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May 2019 VOCAL Showcase

May 2019 VOCAL Showcase.

Welcome to O’Toole’s, the home of the VOCAL songwriters showcase every third Monday of the month. Tonight was no exception as two fine performers presented their wares to an attentive audience.
First up on the schedule was Jim Puckett, a relatively new VOCAL member. He opened his set with “Watcha Got” a cautionary tale that offered the message of whatcha do is more important that whatcha got. “Come A Little Closer” made the romantic suggestion to close the space between the two lovers so the space between them wouldn’t fit a two dollar bill. This was followed up by “Ruth” a tribute to a lady who had the patience of Job and the kindness of Ruth who was killed in a car accident. caused presumably by the singer, who’s now atoning for her death. After “Nothing Goes Wrong”, a likely song “Feeling Lucky” took on the theme of taking chances in your life. Jim closed out the set with “Our Own Blues” which depicted sort of a troubled relationship where the participants wonder what they are doing when they thought it was all under control.

Featured artist of the evening was Richard Hinman, accompanied by three other band mates, Rich Castille on Bass, son Richard Hinman Jr. on flattop dobro guitar, and Brad Barnhill on acoustic guitar. THh group demonstrated various style of music from country, to folk, rock and pop type songs. “Which Way to Arkansas” was a road song about looking for a place to settle down and find some peace in life. “At The Honkytonk” , the singer expresses his interest in a lady he sees dancing, wishing he were out there with her, “Ridge Runner” was a tale about avoiding the revenuers in the back country , featured a music track that resembled travelling, Reminiscing was the theme of “Remembering You”. The dobro was featured on “Loonie Mae” a story about a scary dream. Richard Jr. was the singer on “Whining Of a Diesel” about a trucker who misses his loved ones. One of the highlight songs of the night was “Tennessee Vols” which told the story of two civil war soldiers who were trying to escape capture and possible death at the hand of the Union army. This was followed by “Lost” and “Big Bob” “Darkness” was song about the trauma of the singer trying to come to grips with the dark moments in his life and proclaiming, “If I make it through the darkness, I’ll be coming back to you.” The last song in Richard’s set, co-written with Glen King, was “My Sweet Heaven” which was a pleasant fantasy about a beach beauty, the singer has in his sights.

Another great night of original music.

VOCAL Feb. 2019 Showcase

VOCAL Showcase–Feb. 2019

A great night for music, hosted by Norm Roscher, at O’Toole’s bar and grille, before a huge crowd of music afficiandos.

Steve Nuckolls

The showcase began with long time member and audience favorite Steve Nuckolls. Steve brings a high lonesome tenor voice to his original songs that rings with authenticity, sincerity and truth. “that Old Road” tells the story of the back road country of Western Virginia where he grew up and paints a fine portrait of the countryside. Continuing in the country vein, “Rocky Top” wishes that all the little towns in the hills of Appalachia would have the atmosphere of old time country living, friendly people, and hospitality. “Gibson” is a sweet song about the singer’s longing to own a guitar he sees hanging on the wall in a furniture store. The song “Where The Morning Glories Grow” is a sad, yet happy tale of making choices in life that have profound effects. Next in Steve’s set was “Daddy Come Home, Soon” was the tale of a mother’s task of overseeing her kids and making sure they keep attending their activities such as church and sports till daddy comes home. One song that always shines and pleases the audience, is “Something About Your Love’ which is a sweet love song that tells of the singer’s attraction to his love and sports a singable chorus. “Normandy” was a sorrowful tales of visiting that site of a horrendous WWII battle and the memories it evokes. Where can you find inspiration for a song? How about in your own backyard, or alley as the next song demonstrated. Al the “Alleyman” goes around collecting cans for recycling and refuses to take charity from the neighbors whose alley he prowls, proving that even the down and outers have their dignity. Last song of the set was “Everything’s Just Too Good’ which was the VOCAL song of the year in 2018 and relates with what body parts the singer can appreciate his love interest as in two good arms to hold, two good eyes to see you etc. adding up to it all being too good.

Jeff Wagner

Jeff Wagner is a relative newcomer to VOCAL, and has done an open mic but never been a featured performer on the showcase. Tonight he corrected that with his set of original tunes. “The Reckless Kind” spun a tale of wild and crazy folks trying to get by in the world, followed by “Sometimes The Fire” in which the singer is a bartender offering advice to a heartbroken customer and swearing he’ll stand by and give support to her as it is needed. “a House Burning In The Town, Tonight” perhaps is autobiographical as it tells the tale of a musician who decides to quit music, but can’t stay away and eventually goes back to playing with a vengeance. Another sort of autobiographical story, to which most of the older folks in the audience could relate, was “I’m Not Ready To Go To Seed” in which the singer tries to adapt to advancing age by wearing longer hair (hippie style?) and reliving the old songs of his youth. The audience joined in on the chorus. Following that, the song “My Big Brother” was a really nice tribute to a long ago deceased brother who the singer keeps alive in memory, even though, he barely got to know him. “She Was Raised On Sad Songs” tells us of a lady who was in remorse, until she met a guy with a guitar and through making music together, found a source of happiness. A little bit of musical musing can next in the song “Bazouki” somewhat cryptic in nature, which then followed by “Song Songs We Need To Play” encouraging us to not give up to early on those songs which have meaning in out life. The last song of the set, and a stirring bit of musicality, was a tribute to the indigenous people of the Mattoponi tribe. This song filled the room with images of native American life, touching on tribal rituals and symbols such as drum beats, eagles, full moon and talking to the “old ones” for wisdom. Jeff even included some drum beats on the guitar to emphasize the subject.
Once again: the showcase proved the versatility and depth of the writers who belong to VOCAL.

2019 VOCAL Open Mic,

January 2019 VOCAL Showcase

Norman Roscher
Norman Roscher

Welcome to the first open mic night of the year. While the temperature took a dive into frigidity, the atmosphere in O’Toole’s was warm and toasty for some original music.

Hosting the event was stalwart entertainer Norm Roscher. To kick off the night he exhibited his exuberant piano styling with a couple of his tunes. “Yer Beautiful” was a tribute to an an attractive lady who evinced the qualities of the title in her style of dress and looks. “Apple Wine”, an older song rarely done by Norm, was a wistful journey into a young romance that ended sadly with one participant leaving the country.

Steve Nuckolls
Steve Nuckolls

Next up was another stalwart of VOCAL, Steve Nuckolls, who regaled the huddled audience with a trio of his well written songs. “Saturday Morning With Emmie Lou” Was tale of learning to play along with her (Emmie Lou Harris’s) songs, proudly gearing up for the session with new guitar strings and picks. He followed that with “Each Town Has It’s own Rocky Top” which illustrated how small towns have a great country vibe of people and atmosphere. A song written while running, was next. “When Like Turns to Love” which analogized the transformation of emotions to the weather.

Jeff Wagner
Jeff Wagner

A fairly new member of VOCAL, Jeff Wagner, on guitar, followed Steve. “Wide Open Wyoming” was a tale of two separated lovers who fouhd a way to come together by compromising their geographic differences, in a hurricane, no less. “I Think I Might Forget, This Time” details a desire to get over a past relationship but the singer keeps getting images of her, that won’t go away, and leaves him perplexed. Jeff closed his set with “Who’s Your God” a sort of self explanatory song that asks the listener to think about what they worship.

Keely Burn
Keely Burn

Keely Burn, a younger member of VOCAL, came on stage next with her newly acquired baritone ukulele and tested out her chops on “I’m Not Afraid” a work in progress, but still well done. Next, she performed “Come Down Love” , which she opened with a whistle intro, before getting into the song. This was a plea to an unrequited lover to recognize her and give her a chance at romance with the line “Plant your flag on me”. “Lightning” was the next tune. In this one, she seems to be mad at a love interest for being jilted, somewhat amazed at quickly emotions can change.

To round out the night, Norm returned to play a few more of his songs. In his more bawdier manner, the first song was “Mr. Calls Got Big Balls” followed by a co-written ( Pam McCarthy) tune “Idle Time” and closing out with a standard of his”So Long Baby, Bye Bye”.
Once again, a great night of music was provided and enjoyed by all present.

Happy New Year from VOCAL.

VOCAL Nov. 2018 Showcase.

VOCAL Showcase: Nov. 19, 2018

The showcase keeping rolling on. Tonight’s performers brought their “A” game to O’Toole’s to entertain the assembled multitude. Featured on the bill were Bill Wellons and Flashlight Tag ( a duo made up of Bryan Phelps and Justin Laughter).
Bill Wellons led off the night at he keyboard with a selection of old and new tunes.
First off was “Brand New Game” which implied how thw world has changed with regard to morality. We have more crooks and thieves now than ever. Perhaps a shot at the current political world. “Back On Solid Ground” told the story of lovers who go through trials and tribulations but always manage to end up back together. In “Mere Humans” we get the idea that there is much to learn, but we seem not to get the message from our teachers, like nature and Jesus. How much abuse can you stand? that is the question Wellons poses in “A Woman”s Touch” and answers, a lot, if the end result is, a home is just a house without a woman’s touch. A new song “Little Fat Man” followed, wondering what are we going to do about this guy Kim Jung Un of N.Korea? Some folks never leave this country, but still and all, they intuit what the world is about from just living and observing their surroundings, which is what Bill tells us in another new selection, “I’m a Cosmopolitan”. Lastly, “I Still Remember Your Smile” reminisces about memories from distant days and years past and ponders the struggles we go through.
Before Flashlight Tag did their joint set, each member did a set of songs solo.
Bryan Phelps started his performance with “Cities Divide”, followed by “You Look At Yourself” ( more than I look at you) a little poke at self absorption replete with Italian lyrics. his last song was in his words a combination of folk and hip hop, but really more Dylanesque, as he ran through a fast litany of images too quick to fully grasp in “Tom, the Jackhammer”.
He was followed by a solo set by Justin Laughter, which included the songs “30 Odd” “Know” saying “I should have looked before I leaped, but what did I know.” and he ended with the song “Warning”
Back together as Flashlight Tag, the duo exhibited a fine ear for syncopated rhythms as they exchanged guitar licks on their set of songs sung by Justin. “More”, “Born”, “Believe”, “Try”, “Sure”, “Beacon”, “Stitch”, and ending with the novelty song “Hush Puppies” featuring Bryan in a run down of the delights of eating at Captain D’s fast seafood restaurant. Who needs lobster, when you get get hush puppies, cole slaw and a fish fry?
As for me, I’ll take O’Toole’s onion rings.

September 2018 Showcase

VOCAL Showcase Sept. 2018

Never say never. Neither wind, rain, sleet, snow or tornadoes, in this case, could stop VOCAL from conducting their monthly showcase, albeit, a week late. This month’s showcase was our quarterly open mic spectacular at O’Toole’s, at which VOCAL members and the general public are invited in to perform their original material , While there was a paucity of audience, there was a plethora of performers.
Emcee Norman Nortledorf opened the proceedings with “Fantasy” written by Glenn Habel, a tale of magic and make believe, followed by his own “Hyperplastic Polyp” a delve into his colon, which was deep sublect for a song.
Aaron Tidd followed with a three song set of tunes including “We Evolve” about a relationship on the rocks, a new song “More to Life” and “A thousand Years”.
VOCAL member John Ellis performed next with his set, consisting of “I’ll Be There For You” in which he professes to stand by his love regardless of what life may bring, “Time Piece” was a tasty instrumental, and to close “You Don”t Love Me, Anymore”. which is self explanatory.
“Bat Shit Crazy” was the first song by Michael Muscarella in which he describes himself as a fool, but “Bat Shit Crazy” in love with her. That was followed by “When I Kiss You” wonderful things happen, and his last song Ray Of Light”.
Steve Nuckolls is a long time VOCAL member and this year’s “Songwriter of the year” and “Song of the year” award recipient. He opend his set with “Hand-Me-Downs” a tale of growing up less than wealthy and relying on hand-me-down items like a bike and clothes. “Rocky Top Towns” referred to those little towns in hill country that have their own special ambience that attracts people to visit and live there. “Two Good” his award winning song followed and it is a loving tribute to why he loves the singee, who had two good arms and two good lips etc. to keep him attracted.
Linwood Boswell runs the open mic at Carytown Coffee in Midlothian, and also performs. “Taxi” takes the singer into a fantasy of being in a taxi and confessing his love to the passenger . Conflicts in life are common between lovers and ” I May Forget Some Things” explores that concept as the singer confesses to forgetting some specifics, but never forgetting “Meeting you was my best day”. Lastly, his closing song. “Fire” exhorts the singee to “wait” until he finds himself.
Closing out the night, long time VOCAL member Gary Shaver performed two songs on the keyboard. Exhibiting his talented chops, he opened with “It’s A Cryin” Shame” about the end of a relationship in which the singee leaves him after a feeling neglected. “Telling Me Goodbye” reflects on the feeling the singer has that his love is about to call it quits by dropping some subtle and not so subtle hints about saying goodbye to him.

All in all, it was a great night for music , Too bad the weather affected the turnout.

July 2018 VOCAL Showcase

July 2018 VOCAL Showcase

Tonight’s VOCAL songwriters showcase featured three performers with totally different styles of music. First up was newcomer Jim Puckett, with guitar and harmonica, and a hard playing Appalachian style, Started off with his first tune, “What Went Wrong”, a chronicle of the singer’s miseries, with lines such as “Nobody to talk to”, “My money’s all gone” etc. to support the title. “Doesn’t the Rain Still Fall” was followed by “Riverside”. a sad tale of a backwoods romance which was followed by “Lenten Roses” a story of love lost and a hope for it’s return. Next song was “Shaky Leg” in which the singer was trying to runaway from his past, and having a hard time at it. Jim’s final tune in his set was “Stand In the James” which hit home with the audience, due to it’s local proximity of the James River. The message here was that the James offers a way to relieve one’s self of the cres that plague us every day and the rush of the water is a healing balm.
Shifting gears, and instruments, Keely Burn, a talented young lady, set up her keyboard and began her pop influenced set. “Waltz” iirst out of the box, was the singer’s personal statemetn on love which seemed to imply cautiousnes and contemplation. She continued on her philosophical bent with “When I’m Acting” in which she sung about how much better she is appreciated when she putting on a character that appeals to the singee, which is less reactive and more passive. “Sky Song” had an intereesting chord sequence which was reminiscent of a 10CC song, That was followed by “The Spirit In Me” aptly played on the organ setting to give a churchy ambience to the song, Keely closed out hewr set with “The Illusive Rhythm” an interesting conversation imagined between the Great Gatsby and his love Daisy. as was noted by many in the audinece, Keely has become a performer to be reckoned with, creating interesting piano melodies and pithy lyrics.
Last up for the night was Andrew Rohlik, wlo has appeared at a VOCAL showcase a time or two in the past, but not in awhile. Contrasting with the previous two perfromers, in style, he plays electric guitar with a vengeance, and a huge dose of funk and soul. He kicked it off with “Take For Granted” which had the songer sort of caught between being able to read his musical object like “an open book” yet trying to convince her of his sincerity, even though she thought he was taking her for granted. “Fine” a tale of not to worry, everything will work out, was punctuated with Andrew’s soul shouting, which also appeared in some of his next material. “Time To Spend” was a message of patience, with lines like “I’d like to get to know you” and “take it slow”, accented musically by a lot of funky guitar riffs. Next song “For What It’s Worth” was desacribed as a breakup song, and indeed, included the line “I’m fine being single”. Using his pedal effects, Andrew went for the wawa sound, so common in past r and b material, on “Lost and Found” and then shifted to a latin beat with “Pique” or “Peak”, which posed the question “where do we go from here”. Creating a singalong, he continuted with “Heads or Tails” with the chorus “we were never meant to bem why can’t you see” which engaged the audience. His high energy performance called for an encore, and Andrew obliged with the song
Through the Fear”. Hs perfromance definitely was different for a VOCAL showcase where country and pop reign supreme most nights.

VOCAL showcase May 2018

VOCAL Showcase. May 2018.
Open mic night.
Every quarter, VOCAL holds its open mic night, which allows anyone with original songs to get up before the mic and perform. Tonight, there were a host of various artists sharing their music, including some new to VOCAL. To kick off th evening Norm Nortledorf, acting as emcee, began with his song “I’m a Fool” a sad exploration of the singer’s opinions of himself as in “I’m a simple man, no dreams.” Jim Puckett, aw newcomer to the showcase, followed with a set of 3 songs including “Vegas By Now” a tale of two kids who get locked up on the way to as Vegas and are ruing their actions, “Pick Up the Phone” was a desperete cry for help, and “Red Dog” told the tale of West Virginia miners who had to suffer when the mines shut down.
Up next was returning performere Martin McNeil, who’s done a couple of showcases for VOCAL over the last year. Originally from Ca. he now lives in Richmond and plays around town at the various clubs. He comes on with a very high energy approach to his material. “Second Hand Girl” told the story of trying to make it Hollywood, the line “You don’t get anywhere without giving it up” sums up the gist of the song. “Life on the Road” bemoans the difficulty of driving for a living and being away from family and friends with the observation “It ain’t nothing, if you ain’t got love.” “Taking Leave of the City” (intuited titile) was followed by “Apothecary For a Broken Heart” which detailed possible remedies for fixing a love gone wrong.
Aaron Pidd, another newcomer to the showcase followed McNeil. His first song was “What Love Is” in which he tried to explain how to win at the game by making “promises to win” but never quite getting there. A very pretty ballad which he wrote as a teenager, “whisper” came next followed by “We Evolve” which is to say, “we move on” as circumstances dictate. He closed out his set with “Turn My Face and Cry” a sad song of loss.
And, now for something completely different. Rap. We don’t get many (none) rappers doing a VOCAL showcase, but tonight proved the exception. Jay and CD, two young guys stepped up to the mic and proceded to wow the audience with a short set of 3 raps all with backing tracks, “Brand New” either a title or definition was first, followed by I’ll Do You” with CD beat boxing, and lastly, “Soul Far” a long rap that left people wondering how he could have memorized all those words.
Closing ou the night was the group “The Trestle Walkers”, a trio featuring Jeanne Bishop on vocals, Jamie Joyner on upright bass, and Steve Brookings on electric guitar. Their set kicked off with “Cold Dark Hill” followed by “Lured” a rather bluesy type song making good use of Ms. Bishop’s voice, next came “Stare Down The Sun” and then, “Spirit Witch” inspired by the sight of an old black gentleman walking down the street. The trio worked well together in finding the entry and exit points to the songs which, were of anarrative style.
A varied night of music and some unexpected suprises were well appreciated by the audience .

March 2018 Showcase overview.

March 2012 Showcase
Tonight was the 320th consecutive VOCAL songwriters showcase. Thwre were two featured performers, Martin NcNeil and Steve Fisher.
McNeil , making his second showcase appearance, was first up, on electric guitar. A, very energetic singer, he kicked off his set with “The Love You Give To Me’ which was followed by “Don’t Need a Light/I Believe in You”. This was succeeded by a take-off of The Everly Brothers song “Cathy’s Clown” which was more of a slower version snf more emotional. “I’m Out Of Love” was followed by a faster mover titled “Life On The Road”. A cover of an Emmylou Harris song “In My Dreams” led into the last song of his set, “I’m Comin” Tonight.” Mcneil was well received by the audience for his energetic and vigorous guitar work and singing. After a change over , Steve Fisher stepped up to the mic. He is a long time VOCAL member currently with the local “Tin Can Fish Band” which is well known around Richmond.
Fist song in his set, on electric guitar, was “Saving Grace” followed by “Calico Jack”. “Stowaway” came next. Switching to acoustic-electric guitar, he then performed “Never Gonna Feel”, Till a Morning Comes” and”Too Blind To See”. “Forgive Me” was followed by the crowd pleaser, “Peaceful Revelution” and the Irish tinger tune Friends of the Lord” To close out his set, Steve encored with “Turn Me Around”. Once again, he was greeted with lots of applause and good vibes from the audience.
It was an excellent night of music and conviviality as it appeared there was good feelings, coversation and love all around.

December 2017 showcase

December 2017 VOCAL showcase:
Ho-h0-ho. It was a Merry Christmas VOCAL showcase at O’toole’s on Dec. 18th. Feat;ured were many of VOCAL’s finest singer/songwriter performers, and the drawing of prizes. As a holiday oriented show, it was requested that each performer do at least one holiday themed song, and to thet extent they did just that. The show was emceed, by John Ellis, who was also the first performer up. He did two songs, (Me and my baby) On a Cold Winter’s Day which touted the benefits of staying inside and enjoying eahc other’s company in comfort from the cold outside. That was followed by an instrumental “Winter Solstice” which showcased his g;uitar picking ability. Matt Manion, on acoustic-electric guitar followed John with three selections, “God’s Thythm” which extolled the virtues of allowing God to be charge of our lives, “Quarter To Midnight” told the story of two strangers who pass in the night on Christmas Eve, and “Thank You Chuck Berry” recognized Berry sa a main contributor to Rock and Roll with many references to his oeuvre, all sung to Johnny B Good. Steve Nuckolls shared two songs “Sunrise” written while jogging, and “When Like Turns to Love” . Glenda Creamer followed Steve with a varied set of songs,
Ho-h0-ho. It was a Merry Christmas VOCAL showcase at O’toole’s on Dec. 18th. Feat;ured were many of VOCAL’s finest singer/songwriter performers, and the drawing of prizes. As a holiday oriented show, it was requested that each performer do at least one holiday themed song, and to thet extent they did just that. The show was emceed, by John Ellis, who was also the first performer up. He did two songs, (Me and my baby) On a Cold Winter’s Day which touted the benefits of staying inside and enjoying eahc other’s company in comfort from the cold outside. That was followed by an instrumental “Winter Solstice” which showcased his g;uitar picking ability. Matt Manion, on acoustic-electric guitar followed John with three selections, “God’s Thythm” which extolled the virtues of allowing God to be charge of our lives, “Quarter To Midnight” told the story of two strangers who pass in the night on Christmas Eve, and “Thank You Chuck Berry” recognized Berry sa a main contributor to Rock and Roll with many references to his oeuvre, all sung to Johnny B Good. Steve Nuckolls shared two songs “Sunrise” written while jogging, and “When Like Turns to Love” . Glenda Creamer followed Steve with a varied set of songs, “”Jesus, Meek and Mild’, “Christmas Cookies” was a humorous song about oveereating cookies, complete with sound effects (nibble nibble, crunch crunch etc). She closed with “After Christmas” a picture of the holiday aftermath. In between sets, prizes were gien to lucky ticket holders who received gift certificates and CD’s. fter the drawing, Mark Daniel started his performance with “When a Soldier Calls Home” which was a touching portrait of what home means, family, kitchen siblings etc. In the next song, the singer detailed what happened when he picked up a hitch-hiker who went on the regale him with a ll the things that makde him”A Rich Man” mostly all the free things we have around us, mountains, trees, storms, eagles and stars, for example. He closed out his set with “Big Daddy Roll On” a tale of a truck drtiver heading for home. Carey Colvin and Granger Helvey are a couple who make music together and they came up next to showcase their talents. In “Gulf of Mexico, the singer (Colvin) lays out her longing to be out of her rut and living the god life in or by the Gulf of Mexico. “Christmas Kitty” was a cute song listing all the things a cat can do to wreak havoc in and around the Christmas tree and presents, “It’s Christmas Time” typically described all the decorations and f;uss that make up the holiday, and “The Christmas Imp” was a diatribe about Elf on the Shelf, The list of performers closed out with Steve Fisher of the Tin Can Fish Band, doing a song about his “Experiences In Ireland” which outlined a short term relationship during a visit there, Mama Don’t Cry” gave an upbeat message to hang in, because everything will eventually will be all right. His final song, All We Have” had a similar message directed to hobos, that they will find a better place in the sweet bye and bye. After the final prizes of the evening were handed out, a song-along of popular Christmas songs followed. VOCAL wishes everyone a happy holiday season no matter what you celebrate.