbor. Rock Creek Blues is a signature song of Russell’s, and one that most of us can relate to following Hurricane Isabelle. His fingerstyle picking gave it a very pleasant texture, and the image of a cat floating down the stream on the roof of a storage shed just won’t go away! Russell closed out his set with homage to one of our longtime members, Doug Patrick, by performing There’s a Special Place in Heaven for Someone Like You. It’s always great to see Russell back on the stage!
Max Stampa-Brown then took the stage for an engaging set. He admitted that he’s always had trouble understanding women, so uses his songs to convey that emotion. Ladies’ Man is an ode to what he’d really like to be, but Bedsheets is more descriptive of what he really is. Max soared into a cool falsetto with I Would Not Like, an ode to a former girlfriend who only told him what he couldn’t do. He went into dropped-D tuning on his “first real song” HaveThisYesYouDon’t, his foray into explaining his misunderstanding of women. He followed with No More Sunshine, an instrumental written for an upcoming move. Imagine a fat guy chasing a pregnant woman as the melody flies off Max’s fingers on the fretboard! Evening Mike was co-written with his father, who was battling demons following the loss of his wife. 32 is a humorous song about dating an older woman, and the interesting and perhaps uncomfortable experiences that come about from a relationship with a 10-year age difference! Why do you need a capo when you can tune up a whole step on the fly! Way to go, Max – we really enjoyed your “visiting” company!
Thanks to all who came out – they were treated to two outstanding performances.