March 2020 VOCAL Songwriters Showcase

The March 2020 VOCAL Showcase took place on Monday, March 9, 2020 at O’Toole’s Irish Pub. The showcase had a Spring theme, so performers were asked to perform at least one song with that in mind.

Joan Smith opened the show with Emergence, a Spring-like love song calling for the awakening of her heart. She followed with Pot of Gold, a search for something more in life, possibly even leading to a leprechaun at the end of a rainbow! The Yes Man is a unique a cappella doo-wop style song, giving it back to the man dangling too-good-to-be-true offers in front of you. Let’s see your credit score and I’ll see what I can do!

Gary Luong, who’s only been writing for a year or so, opened with a really cool heartbreak song, You’re the One Who Taught Me Guitar. His next room-quietening tune was a very delicate Ed Sheerin-ish number, recounting the advice from his father (I’ve Got to Give Back My Love to You). He enlisted the grooving help of a looping machine for his last tune, saying we’re still young and have plenty of time to live out our lives together.

Bill Kaffenberger returned to the VOCAL stage with three of his offerings. Early Spring was written by his friend and local RVA songwriter Steve Antonacci, who recently passed away. This is a really touching song about the promises Spring will bring, and Bill plans to play this at Steve’s upcoming memorial service. She’s So Real describes the girl with a heart a million miles high, and a smile a million miles wide. If only he could get near her to tell her! What am I Doing Here has him sitting on his hands, with no one listening to what he has to say. Things have never been good to him, and probably never will be. You may never strike a chord anywhere near fame, but you can’t give up or you’ll lose the game.

Jim Puckett then took the stage with The Sunshine Knows Your Name, where the warm Spring sun trumps all the bitterness that Winter can throw at you. Lenten Roses delivers on the promise of Spring, with the beauty of the blooming flowers, showing the fruit of your labors. Doesn’t the Rain Still Fall had some really cool images of the sun always shining, the wind sneaking down the mountain, babies always crying, etc.

Long-time member Karen Trump graced the stage after quite a long absence. It was great to hear her stellar roots/folk/blues offerings. God’s Redeeming Grace was reminiscent of the Carter Family, a Spring-ish number about falling in love when the flowers are in bloom. Silver-Tongued Devil was a delightfully dark number about succumbing to temptation. No Spring Chicken is something most of us can relate to. While we’re still quite able in a lot of areas, there’s certainly nothing wrong with hitting the sack at 9:30! Welcome back, Karen!

Martin McNeil brought us some fine British muse with Back in Your Arms Again, asking for his lover to hold and soothe him. Give Myself Up to the Night was a poignant number, crying all the tears at the station, and hitting the road on the 8:39 train. He ended with In My Breakdown, receiving an arrow through the heart from his former lover.

Norman Roscher ended the evening of original music as only he can do. My Bitch Lad was a very irreverent (but tender and loving) tune about a young lad walking through the woods when he was “taken in” by a woman for her personal needs. So was there a loser in this transaction? He then delivered a tune written by fellow “Vocal-onian” Bill Wellons, Gonna Take My Baby Dancing. This is just a really happy, feel-good song about kicking your feet up on the dance floor! Waiting for The Moon is a signature Norman tune from the Dog’s New Clothes era, and is always a crowd favorite!

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