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May 2019 VOCAL Showcase

May 2019 VOCAL Showcase.

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

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

Another great night of original music.

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!

VOCAL Nov. 2018 Showcase.

VOCAL Showcase: Nov. 19, 2018

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

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

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

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

June 2018 VOCAL Songwriter Showcase

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

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

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

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 .