All posts by snuckolls

September 2020 VOCAL Virtual Songwriters Showcase

The September 2020 VOCAL Showcase was yet another successful virtual showcase conducted via FaceBook Live due to COVID-19 social distancing.
Our President Matthew Costello opened the show with one of his signature heartfelt tunes If You Knew, wondering how the target of his attraction would react if they were aware of his feelings toward them.
James Lester took the virtual stage from Halifax after a bit of an absence from the VOCAL scene but jumped right in and never missed a beat. It’s always good to hear from this bluesy guy with all the tales he has to tell. He opened with Whiskey and Yoga, an attempt to justify drinking your life away. He followed with These Hard Times, another drinking song stating that down in Mexico living on Tequila is a hard way to go. Beautiful Day is a touching, Gospel-sounding song touting the greatness and wonder of waking up each day and enjoying the simple things in life. Coatesville Blues is one of James’ signature tunes about life in this rural area of Hanover County. You know times are sad when you have to sit on the porch drinking warm beer from the can! Some help from the Doctor is needed here. Going Home was written in honor of Mother’s Day describing the pull sensation you feel after being away from home for so long. Working Class is a newer tune influenced by Merle Haggard and Steve Earle, where sleep doesn’t come to a worried soul – Lord won’t you smile on the working class? Friendship Ended is a new song reflecting a situation in social media when your online “friend” you thought you knew so well turns out to be a totally different person. Lileth, based on Jewish mythology, is a cool, haunting tale of the mysterious Lileth, asking why you left me all alone here in Paradise. When Will The Killings Stop is an ode to current times we all are aware of, where we seem to be in a cycle of needless violence, too often taking lives away. The World Ain’t Broken is a newer bluesy number giving hope to this world, despite the many bad things going down today. Great set, James, and welcome back!
Roy Kauffman is a new member to VOCAL, but has been in the writing scene for many years and is a collaborator with Matthew Costello. His welcome set came to us by way of Seattle. The harmonica-driven Running Scared had a really cool vibe – I want to see you one more day, I want to see you for a little while – I’m not running away, I’m running scared. Reno describes the lure of a casino where you can easily gamble away last week’s paycheck in one night – when the river runs, that’s my redeemer, but the light just fades away. Dream of Me tells the tale of the intersection with Memphis, Woodstock and Hollywood, two small towns just north of Memphis – 20 miles from Memphis, 30 years too late – they want me in the studio, they want to hear me play. Clouds of Dust had some good imagery – I couldn’t turn left or right, but when I found you it was all green lights. However, you don’t understand me, and all you do is abuse me. What did I do? No one else can thrill me like you do. Better to be Blind is a sometimes-misunderstood song, according to Roy. Being in love is like being insane – all those great memories have lost their shine. I was looking for love, not a fight. Any Other Way starts at the breakfast table, with the coffee brewing a breakfast song, the radio tells me Sunday is gone – put your pretty blue dress on, I’ll play your favorite song. A Few Important Parts is a very touching song in memory of a young friend who passed away much too soon. Now that you’ve gone and left us, floating off some place – tearing up the Great Beyond, a mission on your face. I know that we will miss you, and feel you in our hearts – as we put things back together, it’s a few important parts. Roy ended the evening with the minor-tuned Twelve Grains of Sand, a self-described spaghetti Western about revenge about to be taken on someone who did him wrong. Blood on my hands, a pistol in my hands, I’m ready for a fight! Great set, Roy, and thanks for the long-distance delivery.
Great virtual showcase, Matthew, James and Roy!

August 2020 VOCAL Virtual Songwriters Showcase

The August 2020 VOCAL Showcase was yet another successful virtual showcase conducted via FaceBook Live due to COVID-19 social distancing.


Our distinguished President Matthew Costello opened the show with one of his finest tunes, A Meaningful One Night Stand. Those clever lyrics just draw you right in to this experience!


David Atkins treated us to some of his older tunes, but we enjoy hearing them anyway! Fly Air Jamaican entailed the fun and unpredictable times you may experience while flying this airline. You’ll fly on island time after the pilot wakes up, fly by the seat of your pants, not knowing where you’ll land and get to spend the night. Here in My Office, First Table from the Bar is a number many folks can relate to. You’re certain to get some great advice and treatment for addiction and social disease from this doctor! Gray is a new social commentary song offering a way to describe human situations when various color/ethnic/origin are involved. The truth isn’t always black and white – there’s a lot of gray in-between, and we don’t always see things the way they do. Put Down the Phone and Drive may be a bit dusty but is definitely relevant today with all the distracted drivers. If this were required listeners for youngsters learning to drive, maybe our roads would be a little safer!


Bill Kaffenberger then took the virtual stage with several of his heartfelt tunes. He co-wrote several songs with an old friend who recently passed away, and now he’s digging up some old tapes, and putting music to the words. In the Morning was one of those, reflecting a new start with the new day, no regrets, no blame, just remembering what we had from the evening before. What am I Doing Here was written by a friend Jim Howard, a tale about never giving up on your dreams, and reminiscent of Don McLean’s Vincent (Van Gogh). He’s sitting on his hands, with no one listening to what he has to say. Things have never been good to him, and probably never will be. You may never strike a chord anywhere near fame, but you can’t give up or you’ll lose the game. Dad was written five years after his dad’s passing, a sentimental tune remembering how much his dad mean to him, and how much he loves him. Many of us can relate to that! The Long Goodbye recounts an autobiographical relationship that never happened but was more of a fairy tale dream – maybe she’ll see, maybe she’ll know she was meant for me. She’s So Real describes the girl with a heart a million miles high, and a smile a million miles wide. If only he could get near her to tell her! Bill ended his set with The Dogs of Midnight, which included Harry Gore on electric guitar on the recorded version. This is a mystical tale of being in a hot and muggy New Orleans during Mardis Gras, and a desire to be taken where the dogs of midnight howl and the cats are on the run!


Mark Daniel finished out the lineup with several of his finely-crafted numbers. Burning the Grass was a mighty fine tribute to Doc Watson and bending those Black Diamond strings. I Ain’t Got Started Yet is a heartfelt number about missing out on a loving relationship and having regrets – this can’t be over, ‘cause I aint’ got started yet. He followed with his up-tempo toe-tapping truck driving song, with ten days back behind me and nothing left but a downhill run. He then donned his cowboy hat for his “wear the hat song” The World’s Richest Man. This is a very poignant number about picking up a toothless hitchhiker who imparts some really good advice and wisdom and finds richness in the very simple things in life. Mark then swapped his guitar for his 1962 Mosrite and delivered a very picturesque story of Franklin, TN called Back in Franklin. This is a really cool little town in central Tennessee that time forgot, where the stoplights still blink, the neighbor’s dog still barks, and the Civil War goes on. He then switched to a jazzy number, telling us how he’s had a bad day, nothing’s gone his way, but that will all be taken care of when he finally holds his special love. Everything is a “forever love” anthem he co-wrote with his friend Ann Marie, where “everything” is the price he would pay for true love. He ended his set in a dropped-D number I’m the Real Thing, a song about his sweetheart. This is an ode to his true love and dedication to this special person.


Great virtual showcase, Matthew, David, Bill and Mark!

VOCAL May 2020 Songwriter Showcase

The May 2020 VOCAL Showcase was our second virtual showcase conducted via FaceBook Live due to COVID-19 social distancing.
John Ellis opened the show with his rocking signature In My Place, recounting the ex-girlfriend who just couldn’t be pleased, and just always had to put him in his place.

Glenda Creamer then took the virtual stage with her magically choreographed set, opening with The Virginia Lady is Leaving, a beautiful number that involved some talented yodeling. I’m a Witch Today is one of Glenda’s signature tunes that conjures up vampires, werewolves, and seriously dark emotions. She then delivered Lover of Origami, an ode to the art of folding paper (and her daughter) to make beautiful designs. Just Call Me Dumpling is an in-your-face I’m proud to be what/who I am, so don’t call me honey or baby or anything else, just love me and appreciate me for what I am! The Splendor of King Solomon is a very poignant number about keeping your sights on the simple things in life, such as Mother Nature’s beautiful birds, rather than surrounding yourself with meaningless material possessions. The Confessions of a Germophobe is a very fitting and timely song during this COVID-19 craziness. We need to stop hugs, spray disinfectant, and shrink-wrap ourselves! She ended her set with the really haunting Moonshine Sky in dropped-D tuning. Rooted in Franklin County, VA, this is the tale about the moonshine makers and runners back in the day.

Bill Kaffenberger ended the evening with several of his homegrown tunes. The Lonesome Rider is one of the first songs he ever wrote while in college, about the lone individual riding into the sunset, burning bridges, wondering where he will lay his head. Little Old Man is an ode to a homeless man from years ago who froze to death while sleeping in a phone booth. Most people just walked on by and looked the other way, but this song highlights the compassionate side of the story. Dad was written five years after his dad’s passing, a sentimental tune remembering how much his dad mean to him, and how much he loves him. Many of us can relate to that! If I Asked You to Dance Would You Dance With Me is a number many of us can relate to, sort of a “what might have been” story if we had the nerve to speak out and express ourselves at the time. What am I Doing Here was written by a friend Jim Howard, a tale about never giving up on your dreams, and reminiscent of Don McLean’s Vincent (Van Gogh). He’s sitting on his hands, with no one listening to what he has to say. Things have never been good to him, and probably never will be. You may never strike a chord anywhere near fame, but you can’t give up or you’ll lose the game. She’s So Real describes the girl with a heart a million miles high, and a smile a million miles wide. If only he could get near her to tell her! Misty All Around is a fairly recent song recounting lost love, and the falling tears that followed.

Great virtual showcase, John, Glenda and Bill!

March 2020 VOCAL Songwriters Showcase

The March 2020 VOCAL Showcase took place on Monday, March 9, 2020 at O’Toole’s Irish Pub. The showcase had a Spring theme, so performers were asked to perform at least one song with that in mind.

Joan Smith opened the show with Emergence, a Spring-like love song calling for the awakening of her heart. She followed with Pot of Gold, a search for something more in life, possibly even leading to a leprechaun at the end of a rainbow! The Yes Man is a unique a cappella doo-wop style song, giving it back to the man dangling too-good-to-be-true offers in front of you. Let’s see your credit score and I’ll see what I can do!

Gary Luong, who’s only been writing for a year or so, opened with a really cool heartbreak song, You’re the One Who Taught Me Guitar. His next room-quietening tune was a very delicate Ed Sheerin-ish number, recounting the advice from his father (I’ve Got to Give Back My Love to You). He enlisted the grooving help of a looping machine for his last tune, saying we’re still young and have plenty of time to live out our lives together.

Bill Kaffenberger returned to the VOCAL stage with three of his offerings. Early Spring was written by his friend and local RVA songwriter Steve Antonacci, who recently passed away. This is a really touching song about the promises Spring will bring, and Bill plans to play this at Steve’s upcoming memorial service. She’s So Real describes the girl with a heart a million miles high, and a smile a million miles wide. If only he could get near her to tell her! What am I Doing Here has him sitting on his hands, with no one listening to what he has to say. Things have never been good to him, and probably never will be. You may never strike a chord anywhere near fame, but you can’t give up or you’ll lose the game.

Jim Puckett then took the stage with The Sunshine Knows Your Name, where the warm Spring sun trumps all the bitterness that Winter can throw at you. Lenten Roses delivers on the promise of Spring, with the beauty of the blooming flowers, showing the fruit of your labors. Doesn’t the Rain Still Fall had some really cool images of the sun always shining, the wind sneaking down the mountain, babies always crying, etc.

Long-time member Karen Trump graced the stage after quite a long absence. It was great to hear her stellar roots/folk/blues offerings. God’s Redeeming Grace was reminiscent of the Carter Family, a Spring-ish number about falling in love when the flowers are in bloom. Silver-Tongued Devil was a delightfully dark number about succumbing to temptation. No Spring Chicken is something most of us can relate to. While we’re still quite able in a lot of areas, there’s certainly nothing wrong with hitting the sack at 9:30! Welcome back, Karen!

Martin McNeil brought us some fine British muse with Back in Your Arms Again, asking for his lover to hold and soothe him. Give Myself Up to the Night was a poignant number, crying all the tears at the station, and hitting the road on the 8:39 train. He ended with In My Breakdown, receiving an arrow through the heart from his former lover.

Norman Roscher ended the evening of original music as only he can do. My Bitch Lad was a very irreverent (but tender and loving) tune about a young lad walking through the woods when he was “taken in” by a woman for her personal needs. So was there a loser in this transaction? He then delivered a tune written by fellow “Vocal-onian” Bill Wellons, Gonna Take My Baby Dancing. This is just a really happy, feel-good song about kicking your feet up on the dance floor! Waiting for The Moon is a signature Norman tune from the Dog’s New Clothes era, and is always a crowd favorite!

December 2019 VOCAL Songwriters Showcase

The December 2019 VOCAL Showcase took place on Monday, December 16, 2019 at O’Toole’s Irish Pub. It was a very festive evening with quite a large turnout.

Glenda Creamer opened the show with a beautiful song recounting all the Christmas memories first as a child, then with being married and having a child. Matt Manion then joined her on a Bible story, where Matt sang the part of the angel telling Mary not to be afraid, that she would be bringing the savior into the world. She then delivered her holiday favorite “The Cookie Exchange”, and ode to fighting your diet during the holiday season. Yes, the cookies are everywhere, so the temptation can be very hard to resist!


Matt Manion then took the stage with his popular song “Quarter til Midnight”, recounting his experience on Christmas Eve heading to Midnight Mass. His experience driving through the toll booth and seeing the attendant is very thought-provoking. He then performed “Blue Ridge Mountain Highway”, a cool tune he wrote while on a camping trip. His friend Richard Ruck (sp?) wrote the lyrics on this, and sang with Matt. He then delivered “Necessary Trouble”, with the message that sometimes you just need to stand up and get in the way in order to be heard and effect change.


John Ellis opened his set 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. “You Put Me in My Place” is probably John’s signature “anti-love” song and displayed some blistering guitar work!


Gene and Gayla Mills performed a really pleasant “let the snow keep falling” song which conveyed all the memorable images of a deep snow, roads disappearing, etc. Their next tune was a family-driven heart-healthy number about being on a “liquid” diet during holiday family time. Yes, that’s the only way out for a lot of families, good, bad, or indifferent!


Jim Puckett then took the stage with “Snowy Mountain Bride”, a “may or may not be factual” number where he’s hoping his woman is waiting for him on the snowy mountain. “I Left You an Angel” is a very tender song about leaving a Christmas ornament for his child to remember him by. He ended his set with “It’s Christmas Time Again”, where “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!


Norman Roscher ended the evening of original music with some of his favorites: “Mulberry Moon” (co-written by Glen Habl), “You and Me Baby”, and the very tender winter holiday tune “You and Me”. He then premiered a new song “All I Want for Christmas is a New President”, longing for a president who won’t embarrass him.


A few folks then presented some holiday cover songs, with Glenda Creamer performing “Christmas Time is Here”, and Jenn Smith an a cappella version of “Santa Baby”, with her friend Reuben standing in as Santa. John Ellis then delivered “Merry Christmas Baby”, and a rocking “Run Run Rudolph”, which involved some joyous audience participation.


A great time was had by all in this holiday showcase!

September 2019 VOCAL Songwriters Showcase

The September 2019 VOCAL Showcase took place at O’Toole’s Irish Pub, and also served as our three-times-a-year Open Mic event. Quite a few loyal original music lovers appeared for the performance.

Norman Roscher, MC, opened the evening on keyboards with a medley of two of his fine songs Waiting for the Moon and Within Your Eyes.

Newcomer Dean then delivered a lovely, tender love song Falling from Love. Jersey is a fine tale of moving to the big city, but regretting most of it. Wishing he was in Montana instead, as he felt lost in the canyons of the skyscrapers in the city.

Another recent VOCAL visitor and local RVA singer-songwriter, Dirty Metal Lefty, then took the stage with two cool tunes, Forecast (it’s gonna be cold!) and Ain’t No Friend of Mine, a bluesy number about someone she thought was her friend who had her back, but then things changed!

Steve Nuckolls then took the stage with two of his creations Sunrise and Praying for a Rocky Top.

Gene and Gayla Mills performed a mighty fine set of bluegrass/Americana with awesome guitar and bass work and stellar harmonies. From running from a Hurricane to the Virginia coal-mining country, they cover all the territory of songs folks can relate to.

Jim Puckett brought us Things Happen Fast, an ode to living in the fast lane and what will result. Alayna is a true story about the remarkable life of a midwife who lived 100 years ago in the Virginia mountains. When the War is Over longs for peace and an end to the loss and destruction going on around the world.

Keely Burn then lit up the stage with Lightning, an in-your-face song of unrequited love. My Friends in High Places takes on the postal service for delays in delivering a long-awaited parcel from a friend in Singapore. Plant Your Flag on Me is my fav, beginning with unusual but very alluring whistling (are you scared of what I’m made of?).

VOCAL President Matthew Costello closed out the show with a re-worked, very evocative Love Will Find the Way, and then delivered the familiar, crowd-pleasing Digging for Elvis. He then turned to keyboards, and play Subway to Brooklyn, a very creative/descriptive tale of two lovers in the big city.

Another very fine evening indeed for original music lovers!

July 2019 VOCAL Songwriters Showcase

The July 2019 VOCAL Showcase took place on Monday, July 15, 2019 at O’Toole’s Irish Pub. Quite a few loyal original music lovers appeared for the performance.
Roger Lee Fink, a relatively new VOCAL member, kicked off the show with several of his intriguing tunes, many of which are Spanish/Flamenco-influenced. His ‘30’s era Epiphone archtop certainly added to the character of his performance! Spanish Leather Irish Lace had a really cool minor-chord Tango vibe that drew us in. He even cleverly worked in the words “Transcendental Meditation” in his rhyme scheme. False Start had a rock/funk feel, telling us that sometimes you just have to start all over again in life! I Gave My Heart recounts a love like a hurricane, just waiting for the storm to pass. He then delivered the bluesy Feet in The Stirrups (your eyes could hypnotize, tell me what to do). If Times Don’t Get No Better echoes the plight of many people today, just barely scaping by in life. The Spanish-flavored No Return longs for a moonlight walk on the beach instead of staying inside this boring house. Lost Valentine was another soothing Spanish/Flamenco-feeling tune, while Looking for A Foot to Fit the Shoe was a John Prine-ish number about feeling about as low as my shoes. I should be through with all these dues I’ve paid – I’m looking for a foot to fit the shoe! He then delivered Don’t Spoil the Show, followed by Love Is Just So Magical (I only get to see her once a week – wish I could go back to that house we used to live in). Rainbow Over Waterfall was sort of Tango-ish that was channeling Emerson, Lake and Palmer in my ears – love will be the death of me! Roger closed out his set with Can’t Win For Losin‘, another fusion rock/funk talking about the risky business of cruising in the fast lane.

Longtime member Matt Manion then took the stage with several of his familiar tunes along with some new ones. Don’t Stand by Me says if you’re the trumpet player who only dates married women, don’t even think of being next to me! Sit Down for Standby recounts the woes of being delayed in the Heathrow airport, and longing to get back to the good old USA. Life Can be Funky Down on the Pamunkey is a really cool, colorful song about all the natural beauty/wildlife along the Pamunkey River. It Didn’t Really Matter had a Don McLean feel, describing a reunion where folks were mustering up the courage to get onto the dance floor. No No No can’t believe the hassles we’ve been through, and even though I was lonely and desperate for company in the past, I have to tell him “no” today. Sometimes I Feel Like the Last Man on Earth is a quite complicated (but intriguing) wordy/chordy tune which was channeling David Bowie to me. After recently seeing Weird Al Yankovich, Matt decided to put his personal spin on a couple of standards. Moon River became June Cleaver, and Yesterday was transformed into Scrambled Eggs, supposedly the placeholder lyrics Paul used when originally writing the song. Cool vibe, Matt! Now I want to hear the June meat “Cleaver” Halloween song! Necessary Trouble/Good Trouble is a call to action to get out, stand up, and have your voice heard! I Don’t Need to be Perfect is a positive message about being satisfied with who you are, and not pretending to be something more. Matt demonstrated some mighty fine falsetto in this tune. After trying to leave the stage, the audience begged for me, so he brought out the first song he ever wrote back in the 70’s dealing with living a life of solitude. I was almost hearing some Jethro Tull combined with CSN&Y. Great job, Matt!

Another very fine evening indeed for original music lovers!

April 2019 VOCAL Showcase

The April 2019 VOCAL Showcase took place on Monday, April 15, 2019 at O’Toole’s Irish Pub. This event served as the 2nd quarter open-mic, but only our loyal members appeared for the performance.

Norm Roscher

Our master of ceremonies, Norman Roscher, kicked off the evening on keyboards with three of his fine tunes. Gonna Take My Baby Dancing is a really cool fun song written by fellow member Bill Wellons. She says we never go out anymore, and even though I’m no Fred Astaire, I’ll do it my best to show her a good time! When I See Your Face is a lovely tender love song that simply radiates good vibes and happiness. Norman does a mighty fine job of conveying this uplifting sentiment with this tune. Kazooka (aka The Family song) was played sans kazoo. It’s about a man who is just so happy to have his family that he wants to play the kazoo. He’s gonna have a baby soon, gonna give her a silver spoon.

Jeff Wagner

Jeff Wagner then took the stage with four of his heartfelt songs. Borderline is about someone doing the 9 to 5 deal working for the man while also pursuing his dream of songwriting, almost semi-pro. All of a sudden he’s pushing 30, then 49, then 59. He thinks it may be time to put in another verse for the next decade. I’m Trying to Make You Proud of Me is a story many of us can relate to, where we constantly find ourselves saying and doing things our parents said and did. Try Just a Little More is an ode to the man who feels like he should go the extra mile for his wife, to let her hear the wind and see the shore to feel her heart and soul. Sometimes is a new song in the sad genre, reminiscing about an old flame. We go everywhere from the dance floor to sleeping under the western stars. We can think of the wonderful memories but can never go back!

Matthew Costello

VOCAL President Matthew Costello opened his set with the crowd favorite Digging for Elvis, a song that simply begs for audience participation. Everything But Love Was a Waste of Time was a co-write with the late John Hartman, who wrote the lyrics. Reminiscing of a bitter sweet relationship, I travelled down many roads and have many miles behind me – I may have lied when I said farewell. What Would You do if You Knew is a relatable theme, wondering what would happen if we were able to speak our mind, if we were the ones who made you laugh, etc. He then delivered the clever story A Meaningful One Night Stand, where he’s tired of all the mornings after and urges that get out of hand. Finally, he meets Ivey, who has his baby, so he must give her his name!

Doug Patrick

Doug Patrick then took the stage with four of his finely-crafted songs. Why Don’t You Put Him in the Lineup is a really cool tune about asking the manager to put the kid into the ball game. He doesn’t deserve to just sit on the bench – he can pitch like Brooks Robinson, run the bases like Willie Mays, and hit that tater for a country mile! I Think I Really Done it This Time is a song of regret for spending that one night with the lonely woman. Is that such a terrible crime? One Lone Georgia Pine is my favorite from Doug, and definitely a true song from the heart! His great-great-great grandfather’s cousin went off to the Civil War, was wounded, and then eventually killed in battle. Buried in Georgia, he was returned to his Kentucky home several years later. A seed from a Georgia pine had fallen into his coffin, and sprouted and began to grow in Kentucky, needless to say the only Georgia pine in that state! You can’t make this stuff up – what a cool story. He ended his set with a very timely Leave it Like We Found It, just in time for Earth Day. This is a very fitting story in today’s “environment”, where we need to leave this place better than we found it.

Jim Plunkett

Jim Plunkett ended the show with his fine work accompanied by harmonica. A Story’s All It Is tells us what it would be like if we were living on the fringe, on the other side of the bars. Your dad always told you to stay away from me, but you certainly do look good in orange! Wayward Curse took honorable mention in a recent American Songwriter lyric contest. I could have gotten my way if you hadn’t gotten yours first, would’ve tied the know if it hadn’t come undone. Friend of Mine was a heartfelt number about a guy down on his luck who lost his job and his wife, and was found down by the interstate. Bought a gun for self-defense, but it’s now in a yellow bag for evidence. I Slept In, a true story, is a reminder that sometimes just taking it easy and not getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of life is the better road to take.
Another very fine evening indeed for original music lovers!

VOCAL March 2019 Songwriter Showcase

The March 2019 VOCAL Showcase took place on Monday, March 18, 2019 at O’Toole’s Irish Pub and was a mighty festive event!
VOCAL President Matthew Costello opened the show with several of his signature tunes and others that were somewhat obscure. “You’re All I Ever Need” is being satisfied with that special someone, and “What Would You Do if You Knew” asks what would happen if I were to speak my mind? “A Meaningful One-Night Stand” is a crowd favorite with an interesting plot. “I Wanna Catch a Ride on Her Train of Thought” is another Costello favorite, conjuring up train sights and sounds on the way to finding a loving relationship. This also elicited lots of audience participation with clapping and “woo-ing”. “You and I” is a very tender love ballad, while “Rock and Roll” is a rocking Chuck Berry-ish number. He then performed the uplifting and optimistic “Faith Will Find the Way”, leaving us with a feel-good message. Matthew finished his set with the quintessential “Digging for Elvis”, his most defining song, which was accompanied by enthusiastic audience vocal harmony!
Norman Roscher and The Clackwells then took the stage with both boisterous and tender numbers. “You and Me Baby” is a very lively number and crowd pleaser that included a full rhythm section and washboard. “Did I Hear You Say” was a very tender song written by Glen Habl, which they performed in Dog’s New Clothes (blue sky and sunshine with you all day). “Sweet Nectar” is the story about growing not herbivores, but certain “herbs” in your fields. They grow so tall and green! “The Train” was another tune written by Glen Habl that took us down by the banks where the river flows, followed by “Down by the Railroad Tracks”. You don’t dare go down there ‘cause that’s where the monster lives! Gary Shaver accompanied them on sax on that number, as well as on “I Don’t Play Doctor Any More”, a signature Norman tune. “Roaming Eye” also featured Gary on sax, followed by a high-energy “Someone’s Drooling Somewhere”. The crowd-pleaser “I Live in my Hat” followed, which had the crowd rocking. “If I Ever Get to Heaven” is a poignant number asking if “being only me” will guarantee a ticket to eternity with my friends. “You’re Beautiful” involved willing crowd participation with the “Bip bob over the top baby you’re beautiful” chorus. “I’m a Fool” is an ode to living a simple life, wondering why I chose this road in my life. “Within Your Eyes” followed, describing how he saw the light in her eyes. “You Got It” is another high-energy tune featuring the great Gary Shaver on sax – you got it, you know it, you love it! “The Clackwell’s Theme Song” then followed, which I had never heard before, identifying the unique names of the clan. The group ended with “Boobs”, the ultimate song of Norman’s that brought out the best harmonies from the audience. Way to go, Clackwells!

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!