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July 2020 VOCAL Showcase

VOCAL July 2020 Virtual Showcase

Keeping the tradition alive, a continuous monthly showcase for over 30 years. Though, of course, we are now in virtual territory, that is, presenting songwriters on Facebook, rather than live. Tonight was no exception. Introducing the showcase was the president, Matthew Costello, who began the night with his song, “train Of Thought”. Following that, we switched to the home of Keely Burn, one of our very talented younger members. She kicked off her set with “You’ll Like Me More When I’m Not me”, a request to the singee to be tolerant and understanding of her pecadillos. One such as she’d be more attractive if she were less reactive.
This was followed by “Sky Song”. And, then, she closed with her new offering “The Flood”. She states, “nothing else matters when the world is in tatters,” which is pretty much a true reference for today’s problems.
Steve Nuckolls is a frequent showcase performer who is a great songwriter. He popped on the screen next with a set of 5 songs. One his classics, “everything is Just Two (Too) Good”, eas thte first, and it describes the attributes of the his love, such as two good arms to hold me” “two good eyes to see me” etc. on most of her body parts. “Higher Bar’ salutes two young high schoolers who became unlikely heroes. “6 Feet Away” capitalized on the current pandemic, doing his part to social distance and keep all safe with the line “rather 6 feet away than 6 feet in the ground”. Amen. “Rocky Top” another one of his classics, wishes there were more towns that had that country feeling of his own hometown. Lastly: “Black and Blue” a new song, tells the story of a (black) kid and (white)cop who learned to appreciate their differences , through getting to know each other.
Filling out tonight’s bill, was Russell Lawson, a long time VOCAL member who’s been sorely missing from the showcase stage, this tonight on his 46th anniversary. He began with “Suddenly My Life Has Changed” referring to the changes love causes in a relationship over time. “If You Call Me Now” gave us a tale of broken love, she left, he hit the bottle and now he’s in a bad state and if she should call, she would hear him crying. The “Tunnel Song” tells the story of hwat happened when the Church Hill railroad tunnel collapsed on a train that was passing through and the fact that rather than excavate and retrieve the engine, they just buried it in the tunnel and there it lies today. This was followed by “Any Port In A Storm” which was composed of various pictures of weather conditions . “Mission Trip to the Blackfoot Nation” had detailed descriptions of the Montana Wide terrain, while the singer went about spreading God’s word to Native Americans. Back to a bottle song, Lawson told is the story of family woe precipitated by “Jack Daniels Was Daddy’s Best Friend”. Taking inspiration from his daughter’s wedding, “together Forever From This Day On” presented a compendium of vows that were presented on that occasion. Matthew Brady was a famous Civil War photographer, and Lawson along with Co-writer Josh Jones, took us a journey through the photo records that Brady captured in the 1860’s. Last song in the set was “Days Gone By” and in it, we are advised to forget about all the past in our lives and we will be welcomed when we reach Heaven’s gate.
Closing out the showcase, Matthew bid us all a good night and thanked us for viewing.

June 2020 Showcase

Welcome to the new method of showcasing our members original music, the virtual Facebook performance. Tonight’s performers included Matthew Costello, Jim Pickett and Matt Manion. As usual: Matthew opened up the program with one his songs “All That Matters To Me'” as a way of segueing into our first songwriter, Jim Puckett.

Puckett is a fairly newcomer to the VOCAL family, but is past showcases performances have always been well received. Tonight was no exception. Possessing a strong vocal presence, Jim kicked off his set with “To These Times’ an older song, but relevant to today’s current unrest. Included in the lyrics was this apropos line “selfish stupidity unfortunately follows where we go.” Indeed, “One More Life” wished the singer had more time to live parts of his life again. Reaching for an alternate tuned guitar, Jim presented “The Only Stars” which was a forlorn tale of lost love, where the stars in her eyes now were only the stars in the sky. Switching back and adding a harp to his next song, he gave us “Sleeping In Today” which surely met the apporval of the listeners who would like to get a day off and do nothing but laze around. “In Richmond” was a song he wrote for a radio station contest a few years back, (he didn’t win) which took us for a tour of the city and detailing many of it’s attractions. Closing out his set, Jim picked the tempo up and hit us with “Stand In The James” a rouser that invited her to come and stand in the river along side him and enjoy the view.

Switching screens, albeit sideways, we were introduced to Matt Manion, as the second performer of the night. Matt is a long standing member of VOCAL and appears in showcases throughout the year, especially for the Christmas show. Tonight he kicked off his set with “Power Play” which I mssed due to a screen mishap. Next he performed one of his standard songs “Life Can Be Funky Down Along the Pamunkey” And it could very well be, as he described many of the life forms and attractions that permeate the river area, such as the different birds, flowers and fish. “Devil’s Half Acre” refers to the place where Lumpkin’s Jail once stood in Richmond and was where slaves were imprisoned and sold. A sad commentary on this town’s past history and well told. In that vein of history, “Necessary Trouble, Good Trouble” was a title Matt turned into song, from the speech of John Lewis, a compatriot of Martin Luther King, Jr. and a well known civil rights activist. Sometimes it’s necessary to “rock the boat’ to up end the status quo and make waves for a change in a new direction toward freeedom and justice. Next song “Blue Springs Hideaway”was co -written with Matt and was a picturesque montage of nature, including views from mountain tops and forest floor alike. Saluting a local institution, “Crossroads” (coffee house) Matt delights in wishing he could play and song his songs there, we hope he will. “I Don’t Need To Be Perfect” really means just that in this self anaylyzing lyric where he hopes “I don’t want to be right” “I don’t want to be macho” “I don’t want to be bright”, “I just want to be me”. To close his set, Matt performed one of his standard tunes about the dangers of associating with cheaters “Don’t Stand By Me” as he imagines what might happen to him if he stands on stage next to a philandering trumpet player who could be shot by an angry husband and accidentally get hit instead. Let’s hope it’s only fiction.

And with that, the showcase ended and all that was left was to read the kudos posted along side the video. Great show, guys.

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!

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!

September 2018 Showcase

VOCAL Showcase Sept. 2018

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

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

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 Laverty 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 traveling 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!

VOCAL showcase May 2018

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

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!

March 2018 Showcase overview.

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