All posts by Matt Manion

June 2019 VOCAL Showcase

Performers:
Matthew Costello
John Ellis
Dick Upton (with Mirek Formacek)

The June 2019 VOCAL Showcase took place on Monday June 17, 2019 at O’Tooles Irish Pub.  It was a night of excellent musicianship and inspired lyrics.

Matthew Costello

Matthew humorously introduced his first song “Driving” as “a Showcase virgin song” in that he has never performed it at the Showcase before.  The lively number, a collaboration with Roy Kauffman, addresses a former lover who’s “driving the young boys wild.”

“Dark-eyed Mystery”, Matthew’s second selection, slower than the first, was a beautiful song of romantic longing.  This song was also a collaboration with Roy.

The third song in the set, “What Would You Do if You Knew”, describes a situation most, if not all, of us have experienced:  being attracted to another person but not feeling comfortable sharing that information.  The lyrics include “Watching you from across the room, wishing it was me that made you laugh…”, “If you knew that I’m scared to tell you how I feel” and “What would you do if you knew?”  The song included Matthew’s expressive picking on the strings and percussive slaps on the body of the guitar.

The rhythmic love song “Matter’s to Me” followed, with lyrics “I’ll be there, so don’t be late” and “You’re all that matters to me.”

Matthew ended his set with crowd pleaser “Digging for Elvis”, another Kauffman collaboration, a funny and startling song about a fanatical Elvis fan obsessed with The King!

John Ellis

After thanking O’Tooles for hosting the Showcase, and Larry Cody for creating the VOCAL Showcase table announcements, John treated the crowd to “Blues #1”, a rock instrumental that came from John’s experimenting with his first home recording system.

“I’ll be There for You” followed.  John was inspired to write the song when a friend of his was losing her beloved dog due to illness.  It’s a song of support with a wide range of dynamics and a haunting use of harmonics during the lead guitar solo.

John introduced his third song, “The Stranger”, as a little darker, bluesy rock number.  Lyrics include “Love is a stranger, I can’t get to know…..How can I find, what I’ve never known…..Love is a stranger to me.”  It’s quite effective in capturing the frustration of wanting but not yet finding love, and sounds like it’s coming from the depths of the soul of a man who can almost taste it.  John’s pre-recorded tracks added depth and fullness as he played and sang live with the tracks.

John finished his set with the upbeat rocker “In My Place” about letting go of a lover who kept her heart locked away.  “You never said you loved me…..go find what you’re looking for.”

Dick Upton (with Mirek Formacek on guitar)

Dick announced at the beginning of his set that he had three (3) new songs…..including one that he finished that morning.  Mirek Formacek provided lead guitar during the set as Dick played keyboard, guitar and sang.

Dick began on keyboard with a bluesy number entitled “Driftwood”.  “Standing on the levee, watching the driftwood float by….”  Dick’s soulful, deep, rich voice gives his music a gritty southern authenticity.

“Why I Do What I Do” followed, with Dick again on keyboard.  A moving, powerful song, it was slower and more meditative, about a relationship.  It contained the lyrics “I’ve been thinking about you….I’ve been thinking about you and me….. I’ve been searching for a long, long time… to find a way to ease my mind.”  Mirek added captivating lead guitar to Dick’s keyboard and vocals.

Dick switched to guitar for “Like When We First Fell in Love”, a song about wanting to rekindle the original spark in your lover’s eyes after being a relationship of many years.  “I wanna get back to when we first fell in love.”

The bouncy “Drive Me Crazy” references “…the long, long legs…” that drive the singer to distraction.  “You can drive all the way to L.A…..you always drive me crazy.”  Next, “Put Down the Bottle” featured Dick’s fingerwork on the acoustic guitar that meshed nicely with Mirek’s fine electric guitar work.

Dick returned to the keyboard for “My Spiritual Home”, which Dick wrote in a Key West Tiki bar.  The song evoked images of seagulls, the shoreline, the moonrise and contained the lyrics “Give me cool water to sail on, warm sand to walk on, a bar I can lean on.  For I might keep to myself, but I’m never alone in my spiritual home.”

Dick and Mirek finished their set with “Going Down to Georgia”, an upbeat bluesy piano tune that highlighted the duo’s natural interplay as accomplished musicians.

An outstanding night of original music!