The November 2020 VOCAL Virtual Showcase spotlighted the Songwriters of the Year and writers of the Songs of the Year. There were ties in both categories for the first time, so we had multiple performers. The Songwriter of the Year award went to Jim Puckett, Keely Burn, and Glen King. Song of the Year went to Jim Puckett, Matt Manion and Jeff Wagner. This was the first virtual showcase using Zoom while streaming via FB Live, which brought us the best technical production we’ve seen since closeting ourselves during the pandemic.
Jim Puckett opened the show with Things Happen Fast, an interesting tale of reversal of fortune, falling from grace, etc. Learning How to Say Goodbye was a winner of Song of the Year, a well-crafted tune about saying goodbye to a past lover. Sand With Candy is an ode about not “getting above your raisings”, eating humble pie, etc. “you think you hit a home run, then they throw you out at second base”. I like eating sand with candy, and still haven’t had my fill! Home Tonight is a lovey-dreamy song, where he’s daydreaming and looking forward to getting back home with that special someone. He ended his set with Oh Alena, an ode to a midwife from years ago who delivered 1,000 babies in the hills around the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Keely Burn then took the virtual stage with Not Afraid, a bold song about learning, maturing, trusting yourself in your own skin, etc. She next delivered Lightning, asking if you could see me now, would you let me stay? Out of Control is a new song reminiscent of the mythical Sirens, where she’s a guiding light that pulls you to the shore, and you are satellite trapped in her orbit now. Come Down Love is a signature Keely song about a smooth operator who refused to call her a lover. Charge me up and turn me on, plant your flag on me!
Matt Manion brought us a few of his well-crafted tunes. Let Me Tell You Mama Things Have Changed describes how dating has changed slightly through the years, especially with this liberation thing! Losing My Hair was reminiscent of the days when he was able to actually grow hair. He never felt so naked in bed! The Last Man on Earth is a David Bowie-ish number, where weekends are bad, the holidays the worst. Boys on the Beach is recounting a memorable summer vacation at a beach house. Don’t Stand by Me is a cool tune about a trumpet player who was cheating on his wife, so whatever he does, don’t stand by me!
Jeff Wagner took the stage with his “Hurricane trilogy”, starting with Wide Open Wyoming and Slow Moving Mississippi being thrown together by a hurricane (they never knew what hit them!) He was pulled to the mountains, she to the sea. Can’t Run Anymore, written for his daughter, describes her situation after multiple surgeries (tough as nails, held together by screws). You can’t run any more, but with that shining spirit, you’ll certainly go far! He ended his set with Sometimes, where he is vividly remembering a love from the past. We used to dance, with no talk of love or romance. Even though I’d never go back again, I miss that joy and pain, sometimes!
Another wonderful VOCAL virtual showcase, and congrats to all the award recipients!