Once again, due to pandemic restrictions, VOCAL’s monthly showcase was a virtual affair on facebook. However: This did not deter two fine musicians from performing their songs to a viewing public. In case you have wondered what happened to good music these days, look no further than this showcase. These performers don’t use computer generated tracks, featuring instruments nobody can play, auto tune their VOCALs, think a lyric is best repeated over and over again, or write melodies that can fit under a pancake. Theirs is humanly generated and heart felt composed. Consider the following:
First up tonight was David Atkins, a music teacher, and songwriter extraordinaire, (note: His first four songs featured backing tracks which added to the fullness of the presentation). He opened his set with “Wish You Were Here”, an upbeat tune that described how his cheating wife taunted him by sending post cards from wherever she was with her lovers. This was followed by one of David’s classic tunes, “The House on Leaksville Road”. In it he revisits his old abandoned house and relives memories of his past wife, sadly looking back as he drives away for the last time. “Gray” reminds us that all things are not as they seem, not necessarily black or white. We should consider the subtleties in life, look underneath the surface. This was followed by “Songs” a rundown of various types of songs, but settling on the best are those from people who sing their own songs, much like himself. Finally: To close out this half of the showcase, David in acoustic mode, presented “Only One Drink In The Bottle” a country song about trying to drown bad memories of a past love in alcohol.
Next up on the program was Doug Patrick, a long VOCAL member and truly a fine mostly folk songwriter and performer. His guitar picking is extraordinary. “House On The Mountainside” tells the tale of the singer wishing to settle down with his love and find a peaceful life in country home of his dreams. The song title “Full Time Love” pretty much details what the singer is attempting to achieve. In it he says “don’t want to be on your short list, not a part time lover”. Hopefully, he succeeds. Next up on his set was a song which ( I thought) very much emulated John Prine. “A Special Place In Heaven” dedicated to his wife, in which he says she’s got to be an angel to put up with his shenanigans, he also hopes she will be there with him at the end. “Together” was a new song describing two lonely souls who try to put aside their differences and find common ground in their mutual experiences. The environment is a big issue with Doug, and he cares very much about the future of this planet. This is exemplified, in his song “Leave It Like We Found It” a song reminding us to be aware of what he’ve done and what we can do to keep the earth from disintegrating into ruin. Recycle. For those who came before us, life was much more difficult, and Doug tells us about the lessons he learned in “At My Grandaddy’s Knee” Listening to tales of farm life and how tough if was for his grand father to make his way in the world. Lastly, but not forgotten, was an old song from around the Vietnam era, “News From Home” in which a soldier is relating the stories he hears from letters sent to him about what is going on at home. Unfortunately, the news isn’t that great. His brother is running with a rough crowd, for example, and mom and dad are have problems, as well. Which of course, isn’t good news for him either.
The variety of songs tonight was astounding. the performances stellar, and they show us that real music still lives and is being created today by real people not machines.