Archive for May, 2017

May 2017 Showcase

May 2017 VOCAL Singer/Songwriter Showcase

(310th Consecutive Show)


This past Monday, May 15th, the VOCAL organization gathered for another round of fun and music! It was a “short night” in terms of how long the showcase lasted. However, it was not short in terms of the enjoyment everyone felt during the course of the evening.  Performers included John Ellis, Matthew Costello, and Norman Roscher! Each member performed a short set of songs to get the crowd at O’Tooles going.

John Ellis performed four songs during his set on Monday some including: “I’ll Be There For You,” “The Stranger,” “Winter Solstice,” and “In My Place.” All of John’s songs showcased his magnificent talent for writing tunes that everyone will love. His beats treated the crowd with a variety of tunes, rock and roll, peaceful instrumentals, and slow and somber. I believe I can speak for the crowd, and other members of VOCAL who attended the showcase when I give a big “thank you” to John for his wonderful performance!

Second to perform was Matthew Costello, and he treated the audience to seven songs on Monday evening. Songs included: “Louise,” “Matters To Me,” “Train of Thought,” “Quarter To Three,” “If You Knew,” “One For The Road,” and “Diggin’ For Elvis.” Some of Matthew’s songs could have been said to take the crowd back to the 1950s and 60s in terms of beat and rhythm, but they all left the crowd feeling energetic and happy! In fact, there was crowd participation during the song “Diggin’ For Elvis” that left everyone with a smile on their face.

Norman Roscher was the final performer of the night, and gave the audience a few good laughs before the evening ended! His songs included: “I Don’t Play Doctor Anymore,” “Waiting For The Moon,” “You, Me, and Baby,” “The Train,” “I Need Your Love,” “Pig’s Party,” and “Boobs.” As many of you know, some of Norman’s songs are a bit risqué to talk about on this blog, but we all find joy and humor from listening to them!

Once again, I want to give a huge “thank you” to all three of these gentleman that took time out of their day to perform for the diners at O’Tooles! Join the VOCAL group again in June for another round of performers! Check the VOCAL blog and webpage for more details on future showcases!


  • Jordan Ellis


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Carol Torricelli

Carol Torricelli’s Blueprints of My Soul


Carol Torricelli, for those of you who are not familiar with her work, is a local singer/songwriter creating wonderful music in the city of Richmond, Virginia. Torch, as she is referred to by her friends, is also an avid member of the Virginia Organization of Composers and Lyricists whose members gather around to showcase their original songs.

Recently, Torch released her first album titled, Blueprints of My Soul, which is filled with original songs! To celebrate her success, I sat down to interview with Torch on Monday May 1st.


Drawing Inspiration

One of the first things that came to mind during the interview was Torch’s inspiration for her songs and album. We all have people that inspire us, superheroes, celebrities, sports starts, political leaders, etc. However, I feel that with music, we can step into another level of inspiration. Artists take from their experiences in life, love, sadness, joy, and everyday people whom they may encounter.


“This album is like a kaleidoscope of my life experiences, or blueprints of my soul. Like my father who worked with blueprints. Having an emotion that came out as a song, I had to make it tangible to put it on an album that someone could hold in their hands.” 


Torch had several inspirations that influenced her to decide to work on her first album. First, there was her father. Mr. Torricelli was an architect back in the day, who came home from a long day’s work only to continue being on the job at home. To keep herself entertained, Torch was able to see the blueprints that her father would work on outside of the office. These blueprints are like maps, they lead to something bigger than just an idea on paper. Similar to those blueprints, Torch’s songs are like the blueprints of her soul. Each song touches Torch in a different way based on her experiences and journeys.

Another inspiration Torch spoke highly of was a musician by the name of Joni Mitchell. Joni Mitchell is best known for her music during the 1970s, which can be categorized into the folk music genre. Torch describes her musical inspiration on her artist page:


 “Her song and album was a turning point, for I was driven to redirect my passions by combining classical finger picking style with the art of composing storytelling vignettes of personal feelings and experiences through lyrics and emotions of a melody, a catharsis of sorts.”  –


During the process of creating this album, Torch took inspiration from many different mediums. All of them, however, hold a special part of her heart that helped create her wonderful music.


Dreams Become Reality

Each and every one of us have dreams that we hope to achieve one day. Mine used to be to become a famous USA softball star, but that dream changed into a new one that I am still trying to reach. For Torch, her dream became a reality.


“Making an album has always been a goal of mine, something I have always had to do.”


It took several years for Torch to be able to produce her first album. With all the writing, recording, editing, and copying songs took a great deal of time, but was worthwhile in the end. When one has a goal to achieve, they must do anything and everything to make it happen, which is exactly what Torch did for her album. Not many people would stick with something for all those years in order to get to the end goal. Many decide to pursue another dream, give up, or simply abandon their goal altogether. However, someone with Torch’s motivation is not going to give up their dream. Torch stuck with it over the course of several years, with many trials and tribulations along the way I am sure. Ranging from recording issues, lyrics, and sound all played a part of the process. Those trials all made the outcome worth more than words can describe!


The Process

When following a dream in order to make it a reality, there is a lot of work that goes into the process. Torch spoke extensively about the hard work she put into producing this CD.


“…going onto Red Amp Audio to be able to record some songs. Waiting for them to send the copy, and then edit them. Working around my job (Virginia Tourism). Finding the time between work to record, get the copy, and to edit songs. Having 12 songs was a great process. The most enjoyable being with Jody Boyd (master engineer) working with him was awesome. Kind of like family, and it felt so right. I loved being in the studio. It made my life. I was high as a kite.”


Finding time to do things is a struggle we all face in our day to day lives, but Torch made a lot of time for her work. Between travelling for her fulltime job with Virginia Tourism, and making her album there was little time for much else! One thing that amazes me is her resilience to make it all happen for herself. She put her mind to something, and just stuck with it through the very end.

There are hard aspects to producing your own CD as well, and I asked Torch to clarify as to what those trials and tribulations exactly entailed.


“Hardest part was when they sent over the final copies, and hearing the little buzzes. But you can’t fix everything. Those buzzes are real. Everyone being digitally perfect is not real. Little imperfections is what life is all about. Finding a website to get the music out there (Disk Makers). Scary that there weren’t people to work with…turned out okay. Also, signing all the paper work and deeds. Understanding the law and rules of the industry.”


Torch went through a lot of effort and work to get to where she is now after the release of her album. A person earns a bit of respect when he or she accomplishes something as great as releasing a CD all on their own account. Going through both tough and good times makes a person grow stronger in terms of mentality. For Torch, this should be a good sign that once she puts her mind to something anything is possible, and we can all learn a lesson from her hard work.


Advice for Fellow Singer/Songwriters

We all can learn things from one another. For example, we can learn how to be polite, courteous, or respectful. Through Torch, other singer/songwriters can learn how to produce their own album, and understand the amount of work that is necessary to make it all work.


“First, depends on how you are recording (studio or at home). Organize and plan (3 steps). First, recording, all the final audio files, know how to upload everything. Second, be comfortable with Production Company, like the website, but keep self totally organized with your logistics because you have to pay attention to deadlines, read fine print, understand it and agree to it. Third, taking the final production from the company, take it to whoever digitizes it, release it to the world, and then sign more papers you will need to understand. Find a support system, like VOCAL, who is going to be there for support. Reach out to that support group.”


Torch’s three steps are a good guide to follow from someone who has been through the process. I know from personal experience, the best advice to get is from someone that has gone through the same doors you have, or at least similar experiences. For music lovers wishing to make their own dream of releasing an album come true, take Torch’s word. Find the studio in which you would like to produce in. Be comfortable with who you are working with. Become organized in order to keep track of recordings and songs. Be able to understand the legal side of the music business. Finally, find a group of people in which you can draw endless support from. A group like VOCAL, friends, family, or even co-workers are a good place to go to when you are feeling down, or just need someone to say “you got this.”


Where to now…

Now that Torch has finally released the CD of her dreams, what will she do now?


“So glad I did it. Huge sigh of relief, and happiness as well. My next music goal is to start writing again. Sounds like it should be a no brainer, but for me to write something I really need to be inspired. Writing a song is very cathartic. My way of dealing with the issue, the challenge, or the happiness…all emotions. The last song was a Christmas song for the VOCAL showcase two years ago 2015.”


Following an accomplishment like this it is nice to sit back and enjoy the after math. That feeling of “ah, I did it” sinks in, and one can get a high (not the smoking kind of course)! For Torch, all she wants to do is get back to writing more songs, and enjoying her time playing with close friends.


It is safe to say what a wonderful accomplishment this is for Torch! I wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors. If anyone would like to listen to Torch’s new album the link will be posted at the bottom of the page.


  • Written by Jordan Ellis



Torch’s website:










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video on copyright

Interview with Attorney Mark Berrier

I am posting this for the information contained therein, not as an endorsement of song secure. FYI: song secure charges 9.95 per month to register your songs (No limit) after a $5 initial charge.

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The New York Songwriters Circle 25th Anniversary

by James Linderman

There is something truly wonderful about performing your own songs at a songwriters circle.

First and foremost it is the graduating event that pulls us up from the open mic night. It seems to many of us who write songs that the open mic night is where we sharpen the skill, and the songwriters circle is where we get to not only show how sharp that skill has gotten but also where our sharpness is celebrated.

Just by being on the bill, in this invited and limited capacity, makes a statement and I believe most of us see it as a sign of ascent.

My first songwriters circle was Bluebird North in Toronto and I sat beside Melanie Doane who had won a Juno (Canada’s Grammy) for her album Adam’s Rib which was in my top 10 favourites list of all time. It was magical to not only sit beside this artist whose work I so admired completely, but to have her guitar player mention to the audience that I was a hard act to have to follow….priceless!

So if we agree that the songwriting circle is a cherished tradition then we can also agree that the New York Songwriters Circle is the most cherished of all, in this, it’s 25th year.

To try and imagine all of the incredible moments that have taken place over that time would be only possible if you had been involved with it for a long time and fortunately I got to ask the host and co-ordinator of the New Your Songwriters Circle, Tina Shafer these 11 questions that will give you a very good idea of what it has been like over the years and where she believes the NYSC is headed in the future.

Q. What did you think of the Circle the first time you went?

A. The first time I went, I was invited to be a performer. I was a songwriter signed to Warner Chapel at the time and performing in a “round”, listening to other people’s tunes and not having to carry the whole show was a delight to me!

Q. Did you make any significant changes once you started hosting?

A. The format remained the same but I used many of my early co-writers and voice students to perform …we were all just starting out in the business and it was such a great way to share our music and perform.. Some of those artists were: Norah Jones, Jesse Harris, Richard Julian, Nellie McKay, Lisa Loeb, Vanessa Carlton, Billy Porter…

Q. How has the NYSC evolved since you first started hosting it?

A. It became kind of famous out of it’s own accord, there really was no other “in the round format” in those early days and the amazing talent just brought more of the same in from all over the country, and eventually from all over the world.  We soon had ASCAP nights, BMI and SESAC nights, we had SONY nights, Nashville Nights, Pop nights, R&B nights….It was truly an amazing time for songwriters and a few of us started having real success!

Q. What is the significance of hosting the Circle at The Bitter End?

A. The Songwriters Circle was actually the brainchild of the late Ken Gorka, owner and manager of the famous club.  I never planned to take it anywhere else once I started hosting it in 1991.

Q. Are your younger writers able to appreciate the significance of the NYSC and the Bitter End location?

A. It really depends, some do, some don’t.  Most of the time we do let the writers know that it is truly something special that they were chosen to be a part of our community and that the Bitter End represents one of the original spots to hear great songwriting. Really, the vibrations that come from that room are haunting, in a great way. It is a place where the music makes a difference and there is a transformation that comes from listening to a song in it’s purest form in a place like that.

Q. Is it interesting to go from a “Young Performers Night” to a night of veteran celebrity writers?

A. Yes it is a shift! Wisdom, craft and experience make for some incredible performances by the more seasoned writers.  You really feel like they are our troubadours. They have a voice that is truly their own. In watching the young songwriters, you get to see the “diamonds in the rough” and all that goes with the budding of new talent. Often, many of them are still finding their true voices and their own uniqueness.

Q. What are some of the special showcase moments that made you say, “There it is! That is what this is all about”?

A. Talent is so subjective… but then there are just those few rare artists that you simply have to watch, you have to listen. For me that was Jane Kelly Williams, Billy Porter (Tony Winner for Kinky Boots), Nellie McKay, Vanessa Carlton, Rob Mathes, The Story, Jesse Harris, Richard Julian…these artists always made me listen, I just couldn’t help it. There was something there that was so pure, you had to listen…

Q. Does your own personal success as a songwriter with songs on recordings that have sold over 33 million copies make it easier to attract top tier songwriters when you are assembling a roster that will fill the room?

A. It is easier certainly, since I have known some of these songwriters from cowrite sessions and from being a vocal coach, but also from being in the industry for so many years, my own success as a songwriter translated into greater access to hit songwriters for the Circle when we set up those pro nights.

Q. Why the focus on songwriting as a performance art? Why is performing songs by the songwriters valuable?

A. This is a great question! One that I really struggled with when trying to turn the Circle into a company back in 2006 with our famous songwriting contests. For me, seeing the “man behind the curtain” and the process of what goes into making a song out of thin air, was always the most fascinating part.

We songwriters tend to be cerebral, shy people…that is why most of us choose songwriting and then only performing on a safe stage. We take the time to think through our thoughts, emotions and spin a tapestry of words and music into a 3 minute song that capsulizes that.  To me that creative process is the great unknown, the greatest miracle.

Q. What would the late Ken Gorka think of how the NYSC has progressed in 25 years?

A. I was lucky enough to know that Ken was very very proud of my work. He told me so and when he passed last March, his wife and daughter came up to me and told me how much he respected my work with the songwriting community through the Circle. It meant a great deal to me.

Q. How should the Circle progress in the next 25 years? What should change or remain?

A. That is the million dollar question! For the most part, through all the years, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the power of great content. That has always been the consistent factor.

What I would like to see, moving forward, is greater sponsorships so we can offer some form of scholarship support to some of the newer up and coming talent. Right now, the Circle hires a videographer, photographer, sound man and promoters and paying talented people their worth makes it difficult to invest in the future of our Circle and in the future of our writers. It would be great to see some sustainable growth.

We hope that investment will come from a community that wants to continue to have a rich and vibrant culture filled with the beauty of songs performed by the artists that created them!

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