VOCAL Showcase July 2009

It was a hot summer night when we kicked off Showcase #216, but inside the TapHouse, there was a cool blast of sound waves emanating from the stage!  The crowd filled the better part of the venue, and as some of the dinner crowd left, more folks filed in to see what was cookin’ on the stage.  James Lester with special guest Tom Mayer (from Barrelhouse) gave a harmonica infused dose of sweet blues, then Matt Manion gave a great set of folk and rock.  And to keeping it all rolling along, VOCAL’s guest MC for the evening, Louis Millhouse, kicked off the music and introduced our artists.

What would great music be, without a great venue to set the atmosphere?  Join VOCAL at Richbrau’s TapHouse each month for the perfect environment to experience freshly prepared meals, fine crafted micro-brew beverages and well crafted songwriting.  You’ll find us at 1212 East Cary Street in Shockoe Slip every third Monday of the month.

Louis’s song ‘Marathon’ was a great way to begin the evening and a sampling from his showcase appearance scheduled for later this year.  With a sweet acoustic rhythm and the warm, sandy imagery of living in the Keys with a drink in hand, Louis had the crowd swinging in the breeze of his tropical rhythm.  After warming up the crowd with this tropical excursion, Louis introduced the first performer.

James Lester wasted no time getting the crowd worked up as he kicked off his set with ‘I Like Your Love’, a bluesy number that gets feet to stompin’ and heads-a-boppin’.  Alternating between his own songs and the songs of his guest, Tom Mayer, James turned the microphone over for the next song ‘Home Cooking’, a tune featuring Tom’s vocals and harmonica.  Throughout the set, Tom’s harmonica was present on each song and what a treat it was for the ears!  Whether on James’ songs such as ‘Lame Pony Blues’ and ‘Where’s My Baby’ or Tom’s songs ‘The Night is Closing In’ and ‘All My Wife’s Relations’ the duo put on quite a fine sampling of guitar based blues, spiced up with a heavy dose of hot harmonica licks.  James gave quite a performance on the fretboard alternating between strumming and finger-style playing, with each song leaving your ears begging for more.  Tom really let it rip on ‘Lame Pony Blues’ where he laid down a harmonica solo that nearly set the roof on fire!  Lyrically, the duo served some low-down blues such as ‘The Night is Closing In’ as well as some comic relief with the songs ‘All My Wife’s Relations’ and ‘Where’s My Baby’.  VOCAL thanks James and Tom for bringing their blues skills to the showcase stage.  Look out for the next showcase performance from this duo.  You can also keep up with them on the web at www.myspace.com/jameslesterblue and www.myspace.com/barrelhouserva .

When the first set was over, it seemed a shame for the music to end, but there was no reason to worry about that with the evening’s featured performer Matt Manion.  Sharing his style of acoustic music, Matt carried the audience through an evening of folk and rock songs that used many themes including the difficulties of work life and the thoughts of personal reflection, wrapped up in lyrics that were sometimes somber, sometimes humorous and sometimes poetic, but always thoughtful.  Starting off with a blend of humor and maybe horror, ‘The Royal Roach Hotel’ was Matt’s telling of a not-so-wonderful stay while working in the oil fields of Louisianna.  Keeping on the theme of rough work experiences, ‘Power Play’, had a bit of a Punk feel to the rhythm, which served the lyrics well as the song addresses the frustration that can exist in some work environments.  ‘Forget Yourself’ was a very reflective song with an easy, calming melody.

Matt had surprises in store for the audience as he called John Ellis to the stage to accompany with lead electric guitar on ‘Losin’ My Hair’, a humorous, but somewhat introspective song about one of life’s struggles.  Next Matt brought Gary Shaver to the stage on clarinet and Norman Roscher on keyboard along with John Ellis on lead guitar to add ambience to his poetic and inspiring ‘O Rolling Sea’.  Norman’s keyboard work added a nice ambience to the song, which evoked images of the ocean waves that Matt used in his recorded version.  With Gary on the clarinet, the song had more depth thanks to the wonderful tone of his instrument and the delicate, swelling runs he used to accentuate the mood of the song.  Thanks to Matt and his guest performers for providing a unique interpretation of a very unique song.

Matt finished up his set with a few more songs including one that has a 50’s Doo-Wop feel to my ears, with lyrics about strength in love ‘Man’s Man’, and a great song for any Matt Manion performance ‘Don’t Need to Be Perfect’.  Thanks to Matt for a great set of creative, original musical variety.

VOCAL would not be the great organization that it is without a great group of volunteers helping out.  Thanks to Matt Manion for providing the sound system for the evening and to John Ellis and Matthew Costello for sharing soundman duties.  Larry Cody is kind enough to provide table tent-cards for each performance to inform our listeners about the evening’s performers.  Matthew Costello also keeps our website up to date and handles most of our photography work.  But it would all be for naught, without an audience to perform for, so thanks to all who show up or otherwise support our songwriters.  We’ll see you next month! 

David Atkins VOCAL Songwriters Showcase Podcast August 2009

Give a listen to this month’s VOCAL podcast featuring upcoming Showcase Headliner David Atkins:

david_atkins_200

Coming up on August 17

  • The VOCAL Songwriters Showcase at the Richbrau Taphouse & Grill.
  • David Atkins
  • Sarah Kane
  • MC, Larry Cody
  • 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
  • Click here for directions

See you there!

VOCAL Showcase June 2009

Showcase 215  was a big night for music and an incredible display of VOCAL talent.  A fantastic crowd showed up to hear the wonderful performances by Dave Pollard with Triad and to hear the unique sounds of Bill Wellons.

Each month, VOCAL hosts at least two original artists on the showcase stage at Ricbrau’s TapHouse.  Come join us each 3rd Monday of the month at the TapHouse for the company of some fine songwriters and performers along with some of the best micro-brew and fine culinary creations.  Don’t forget to check out the VOCAL podcast each month on the blog.

The evening’s MC was John Ellis, who began the festivities with his rock-and-roll song ‘In My Place’ about the person who enters a relationship without ever giving it a chance.  After the completion of the performance, the crowd responded with a great cheer and enthusiastic applause.

After John’s performance, the evening was turned over to Bill Wellons who performed a solid set of piano based songs, some sad and mournful, and some of them upbeat and fun.  The song ‘Best Friend’ had a wonderful line ‘…I’ll get the leash…we’ll go out walkin’ just you and me…’ reminded me of one of my old friends who has passed.  ‘She’s Still My Baby’ had a great feel to it as Bill’s fingers tickled the ivories and the song said ‘…she says she’ll kill me, but she ain’t killed me yet’.  The mood then turned to reverent contemplation as Bill reflected on the stories of some elderly persons in ‘The Old Folks Home’.  Top tapping and a more joyful spirit took over as Bill played ‘Heartsick Blues’.  Bill closed out with a hot little instrumental ‘Lickity Split’ that had somewhat of a Ragtime sound to my ears.  Thanks so much to Bill for a wonderful performance.  You can learn more about Bill at his recently launched website www.billwellons.com .

Then, without much delay, our featured performer Dave Pollard took the stage with fellow performers Dale Payne and Vickie Payne as the trio Triad.  And from the first song of the set ‘Processional (Joyce’s Theme)’ to the last, Triad gave the crowd an incredible performance.  Dave is a wonderfully creative musician on the acoustic guitar, producing interesting riffs or melodies that add a lot to the song’s sound.  Combining his guitar skills with the talented accompaniment of Dale and Vickie Payne, Triad produces a full, rich sound that captures the audiences heart and imagination.  The vocal abilities of the trio were on dispaly in the second song of the set ‘Lucky’, which had some amazing vocal harmony.  ‘Rock Me in the Cradle’ from Dave’s CD Ocracoma,  was a welcome favorite for me, bringing back memories of other Dave Pollard performances.  ‘Church of the Mind’ is from the CD Perfect Poetry, and is an inspirational song about being able to believe what you believe wherever you find yourself.  ‘Leavin’ Town’ is another instrumental from Perfect Poetry, which was followed up by a Dale Payne creation ‘Dear Ann Marie’ a tender ballad that included wonderful vocal harmony by the trio.  Dave’s song ‘Reach Out Your Hand’  was written for his sister at a time when he wanted to encourage her to reach out to people for support.  Triad closed out the night with ‘Pictures of You’ and ‘Goodbye’ – one from each of Dave’s two CD releases.

Be sure to check out Dave’s website www.pollardmusic.com for appearances and contact info.

Thanks one more time to Dave Pollard and Dale Payne for running the evening’s sound stage.  We wouldn’t be what we are without volunteers, so thanks to Matt Manion for his continued assistance with showcases, Larry Cody for the table tent cards and Matthew Costello for photos, web development and the Podcast audio production.  And what would a performance be without an audience?  So thanks to all who turned out to support our performers!  We’ll see you next month!

Matt Manion VOCAL Songwriters Showcase Podcast July 2009

Give a listen to this month’s VOCAL podcast featuring upcoming Showcase Headliner Matt Manion:

Matt Manion

Coming up on July 20

  • The VOCAL Songwriters Showcase at the Richbrau Taphouse & Grill.
  • Matt Manion
  • James Lester
  • MC, Louis Milhouse
  • 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
  • Click here for directions

See you there!

VOCAL Showcase Podcast – Dave Pollard – June 2009

Give a listen to the new VOCAL podcast featuring upcoming Showcase Headliner Dave Pollard:

Dave PollardComing up on June 15

  • The VOCAL Songwriters Showcase at the Richbrau Taphouse & Grill.
  • Dave Pollard
  • Bill Wellons
  • MC, John Ellis
  • 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm 
  • Click here for directions

See you there!

VOCAL Showcase May 2009

A small but enthusiastic crowd was present for the 214th consecutive VOCAL showcase at the Taphouse Grill. John Ellis and Darryl Ellyson treated us to their unique styles of crooning/rocking/bluesing throughout the evening.

 

John Ellis started the show with Just What You’re Looking For, an instrumental he wrote for his brother’s wedding. A tender, smooth melody found its way up and down the neck of his electric guitar. He then covered Gary Shaver’s A Crying Shame (blaming himself for losing his girlfriend to another guy), and moved into another instrumental, A Timepiece. I Wish You Would was co-written with a friend, and had some wonderful Mother Nature images about beautiful trees, mountains, valleys, etc. Chimes was another tender instrumental with stellar finger-picking on the electric guitar, but then morphed into a rocking Groove Thing, which reminded me of Felix Pappalardi’s early guitar playing in the group Mountain.  T.J.’s Jam was a relentless, driving rock song reminiscent of ZZ Top. The Stranger is a new song (“love is a stranger I can’t get to know”)John wrote recently, and I thought I detected a bit of Carlos Santana influence in there, but who knows! Brother is another new song of John’s, where he states “When you give a woman your soul, you’ve lost control”. I thought I heard some Stephen Stills licks in that one! In My Place was another serious rocking number where a woman  unfortunately had to put him in his place! Everyone enjoyed the lightning-fast guitar playing John delivers, and the cool effects he coaxes out of his stompbox!

 

Darryl Ellyson then took the stage with a really cool Do You Think of Me When the Sun Goes Down (oh, if we could only control someone’s thoughts and dreams!). Just No Other Way was about trying to live with a woman with darkness in her heart and whose love is like a spring tornado – hit or miss and then it’s gone. I Still Believe is a wonderful, uplifting love ballad about keeping that spark going for many years, despite challenges along the way. Done With You is a good-riddance blues tune about ten years of trying to make love work to no avail. Thinking About You is a new love song – thinking of you when you’re far away, wondering exactly where you are, I think I saw you in the moon… Maybe This Time is a form of “decompression blues” where he has to make a fishing getaway to get his head together and have his space – a battle between love and  hate – I’m sure love will win! I Need a Little Help to Get By really cries the blues about how painful it is since you’ve been gone – I try to smile once in a while. I swore I heard Davie Bowie in the room when Darryl played When the Levee Breaks – just something about the catchy melody! News Man Blues instructed us to be careful breaking news and breaking rules – you might just catch the blues! I Sure Ain’t Been in Hell recounts the various travels to Georgia , Texas, etc. He wasn’t in Heaven, but was far from Hell! It Caused My Heart to Bleed was just written in April. How would you feel if you woke up to see the sunrise and realized your woman never came home the night before? Keep those blues coming, Darryl!

Excellent meeting

I found Chris Gatewood to be very informative tonight, may 11th, 2009,  with  his take on music protection, and royalty administration.  One thing I wanted to mention, but never got to, was,  about ringtones.  As a Harry Fox agency affiliate, I am able to give permission, as a publisher, for my songs to be used as ringtones, though, none has.  This could be an excellent source of revenue. I know I paid $1.99 to download a rolling stones song.    One thing I think can be improved with meetings such as this is, allow the guest to speak uninterrupted for a period of time before taking questions. He never got to finish his agenda.  Let’s hope we continue to draw new and varied individuals to our meetings henceforth.  Good writing everybody..  /Glen K.

VOCAL Showcase April 2009

Showcase number 213, was the annual cover night for VOCAL.  Performers covered at least one song from a fellow VOCAL songwriter.  The night was full of surprises and anticipation as the weather kept performers at home and the night turned into a review of some of VOCAL’s outstanding long-time members.

The showcase is hosted each month by Richbrau’s TapHouse.  Come join us at 1212 East Cary Street in Richmond’s historic Shockoe Slip for fine food and great beverages from this local brew-pub.  Enjoy the company of our songwriters as you enjoy your meals in a great venue.

Steve Nuckolls kicked off the night with his brand of thoughtful narratives drawing on many life experiences to craft songs of deep meaning.  The set started off with ‘Making My Getaway’ an original of Steve’s with good feeling and a nice easy rhythm.  Steve then presented his cover song ‘Sundown in a Coal Town’ which was penned by VOCAL’s John Carter.  The song is about miners expressing their passions and hopes on a Saturday night through their own music.  The set then turned reflective with Steve’s song ‘When the Flag’s Halfmast’, which is about the memories conjured up when we see this reminder of those no longer with us.  The first set concluded with the hopeful and spiritual song inspired by a trip to an African village ‘Simunye’.  Thanks to Steve for a great start to the evening.

Gary Shaver took to the stage next for his first of two sets.  Gary’s ‘Your Sweet Love’ was a great way to get started.  Gary’s cover songs inlcuded a number written by the team of Nancy Walker and Cham Laughlin as well as a number from Chris Craig.

A short intermission was allowed for the attending songwriters to determine the next guest up to the stage.  It seems that the weather kept many of our songwriters at home for the evening and we wanted to keep the spirit of the open call alive.  About the time we were ready to pick straws to see who would play next, someone asked ‘Where’s Norman’?  No sooner were these words uttered, than Norman Roscher appeared – as if Huddini had conjured him up with a magic word and a puff of smoke zapping Norman from his peaceful home to Shockoe slip.  He was immediately drafted into the showcase line-up!

Norman used an acoustic guitar loaned by our first performer Steve Nuckolls and Gary Shaver’s keyboard to put on an impromptu, and incredibly entertaining show!  Sampling his song catalogue, Norman played songs that were sometimes sweet and sometimes just wild and fun!  One of my favorites ‘Keep on Droolin’ was a humorous reminder that no matter how alone we feel at times, there’s someone droolin’ for you somewhere (even if it’s someone you’d be more inclined to run from than embrace).  Songs like ‘Mr. Sleepy Head’ and ‘Butterflies’ had a good bit of the sweetness I mentioned earlier, while ‘Bart the Pirate’ (a Glen Hobles song) and ‘Hey Baby You’re Beautiful’ were just great fun to listen to and sing along with.  We can’t thank Norman enough for volunteering his talents to keep the showcase rolling along!

Gary Shaver stepped back up on the showcase stage to present his second set of the evening.  ‘Tell Me You Love Me One More Time’, written by Nancy Walker and Jeff Long was the first song of the set and a fantastic ballad with a great melody.  The set was rounded out with ‘Make Everything Alright’, ‘If I Could Go Back Home’ and ‘As All Things Pass’.

Thanks to our volunteers for making the showcase a great event.  Larry Cody provides table tent cards to advertise the showcase, Matthew Costello handles photography and web development and John Ellis handles sound services.  Thanks as well to the performers and all who show up to the showcases each month!

A blog for and by the members of the Virginia Organization of Composers and Lyricists