All posts by snuckolls

December 2018 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase

The December 2018 VOCAL Showcase took place on Monday, December 17, 2018 at O’Toole’s Irish Pub. It was a very festive evening with quite a large turnout.
John Ellis opened the show with a holiday-themed “Me and My Baby on a Cold Winter Day”, a bluesy number advising us on how to stay warm on a cold winter day. “I’ll Be There for You” is a testament to dedication and loyalty to your loved one, while “You Put Me in My Place” shows the opposite perspective of a relationship.
Matt Manion then took the stage with a wonderful holiday poem he wrote when the power went out. He was prepared to write a Christmas song, but the “unplugged” poem is what emerged. He then delivered a rocking “Thank You Chuck Berry”, sparked from a John Lennon quote. If rock-and-roll had another name, it would be Chuck Berry!
The one-and-only VOCAL stalwart Don Pinkleton then pinkled our fancy with a really cool song “I Wanna Be Somewhere it Snows”, a unique story angle of a working musician somewhere out west in the Baja desert. With Christmas lights on the cactus, it’s hard to really get into the Christmas spirit. A fine treat indeed to see Don back on the stage with such a fine song. He then delivered a darker holiday tune “Mrs. Claus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”. She doesn’t make cookies or treats, and would rather hang out in her condo in Redondo than spend time with Santa at the North Pole.
Jeff Wagner then treated us to some talented writing with “I Knew You’d Never Come Back Home”, a not so “home for the holidays” theme, but probably one that some folks can relate to. The Christmas lights are gone, I took the wreath off the door, and threw the candles on the floor. Here’s a lump of coal hurled in your direction on this Christmas day! He then delivered a really cool song “Snow Drift”, about a cowboy spending Christmas Eve in a lion camp in the Rockies. It’s a lonely gig and not for everyone – they found him the next morning in a snow drift, with an empty whisky bottle frozen on his lips. “Christmas in 1963” brought back memories many of us can relate to, including train sets and an orange in your stocking. I can remember prying out the orange to get to the pecans and walnuts buried underneath!
Relative newcomer Jim Puckett then took the stage with “Beautiful Christmas”, a Thanksgiving wishbone-pulled dream of spending Christmas with a lover amidst the fresh snowfall. Hopefully it was a dream come true! He then brought out some stellar guitar licks on the bluesy “It Won’t be Christmas Again Until You’ve Got Me Wrapped up in Your Loving Arms” – I can taste your Christmas lips on mine! “It Doesn’t Have to be Christmas” is a very profound number that we can all take away, that it doesn’t have to be Christmas in order to be nice, polite, kind, generous, etc. What an inspirational message!
The very talented duo Carey Colvin and Granger Helvey returned to the showcase with several numbers, including several holiday tunes. “The Christmas Elf” was a take on the Elf-on-a-Shelf, and you better keep an eye on him, as he definitely has one on you! “It’s Christmas Time” brought out all the preparations for Christmas, with holly, cookies, gifts, etc. “Ten Thousand Arrows” isn’t a holiday song, but is very interesting and well-delivered, a signature song of theirs. They then led the group in a singalong of The Monkees “Then I saw Her Face”, followed by several Christmas carols, such as “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”, “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree”, and “Jingle Bells”. It’s always great to be Christmas-treated by Carey and Granger!
A great time was had by all in this holiday showcase!

October 2018 VOCAL Songwriters Showcase

VOCAL October 2018 Songwriter Showcase Review
The October 2018 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase took place on Monday, October 15th at O’Toole’s Irish Pub. Attendance was a bit light, but very attentive.
Steve Nuckolls opened the show with a few of his songs rooted in his experiences either growing up in the country/small town or in his historic Richmond neighborhood. He opened with “Alley Man”, an ode to the folks who wander the alleys in the city always “searching for something”. “At Home on the Backroads” followed, reminiscing about growing up in a small town and cruising the backroads of the rural area. “Something About Your Love” is an upbeat love song where he gets to exercise his falsetto. “Praying for a Rocky Top” is his newest song, bringing back memories of his favorite Rocky Top (beer and wine store) along with hints of the real Rocky Top, Tennessee. He then delivered “Two Hours from Everywhere”, describing the experience of living in a town that’s two hours from any large city, so obtaining things such as diamonds, furs, etc. are very difficult. He ended with “Lines of Love”, a love song about dedication and faith to your partner.

Headliner Markiss Blowfish (aka Mark Branch) then took the stage, delivering several blues numbers as only he can do. We were all onboard as he opened with “Engine # 9”, taking us from Jacksonville to New Orleans. He’d gambled way too much on his woman, so now he’s heading home. The percussiveness of his guitar-playing even sounded like a train. “Mama Don’t Worry Me” is another blues number, telling that woman to leave me alone! You’ve got that mink coat, diamond rings and a new house, so what more do you want? “Country Boys” is a bit of country and a little bit of blues, talking about how country boys hang out in the fresh air and green grass, but don’t play with Barbie Dolls, GI Joes, and Tonka Trucks. They saddle up the horse and buggy and get their fishing on when they can. “Bad News” is just that – nothing good to report through these words. Daddy’s in the chicken coop, my nephew is a lazy boy who can’t pay the rent. “Betty Lou” was a special girl who did him right – she’s his kind of girl. Came up from Tennessee, and really burned up that mini-skirt! I loved the Hokey-Pokey reference in the song – you put the left foot in… “She Keeps Calling Me” is another “leave me alone” number, as all this woman does is call and text my phone and wag her tongue, seven days a week. “I Work All Night Long” describes the never-ending hard life of a hard worker. I work all night long, work my fingers to the bone, there’ll be no rest for me until I’m dead and gone. He ended with another train song, “9:45 Train”. The train’s pulling out, so get your kisses on and say goodbye. Won’t be coming back no more. A mighty fine delivery from the blues master Mark!

August 2018 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase

The August 2018 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase took place on Monday, August 20th before a spirited audience at O’Toole’s Irish Pub. Gerry Laverty kicked off the show, with Mark Daniel spontaneously filling in for Steve Righter, who was unable to attend.

Gerry started off with some of his newer tunes, tales of a rambler from a Northwest county in Ireland heading off to war, where battle can lead you to fortune and fame. Sweet Destiny followed, telling of riding the ancient buffalo trails, asking how many long nights have pierced this rugged heart, and how many nights have I spent chasing the stars? He followed up with Fare Thee Well to this Old Troubled Life, then took us down to Mexico with a cool-sounding story about his pursuit of an enigmatic Mexican Queen. Looking out over the rooftops of the old border town, she stands out like a diamond – la la la… And the Federales are always in the distance. Gerry then brought on the blues, accompanied by a lightning bug on stage, with Blues in the Night (no where to go to hide from the blues, no train to catch, no itch to scratch). A beautifully finger-picked I Am a House was played by request, an ode to a living structure (I am a house twelve months of the year, I don’t take vacations). This is definitely one of Gerry’s signature tunes! Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem calls for calm in this city after centuries of fighting. The harmonica-driven Your Lonesome Blue Eyes was written while travelling through Montana, and is always a crowd favorite. Another request was Zion Crossroads, referring to the intersection of routes 15 and 250 in Fluvanna County. Gerry closed out his set with yet another request, Paris. This is a very beautiful and delicate finger-picked tune about the beauty of Paris.

Mark Daniel then took the stage with several of his unique tunes. From the Inside Out asks her to just give him a chance, meet him in the middle, and don’t judge him from the outside. How Can This be Over if We Haven’t Even Started Yet asks why you keep sitting me down easy, then pushing me away. I don’t want to lose you, so I’ll just keep you in my song. Big Daddy is a blistering, cultish dropped-D tuned rocking song about a trucker trying his best to get himself home. Wherever Your Love Leads Me is a beautiful, tender love song, where love at first sight left him speechless. Loving You Makes Me Groove is a really fun, feel-good song, conjuring up the feelings you get while watching someone you admire. I’m a Rich Man tells the story of picking up a hitchhiker who imparts wisdom known to few (life’s about the little things the Lord sends your way, eagles in flight, and the treasures in Heaven when the stars come out at night). Feeling is Believing debunks the theory that the words “I love you” are just a sign of weakness (I hope you feel it too, and please forgive me for the clumsy things I do). Mark closed out the evening with a cool bluesy tune I’m On a Love Mission (don’t blame me for the dumb shit he did for you!)

This was a very special evening featuring two of VOCAL’s most talented writers!

June 2018 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase

The June 2018 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase took place on Monday, June 18th at O’Toole’s Irish Pub. This was a really special night with a collaboration between Doug Patrick and Dick Upton. They backed each other up on every song, and also had some stellar guest performers. Tim Morley and Gary Shaver joined them on harmonica and sax/clarinet, respectively, which added a very special element to their songs.

Dick opened up on his keyboards with Going Down to Georgia, a nice bluesy tune taking us down the road to the peach state. Doug then followed with a new song Make it Work, telling us you just have to do what you have to do to “get it done”! Full Time Love is another Doug tune saying I want to be front and center, not a back-seat love. Dick then brought on Distant Friend, an ode to an old friend who was fighting cancer, and who sparked his desire to resume his songwriting. Gary Shaver then joined the stage with saxophone in hand to add some wonderful flavor to the next tune. Dick delivered Put Down the Bottle, asking for help from above in getting through each day. Doug then played his signature tune New Orleans Night, with Gary accompanying on clarinet – thought I was in Dixieland for a moment! Doug then brought us River Town, his tribute to RVA and the wonderful things it has to offer. Dick sang Have you Ever Had the Blues as only he can. He started writing the song 40 years ago, and only finished it six months ago. My Spiritual Home is another really cool, tropical song from Dick about an experience playing a bar in the Florida Keys. Secretariat is a memorable tune from Doug that all horse loves can enjoy, a major source of pride for Caroline County in Virginia. He then delivered Set it Free, letting us know that we are better off than we think we are. Dick then delivered a couple of muse-inspired tunes Why I Do What I Do and Where Everybody Knows My Name. We are all influenced by our musical friends/surroundings, so it’s great to hear songs about that relationship. He was joined by Tim on harmonica and Gary on sax on these numbers. Doug has a very tender song about his grandchild, I’ll Hold You as Long as I Can, teaching lessons of love, patience, and guidance. He then delivered Leave it as you Found it, a moving number about taking care of Mother Earth. Dick ended the show with a new song, You’ll Always Drive me Crazy, featuring Gary again on sax.

This was a very special evening of musical collaboration and was enjoyed by all!

April 2018 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase

The April 2018 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase took place on Monday, April 16th at O’Toole’s Irish Pub.

Steve Nuckolls opened the show with his new “technology running my life” song Siri Alexa-fied Blues, an ode to self-driving cars, smart homes, artificial intelligence, etc. His song Countryversy contrasts the various types of backroads, country folks out there. He then played Everything’s Just Two Good, the title track of his new EP. He also played Something About Your Love, Sunrise, and Simunye, his tribute to the Zulu people in South Africa.

Headliner Glenda Creamer then took the stage. She played her entire musical she recently wrote on the life of Jesus. She started with a song about Christmas and the birth of Christ, with stories about Joseph, Mary and the Magi. She then moved on to a twelve-year-old Jesus with It’s a Long Walk to Jerusalem. The Wilderness song was about Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist. Wherever You Go is a very beautiful, tender wedding song about one’s steadfast commitment to their partner. That was followed by the Wine song, describing the reception that followed. Follow Me is another beautiful song about Jesus asking the disciples to trust and follow him. Another tune followed based on a parable, asking “wandering child, where did you go? How far did you run? You left behind hearts that love you”. Lazarus describes the story of Jesus waking Lazarus from the dead, and Glenda certainly woke up anyone in the audience who may have been sleeping at the end of the song! She then delivered Zekias, a story about the tax collector, who changes his ways and begins giving half of his possessions to the poor. After riding on the donkey to the children’s delight in Hosanna, the stories around Holy Week unfolded, with the washing of the feet, blessing the bread, and being nailed to the cross. Glenda then sang a lullaby like Mary sang to Jesus’ dead body, followed by Rise Up, Jesus is here to stay!

That was the end of another wonder showcase of original music!

February 2018 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase

The February 2018 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase took place on Monday, February 19th at O’Toole’s Irish Pub with a quite attentive crowd.

Norman Roscher opened the show with one of his classics and self-inspired Prince of the Trees, a dreamy number that many of us can relate to from our childhoods. The world might be a better place if more of us spent time in the trees! He then entertained us with his newest creation Hyperplastic Polyp. Now this isn’t just your ordinary love song you hear every day (maybe a glove song?). Being a Polyp Farmer allows you to cultivate little clones of yourself. Lost in a Dream is a love song written a year or so ago and was inspired by his friend Jeannie. Mr. Johnson’s Sticky Substance is a little ditty that many local folks can relate to if they keep up with the local news. Just don’t leave your shoes out on the porch! Lady of the Poppy is a very intriguing tune about a statuary in Hollywood Cemetary. She’s so peaceful – is she asleep? He ended his set with another tender love song, Anniversary Song, written for his love Jeannie. With all those beautiful words, she just had to be his man!

John Ellis opened his set with the instrumental A Time Piece. John demonstrates some very delicate finger-picking on his acoustic/electric with this number. He then delivered a new song, Walking With Sharon, another delicate instrumental that had a bit of Spanish classical influence. I’ll Be There for You is a song of resolve, about being there for someone you love (something we need more of). I’m Through is an ode to love lost, a good riddance/Hell-with-you tune. The Last You Could Have Done was to Call, is another love-gone-wrong song, describing the feeling when you hear your partner was seen with someone else. Brother is a minor-key electrified song saying “does she love you like she should”, or are you just hearing the siren’s song? In My Place is another anti-love song, where we had a chance at love until you threw it all away.

Headliner Mark Daniel then took the stage treating us to several of his finely-honed tunes. Big Daddy’s Ride featured some blistering finger-picking on this tune about an over-the-road trucker, and his experiences out and back to his home in Kentucky. I’m Just a Soldier Calling Home is a very moving story about his daughter, a combat photographer in the Marine Corps, and the unique perspective she has in the line of duty. The bluesy I’m On a Love Mission states how he’s trying to win your love, so don’t blame him for what a previous lover did. “Was it the whiskey talking”, the first line of How Can We be Over if We Haven’t Started Yet, may divulge the truth to this mystery – how can it all be over when things appear to be going so well? Mark delivered a mighty fine western swing tune Who’s Sad and Lonely Now. Was there a misunderstanding about how I wear my hat? A new song, You’re the One for Me”, was inspired by one of his daughters and talks of “spoken words I can’t unsay”, “feelings I can’t unfeel”. His next song was written post-breakup, and about trying to get dates – may have been some Facebook involved! What Do You Think of a Man Who Does Dishes includes a man with strong hands and a warm heart, not afraid to do his part. Another love song was revealed: Wherever Your Love Leads Me, ofte”n song by VOCAL member Eddy Kitchen: “Thought I was fishing in Heaven, casting in the Milky Way. Loving You Really Makes Me Groove is another love ditty about loving watching you, and the things you do. Charles City Rain is a cool story from 1939 describing the town suffering from a long drought, and finally getting relief with rains from the Heavens “Lord teach us to pray and send some rain down”. Feeling is Believing is yet another tender love song from Mark, debunking the theory that saying the words “I Love You” is a sign of weakness. Captain is a really cool tune written about his great-grandfather, who never came home from the Civil War. He left home on a sunny day, leaving Mom and a team to plow the land.

That was the end of another wonder showcase of original music!

September 2017 VOCAL Songwriters Showcase

The September 2017 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase took place on Monday, September 18th at O’Toole’s Irish Pub.

Steve Nuckolls opened the show with several acoustic numbers. Everything’s Just Two Good, Gibson Guitar, and Sunrise are some of his signature tunes. He had a new song Siri Alexa-fied Blues, an ode to the current technologies running a lot of people’s lives. Grayson Lady is a bluegrass tune about Grayson County in Southwest Virginia.

John Ellis took the stage as the headline performer, well-equipped with his electric and acoustic/electric guitars, pedals and backing tracks. He opened with Blues # 1, an instrumental that reminded me a bit of the rock band Focus (Hocus Pocus). The instrumental A Time Piece was played on this acoustic/electric, and I thought channeled George Harrison during certain parts. I’ll Be There for You is an optimistic love song, which John admits he doesn’t do too often. Honesty is on the opposite end of the love spectrum, an in-your-face tribute to a relationship gone bad. The Strange is an older “dark love song”, the first song he finished after joining VOCAL. This had hints of Black Sabbath with some searing lead guitar solos. The next tune was an instrumental “combo” of Chimes and Groove Thing, a juxtaposition of tender guitar picking and blistering electric guitar. In My Place is another love-gone-bad song with some stellar electric guitar performance. That was the end of a very rewarding performance from Mr. Ellis.

VOCAL December 2016 Songwriter Showcase

The December 2016 VOCAL showcase took place amidst a festive crowd at O’Toole’s Irish Pub. This is VOCAL’s annual holiday event, where members perform at least one of their holiday-related songs. John Ellis kicked off the evening with “Me and My Baby on a Cold Winter’s Day”, an ode to simply staying inside under a blanket next to a warm fire rather than braving the outdoors. “Winter Solstice” is a very pleasant instrumental picking/strumming combination, leaving the many images and sounds of winter to our imagination.
Glen King then took the stage on keyboards and backing tracks, bringing us “That’s Not the Way” and his holiday song “New Year’s Eve With You”.
Matt Manion delivered “Quarter ‘til Midnight”, reflecting on his journey to midnight mass, passing through the toll booth, and the interactions of people along the way. He then performed a brand-new holiday song “Give the Gift”, reflecting the true spirit of Christmas.
Glenda Creamer brought us a number from a musical she recently wrote about the story of Joseph and Mary. She then enlightened us with a new song she wrote about the addiction of Christmas cookies, and how it all started with the ladies’ circle at her church.
Carey Colvin, a VOCAL newcomer, took the stage accompanied by her husband, Granger Helvey, on bass and harmony. They performed four tight, energetic numbers in perfect harmony: “Ten Thousand Arrows” and her new Christmas song “Christmas Imp”. Yes, those Elf-on-a-shelf characters can be pretty obnoxious! “The Distance Wall” and “Refugee” are from her new CD, definitely worth a listen!
Norman Roscher finished out the evening with his Clackwell band, a treat for all! “It’s a Humbug Christmas” tells the tale of the woes of not having enough moolah for a decent Christmas. “All Grandpa wants for Christmas” (a desire for a hug) was written for his grandson living in California. The next two numbers, “The Little Box”, and “Waiting for Santa”, were written as part of his Dog’s New Clothes journey several years ago. He then brought out his holiday bawdy side with “Rudolph Dead in the Yard”, followed by several holiday standard sing-alongs. At the audience’s insistence, Norman had to perform the quintessential “Boobs” to “round” out the night.
A wonderful time was had by all! Happy Holidays.

VOCAL November 2016 Songwriter Showcase

The November 2016 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase took place on Monday, November 21st at O’Toole’s Irish Pub.

The ever-talented Claudia Carawan opened the show on keyboards and backing tracks. The first few songs she performed were co-written with a fellow song-camp attendee, a brave endeavor. Everything’s A Song was a cool jazzy menagerie of classic song titles As Time Goes By, My Foolish Heart, My Funny Valentine, etc. What a great idea! She then had us gathered Around My Kitchen Table, reminiscent of the many great times sitting at the big oak table. Special Request was asking the hubby to be a little more considerate around the house. She then turned us onto the holiday season with some tunes from her new Christmas cd. Magic in the Air was everything Christmas, while On a Moonlight Winter Night was a jazzy big-band sound you could hear Tony Bennett singing. Be the Light was fitting for the season, stressing that what is in our heart is the most important thing this time of year. Christmas in the Islands, co-written with Harold Payne, has a very catchy reggae beat that pulls you right in – coconuts on the Christmas trees, a perfect 85 degrees!

Dick Upton then took the stage, accompanied by electric guitar wiz Mirek Formacek. They delivered several high-energy and bluesy numbers. They opened with Treadmill, an ode to the fact that life is short, so you must make the best of it. Put Down the Bottle calls for help from above in getting you out of a rut, while Distant Friend fondly remembers a musician friend from the past who is in his last days. Where Everybody Knows My Name was written in honor of VOCAL and O’Toole’s, celebrating the camaraderie of fellow songwriters. Dick switched to keyboards for a Mississippi-ish tune On the Levee. I could picture myself there watching the driftwood floating by! My Spiritual Home is a signature song of Dick’s from when he was in Marathon, FL closing down a Tiki bar. He then delivered Something to Believe in, a beautiful, heartfelt song co-written with Glen King. He ended the show with a moving, boogie-woogie like number Going Down to Georgia, featuring Gary Shaver on sax. A magical trio, indeed!

September 2016 VOCAL Showcase

The September 2016 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase took place on Monday, September 19th at O’Toole’s Irish Pub. This was the first showcase to also feature an open mic for non-members.

Norm Roscher was the MC for the evening, and kicked off the show with one of his signature tunes I Don’t Play Doctor Any More. Why play with boys when you can hang out under the porch with some young girls playing with your favorite toys?

Glenda Creamer then took the stage with I Get Dumb in the Sun, a mixture of the summer heat/humidity and a relationship heading south. She then delivered the timely September Wind, saying goodbye to the summer and welcoming the winds of autumn.

Markiss Blowfish then brought us a triad of blues numbers, Engine # 9, Bad News Blues, and I’ve Been Around so Long. You definitely feel like you’ve heard/lived the blues after hearing what Mark has to say!

Newcomer Wayne Williams then arrived on the scene in dropped-D tuning with Going Down to the River, a rocky “Chris Knight-ish” number that had us moving to the beat. He had some cool metaphors like “lightning bugs were my candlelight”. Another Night in Memphis took us for a tour of the city with Elvis, BB King and everything in between.

Norman re-appeared on stage with his newest tune Mr. Johnson’s Sticky Substance, just oozing with adjectives only familiar to Richmonders. You and Me Baby describes making a getaway with the one you love, with no one else around.

Steve Nuckolls then performed Gibson Guitar in a Furniture Store, followed by his newest work-in-progress Vacation in Your Photo Stream. He then played his “African hymn” Simunye, with Gary Shaver on stellar harmony.

Gary Shaver delivered a heartbreaker There Must be Someone Else, followed by a poignant If I Could Go Back Home, where the highway was always calling him home.

Norman took the stage again to close out the evening with a couple of works-in-progress. The Sky is Falling is a really cool “political paranoia” number most of us can relate to. Within Your Eyes reflects the many feelings/emotions he experienced while looking into the eyes of his lover. He ended the set with the quintessential Boobs, which the audience graciously participated in.

Yet another wonderful evening with a quality showcase!