All posts by snuckolls

August 2021 VOCAL Songwriters Showcase

The August 2021 VOCAL Virtual Showcase spotlighted the 2021 Songwriter of the Year and writers of the Song of the Year. August is normally reserved for the annual banquet, but we decided to forego that this year due to the pandemic. The Songwriter of the Year award went to Keely Burn, and the Song of the Year award went to Carol “Torch” Torricelli and Glen King for their co-written effort. CONGRATS to all! This was another virtual showcase using Zoom while streaming via FB Live, which has been our standard operating procedure during the pandemic.

Keely Burn opened the show with several songs from her new album Not My Masterpiece. Waltz describes what constitutes love – it’s not a foregone conclusion, and certainly not just a box to check off. Masterpiece tell us that love is a tug-of-war, and we sometimes are left holding the leash. “You’re a work in progress, and I can’t see your conscience”. She then delivered When I’m Acting, where she’s convinced he’ll like her much better if she’s acting, and not being herself. He’ll find her more attractive when she’s less reactive. To Be Loved is yearning not to be a lover, but simply to be loved. She doesn’t care about the promises or diamond rings as she would rather have the simple things. You Were My Guiding Light is a beautiful song inspired by Joni Mitchell, where every cloud has a silver lining, but all she sees is gray.

Glen King then treated us to some of his treasures, all on the theme of love. Miracle of Love is an uplifting tune touting the wonders of being in love. Drops of Your Love is on the other end of the love spectrum and even involved tearing up pictures! Fanning the Flames of Love is a hot number about a love that is still as strong today as it was when it started many years ago. Glen ended his set with a tune he wrote during Pride Week called It Don’t Matter Who You Love, telling us to love the person who feels right to you and what is natural. “The world is like a prism, all the colors you can find, some may run together or flow outside the lines”.

“Torch” finished up the evening with several of her finely-crafted tender tunes. She opened with the Song of the Year, Highway to Your Heart, co-written with Glen King. This is a really cool driving number about a trucker burning up the asphalt on the highway to get home as fast as he can to the one he loves. The genesis of this trucker song was a VOCAL challenge to write a trucker song in honor of long-time VOCAL member John Ellis, who was trucking down the road at that time and couldn’t attend the meeting. She then delivered Come to Virginia, a very beautiful song highlighting the numerous compelling reasons to travel to Virginia (majestic mountains, bluegrass music, etc.). I feel that this song channels Joni Mitchell and Maria Muldaur! Don’t You Slow Me Down (with her self-accompanied whistling) describes her booking her round-trip ticket to Sicily where she plans to discover her roots. There are many picturesque images of the Italian countryside in the lyrics, and no one is going to get in her way of this Italy-bound woman! Roads In Between Us is an older tune lamenting the fact that she was living in New Jersey but all her friends were moving away. She often sat on the rooftop singing to the sunset and placed numerous long-distance calls to her friends to catch up. Torch ended the evening with her dreamy signature song Swinging and Swaying, born on the 4th of July weekend while sitting alone on her back porch. The moon was full, and lovely breeze was blowing, and you know the rest!

Another wonderful VOCAL virtual showcase, and congrats to all the award recipients!

June 2021 VOCAL Songwriters Showcase


The June 2021 VOCAL Virtual Showcase featured long-distance member Roy Kauffman and longtime-member John Ellis. We haven’t heard from John in a while due to his work-related responsibilities but were pleased he was able to join us tonight. This was the latest of our virtual showcases using Zoom while streaming via FB Live.

John Ellis
John opened the evening with several of his heartfelt and rock-infused numbers. Honestly is a “celebrating anger” song that describes the emotional release that arises when you end a relationship in a not-so-amicable way: Words intended for inspiration became unending agony. He then delivered one of his signature tunes The Stranger in an acoustic fashion rather than the driving rock version he usually does. Love is a stranger I can’t get to know – how can I find what I’ve never known? For many years I’ve lived alone – can’t imagine another spirit living in this home. Winter Solstice is a peaceful, reflective instrumental acoustic number with some nice finger-picking sprinkled in. I’ll Be There for You was inspired by a friend going through a difficult time with a pet. I know you’re looking for me to come through for you, and even in my worst I’ll be there for you. A Band of Silver is a new tune which evolved over several years and was inspired by overhearing a conversation (feminine advice for the future wife). The conversation focused only on the engagement ring (how big, where did you buy it, etc.), which was disillusioning to the observer. A glass stone on a band of silver is all you need when your love is gold. Great job, John!

Roy Kauffman
Roy then took the stage all the way from Seattle with his finely-crafted songs. He had a batch of mostly new songs, and his theme tonight was love. He opened with Any Other Way, a laid-back number recounting easy times hanging out with that special someone – come sit by me Dear, and lend me you light, your listening ear – put on that pretty blue dress, and I’ll play your favorite song. He then delivered a new song Covered in R, W and B, which talks about wanting his country back, to right this ship and get on track – don’t tell me it’s not that bad, ‘cause I remember what we had, Covered in Red, White and Blue. Can’t Let it Go is another new song about just hanging onto stuff you just can’t let go – I know about that! Take me down to the river, my love, wash me clean, help me rise above. I keep thinking about the past, trying to stop the train from running off the track, but just can’t let it go. He added a harmonica for Might Just Keep us in Love, a “Chicken Little looking for a falling sky” kind of relationship. Doing our best to keep our heads above, that part of what keeps us in love, might just keep us in love. I Don’t Know Why is another recent story about when one person is expecting something from a relationship but the other is not. Sometimes the water moves fast, sometimes things just don’t last. I expected so much more from you, I don’t know why, these gray skies won’t turn blue, I don’t know why. Roy closed out the night with another love song, Blue Sky Living, where he’s floating like a leaf in a world without trees – he needs a little bit of blue sky to bring back home. Blue sky living is what I need – they can cut this boy, but he will not bleed. Another outstanding set from Mr. Kauffman!

April 2021 VOCAL Songwriters Showcase

The April 2021 VOCAL Virtual Showcase featured our esteemed President Matthew Costello and longtime-member Dave Pollard. This was the latest of our virtual showcases using Zoom while streaming via FB Live. You can see the video of this performance at VOCAL’s Facebook Videos page.

Matthew Costello
Matthew opened the show with Matters To Me, co-written with Roy Kaufmann, a touching song about that special someone you think about all day. The Artist That Hung the Moon is a brand-new song from Matthew, one of two inspired by his recent classes with Harriet Schock. It has very colorful phrases about a landscape painter of the English countryside, with the light of night flowing onto the canvas. Train of Thought is a crowd-pleasing standard from Matthew that always draws audience participation when we’re together in a group. Another co-write with Roy Kaufmann is Dark Eyed Mystery, a haunting number about a girl who’s running scared – is it another guy, or is it me? If You Knew is a song we can probably all relate to, wondering how the one across the room would react if your true feelings were revealed. She Made You a Home is another new and very touching song from Matthew about your Mother caring for you through the years, with you returning the favor in her last years. He ended his set with his true signature song Digging for Elvis, another number co-written with Roy. Even though we were virtual via Zoom/FB, I could feel the roar of the room and foot-stomping on the floor with the audience singing along. Great job, Matthew!

Dave Pollard
Long-time VOCAL member and supporter Dave Pollard then took the Zoom stage with several of his love-found and love-lost songs that only he can spin. He was joined by fellow Whiskered-whiskey-er Jim White. The duo performs as Whiskey Business and have some mighty stellar harmonies. Comin’ Home to You is an ode to a loved one who provides that homey comfort, and someone you want to stay with forever. Goodbye asks when did your heart turn cold, and the Winter settle on your soul. How can I move on without any answers, better just say Goodbye! Better Man is a tender tune written in honor of his love Carol, saying you make me believe I can be a better man. Could it be that you see your heart in me? I’ll See You in the Fall Sometime is a vintage signature tune of Dave’s which audiences always enjoy. In the “love-lost” category, this is a very beautiful song with rich images and poetry. You went your way and I went mine – right or wrong, we paid the cost. Reach Out Your Hand is a touching, personal song about his sister when she was going through a rough time. The advice offered is fitting for us all at some time in our lives, that love will see you through, friends and family, too, so just reach out your hand! You Can Trust Your Heart is a really cool minor-chord number about the desire to bring someone into your life – You can’t trust the moon to be full on your face, or the stars to shine, but you can trust your heart with mine. Church of the Mind is another one of Dave’s open-tuning standards that will have you swaying in the breeze. Born while vacationing in Ocracoke Island, it was written by request for a church. Things are pretty loose at this church, worship when and where you like, no idols worshiped, just bring the God you trust, every Wednesday at 10! Dave ended his set with Kaleidoscope, a new song that channels the late John Prine. There’s some mighty fine finger-style guitar in this tender song which features dome really cool images and rhymes, and I think John would be proud. Happy songs in minor keys, horseshoes with no luck – the words tumble out of you and settle in the stars, so Johnny won’t you play on your guitar. Great set, Dave and Jim!

Another wonderful VOCAL virtual pandemic-defying showcase!

February 2021 VOCAL Songwriters Showcase

The February 2021 VOCAL Virtual Showcase featured longtime-member Glenda Creamer and our Entertainment Attorney friend Justin Laughter, two very-talented songwriters. This was a virtual showcase using Zoom while streaming via FB Live, which has proven to be a very effective means of delivering a performance during this crazy pandemic.

Glenda opened the show with a lovely operatic “The Path” about her journey with God, making friends, and helping one another. Hearing a knock on her heart, she embarked on a journey of enlightenment. Listen was her answer to the knock, indicating that she wanted to know the way to go. I Want to Follow You reminds her that the sand is slippery beneath her feet – it’s easy to stumble, but don’t be discouraged, I’m with you all the way. The Path of Destruction is the wrong way to go, so let me help you. I’ll accompany you along the narrow way. All The Good is Gone asks if I can ever love again – I need strength to get me through this day. Jacob’s Well takes us to the fountain to drink when the sun is high, next to the stranger with kind eyes. He says God has a well that will never run dry, and will give you eternal life. God is with you during good times and bad, and you never have to be alone when he’s holding your hand. We Figured it Out tells of the numerous people who came from far and wide to witness the second coming. Unexpected Ways explains how you can find God in almost everything during your daily life travels. Lover of Origami explains the magical mystery and energy expressed as folded lines, and asks that we may be the paper in God’s hands.

Justin Laughter then took the virtual stage with Dishes, something he’s done a lot of since the pandemic began. We can relate to that! Benedict is a really cool “historic” song about Benedict Arnold, asking if maybe he was incorrectly portrayed as a traitor. The fallen hero ex-pat was passed over by the Continental Congress and the rest is history! The brand-new song Premonition asks why we set our clocks to the days and months, and why do we sit in front of a computer all day. We were never meant to be simply machines and work our fingers to the bone on the grindstone. Amen to that! Believe finds him trying to brush off the silent weight of the world from his shoulders. Stay Calm has a really infectious vibe featuring some really cool chords channeling Neil Young’s Harvest Moon: stay calm, stay strong, you own the cards. Sue is a tune of true love, where he is with his newfound love on a Ferris Wheel in the town square. He wins a bear, which she names Sue after the Johnny Cash song. Sue stays on her nightstand, as if keeping their love together – please take me before she goes, as I couldn’t stand to live alone with her gone. Unraveling captures the reality and agony of a relationship destined for failure, with no hope of recovery. Paul Revere is another awesome “historic” song wondering how the patriot felt and was he scared as he warned the town of an invasion: one if by land, two if by sea. Listen, children, and you will hear the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. If I had Justin singing my history lessons when I was a kid I wouldn’t be so history-challenged! Weak is a fast and furious guitar-driven tune about taking the hard stuff, thinking/feeling for myself, etc. Hug is a very peaceful lullabye providing a fitting sendoff to the audience at the end of the show. He was channeling Neal Young on this one like Stay Calm, and it almost has a gentle Baroque feel to the melody. What a soothing way to end the evening!

Another wonderful VOCAL virtual pandemic-defying showcase!

November 2020 VOCAL Virtual Songwriters Showcase

The November 2020 VOCAL Virtual Showcase spotlighted the Songwriters of the Year and writers of the Songs of the Year. There were ties in both categories for the first time, so we had multiple performers. The Songwriter of the Year award went to Jim Puckett, Keely Burn, and Glen King. Song of the Year went to Jim Puckett, Matt Manion and Jeff Wagner. This was the first virtual showcase using Zoom while streaming via FB Live, which brought us the best technical production we’ve seen since closeting ourselves during the pandemic.

Jim Puckett opened the show with Things Happen Fast, an interesting tale of reversal of fortune, falling from grace, etc. Learning How to Say Goodbye was a winner of Song of the Year, a well-crafted tune about saying goodbye to a past lover. Sand With Candy is an ode about not “getting above your raisings”, eating humble pie, etc. “you think you hit a home run, then they throw you out at second base”. I like eating sand with candy, and still haven’t had my fill! Home Tonight is a lovey-dreamy song, where he’s daydreaming and looking forward to getting back home with that special someone. He ended his set with Oh Alena, an ode to a midwife from years ago who delivered 1,000 babies in the hills around the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Keely Burn then took the virtual stage with Not Afraid, a bold song about learning, maturing, trusting yourself in your own skin, etc. She next delivered Lightning, asking if you could see me now, would you let me stay? Out of Control is a new song reminiscent of the mythical Sirens, where she’s a guiding light that pulls you to the shore, and you are satellite trapped in her orbit now. Come Down Love is a signature Keely song about a smooth operator who refused to call her a lover. Charge me up and turn me on, plant your flag on me!

Matt Manion brought us a few of his well-crafted tunes. Let Me Tell You Mama Things Have Changed describes how dating has changed slightly through the years, especially with this liberation thing! Losing My Hair was reminiscent of the days when he was able to actually grow hair. He never felt so naked in bed! The Last Man on Earth is a David Bowie-ish number, where weekends are bad, the holidays the worst. Boys on the Beach is recounting a memorable summer vacation at a beach house. Don’t Stand by Me is a cool tune about a trumpet player who was cheating on his wife, so whatever he does, don’t stand by me!

Jeff Wagner took the stage with his “Hurricane trilogy”, starting with Wide Open Wyoming and Slow Moving Mississippi being thrown together by a hurricane (they never knew what hit them!) He was pulled to the mountains, she to the sea. Can’t Run Anymore, written for his daughter, describes her situation after multiple surgeries (tough as nails, held together by screws). You can’t run any more, but with that shining spirit, you’ll certainly go far! He ended his set with Sometimes, where he is vividly remembering a love from the past. We used to dance, with no talk of love or romance. Even though I’d never go back again, I miss that joy and pain, sometimes!

Another wonderful VOCAL virtual showcase, and congrats to all the award recipients!

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!